The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 16, No. 3


25ยข March 1, 1986

[Front page:

Welcome the fall of Marcos! But the Filipino revolution is still to come;

The Haitian people declare: 'It's not over yet!';

Down with the Gramm-Rudman fraud!]


Government shelters right-wing terrorism..................... 4
Defend anti-ROTC protesters........................................ 4
Hunger strike in Texas prison........................................ 6
Correspondence from inside prison walls...................... 6
CBS show: Propaganda against blacks and poor........... 5
Philadelphia: Protest against racism.............................. 5
Down with racist attacks against Arabs......................... 6
The fight against concessions in steel............................ 7

Strikes and work place news:

Big four can makers shut down; GE workers walk out; Greyhound workers reject concessions; Rally for Hormel workers............................................................. 8
Kirkland betrays Hormel workers; Strikes of Champion workers, Buffalo bus drivers, zinc miners; Teachers' struggle in Ecorse, Ml; Capitalists benefit from unemployment; Chrysler's blackmail denounced.. 9
Song: Blue Collar Holler................................................ 23

May First and struggle for 8-hour day............................ 24
Myth of 40-hour week in U.S......................................... 24

Death to apartheid in South Africa

Struggle in Alexandra; Tutu denounced........................ 10
3M workers in S. Africa support U.S. workers; Sit-in at Smith College; GM's 'anti-apartheid' heroics; Botha's talk of 'power-sharing'.................................................. 11


The fall of Duvalier; U.S. imperialism -- Baby Doc's godfather; Struggle continues in Haiti; Haitians demonstrate in U.S........................................................ 12-13

The world in struggle:

German workers' struggle; Anti-NATO protest in Spain; News from Iran; Greek general strike................ 14
Strikes in Bolivia; Liberals attack workers in Brazil; Protests in Ecuador; Indian protest................................ 15


How Marcos fell; Aquino regime -- liberals join with generals; Don't forget U.S. record................................ 16-17

U.S. imperialism, get out of Central America:

Pentagon's Vietnam-style atrocities; U.S. helicopter downed; Confessions of Salvadoran hit man; Death squad officers get promoted; U.S. 'advisers' filmed in combat............................................................................ 18
Carter visits Nicaragua, with contra wish list................ 20
From the Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists: Against exclusion of women from military reserves; On legalization of abortion.................................................. 19
More on the Gramm-Rudman fraud.............................. 23

Welcome the fall of Marcos!

The Haitian people declare: 'It's not over yet!'

Down with the Gramm-Rudman fraud!

The Challenger launch: A Reagan publicity stunt that failed

NOW leaders side with Reaganites against pregnancy leave

Reaganites back religious indoctrination

'Radio Liberty' broadcasts anti-semitism

Fight the attacks on women's rights!

International Working Women's Day

Behind the war cries against 'terrorism'

The government shelters right-wing terrorism

Defend the protesters! No to ROTC!

CBS's 'The Vanishing Family--Crisis in Black America':

Propaganda against blacks and the poor

Demonstration against racism in Philadelphia

Hunger strike in a Texas prison

from within the Texas prisons:

Voices from behind the walls

Letter from Texas prisoners to Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists

Down with the attacks on Arabs in the U.S.!

Steel workers - Get ready to fight concessions!

Steel companies reap the profits of concessions

Waving the flag or fighting the steel capitalists

Strikes and workplace news

Death to apartheid in South Africa!

The fall of Duvalier in Haiti

U.S. imperialism: Baby Doc's godfather

The Haitian people declare: "It's not over yet!"

Haitians demonstrate in the U.S.

The World in Struggle

How Marcos fell and the liberals came to power

The Aquino regime:

A regime of liberal compromise with Marcos' generals

Let us not forget U.S. imperialism's record in the Philippines

U.S. Imperialism, Get Out of Central America!

Against the exclusion of women from the Nicaraguan military reserves

The Nicaraguan workers demand:

'Abortion must be legalized, but that is not enough'

Mr. 'Human Rights' visits Nicaragua--with a contra wish list in his pocket

Hoax of the 'automatic' nature of Gramm-Rudman cuts

'Blue Collar Holler' -a song

May First and the fight for the 8-hour day

The myth of the 40-hour week in the U.S.

Welcome the fall of Marcos!

But the Filipino revolution is still to come

After 20 years of despotic rule, Ferdinand Marcos was forced to leave the Philippines. As he was airlifted by the U.S. Air Force, the angry masses who have suffered so much at his hands stormed the Malacanang Palace. They smashed his portraits and took out their anger at the obscenely extravagant way this tyrant had lived on the sweat and blood of the Filipino people.

The Filipino people celebrated in high spirits. They have hopes that years of tyranny are over. They hope that the legacies of the Marcos dictatorship will be brought to an end.

Marcos the tyrant falls. But who is given credit for it? Reagan and the U.S. government -- the same imperialist monster that for all these years backed the dictatorship to the hilt, and even now cannot stop finding good words for him! And who is paraded as revolutionary heroes in Manila today? The same generals that until yesterday were Marcos' loyal servants, full accomplices of his brutal and corrupt regime!

What an outrage!

The Working People Are the Real Heroes of Struggle Against Marcos

It is the Filipino workers, peasants and youth who have made untold sacrifices for two decades to overthrow this hated regime. Way back in the late 1960's when the liberal bourgeois politicians were either supporters of Marcos or a very loyal "opposition," it Was the students and working people who shouldered the responsibility of launching the mass struggle against Marcos. And it was the peasants who began to join the ranks of the new guerrilla insurgency against the regime of capitalist and landlord exploiters.

That's how it has been since. It is the workers, peasants and youth who have suffered the brunt of the tortures, arrests and murders from the armed forces of the regime. It is the working people who did the fighting and dying to bring Marcos down. In agrarian rebellion, in workers' strikes, in the student movement, in countless protests and battles -- the working people built up a revolutionary movement against the U.S.-backed Marcos dictatorship.

Meanwhile the Liberals Steal Into Power With the Help of the Generals

Today there is an avalanche of talk in the U.S. news media and from the new regime in Manila about "people power," "people's revolution," and so on. It was indeed the people whose many years of hard struggle brought Marcos down. But the people of the Philippines have not won victory. There has been no revolution yet in the Philippines. No, it was precisely the fear of a genuine people's revolution that led other forces -- U.S. imperialism and the Filipino oligarchy -- to finally force Marcos out.

Marcos had originally been brought into power by the Filipino oligarchy of big capitalists and landlords, and they had found his regime a useful tool against the emergent revolutionary movement. But over the years he became a liability.

For some time now, the liberal bourgeoisie whom Marcos had cut out of power warned that the Filipino government must have more of a democratic facade to block the advance of the revolutionary movement. But Marcos still retained the allegiance of U.S. imperialism and a good section of the upper class.

But during the recent election, it became clear that Marcos' own backing was collapsing. His own apparatus began to crack. And U.S. imperialism was finally, albeit grudgingly, willing to shift allegiances away from their longtime servant.

Finally a military rebellion broke out among Marcos' top military chiefs and it united with the liberal bourgeois opposition. With the open backing of the U.S. government, they forced Marcos to give up, and installed a regime of reconciliation between the liberals and the bulk of the dictator's apparatus. This, and not a regime of people's power, is what has taken over the Filipino government today.

Only Revolutionary Struggle Can Satisfy the Hopes of the Toilers

Although there are widespread expectations among the masses, the sad truth is that the new regime cannot fulfill the aspirations of the masses. The new regime is a government of reconciliation with Marcos' cronies and loyalists. For the working masses, it only has sweet, but empty promises. Meanwhile behind the velvet gloves, the mailed fist -- threats against anyone who will not swear loyalty to the new regime -- is not all that hidden.

Despite all the talk of forgiveness and national reconciliation, the Filipino masses cannot be expected to be so charitable to the supporters and beneficiaries of the old regime. It may be remembered that while Aquino let Marcos go, the ordinary masses had a different attitude to the fleeing dictator as they showed when they stormed the Malacanang Palace. Already demands are being raised for action against Marcos and his cronies, for justice for the tortured and "disappeared," for freedom for all political prisoners, and so forth.

More importantly, the new regime cannot satisfy the demands of the masses for an end to poverty and hunger. Above all, the new regime is a government of the Filipino rich oligarchy. Whether it is the ex-Marcos men or Aquino and the other liberals, they all come from the ranks of the tiny class of big exploiters who live off the toil of the workers and peasants.

Today instead of a single dictator, the Filipino capitalist-landlord oligarchy has temporarily reconciled its internal conflicts to again rule as a class. There remain questions as to how long this unity between the different factions of the exploiters will last. But in any case, with the fall of Marcos, the class struggle of the toilers is bound to explode into the open.

Let us not forget that the guerrilla movement in the Philippines and, indeed, the entire revolutionary movement of the toilers against the exploiters and against U.S. imperialism, predated the establishment of Marcos' one-man rule. And even under his tyranny, the masses did not abandon their social struggle. Today the issue before the workers and peasants of the Philippines is to reject appeals for support for the new regime and instead to go forward with the building of the class movements of the toilers, towards a genuine revolution!

[Photo: Youth in Manila attack a portrait of Marcos.]

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The Haitian people declare: 'It's not over yet!'

See centerfold

[Photo: Haitians in Miami say "Down with Duvalier, the Macoutes, and the army!"]

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Down with the Gramm-Rudman fraud!

January 1 this year saw the first Gramm-Rudman cuts, with the suspension of the cost-of-living increase for federal retirees. Symbolic of what is to come, it struck directly at the working class.

And March 1 saw the first general round of budget cuts under the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction law. And the Gramm-Rudman budget ax is supposed to swing again and again, year after year, with the alleged purpose of balancing the budget.

But the actual purpose of the Gramm-Rudman bill is not to solve the budget deficit, but to cut into the wages and benefits of federal workers, the social benefits to the poor, and the few government programs that provide some protection to the working people.

The Democrats and Republicans are washing their hands of these cuts. We didn't do it, they cry out. It is just an automatic law, and the cuts are like unforseeable acts of nature. There is nothing to do but bear it as one can.

But all this is gross hypocrisy. The Gramm-Rudman law represents the unity of the Democrats and the Republicans behind Reagan's program of squeezing the working people dry while building up the defense budget sky high. The head of the House Budget Committee, the liberal Democrat William Gray, expressed this plan for marching jointly with the Republicans earlier this year. He stated that all members of Congress are for cutting the social programs and increasing taxes on the people, but that it was just a question of finding a way to do it which would prevent Reagan and the Republicans from pretending it was all the Democrats' fault. He stated: "Every member of Congress knows what we have to do. Not only do we have to restrain spending [i.e. cut social programs], we have to deal with the revenue side [i.e., increase taxes on the workers]. But we've got to make sure that nobody is standing up in the peanut gallery with a.44 magnum veto gun, taking potshots at us. That's the problem." (New York Times, January 17,1986)

Here is the joint platform of Democrat and Republican. The Democrats agree to go along with more Reaganite cuts on the social programs, as they have done every year. And the Republicans agree with the Democrats, while they cut taxes for the rich, to add more taxes for the working class. And all this will be done in the name of "deficit reduction."

Let the Capitalists Pay for Their Own Deficit

The capitalists have built up the huge federal deficit by themselves. And they make billions off it: from the defense contracts that are responsible for most of the deficit, through the ever-growing interest payments that roll into the banks and the wealthy holders of the national debt, and through other fancy government contracts. Let the capitalists pay for their own fun.

Gramm-Rudman is a fraud. It does not provide a single penny for closing the deficit, but simply readjusts the way Congress handles the budget process. It is just a fancy way in which the politicians call on the people to bear the burden of Reaganite cutbacks in the name of "emergency deficit reduction."

Gramm-Rudman is a political ploy. It creates a budget process which hides who is responsible for the cuts. The Congressmen all pretend to be powerless before the awful specter of its "automatic" character.

The task of the working class is not to haggle over where the Gramm-Rudman cuts will fall. It is to organize against the capitalist politicians who have proven once again that they are all, whether liberal or conservative, handmaidens of the Reaganite offensive against the working people. It is to expose the fancy pretexts by which the politicians shift the burden of the creaking American economy onto the workers. It is to fight to expand and improve those benefits that the workers obtain while letting the rich pay for the deficit that they created and profited from.

In brief, it is to organize the mass struggle that will throw all the capitalists into a frenzy and throw a wrench into their plans to squeeze the people. It is to get organized for the socialist revolution that will end the yearly haggling over how deeply the capitalists are to squeeze the people by ending once and for all the exploitation of the workers by a handful of corporate parasites.

[Photo: Hundreds of working people marched on the Los Angeles city hall to protest state and federal budget cuts in social programs, February 14.]

[Graphic cartoon: Down with Reagan, frontman of capitalist reaction!]

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The Challenger launch: A Reagan publicity stunt that failed

For over a month the news has been filled with reports on the investigations into the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. It has been proved over and over again that it was dangerous to launch the shuttle on such a freezing day. Every tiny detail has been gone into again and again.

Except one. The question arises of why NASA was so anxious to launch that they couldn't delay to avoid such rare weather (for Florida). It is true that in general NASA was worried about delays in the launch, but this time there was a more particular reason. The launch of the Challenger was designed to be part of a publicity stunt for Reagan's State of the Union message. Reagan would point to the teacher in space as an example of how successful his cutbacks in education and social programs had been; why should teachers need salaries or students need hot lunches when they can all ooh and ah about how a teacher has visited outer space?

Because of various delays, the Challenger was in danger of missing Reagan's speech -- who knows, perhaps of upstaging it by taking off right after Reagan's speech. This was why the Challenger had to be launched no matter what the conditions. It was a publicity stunt that backfired.

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NOW leaders side with Reaganites against pregnancy leave

In the January issue of our paper we reported that Reagan's Justice Department had filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court demanding the overturn of the weak state laws in California, Montana, Connecticut and Massachusetts that require such benefits as sick leave or guaranteed reinstatement for pregnant workers. The Reaganites denounced these laws as alleged discrimination against non-pregnant workers. Here is another example of Reaganite double-talk: they believe that there is discrimination in favor of pregnant workers in industry. What a burning problem facing the nation! Of course they don't really believe this, but this is the way the Reaganites mock their victims.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the California pregnancy benefit law violated federal civil rights law. But what was especially interesting was that the Reaganites and the corporations who brought the lawsuit, such as the California Federal Savings and Loan Association, were joined in their opposition to the law by the bourgeois feminist National Organization for Women. Similarly, in Montana, the company opposing Montana's pregnancy benefit law found itself joined by the National Organization for Women, the Women's Legal Defense Fund and the League of Women Voters.

This stand by the National Organization for Women shows that it is not an organization in defense of the interests of working women, but an organization in defense of the interests of women of the upper classes. When the interests of women conflict with the interests of the corporations (which is all the time because the capitalist system is the cause of women's oppression), they take the side of the businesses. NOW is especially interested in making places in the capitalist boardrooms for women of the upper strata, (has it escaped their notice that the vice-president of the California Federal Savings and Loan Association is a woman who, naturally, supports CALFED in opposing the pregnancy law?) and to do this it must prove its loyalty to the capitalists in the struggle against the interests of working women.

How the Bourgeois Feminists Justify Their Reaganism

NOW echoes the line of the Reaganites that paying benefits means fewer jobs. In NOW's "friend-of-the-court" brief in Montana it argues that "At least some employers respond to such incentives [i.e., pregnancy benefits] by not hiring women." Thus NOW defends the vicious discrimination against women.

What are these benefits that NOW finds such a burden for the corporations? These are laws that provide a certain minimum of leave for pregnant workers and that guarantee reinstatement at that previous job or a comparable job. (And the laws in question are very mild and full of loopholes, as all worker protection laws are in the U.S.) The lack of these laws is a major burden on women, many of whom risk losing their job whenever they have a child.

NOW and the bourgeois feminists argue in the Montana case (but not the California case) that while the law granting pregnancy benefits should be overturned, similar benefits should be granted all workers under certain legal peculiarities in Montana. This, of course, is in contradiction to their own brief which states that being forced to provide pregnancy benefits discourages the hiring of women, for even if benefits were granted for all disabilities, the added expense of pregnancy benefits would still only apply to hiring women workers. In fact, in many places benefits used to be routinely extended for many disabilities but not pregnancies. Furthermore, it is hard to see why NOW would join suit with the companies opposing pregnancy benefits if their stand were really to fight that all disabilities should entitle the worker to benefits, since the companies are not arguing for that but for the right to refuse pregnancy benefits. Instead, NOW should have filed suit against the denial of benefits for other disabilities.

The fact is that NOW has once again come but on the side of the exploiters. As usual, the bourgeois feminists do so in the name of a painful, but principled, stand for true equality, even if it kills women. It was under this banner that the bourgeois feminists came out with the stand that, if there was one inequality they were going to remedy in the U.S., it was that the draft laws did not apply to women. And now they have found another inequality to throw themselves against: pregnancy benefit laws.

The working woman can only defend herself by taking part in the class struggle against the capitalists, including their bourgeois feminist defenders. And part of this struggle is to ensure such basic demands as adequate pregnancy benefit laws. Contrary to the Reaganites and NOW, such laws did not discriminate against men, but will make it all the easier for the working class to strengthen the disability laws for all workers and all disabilities.

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Reaganites back religious indoctrination

The Reaganite bourgeoisie promotes everything that is backward. One of their attempts to divert the workers from the struggle for their class interests is to poison them with religious fanaticism. For example, according to Reagan and company, the schools don't need smaller classes or anything that requires spending money. What is needed is prayer in school in order to build "character."

The Reaganites are faced, however, with the barrier of the constitutional separation between church and government, even if that barrier is honored more in word than in deed. What to do? What to do?

But wait! Reagan has already given the lead on how to solve this. When the Reaganites want to increase racial discrimination, they do it in the banner of opposing discrimination, and they took up the theory of fighting "reverse discrimination" against whites. And when Reagan wants to oppose pregnancy benefits for women workers, he does it in the name of fighting discrimination against non-pregnant workers.

Now, all the Reaganites had to do was to apply this to religion. And presto! There is the lawsuit launched in Mobile County, Alabama to force the school system to take up religion in the name of opposing the establishment of the religion of not having religion.

Believe it or not, this Reaganite sick joke claims that not including religious instruction in the textbooks amounts to establishing the religion of "secular humanism" and hence violates the constitutional ban on the establishment of a state religion. School prayer, here we come! Take that, you nasty theory of evolution!

It seems that the Reaganites are not only opposed to "secular humanism," but to human reason as well.

The Liberal Brookings Institution Says Amen

But the liberal Democrats are determined not to let the Reaganites monopolize anything harmful to the working class. They are determined to prove that Reaganism is not a monopoly of the conservatives, but the banner of the entire bourgeoisie, Democratic or Republican. And so the famous liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution, has decided to join the conservative Republicans in a hymn to religious fanaticism.

Thus this think tank recently issued a 389-page report entitled "Religion in American Public Life." It raises the necessity to bring religion into the political sphere. It stresses that "democracy [read: the domination of capitalist exploitation] lacks essential moral support" if it lacks religion, and that capitalist government "depends for its health on values that over the not-so- long run must come from religion."

In line with this, it comes out in favor of bringing religion into the schools. For example, it favors a "moment of silence" as the liberal version of the conservative compulsory school prayer.

Moreover, it agrees with the most rabid Reaganites that keeping religion out of schools and public life in general is, allegedly, you guessed it, the establishment of "secularism." According to their report:

"Banishment of religion does not represent neutrality between religion and secularism; conduct of public institutions without any regard to religion is secularism."

Imagine that. "Moments of silence" to encourage prayer is presumably neutrality between belief and non-belief. Conducting "public institutions" without regard to religion is not. This is simply the Reaganite argument, extended from schools to all of public life.

In fact, the liberal institution argues directly that no sphere of public life should be neutral, for fear that if religion is excluded from constant reinforcement in every facet of public life, that "is bound to foster the impression that religion is either irrelevant or harmful." In short, the alpha and omega of this liberal report is -- to save capitalism, we need religion. Drum it into the heads of the masses. Make sure that no sphere of public life is without it.

The working class unites to fight in this world against exploitation. The capitalists must divide the working class with doctrinal differences over the religious afterworld. That is the long and the short of the matter behind all the fancy words about the religious basis of morality that the Reaganites and the Brookings Institution are singing together in chorus.

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'Radio Liberty' broadcasts anti-semitism

The Reagan government and the Democrats attack all those who oppose the crimes of Israeli zionism as allegedly "anti-semitic." In fact, however, it is U.S. imperialism, one of the biggest backers of Israeli zionism, that is rife with anti-semitism. Recently, for example, it was exposed that Radio Liberty, a U.S. State Department-run radio station for propaganda that broadcasts from Munich, West Germany into the Soviet Union, was spewing forth anti-semitic broadcasts.

It turns out U.S. imperialism is in love with such anti-semitic, anti-people dregs as Solzhenitsyn, who is a Russian refugee who opposes the present- day Soviet Union not because socialism has been abandoned but because he thinks it really is socialist. Radio Liberty broadcast a program by Solzhenitsyn which essentially describes the great Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (which for him is the worst thing in the world) as a Jewish plot, in particular, the responsibility of one Dmitry Bogrov who assassinated a tsarist prime minister in 1911. Radio Liberty has also tried to excuse a pogrom in 1919 by the capitalist diehards fighting against Soviet power. And it has supported the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine during World War II, a time of holocaust in which, among other things, the Nazis slaughtered all the Jews they could get their hands on.

These broadcasts became known more widely when an employee of Radio Liberty, who supported the reactionary imperialism of this station, was nevertheless disgusted with the anti-semitism. He criticized these broadcasts in the press and was consequently fired by Radio Liberty. A court case is now pending in West Germany over this firing, with the judge trying to effect a reconciliation between the different reactionaries working for Radio Liberty.

The example of Radio Liberty shows it is the pro-imperialist and anti-communist circles that are rife with antisemitism. And it is the class conscious and revolutionary movements of the world that are the bulwark against antisemitism, as well as other forms of oppression.

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Fight the attacks on women's rights!

International Working Women's Day

On March 8 working class and progressive women around the world will be celebrating International Working Women's Day. In this country, working women will mark this day in the midst of an all-sided assault by the Reaganites and capitalists on their rights and well-being.

All working and progressive people, both women and men, should stand up to this assault, raising the banner of struggle for the liberation of working class women from the double yoke of capitalist oppression and exploitation.

The Capitalist Assault on Working Women

The Reagan government is the acme of capitalist hypocrisy, scorn and brutality towards women. Oh yes, it displays so much "respect" for the Princess of Wales and the pampered ladies of the bourgeoisie. But for the vast majority of women, it is a regime of inhuman contempt and arrogance.

The capitalist rulers have resorted to Reaganomics to shift the load of the economic crisis onto the backs of the working people. This has hit working class women extra hard.

There has been no letup in the wage and job discrimination against women, which leaves women's incomes at only 60% of men's. Yet the Reaganites laud this as a triumph for the "freedom of the labor market" -- that is freedom for employers to push women into low- paying jobs and make big profits off of cheap female labor.

The growing barriers of discrimination and the cuts in funding for child care have compounded the curse of unemployment for millions of women. But so what, the Reagans and Schlafly's crow, "a woman's place is in the home anyway."

The misery of unemployed women is pushing poverty levels higher than any time in decades, while the Congress forges ahead in slashing funds for welfare, food stamps and medicaid.

Showing his compassion, Reagan used his recent State of the Union address to float new schemes to "emancipate" welfare mothers by cutting funding even deeper and rigging up slave-like "workfare" programs at sub-minimum wages.

In the name of the "right to life," the White House is heading up the crusade to rob women of the democratic right to abortion, and thereby to resume the carnage of abortions in the backroom. The devotion to "life" is such that Reagan gives warm messages of support to the leaders of the right-wing anti-abortion networks that defend the wave of medical clinic bombings and assassination attempts.

What commitment to motherhood! But any working woman who may have ideas of having a child, watch out! They have plans for you too.

The Justice Department is pushing the Supreme Court to strike down the handful of state laws restricting employers from firing pregnant women. It is arguing the case on the typically Reaganite grounds that the right to pregnancy leave is "unfair discrimination" against workers who aren't pregnant!

The government is also wiping out prenatal care and infant inoculation programs. And to ensure the children's future, the administration is doing its damndest to disembowel the public education system.

The Liberation of Women Is Part of the Class Struggle

Reagan is the point man in this assault on women, but behind him stands the capitalist ruling class as a whole. This is reflected in the Congress, where the Democrats have tamely gone along with the cutbacks, deregulations, and other measures affecting women.

It is also reflected in the trend among Democrats to show the real meaning of their liberalism and adopt the Reaganite rhetoric. After all, the Democrats try to explain themselves, they must not let issues like "defense of the family," and other slogans used to justify the attacks on women, be the private turf of the Republicans.

Nonetheless, the Democrats still try to primp themselves up as the party of women's rights. This is due in part to the fact that it has the adherence of NOW and other mainstream forces of bourgeois feminism.

If the Reaganites see Lady Di as the model of womanhood, the bourgeois feminists see Mary Cunningham and other corporate executives. These self-styled advocates of women's rights have fixed their eyes on gaining seats on corporate boards, making it into the top professions, or landing a government position. Their money-grubbing myopia makes them blind to the pressing needs of the the vast majority of poor and working class women who are bearing the brunt of the Reaganite assault. Bourgeois feminism preaches that the problem is the male domination of the capitalist power structure -- not the structure itself. They portray men as the obstacle to progress for women.

However it is not men in general, but the wealthy capitalists who profit from the degradation, humiliation and oppression of women. For the exploiters, women's oppression signifies cheap labor, while at the same time it is a heavy chain on all the working masses, men and women alike. The aristocratic ladies of bourgeois feminism want to bury the truth that the emancipation of women is bound up with the class struggle of the poor against the rich, the workers against the capitalists.

Every step towards real progress for women has been linked to their participation in the revolutionary movements of the working masses. Likewise, the power of these movements has been due in part to the mobilization of women as a critical force for revolutionary change. This was shown in the 1960's in this country; and it has been borne out by the revolutionary movements of the exploited classes on a world scale.

The Struggle for Women's Emancipation in Nicaragua

It has been demonstrated, for example, by the revolution in Nicaragua.

Rising in revolution and smashing the U.S.-backed Somoza tyranny, the Nicaraguan workers and peasants shook the old oppressive Nicaraguan society from top to bottom. A striking gain of this revolution has been that the participation of women in the struggle and the insurrection gave the Nicaraguan women new life. And it struck blows at some of the backward social practices and laws (restrictions on divorce, etc.) through which the Nicaraguan landlords, capitalists and Catholic officialdom have kept women enslaved for centuries. But anyone acquainted with the status of women in Nicaragua knows that their full emancipation is still unrealized.

In this paper we carry two articles from Prensa Proletaria, the newspaper of the party of the Nicaraguan working class, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML). The first article points to the political importance of the struggle for the participation of women in the military reserves. Women are facing growing obstacles to their participation in the tasks of defense against the aggression of the U.S.-backed contras. This discrimination is an outgrowth of the Sandinista government's policy of demobilizing the masses in search of compromise with the capitalist reaction.

The second article is on the question of abortion. The old Somocist/Catholic laws against abortion are still in force in Nicaragua. In recent months, the official Sandinista press has finally opened up the public debate on this problem, in the midst of a growing scandal over the high numbers of women dying from illegal abortions. The Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists have maintained a forceful stand in favor of the democratic right of women to abortion. At the same time, this article debunks the petty-bourgeois phrasemongering from some Sandinista circles which portrays the right to abortion as the final emancipation of women.

Many of the anti-women trappings of the old obscurantist system remain in Nicaragua. Official bureaucratic discrimination remains. And the capitalist system of exploitation as the foundation of women's oppression remains.

The struggle for the emancipation of Nicaraguan women, along with American women and women of all countries, is inseparable from their participation in the struggle of the working masses for liberation from capitalist slavery, for the victory of the proletarian revolution and socialism.

[Photo: In the picture above the largely woman work force of the Watsonville Cannery in California marches during their hard-fought strike in December 1985.]

[Box: "Throughout the history of the U.S., women have been active in all fronts of struggle against capitalist rule.... This is despite the fact that under capitalism, the inequality facing women places a lot of obstacles in the path of women taking part in political activity.

"There can be no real mass movement without the participation of women. For the success of the socialist revolution, it is essential to bring into motion vast masses of working class women.'' From Documents of the Second Congress of the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA, Resolution II-E, "The Struggle Against the Oppression of Women.'']

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Behind the war cries against 'terrorism'

The government shelters right-wing terrorism

The Reagan government has made a great deal of noise about "foreign terrorists" who are supposedly "exporting violence" to the U.S. The CIA and FBI have been dispatched to search under manhole covers for mythical "Libyan hit men." Harmless dust has been portrayed as a Russian conspiracy to poison U.S. diplomats. Tiny Nicaragua has been made into a monstrous bogeyman of "terrorists" preparing for invasion from just off U.S. coasts. And more. Emotions are being fanned as the news media dutifully amplifies Reagan's tales to hysterical proportions. And Hollywood makes them into epic dramas such as the infamous "Red Dawn" and the recent TV special "Under Siege."

Yet no facts have ever been revealed to back up the wild accusations. Indeed, even the ridiculously doctored FBI annual report on "terrorist acts" in the U.S. has shown the fraud of Reagan's charges. So why all the fuss?

The capitalists have employed the grade-B actor Reagan to create a chauvinist mood. They want to incite distrust and fear of anything "foreign," to explain away vicious repression as well-meaning attempts to resist dangerous terrorists. In short, the elaborate farce about "foreign terrorism" has been concocted to justify and spur on right-wing terror against the workers and oppressed nationalities.

To help cut through the stifling atmosphere created by the Reaganites let us review some facts about "terrorism" inside the U.S. in 1985.

Screams Against "Foreign Terrorism" Spur On Right-Wing Terror Against Arabs

The FBI reports only six actual "terrorist acts" in the U.S. in 1985. (Washington Post News Service, December 25, 1985) It also claims to have thwarted "23 terrorist incidents," 17 by domestic groups and only six by groups from abroad. (New York Times, January 9, 1986) But as to these "foreign" threats, the Bureau is unable to give any evidence that they were more than fabrications out of the warped minds of the Reaganites. So let us stick to the report on actual terrorist acts, the only ones for which there is hard evidence.

The FBI reports no "terrorist acts" committed by Libyan hit men, or by Palestinian guerrillas, or by Nicaraguan terrorists, or by Salvadoran commandos. But three of the acts recorded were bombings against the liberal Arab- American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and included the murder of Alex Odeh, a regional director of ADC. The police agencies have not charged anyone with these attacks. But they were immediately praised by the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a right-wing goon squad set up in the U.S. by Meyer Kahane, the reactionary zionist demagogue and member of the Israeli parliament.

The FBI did not bother to mention a series of other attacks on Arabs living in the U.S. For example, the Jewish Defense Organization -- which split from the JDL in 1982 claiming that it had become too moderate -- distributed leaflets entitled "Operation Clean Sweep" that included a hit list of "enemies of Israel." The leaflets were passed out in Passaic, New Jersey, Westbury, New York and Washington, D.C. Within days persons named on the list were violently attacked in these three cities.

These attacks went unnoticed by the government. Nor did the government show much concern over the "Arab Go Home" slogans painted on the buildings in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn; nor the anti-Arab election campaign waged by the Dearborn mayor. But when a couple of Arab gas station owners in Detroit were caught skimming extra money from their pumps, the FBI was called in and a hue and cry went out that Americans were being defrauded to "finance Middle Eastern terrorists."

As in other cases, these charges were proven false. But the effect was clear enough. Every Arab is to be considered a potential "terrorist" or "terrorist supporter." Meanwhile, the U.S. government covers up for the terrorists who support Israeli zionism against anyone who so much as whispers support for the just cause of the Palestinians.

Anti-Abortion Bombers Are Fostered by the Reagan Government

The FBI also fails to report on the terrorist actions of the anti-abortionists. Last year there were a dozen bombings by anti-abortionists and some 24 in 1984. As well, the number of anti-abortionist death threats against doctors, vandalism, and gunshots fired through windows were up in 1985 over the 157 violent incidents reported in 1984. But the FBI does not consider the bombings or other incidents to be "terrorist acts."

The reason is obvious. The government wants to foster them.

This January Reagan once again addressed the annual anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C. The rally was half the size of the year before, showing the continuing decline of this movement and indicating one of the reasons that some anti-abortionists have turned in despair to terrorism. It comes as little surprise then that Reagan not only supports the aims of the anti-abortion movement but is also showing sympathy for the antiabortion bombers themselves.

Paul Brown of the so-called American Life League reported on the private meeting between Reagan and 25 antiabortion leaders that followed the Washington rally. Brown, while claiming to oppose violence, justified the anti-abortion bombers as being "very young, naive, well-meaning kids" and asked for Reagan's help. Brown reports that Reagan indicated that he "might someday review them on a case-by-case basis" and pardon at least some. A White House spokesman later denied Brown's report, but went on to admit that Reagan promised to review at least one of the bombing cases. (New York Times, January 23, 1986)

By whichever account Reagan, the great fighter against terrorism, is trying to give some hope and encouragement to the anti-abortion terrorists.

Direct Government Terror Against the Masses

Of course the biggest terrorist act in 1985 was the May bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia. Here 11 people were executed and 61 houses were completely destroyed by the Philadelphia police with the direct assistance of the federal government. A more clear-cut case of "state-sponsored terrorism" is hard to find.

Yet the bombing of MOVE is only the most dramatic example. In 1985 there were innumerable cases of police abuse and murders of blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Asians and others from New York City to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Atlanta. And the oppressed nationalities are not the only victims. In January we saw the National Guard dispatched to break the Hormel strike. In 1985 strikers from many other work places also went to jail with the scars from police clubs on their heads. And on the campuses too countless anti-apartheid and anti-war protesters found their demonstrations broken up as policemen dragged them off to jail.

But you won't hear any of this mentioned when the Reaganites start belly-aching against terrorism. Oh no, we are supposed to believe that the danger comes from Libya, or Iran, or Nicaragua. We are supposed to believe that "America is being held hostage." We are supposed to believe Reagan, to join his witch hunt against mythical terrorists, to send off our sons and daughters to be cannon fodder for U.S. imperialist adventures against the working people in countries all around the world.

But facts are facts. The American government is the deadliest terrorist against the working people both here in the U.S. and abroad. It is building up its repressive apparatus and working to fuel reactionary gangs of every ilk. And so the working people must fight. But that fight is against the U.S. government which is fostering right-wing terrorism against the working people.

No to Reagan's anti-terrorist crusade!

Resist the reactionary terror of the U.S. government!

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Defend the protesters! No to ROTC!

(A demonstration was called for February 13 against the administration at the University of California at Berkeley for its persecution of students who had participated in a protest against the presence of ROTC (the Pentagon's Reserve Officer Training Corps) on campus. Below are extracts from a call issued by the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the MLP to participate in the demonstration and to protest at the disciplinary hearings.)

On February 6 the UC administration began disciplinary hearings against five student activists. These five were singled out from over 50 participants in a spirited anti-ROTC action last August 27. In this action the protesters distributed literature exposing the nature of ROTC, picketed outside an ROTC meeting and entered it to express their opposition to its reactionary militarist nature.

The UC administration claims it is bringing charges against the activists solely out of concern over a supposed disruption of an "academic activity" -- a violation of "academic freedom." What a farce! The administration is just trying to hide its real motives for this attack. What the administration is trying to do is suppress student opposition to "our" government's program of escalating imperialist war preparations and aggression.

The August 27 action took place at an ROTC recruitment session, not at some "academic activity." ROTC is not an "academic program" as the administration would have us believe. It is part of the war preparations of U.S. imperialism. ROTC is a program of the Defense Department and it forms a part of a much wider military program geared to mobilize students and working class youth into the U.S. war machine. The government intends to use these youth as cannon fodder in aggressive actions and wars to safeguard the super-profits earned by the U.S. monopoly capitalists abroad, and to defend U.S. imperialism strategically in its rivalry with Soviet imperialism for world domination. The role of ROTC is to "teach" a section of the youth how to be leaders in this war machine.

When the administration claims that heckling an ROTC officer is a violation of "academic freedom" it is clear that they are just trying to protect this imperialist program from the wrath of the students. Further when the administration hauls students before its disciplinary committee for such just activities it is clear that they want to neutralize student opposition through intimidation. They are hoping to stop the development of a mass movement against all aspects of imperialist war preparations.

For their part the activists have not let the administration's attacks stop them. They have produced leaflets and held actions to counter the charges made against the five students. They continue to expose the role of ROTC in U.S. war preparations and the UC's role in supporting militarism. On February 6, the students organized a spirited march to the disciplinary hearings. Several hundred participants raised slogans against ROTC and the U.S.-backed war in Central America and filled the hearing room to the rafters, giving a lively support to their fellow students under the gun.

Many activists took up a sharply partisan role. They came, after all, to fight the pro-imperialist stand of the university. They were not about to let the rantings of the university's prosecutor (UC Deputy Counsel) Milton Gordon go unanswered anymore than they were going to accept the more polished maneuvering of the hearing officer (Boalt Hall Professor) William Fletcher. Fletcher made slick appeals to the audience "for the good of all concerned" to be quiet and respectful of the hearing process. The reality of this administration stooge's appeal is that the activists should quietly acquiesce to the university officials' latest plans to suppress the movement, and forget that the only reason the administration is staging this hearing is to protect ROTC and other U.S. imperialist war preparations.

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CBS's 'The Vanishing Family--Crisis in Black America':

Propaganda against blacks and the poor

A big fuss is being made about Bill Moyers' CBS documentary "The Vanishing Family -- Crisis in Black America." Columnists and commentators of the capitalist media machine across the country are hailing Bill Moyers' "insight" and "courage." After all, it takes guts to make such a lying and scummy propaganda piece and call it a documentary.

The basic message is that the alleged breakdown of the black family structure is what's behind the poverty and misery in the black community. In turn, welfare is what's behind the collapse of the family. So the liberal commentator Mr. Moyers -- of course, only out of his heartfelt concern for the black family -- puts in his two bits for the racist propaganda that black people mainly have themselves to blame for their poverty, and lays the groundwork for a renewed effort for more cutbacks in welfare benefits and social services.

A few days later in his State of the Union address, Ronald Reagan took a page from Moyers' script. "In the welfare culture," Reagan declared, "the breakdown of the family, the most basic support system, has reached crisis proportions.... After hundreds of billions of dollars in poverty programs, the plight of the poor grows more painful." Reagan then went on to outline his goal of bringing "lasting emancipation" to the poor by throwing them off welfare, cutting their benefits even further, and forcing them into humiliating sub-minimum wage "workfare" schemes.

Racist Stereotyping

The starting point of the CBS program was the crude racist stereotype of black people as lazy, irresponsible welfare recipients. A handful of poor young blacks were paraded across the screen, playing the role cut out for them. Young black men were portrayed as lazy, shiftless, having too many children and feeling no responsibility towards their offspring. One man played his role to the hilt, cockey and arrogant, just what the network was after to build the racist stereotype of poor blacks. Young black women were also portrayed as lazy and promiscuous, having babies simply because welfare will pay for them. And if anyone dares to question the truth of this portrayal -- ask a Newark police officer. CBS did. And the Newark cop obligingly confirmed their racist stereotype.

This was no documentary. It was advertised as an examination of the impact of welfare on the black family. But it didn't touch on the truly harmful and intrusive restrictions written into the welfare laws that often make it impossible for parents to live together or with their children.

There was simply no factual presentation of the serious problems facing black families. Where were the facts on the poverty which is spreading like the plague across the country? Where were the facts on racism which permeates all of capitalist society, forcing blacks into unemployment or jobs at rock-bottom wages? Where were the facts on the disintegration of the schools and the miserable job prospects facing black teens?

True, there has been a dramatic rise in recent years in the number of unwed mothers. This is the case among all nationalities, and the numbers among blacks is particularly high, with about half of all black children being born to unmarried mothers. But it does not require much insight to see the direct cause and effect between this and the soaring growth of poverty and unemployment among the young people. How is a young couple expected to live together as a family when they have no job or steady source of income and have little hope of ever getting one?

Over the last five years, the jobless rate among black teenagers has increased to an average of 44.1% The poverty rate among young black families is nearly three times that of whites. The percentage of black families under the poverty level with heads of households under 25 years old was 60% in 1984, a 25% increase in poverty from 1980.

Nonetheless, the capitalist hypocrites act shocked and dismayed that there is discouragement and cynicism in the black community. The bourgeoisie tramples on the black people, especially depriving the young people of almost any means to live or breathe. Then they make fancy TV programs to express their horror that not every black youth is a goodie-goodie model of the work ethic and devotion to family. What hypocritical rot!

Maybe next they can send Bill Moyers to the famine regions of Africa to uncover the spread of listlessness and lack of drive in the refugee camps. And he can point sanctimoniously to laziness and lack of get-up-and-go among the famine victims as the source of their trouble.

Jesse Jackson Chimes In

After the CBS documentary, a panel of upper crust blacks, including Jesse Jackson and sociologist Dr. Glen Loury, were invited to discuss their views of the program. Not one of these eminent black leaders was able to challenge the racist and reactionary views put forward by Moyers. This is because their own views dovetail nicely with those of the documentary.

Dr. Loury, a black professor at Harvard, has long held that the so-called "immorality" of blacks is the cause of their oppression. Jesse Jackson postures against black oppression. But he also portrays "morality" and "attitudes" as allegedly being at the root of black people's conditions. That is where he is coming from with his famous sermons urging young blacks to "push for excellence," and overcome their problems through the power of positive thinking -- by repeating over and over again "I am somebody!"

As Jackson put it on the CBS panel: "Just because you are born in the slum, the slum does not have to be in you." In other words, the black youth can rise above the degradation and humiliation of unemployment, poverty and segregation; all they have to do is cast aside their ideas of cynicism, despair and anger, and take up the positive go-get- 'em thinking of those who have made it, like Jesse Jackson and other black millionaires.

Reviving the Moynihan Report: Blaming the Black Family

Bill Moyers' "discovery" of a "crisis in the black family" to justify the oppression of blacks is nothing new. It is being dredged up from the cesspool of government propaganda against the black people's movement of the I960's. In 1965, then assistant Secretary of Labor under Democratic President Johnson, Daniel Moynihan, issued a report: "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." The thrust of this report was that while blacks were given their "right" to equality in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, they could not achieve real equality because of the "tangle of pathology" of the black family. In other words, the alleged failings of the black family were to blame for "perpetuating the cycle of poverty and deprivation" among blacks.

Moynihan's pseudo-scientific hack work was taken up as a cover for justifying the repression, discrimination and double-exploitation imposed on the working people. At the time, the openly racist reactionaries greeted this work of the liberal scholar Moynihan as proof of their contention that black grievances were only so much belly-aching. In reality, it was proof that the liberal Democrats see things through the same racist prism as the declared racists, and that their hand-wringing about the plight of blacks is only for show.

Recently, Moynihan, now a Democratic Senator from New York, has issued a new book, Family and Nation, rehashing the same old themes. It is being hailed by liberals and conservatives alike. Along with Moyers' documentary and other similar efforts, Moynihan's book comes just in time to help provide a screen of respectability and liberal compassion to justify a new round of the Reaganite offensive against the minorities and the poor.

The Mass Struggle

During the CBS panel discussion, Jesse Jackson complained that the black people allegedly lack "the will to resist injustice and oppression." This is a good self-confession of Jesse Jackson's own lack of will and that of the rest of the bourgeois and aspiring petty- bourgeois blacks. In fact, their accommodationism is a heavy weight dragging down the black working masses in the face of the capitalist offensive.

But among the black workers and youth, the desire to fight back against unbearable unemployment and growing racism and oppression runs strong and deep. Nothing will do so much to uplift the black people as the organized mass struggle against the racist tyranny of the capitalist rulers.

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Demonstration against racism in Philadelphia

[Photo: Four thousand people demonstrated in downtown Philadelphia against racist terror and oppression, February 15.]

On February 15, some 4,000 people converged on Philadelphia to take a stand against racism. Many young people from schools and universities joined the two hour protest, marching in the bitter cold through the downtown shopping area, to the police department and back.

Despite the flanking of the march by numerous police, activists shouted loud their slogans condemning the recent racist attacks in Philadelphia and denounced the police role in these attacks. Slogans of solidarity with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa also rang through the streets.

A contingent of the Marxist-Leninist Party participated vigorously in the anti-racist protest, raising a series of militant slogans: "Down with Reagan, Racist Chieftain!"; "The cops and the klan work hand-in-hand, racist attacks are a government plan!"; and "They drop their bomb and then walk free -- that's what Goode calls democracy!"

The demonstrators came out to take a militant stand against racist attacks, and thousands along the route showed warm support for the action. The fight against racism is a sharp issue in Philadelphia. The wounds of the police bombing of the MOVE home last May, which killed 11 people, are still festering. The Mayor Wilson Goode's police force has continued their rampages against the black and Puerto Rican youth. But the Mayor and the police haven't lifted a finger in the face of racist attacks on black and interracial homes -- except to arrest anti-racist demonstrators!

Yet a striking feature of the February 15 demonstration was that the reformist organizers of the march (Workers World Party and other reformist groups) refused to agitate or raise any slogans against Mayor Goode.

Clearly the reformists wanted to limit the protest to what is acceptable to the Democratic Party politicians. And they have taken this so far as to try to take Wilson Goode off the hook, despite the monstrous crimes he has committed against the black and working people. Such a disgraceful stand can only compromise the movement, sap it of its militancy, and turn it into something harmless for the capitalist rulers.

To build a serious mass movement against racial discrimination and police brutality, the movement must take a clear-cut stand against those who are responsible for oppressing the masses, both the open Reaganite racists and the smooth-talking black Democrats like Wilson Goode.

Below we reprint part of the leaflet of the Philadelphia Committee in Support of the MLP,USA calling on workers to participate in the February 15 demonstration.

* * *

During the last several months we have seen numerous racist and fascist attacks on the black masses in West Philly and Southwest Philly. These brutal assaults have left 11 people dead and 61 homes destroyed, and terrorist attacks have tried to keep black and interracial families from living in predominantly white neighborhoods. These racist attacks have also been directed against Puerto Rican youth and arrests of protesters in opposition to racism in our city. These assaults on national minorities are not "accidental" or "isolated" incidents. They are part of an orchestrated campaign by the Reagan government of the rich to deny even the most basic democratic rights to the masses. These rights for jobs, housing and education, were won by the black masses struggling against discrimination, racism and reactionary Jim Crow laws. The black masses must continue to struggle against the Reaganite racist offensive...

In light of this Reaganite reactionary climate, Wilson Goode, so-called Democratic Party "defender of the rights of minorities," is responsible for the bombing of a black working class neighborhood and the killing of 11 men, women and children. The working class and people must learn to recognize these class enemies. These Democratic Party leaders continue to promote themselves as progressive, pro-working class spokesmen. Their deeds prove otherwise. The Democratic and Republican parties are the twin parties of capitalist exploitation of the workers. Wilson Goode's policies have not helped to reduce the high unemployment among blacks, the poor housing, the attacks by racists on the black masses. Goode's primary concern is to aid the black bourgeoisie in the desire for lucrative contracts with the city and other special deals. What positive impact has there been for the black masses in Philadelphia? Remember, Wilson Goode's police stood by while white racist mobs attacked the homes of black families in Southwest Philly. And it was Goode and the black bourgeoisie who felt threatened by the self-defense tactics of the members of MOVE...

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Hunger strike in a Texas prison

On January 31st, 41 prisoners confined in a segregation unit of the Tennessee Colony state penitentiary in Texas launched a hunger strike in protest of the inhuman oppression they face. They are struggling against beatings, strip searches, vile food and atrocious living conditions, and every type of brutality at the hands of the racist and corrupt guards and officials.

This hunger strike marks another round in the tenacious struggle which prison activists have been waging against the infamous Texas Department of Corrections. The activists have organized committees and networks inside the walls to raise the political consciousness of the inmates, give legal assistance, and to resist the barbarous conditions. The prison authorities have responded to these organizing efforts by condemning politically conscious and active prisoners to segregation and subjecting them to constant harassment and persecution.

The prison system in this country is a monstrous machine of capitalist repression against the working masses. Presently, hundreds of thousands of mainly still unconscious youth are being ground down in the big hellholes called prisons.

We condemn the barbaric treatment of prisoners, and welcome every step they take to organize and to raise their political consciousness about the class struggle.

The hunger strikers have sent The Workers' Advocate their January 31 press release containing their manifesto of demands, which we will carry in The Workers' Advocate Supplement.

The prisoners have also sent us a copy of the letter that they sent to the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML) requesting an international protest against their conditions and mistreatment. We have translated this letter from the original Spanish and reprinted it below.

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from within the Texas prisons:

Voices from behind the walls

The Texas prison system is the second largest in the U.S. after California, holding over 37,000 inmates, and it is notorious for brutality. In the midst of the dungeons, politically conscious activists are struggling and organizing among their fellow prisoners. Some of these activists correspond with The Workers' Advocate, keeping the paper informed of the situation behind the walls.

There is severe overcrowding in the Texas prisons and a criminal lack of "support facilities" like toilets, showers, laundry rooms and dining halls, not to mention libraries, recreation areas and medical facilities. Moreover, the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) is rife with corruption among the prison officials and guards.

The situation in the TDC is so outrageous that in late 1985 even the bourgeois courts had to make a show of disapproval and declared conditions unconstitutional and ordered a number of improvements. Of course, it took 12 years of litigation to reach this verdict!

In 1983 the system of "building tenders" was ended. "Building tenders" were inmates who, on behalf of the TDC, enforced prison "order" through a rule of terror. Since their elimination, the TDC has devised a new method of intimidating inmates -- SWAT-like teams called "Special Operation Reaction Teams" (SORT). These SORT squads specialize in roughing up prisoners and stealing or destroying their personal belongings.

Last fall, in the wake of several killings of inmates by other prisoners, the TDC raised a big hullabaloo about gangs in the prisons. The TDC demanded that the courts prohibit inmates from writing letters to each other, on the grounds that some of the letters contain "sophisticated coded messages" ordering certain prisoners to be assassinated. Correspondence privileges were denied for hundreds of prisoners who were labeled as gang members, and thousands of inmates were "locked down" in their cells. One particular target of this persecution has been the politically conscious activists, whose work is feared and hated by the prison authorities.

One prisoner activist, who was designated as a "suspected gang member" and subjected to correspondence restrictions, wrote to The Workers' Advocate in October:

"The capitalist media has whipped up extensive hysterical reaction on the issue of so-called 'inmate gang violence' and we are attempting to show where the real source of all these comes from -- from the prisoncrats themselves. Correspondence privileges, persistent harassment, cell searches, and other arbitrary punishments are the order of the day here -- especially against us prison activists who are considered a 'threat' to the slavocracy because of the political exposure that we continue to make in exposing the inhumane, barbaric prison conditions and treatment, financial corruption, racism, manipulation of the 'inmate gang' phenomenon, staff brutality, and other crimes against the prison masses. "

In January, WA received a letter from another prisoner activist, which said in part:

"Dear Staff (The Workers' Advocate):

"Fraternal Revolutionary Greetings!

"My comrade (fellow captive) [name omitted] provided you with information as to the archaic prison conditions and current fascist oppression being lashed out on politically conscious prisoner-leaders in Texas prisons.

"The situation is not reflected truthfully in the bourgeois press; there are no outside, functional advocates to voice our views -- and the prison administration aims all its "security" interest in obstructing our growth as a sector of class conscious prisoners. They fear the prisoners becoming class conscious! Especially now, they fear a rise in class consciousness which would bring together different nationalities and cultures to combat (one) oppressor....

"At this very moment we are waging a confined battle (but one nevertheless) of class conscious prisoners vs. prison suppression; with the intense levels of confusion and anarchy in our midst. That's why prisoners kill one another, because the system still keeps us divided. Yet, as never before, the defense groups are spreading, have acquired nonprofit status, are spreading literature -- but most importantly -- we are networking via correspondence effectively....

"Of course, those of us who have been fortunate to learn the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, and our continuing study of same, along with The Workers' Advocate, are able to maintain a united force of prison jailhouse lawyers, prison committee members, political activists, and a lot of the 5,000 who were forcibly locked down (segregated); and, spread a rough but yet form of class solidarity crossing the racial barriers even as the racism continues to take its toll!...

"If anything, you must be informed that we are raising class consciousness -- and believe the class captive population in this state needs more proletarian advocacy, so as to give inspiration to the prisoners who struggle/wallow/ labor 37,000 strong in these pig's sties! Neo-slave plantations!

"In closing I want to include some material to shed a bit more light on our current struggle. Of course, this prisoner class struggle exists in most all states -- as rebellious tendencies become revolutionary thought and actions, in 1986!

En lucha [In struggle],

[Name omitted]

Huntsville, Texas"

(The full text of this letter is carried in The Workers' Advocate Supplement, January 15,1986.)

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Letter from Texas prisoners to Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists

February 2,1986

Mr. Carlos Lucas Arauz

Director, Prensa Proletaria


P.O. Box 611 Managua, Nicaragua

Esteemed comrades of MAP-ML:

In this mailing you will find a copy of a declaration publicizing a hunger strike in protest against the conditions and mistreatment which prisoners receive in this Texas state penitentiary. These conditions are brutal and fundamentally violate the human rights of the prisoners. But the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie on the issue of human rights is clear: they declare before the world human rights for the masses, but in reality the only ones who receive human rights are those who have the money to buy "justice."

As Marx and Engels put it in the Communist Manifesto,

"...prison reform: for the benefit of the working class. That is the final word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois Socialism. It is summed up in a phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois --for the benefit of the working class."

Copies of this declaration are being sent this day to the comrades of The Workers' Advocate, (Marxist-Leninist Party of the United States). It is necessary that a protest of the international community be launched against the department of "corrections" to support our efforts to demand human rights. This is not a protest of only three or nine days and no more. But no, it is a resolve until they have to hospitalize us. Death is preferable than to continue living in this hell of capitalist slavery. We are not "criminals" but political prisoners, imprisoned by the capitalist economic forces of the bourgeois class.

The assistance and support of MAP-ML in this struggle would be appreciated. A protest in the UN, or with the Sandinista or Cuban government, to demand that the American government recognizes and respects our human rights would probably be adequate.



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Down with the attacks on Arabs in the U.S.!

(The following is taken from Detroit Workers Voice, issued by the Detroit Branch of the MLP February 26, 1986.)

In the last few months there has been a wave of attacks against Arabs living in the U.S. This has included the murder of Alex Odeh, the regional director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Santa Ana, California; the fire bombing of the ADC headquarters in Washington, DC; the painting of "Arab Go Home" slogans on walls and a whole campaign of anti-Arab slanders from the mayor on down in Dearborn, which has one of the largest Arab communities in the U.S.

Side by side with these attacks there have been a series of TV shows smearing Arabs as crazed bloodthirsty terrorists. A recent example of this was the movie "Under Siege" which portrayed a mythical group of international terrorists headed up by an Algerian (headquartered in none other than Dearborn, Michigan) whose aim was to terrorize the American people. Even the liberal "hero" of the movie makes statements to the effect that "foreign" people think differently than we do; that is, supposedly only Americans are civilized, foreigners are just savages.

This is all part of Reagan's crusade against "international terrorism." Under this banner, Reagan has given the U.S. government the right to unleash CIA-organized contras in a dirty war against Nicaragua, to invade and bomb Lebanon, to shoot down Libyan jets, to send naval armadas to maraud the waters of the Middle East, and more. At the same time, Reagan's hypocritical fervor against "international terrorism" has been used to encourage an atmosphere of anti-Arab sentiment in the U.S. and to provide an excuse for reactionaries to attack Arab-nationality people.

In particular, the reactionaries single out as "terrorists" and target for attack anyone who supports the Palestinian people's struggle against the Israeli zionist oppression. Despite the liberal nature of this ADC organization, Alex Odeh was murdered for his expressions of sympathy for the Palestinian liberation movement.

U.S. Imperialism Is the Real International Terrorist!

But all the anti-Arab hysteria is merely a guise to cover over the fact that it is U.S. imperialism that is the real terrorist in the world. It is U.S. imperialism that works to openly overthrow governments of other countries, such as Grenada in 1983 or Nicaragua today. It is U.S. imperialism that props up dictators in Chile, the Philippines, and elsewhere. It is U.S. imperialism that supports the racist government of South Africa.

Fight Racist Attacks and Right-Wing Terrorism!

Opposition to the attacks on Arab-nationality people has begun to break out. Hundreds of people in Detroit, in Washington, D.C., and in Los Angeles have marched in protest against the movie "Under Siege" and against the murder of Alex Odeh. Such demonstrations are important and deserve the support of all workers.

The anti-Arab crusade aims to split up the workers of different nationalities in the U.S. and to foster Reaganite reaction against all workers. It is up to U.S., the workers of all nationalities in the U.S., to rally against the attacks on the Arab-nationality people. Condemn the U.S. government for fostering racist gangs and for terrorizing the workers at home and abroad!

[Photo: On March 1st, 250 people attended a rally in Detroit, Mich., to oppose the recent wave of attacks on the Arab nationality people in the U.S.]

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Steel workers - Get ready to fight concessions!

Early bargaining has begun with the six giants of the steel industry and they want the workers to give them everything -- including the kitchen sink, with the bathroom toilet thrown in for good measure. All the companies are demanding agreements similar to the rotten concessions deal at Wheeling-Pittsburgh, and they have begun to threaten the workers.

The biggest steel monopoly, U.S. Steel, raked in $409 million in profits in 1985. But its chairman, David Roderick, "already has warned that if he doesn't get a 'competitive' contract [read: concessions similar to Wheeling-Pitt] at his company, there will be a vicious fight. The union will be 'assassinating [its] workers,' he maintains.'' (Business Week, January 13, 1986) Meanwhile Robert McBride, president of National Steel, declared, "I see the need for cost-cutting not only in this negotiation but any negotiation from here on...." (Detroit News, January 17, 1986) In other words, concessions now and forever. And the executives of LTV, Bethlehem, Inland, and Armco have joined the chorus with similar declarations.

The steel workers are fed up with concessions that have already cost them wage and benefit cuts of over $1.4 billion and the elimination of 80,000 jobs since the last contract in 1983. But the leaders of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) are down on their knees ready to offer the steel monopolies almost everything they want. If the steel workers are to defend themselves then the treachery of these union hacks must be exposed and the rank-and-file steel workers must get organized on their own to fight back against the steel capitalists' concessions offensive.

USWA Hacks Call for Concessions to "Save the Steel Industry"

Instead of fighting for the interests of the workers the USWA hacks are calling on them to join hands with the steel companies to "save the steel industry." The USWA bureaucrats, in a rare admission of how they have gone over from the side of the workers to the side of the steel capitalists, declared in the January issue of Steelabor that, "Traditionally, the USWA used its power to strike to get management to the negotiating table [what about to win workers' demands?]. Now it must also use its power to seek support for the industry from the lenders and the federal government. Only through a concerted effort by all parties--labor, management, government and the banks--can the nation's steel industry be restored to health." (Emphasis added.)

Amazing, no? The power of the strike is no longer a weapon of the workers for the fight against the capitalists but to help the capitalists out!

Across-the-Board Concessions for Companies in "Dire Situations"

"Saving the industry," of course, means giving concessions. In their basic strategy statement, the USWA hacks declared, "Reality demonstrates, for example, that there are specific situations "where the consequences to our members of not accepting concessions are far worse than the consequences of accepting them." They don't say what these consequences are, nor can they, since concessions never save the jobs or incomes of the workers. The USWA leaders just go on to say that, "all measures that can produce savings must be implemented" for companies that face "dire situations." (January 17 statement of the Basic Steel Industry Conference.) In other words, across-the-board-concessions for companies facing difficulties.

But which companies are being spoken of? Well, apparently all of them. So far the USWA has reached "crisis agreements" with five of the big six steel companies. These agreements set bargaining deadlines of March 15-31 by which time new contracts to help the companies out of their distress are to be settled. As well, the agreements announce a joint company-union campaign to dramatize the "steel industry's crisis." On February 12 the heads of LTV, Bethlehem, National, and Inland held a joint meeting with Lynn Williams, the president of the USWA, to begin planning this campaign.

Wage Cutting and Job Elimination for Even the Profitable Companies

Only U.S. Steel has not yet signed such a "crisis agreement." But don't think that the USWA hacks are forgetting about also giving concessions to this rich monopoly. The USWA hacks have planned concessions even for companies that are not in supposedly "dire" straits.

Take wages and benefits. The USWA leaders declare that, "For those facing an immediate cash crisis, wage or benefit reduction have to be considered to help forestall bankruptcy. Those not facing an immediate crisis will also want to lower their costs, but this might be achieved without reducing wages and benefits." (Steelabor, January 1986) In other words, they "might" give U.S. Steel wage cuts, but if not they will give them other concessions to "lower costs."

For example, the USWA is calling for such job-eliminating schemes as job combination and working across classifications even for highly profitable companies. They actually stress that, "Job evaluation manuals must be updated to reflect technological changes" and that, "company plans for radically changing job content and work relationships should be examined with great care...." (January 17 statement of the Basic Steel Industry Conference.)

The USWA leaders have stated that even under the best scenarios another 30,000 jobs will be eliminated in the steel industry in the next few years. But instead of fighting to save the workers' jobs they are talking about giving the steel capitalists the very concessions they need to slash employment. And this in the name of "saving the industry." What sellouts!

The Fraud of "Equality of Sacrifice"

For all of these concessions the union hacks only demand that the capitalists "share equally in any sacrifice." But this is a fraud. Even by the USWA's own account the workers have borne the brunt of the last several years of the crisis in steel. Giving concessions will only increase this burden. Meanwhile the banks are raking in high interest payments, the stockholders get their dividends, the executives live high on the hog, and the companies return to profitability. (See article to the left.)

What is more, the USWA hacks have a businessmen's view of what "sacrifice" the companies should make. In return for concessions, the USWA leaders' key demand is to give them a seat on the board of directors. The USWA bureaucrats declared that giving up huge concessions to Wheeling-Pittsburgh was a "victory" because they got onto the board of directors. And now they want to extend that "victory" to other companies. But all this, and other such labor-management cooperation schemes, means is that the union bureaucrats are becoming bosses to help manage the job elimination and other concessions against the workers.

It's Up to the Workers to Organize the Fight

The USWA hacks are ready to give away everything. It's up to the rank and file to close ranks and declare: No More Concessions!

The workers require real job security including a guarantee of all present jobs and either jobs or a livelihood for the 250,000 steel workers who have been thrown out of the mills since 1979. The workers need an end to overtime, which alone cost 14,000 jobs in 1985. The workers want an end to job combination, to working across classifications, and to contracting out work. And the workers must have a decent wage increase.

If this is too much for any one of the companies to pay, let the other capitalists, the banks, and others which have profited so highly off the backs of the steel workers, foot the bill. The workers have given up too much already. It's time to fight back.

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Steel companies reap the profits of concessions

A lot of tears are flowing about how down and out the poor old steel capitalists are supposed to be. But U.S. Steel turned a $409 million profit in 1985, following a $459 million profit in in 1984. Meanwhile two top business magazines of the capitalists have admitted that the other steel companies will also turn a profit in 1986.

The January 13 issue of Business Week chuckled that, "After four years in the intensive care ward, the U.S. steel industry may need only outpatient treatment in 198#. Barring a recession, most steelmakers should report modest profits this year." Similarly, the March 10 issue of Forbes swooned that "the profits begin to flow, this year." And it talked of the supposedly crisis-ridden Bethlehem Steel making from $500 to $750 million, Inland Steel raking in $13 a share, and similar results for the other steel giants.

Even though there continues to be a crisis in the steel industry, the companies will begin to report serious profits because of the enormous concessions robbed from the steel workers.

Although the steel capitalists reported a total loss of $5.8 billion from 1982-1984, $3 billion of that was actually for the one-time costs for shutting down mills, a cost that eventually becomes a profit from the elimination of pay and benefits to tens of thousands of laid-off workers.

Meanwhile the 1983 contract has saved the companies some $1.4 billion in wages and benefits. Due to this and to the job-eliminating work rule changes granted them, the steel capitalists have cut the average employment cost per ton of steel shipped from $195 down to $126. As well, job combinations, working across classifications, and so forth have brought productivity to be the best in the world at 6.2 man-hours per ton of steel. Forbes calls these changes a modern "miracle."

So then why all the tears for the steel monopolies? Forbes let the cat out of the bag. "Under normal circumstances those signs, modest as they are, on prices, orders, imports and supply costs, plus the miracles on productivity and quality would be hailed as signs of a turnaround in the industry. They aren't. Why not? Well, talking poor-mouth makes sense in a labor negotiation year...."

In short the steel capitalists and the USWA are trying to hoodwink the workers. They are crying poverty only to claim they must have concessions from the workers in this year's contract. To hell with these liars. No More Concessions!

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Waving the flag or fighting the steel capitalists

You've got to watch out when the union hacks start talking patriotic because the next thing out of their mouths will be to sweet talk you to cough up concessions.

Such is the story with the leaders of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). They devote the first third of their bargaining strategy statement to making a flag-waving appeal to "save the steel industry" for the good of the nation. They cry that the crisis "must be solved if our nation is to remain a first-class industrial power." (To exploit the workers throughout the world, we would add.) They wring their hands over the danger the steel crisis creates for "defense needs." (They're talking about a danger to the enormous U.S. military power that is used to throttle working people all over the world.) They even complain that the weakening of the steel industry could force "high-tech companies" to, oh-horror-of-horrors, "rely on foreign markets such as Japan." (Now we're supposed to be afraid of even selling goods to Japan?) (Jan. 17 Statement of the Basic Steel Industry Conference.)

But after 14 pages the USWA hacks get down to the bottom line: concessions. The next 29 pages go through the ins-and-outs of handing the steel monopolies wage-cuts, benefit-cuts, job combinations, add a whole slew of other take-backs.

And so it goes. In a big capitalist power like ours "for the good of the nation" always comes out to mean: for the good of the capitalists. And when the union hacks start waving "old glory" you can bet they are waving it for the benefit of the capitalists.

The workers must have their own flag, the flag of solidarity of the international working class, the flag of class struggle against the capitalist bosses.

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Strikes and workplace news

Steel workers shut down 'big four' can makers

Fourteen thousand workers at some 90 plants across the U.S. and Canada are on strike against the four largest American can makers.

The strike began February 17 after the rejection of National Can's demands to replace base wage increases with year-end bonuses of $400. This offer, reported to be the best yet from any of the companies, amounts to only 20 cents an hour on a 40-hour week and would not be rolled into the base pay. Besides the wage increase, the workers are demanding job security. Since the last contract, plant closings have wiped out some 30,000 container workers' jobs. Although all four companies -- Continental Inc., American Can, Crown Cork and Seal, and National Can -- are quite profitable, they are still demanding concessions. But the workers are fighting back.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the United Steelworkers union (USWA) are trying to keep the workers' demands at a minimum and to use the strike to press for more union-company collaboration.

USWA leaders continue to hold to the threadbare lie that "concessions save jobs'' and, conversely, that wage increases cost jobs. Therefore they are asking for only a minimal wage increase because, as one union spokesman put it, "too costly a settlement threatened more shutdowns."

What is more, the union hacks are demanding the extension of "labor- management" teams to all the companies. American Can, as well as most of the steel companies, already has such a system. Under it the union hacks sit with company representatives to sort out the best way to combine jobs, carry out layoffs, and close plants. Such union collaboration with the companies has gone so far that when the USWA heads held their Container Industry Conference in December to plan bargaining strategy for the then upcoming contract talks they invited representatives from the four can companies to participate. Together with the capitalist bosses the union leaders held four days of talks about "updating'' job classifications, that is, about combining and eliminating jobs.

The container workers are striking to increase their pay and to win real job security. But the union leaders are trying to use the strike to win a place for themselves in managing job cuts and other concessions against the workers. The rank-and-file workers must watch out. It's not class collaboration between the union and companies, but the class struggle of the workers against the capitalist corporations that alone can defend the workers' jobs and livelihood.

3,700 GE workers walk out against harassment

Thirty-seven hundred workers walked off the job February 21 at GE's complex in Lynn, Massachusetts.

This struggle has been building up for some time. GE is carrying out a vicious productivity drive that includes speedup, eliminating jobs, forcing those still employed to work outside of their classifications, subcontracting work at lower wages, and slashing piecework prices in certain departments. Recently it began an audit and time study in the turbine section threatening to close it down and throw 1,500 workers out of their jobs. To enforce this drive, GE constantly hounds the workers, suspending and firing them on the slightest pretext.

The workers want to fight these outrages, and for several months calls for a strike have spread through the complex. Finally, after a union steward was arbitrarily suspended, the leaders of Local 201 of the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE) reluctantly agreed to call a strike. But they have tried to keep the strike limited and to smother the workers' demands in a blanket of vagueness.

The workers want an end to speedup, job combination, subcontracting, suspensions and firings. And they need the recall, with full back pay, of all those disciplined and job guarantees against layoffs and the threatened closing of the turbine section. But the IUE leaders have asked only for the recall of one suspended shop steward and for the vague request of "respect'' for the grievance procedure.

What is more, the IUE hacks have so far refused to put up picket lines because that would bring out all 12,000 workers at the complex and completely shut it down.

Nevertheless, sentiment is mounting for a complex-wide strike. Workers have been delighted at the two MLP leaflets which were put out to help clarify the workers' demands and to spread the call to "expand the strike now!'' Meanwhile GE is refusing to grant even the minimal demands put up by the union bureaucrats. With or without the approval of the union leaders, the workers may shut down the entire complex and confront GE with a stronger, clearer struggle than it counted on.

Greyhound workers reject concessions

Greyhound workers have defied the company's blackmail that the workers accept more concessions or face the elimination of a number of bus lines. In a 4,600 to 3,202 vote, the workers rejected Greyhound's demand to reopen the contract and grant another $70 million worth of concessions.

In 1983 Greyhound, with the help of the leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), broke the workers' strike and imposed a 15% cut in pay and benefits and a two-tier wage structure paying new-hires less. Now Greyhound is back demanding: a wage freeze; the elimination of COLA; the slashing of protective work rules; and the right to franchise as much of the business as possible to other operators, most of them nonunion and some of them wholly or partly owned by the parent Greyhound Corporation. This latter demand would eliminate some 4,000 jobs. And once again the leaders of the ATU recommended that the workers accept these dirty concessions.

The rank-and-file vote against this rotten concessions deal has not ended the struggle. Greyhound is now threatening to simply violate the contract and franchise out the work anyway. The workers must get ready to fight, and this requires organizing independently of the union leaders who have been sabotaging their struggle at every step.

2,500 rally for Hormel strikers in Austin, Minnesota

[Photo: 2,500 workers from across the country march in Austin, Minnesota in solidarity with striking Hormel workers, February 15.]

[Photo: Rally in Austin high school in support of Hormel strikers.]

On February 15 a demonstration of some 2,500 workers shook downtown Austin, Minnesota with shouts against takebacks. Workers came from across the country -- longshoremen from Los Angeles; hospital, transit, and telephone workers from New York City; steelworkers and Chicago Tribune strikers from Chicago; and workers in other industries from St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit, and other cities.

The demonstration concluded with a rally at Austin High School. One speaker after another took the stage in front of a huge banner which demanded: "Withdraw the National Guard.'' Many speakers praised the fighting spirit of the Hormel workers and proclaimed that the Austin strike is a sign of a new awakening in the workers' movement.

Workers From Other Hormel Plants Rally to Support the Austin Strike

One speaker was from the third largest Hormel Plant which is located in Fremont, Nebraska. Over 60 workers at this plant were fired when they honored a roving picket line there on January 27. The representative from the plant proclaimed that these workers are still solid in their support for the strike and would not return to work until it is won.

Another speaker came from Hormel's second largest plant which is in Ottumwa, Iowa. This plant employs about 800 workers. Over 500 of them were fired for refusing to cross the roving picket lines there January 27. Three days later 2,000 workers from plants throughout the city joined in a militant march to the Hormel plant in Ottumwa. The demonstration protested the firings and called for support for the Austin strike. On February 8 a second rally in Ottumwa drew workers from around the country. The representative from Ottumwa proclaimed that workers must do "what's right'' and said 5,000 had rallied in Ottumwa to do just that -- support the Austin strike.

The Austin workers are demanding that Hormel guarantee it will forgive and put back to work all the workers at all Hormel plants who have supported the strike. Hormel has reopened the Austin plant with scabs leaving over 1,000 Austin workers without jobs and another 600 workers fired at other Hormel plants. The workers say that amnesty has now become a central demand of their strike.

The Rank-And-File Want to Shut It Down

At the rally the leaders of Local P-9 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) emphasized their call to boycott Hormel products. But many rank-and-file workers at the rally repeatedly argued that, while a boycott is good, the only way to win the strike is to defy the court injunction against mass picketing and shut down the plant.

What are the workers up against?

In the first place, the National Guard remains posted against them in Austin. In January Rudi Perpich, the Democratic Party governor in Minnesota, withdrew the National Guard. But after the workers again shut down the plant on January 31 he immediately sent hundreds of guardsmen back to the plant. Several strikers were arrested and the guardsmen opened a path for scabs to enter the plant. This shows how not only Reagan and the Republicans but also the Democratic Party politicians are acting as strikebreakers to defend the greedy capitalists.

In the second place, the Hormel workers have to deal with the foot-dragging treachery of their own local union leaders. The local union officials are caught between the militancy of the rank and file and the outright strikebreaking of the top international leaders of the UFCW. They have constantly vacillated between the two and hesitated to take action at every step.

When the issue was to extend the strike to other Hormel plants, the local leaders dragged their feet for months, waiting on agreement by the international union leaders. They called back roving pickets that had already gone out to other plants on the plea that it might upset bargaining. And they finally agreed to roving pickets only at the point where they could not stop them.

Again when Hormel reopened the plant with scabs and the issue became to shut it down, local president Jim Guyette and other leaders wanted to wait. It was only when Guyette was out of town that workers got together on their own and threw up a mass picket to shut down the plant. And the same is true right now.

The rank and file want to go into action at the plant gates. But Guyette and other leaders are claiming that the boycott of Hormel products and a federal investigation of the meatpacking industry are the only correct tactics for the situation.

Despite the difficult situation, the workers continue to show their determination to shut down the plant. They have set an inspiring example that is encouraging other meatpackers and workers in every industry to build the fight against the capitalists' concessions drive. With courage and militancy, and with the support of workers from other plants, the Hormel workers are fighting on.


Lane Kirkland stabs the Hormel strikers in the back

From their beach chairs at pool side in sunny Bal Harbor, Florida, Lane Kirkland and the rest of the AFL-CIO Executive Board have come out against the strike of the Hormel meatpackers in Austin, Minnesota. Yes, the top labor leaders, joining with the companies and the government, want the workers to lose this half-year-long battle against concessions.

The International president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), William Wynn, has worked to break this strike from the start. On February 17, in a seven-page public statement issued at the AFL-CIO Executive Board meeting, Wynn took out his wrath against the strike on Jim Guyette, the president of local P-9 of the UFCW, and on Ray Rogers, a consultant hired by the local. Wynn claimed these two had "successfully manipulated a democratic institution" with "smoke and mirrors, balloons and hot air." He went on to decry the Austin strike as a story of "inexperienced, misguided leadership and false prophets" who "had duped the meatpackers in Austin into following their lead through a 'propaganda stream' that would have made the Nazis envious." (New York Times, February 18 and 20,1986)

However, far from being "duped," it has been the rank-and-file meatpackers in Austin who demanded this strike and who have pushed it forward at each step over the vacillations and objections of Guyette and Rogers. (see above article.)

Nevertheless, Lane Kirkland joined the fray proclaiming that the AFL-CIO Executive Board ' 'had nothing to add or subtract" to Wynn's statement. Kirkland coldly turned down Guyette's request to present his case before the Executive Board.

Instead the top UFCW leaders were allowed to use the Bal Harbor meeting to issue more threats against the strike. Jay Foreman, UFCW senior vice president, declared the UFCW might lift its strike sanction and place the local in receivership. And William Wynn threatened that if the strike isn't over "in a relatively short time, I'll settle it."

What is it that's so inspired the wrath of these labor leaders?

They are afraid that if the Hormel strike succeeds it will prove wrong the UFCW's gospel of cooperating with the companies and accepting concessions as a "necessary" evil. And this shameful stand is the policy of the entire AFL-CIO leadership. It's to try to keep the nationwide struggle against concessions from breaking out that the AFL-CIO executive board is publicly condemning the Hormel strike and throwing its weight against the strikers.

Strike against Champion Spark Plug against wage cuts

On February 2, picket lines went up at Champion Spark Plug's five North American plants, A total of 2,250 workers are on strike in Toledo and Cambridge, Ohio; Burlington, Iowa; Detroit; and Windsor, Canada.

Champion is refusing to increase the basic wage rate and pensions. As well, it won't even roll the 90 cent-an-hour cost-of-living pay (which has accrued gradually over the last three years) into the base wage. These greedy capitalists want to replace the COLA with a onetime $300 bonus.

Three years ago the workers were forced to accept a concessions contract after a six-week strike. They are bitter over the suffering from the past concessions and are determined to defeat concessions in this year's strike.

[Photo: Champion Spark Plug workers man the picket line at the company's Detroit plant.]

Blue Bird bus drivers strike in Buffalo

(The following article is based on a leaflet issued by the Buffalo Branch of the MLP, USA on February 10, 1986.)

Workers, students, activists! Since January 13, drivers and mechanics of Blue Bird Coach Lines have been on strike. The workers have justly refused the company's proposal for a wage freeze this year and only a 7% pay-hike over the following two years. The company's proposal is an outrage considering that the workers only make $4-6 an hour, that they took a 7.8% cut three years ago, and that since then have had no wage increase at all.

The Blue Bird workers have taken a firm stand against the company's offer. As well, they are facing strike-breaking tactics by the company which is using scabs to keep the buses running. This strike deserves our support.

Zinc miners in fifth month of strike

Three hundred fifty zinc miners are continuing their strike against St. Joe Resources near the town of Fowler in upstate New York.

St. Joe is owned by Fluor, the same company that owns J.T. Massey Coal and that also exploits black miners in South Africa. It is employing similar strikebreaking tactics to those used against the Massey Coal strike, including turning the mining town into an armed camp of company security goons.

Despite the vicious attacks on them, the zinc miners are standing firm in the fifth month of their strike.

Ecorse, Michigan students walk out in support of teachers

In a spirited demonstration of solidarity with their teachers, most of the 800 students at the high school in Ecorse, Michigan walked out of classes on February 21. The teachers have been without a contract for the past year and they have not received a raise since 1983.

Three days later, on Monday, the teachers themselves went on strike. The teachers say they are protesting the school board's refusal to negotiate. They say they will stay out until they win the pay raise they deserve.

Capitalists benefit from unemployment

(The following article is reprinted from the February issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, organ of the Detroit Branch of the MLP,USA.)

Ronald Reagan continues to boast about "economic recovery." But it is only the rich capitalists who are benefiting from Reaganomics. The workers know the harsh reality of unemployment, plant closings, layoffs, and a takeback offensive where the capitalists are trying to use unemployment as a weapon to grab concessions from the employed.

In recent weeks, the government statisticians announced with much fanfare a minute decrease in the unemployment rate which, they say, has reached the lowest level since 1980. But this still means that eight million people are unemployed. And this "official" figure does not include the more than 1.2 million "discouraged" workers who have given up looking for jobs that are not there. Nor does the figure include the 5.5 million people who have been forced into part-time jobs because full-time work is unavailable. Thus, even according to the under-counting of official government statistics, there are 14.7 million unemployed or underemployed workers. And Reagan calls this "recovery"!

One wonders, is there reason to this madness? Well, yes. One reason is the logic of man-eating exploitation under capitalism. In times of economic crisis the capitalists try to safeguard their profits by cutting back production and throwing people out of work. Then they use the huge number of unemployed as an additional source of profit. Unemployment is used as a threat to drive down the wages and working conditions of those who are still on the job.

With the recent strikes in Detroit at the Hygrade and Thom Apple Valley meatpacking plants, and with Chrysler's threats to close Jefferson Assembly and Trenton Engine, we have seen the capitalists' ultimatum -- work harder, faster, and longer at lower pay and without protective work rules and job classifications or else you too will be thrown jobless into the streets. And where does the concessions money go? Well, besides the portion for yachts and other high living of the capitalists, it goes into robotization and speedup which prepare the way for another round of layoffs.

Clearly the workers can expect no help from the capitalists who are hellbent on splitting up the working class and exploiting it to the bone. Instead the workers must take matters into their own hands. Both employed and unemployed workers should unite to fight for jobs or a livelihood for the unemployed. And both employed and unemployed should unite forces to stand up against the concessions drive. Militant mass struggle is the path forward against the attacks of the capitalist class.


Chrysler's concessions blackmail denounced

Only four months ago Chrysler's concessions demands were beat back by a national strike,. But with the help of the UAW leadership, Chrysler is already back on the concessions trail trying to cut job classifications and work rules and to eliminate as many jobs as it can.

Chrysler is using a series of dirty maneuvers to try to pick off the workers at each plant separately. For example, they have threatened to shut down plant after plant -- from the St. Louis Plant # 2, to the assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, to Jefferson Assembly in Detroit, to the Trenton Engine Plant outside Detroit and more -- if the workers don't cough up concessions. If Chrysler actually carried out all of these threats then virtually their entire system would be shut down. But they approach the workers at each plant separately and try to make it appear that only that individual plant is being threatened.

Sometimes Chrysler holds out the promise that if the workers give them what they want then the company will build a new plant. Such is the current concessions blackmail at Jefferson Assembly.

Chrysler has also used the ploy of remodeling a plant, calling it a new plant, and then while the workers are laid off it draws up a new local concessions contract with the top UAW leaders. This trick is presently underway at the Dodge Truck assembly plant in Warren, Michigan which was shut down last month. The plant is to be reopened this spring with a new name, "Dodge City," and 1,000 less workers.

Workers Resist

Despite all of these maneuvers, the workers are fighting back. In St. Louis the workers at Plant #2 fought a three-week strike in November during which Plant #1 was also shut down in solidarity. Through this strike the workers won back a number of job classifications that had been previously lost.

800 Denounce Marc Stepp at Jefferson Assembly Union Meeting

On January 26th, 800 workers from Jefferson Assembly came out to a union meeting to oppose concessions and to denounce the betrayal of the UAW bureaucrats, especially Marc Stepp who was the featured speaker at the meeting.

The local capitalist news media and UAW Vice-President Marc Stepp are telling monstrous lies about this meeting. The January 27 Detroit Free Press, for example, printed a rotten lying story claiming that the workers at the meeting voted unanimously "to offer contract concessions to Chrysler in hopes of keeping their jobs." This isn't what happened at all. In fact, the workers repeatedly opposed concessions and voted only to allow the UAW leaders to talk with Chrysler about building a new plant.

Some 15 workers trooped to the microphone and, to the thunderous applause of the other workers, one after the other declared their opposition to concessions and their skepticism towards the maneuvers of Chrysler and the UAW hacks. The biggest response was to one worker's stirring condemnation of Marc Stepp's collaboration with Chrysler's concessions drive. This worker pointed to Chrysler's record profits and exposed the fact that Chrysler only dared to ask for more concessions because the UAW leadership has been selling out the workers for years. He was repeatedly interrupted with wild applause and hooting against Stepp as the workers shouted out their agreement. Meanwhile, the MLP has spread through the plant nearly 800 buttons saying "No Cuts in Job Classifications!" and thousands upon thousands of leaflets saying, "Make Chrysler Pay for a new Plant! Guarantee the workers' Jobs and Bring Back the Laid-off!"

1,200 Trenton Engine Workers Say: "No Takeaways, No Job Combination!"

On February 9 Marc Stepp and his crew from Solidarity House took their blackmail roadshow to the Trenton Engine Plant local union meeting. And again the local capitalist news media poured out lies about how the workers allegedly voted to give up concessions to save their jobs.

But in fact workers showed up to this meeting with a petition signed by more than 1,200 Trenton Engine Workers saying that they wouldn't tolerate any more takeaways or any combination of job classifications. Again Stepp took his lumps from the angry workers. Although they voted to allow the UAW leadership to talk to Chrysler about keeping V-6 engine production at the plant, the workers made it clear that they would fight against any attempts to sneak concessions into their contract.

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Death to apartheid in South Africa!


[Photo: The heroic black masses battle the racist police among barricades of burning tires in the streets of Alexandra.]

Fierce struggle in the black township of Alexandra

The struggle against the racist Botha regime continues to burst forth. Over 100 of the black and other oppressed people were martyred by the ruthless apartheid rulers in February, the second highest monthly total in the two year upsurge. But just when the white supremacist rulers seem to have quieted the revolt in one area, it explodes with renewed vigor in another.

Alexandra Explodes

In recent weeks the focus of the anti-apartheid movement shifted to Alexandra, a black township north of Johannesburg. Alexandra had been relatively inactive previously. But in mid-February it became a firestorm of protest.

The revolt in Alexandra broke out after police fired on mourners as they left two separate events, one a funeral and the other a memorial service attended by 6,000 people in memory of an activist murdered by police the year before. For the next four days, fierce clashes took place. Factories and stores of white businessmen were attacked with gasoline bombs and rocks. Barricades of burning tires sprung up amidst the street fighting against the racist authorities. And two giant rallies of 25,000 and 40,000 were held. (The population of the township is about 80,000.)

In the confrontations the black masses braved not only the police but armed civilian racists who opened fire on protestors. The authorities admitted to killing 23 people in the clashes while anti-apartheid forces report that 46 were killed.

Finally a combination of savage repression and Bishop Tutu's treacherous calls to end the struggle (see accompanying article) brought a temporary lull. But by the next week renewed outbreaks of struggle were reported in Alexandra.

Other Outbursts Hit the Racist Regime

The masses of Alexandra were not alone in the struggle. Many other black townships across the country also erupted in rebellion. In mid-February, 250 demonstrators boldly marched on the segregated white enclaves near Graaf Reinet in the Eastern Cape. In Zwide township, near Port Elizabeth, two police were wounded by gunfire. Thirty thousand students boycotted classes in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, to commemorate the death of a 15-year old slain by police last year. This was followed by a march of 2,000 black women who faced whippings and tear gas from the police thugs. Revolts were also reported in the Durban area and Soweto.

Miners Return to the Battle

The militant gold miners went back into action at the end of the month. Last year the Anglo-American Corporation fired 14,000 striking workers. But even this has failed to stop the ferment against the outrageous exploitation by the mining capitalists (including the liberals who own Anglo-American).

Some 19,000 workers struck the Anglo-American Corporation's huge Vaal Reefs gold mine, the largest gold mine in South Africa, located 100 miles west of Johannesburg. The workers are demanding the release of nine miners accused of killing four black sellout foremen.

According to the National Union of Mineworkers, another 1,500 workers took part in simultaneous strikes at coal mines at Witbank, about 50 miles northeast of Johannesburg.

The Racists Step Up Bloody Repression

The liberation struggle is advancing despite the savagery of the white minority government. While the Botha government cried crocodile tears about black casualties and claimed to institute the emergency rules in order to save lives, in fact the emergency rules and the ban on television coverage has been used by the regime to step up its murder of activists and protestors. According to one liberal South African source, the rate of killing by the apartheid regime almost doubled since the Botha government instituted its "state of emergency" last July, reaching over 100 per month.

As well, according to government figures 7,777 people have been detained under the emergency decrees where anyone opposing apartheid can be held without charges. Over 2,000 of these detainees are youth under the age of 16. In February these totals were swollen by more repression such as the 641 people arrested at a stadium in Witbank, east of Johannesburg, attending what the authorities considered an "illegal" gathering. Meanwhile on February 18 the racist Minister of Law and Order, Louis LeGrange, pledged to use "even greater forces than have been used in the past" in order "to destroy the forces of violence and anarchy," that is, the anti-apartheid movement struggling against the bloodthirsty regime. The minister then announced plans to increase security forces from 47,500 to 87,000.

Support the Revolutionary Struggle

When one looks at the atrocities of the Botha regime can there be any belief that it will change its bestial nature? It is obvious that such professional killers will never reform away white minority rule. It must be swept away through revolution.

Workers and all anti-apartheid activists! The fighting toilers of South Africa are the force that can accomplish this task! Let us give wholehearted support to the development of the revolutionary movement of the black and other oppressed people against the slavemasters!

As he tells the protesters to go home:

Militants denounce Bishop Tutu

Once again, Bishop Tutu, that alleged leader of the anti-apartheid movement, has stepped forward to oppose the mass struggle against the racist South African rulers. His latest efforts occurred in the midst of the recent fierce clashes in Alexandra. On February 18, as 25,000 angry blacks rallied in a stadium preparing for another battle with the racist authorities, Tutu met with the police to help liquidate the struggle. After conferring with the racists, Tutu traveled to the stadium where he told the protestors to "disperse in a peaceful and orderly fashion." As well he told the crowd not to protest further but instead to "go to work tomorrow."

So Proud of the Struggle -- That He Wants It Ended

Using his usual trickster methods, Tutu succeeded in ending the rally. For one thing he pretended to be on the side of the fighting masses, claiming he was "proud" of them. He portrayed his opposition to the mass struggle as oh so humane, whining that "we don't want our children to be killed like flies." And as for the masses' demands for the removal of police from the area and an end to the state of emergency, Tutu promised he would deal with these matters by meeting with the authorities.

1,000 Demonstrators Denounce Behind-the-Scenes Deals

But all did not go smoothly for the great "anti-apartheid" hero. A group of 1,000 demonstrators actively opposed Tutu's efforts, rightly stating that they had no faith in behind-the-scenes negotiations with the racists.

In fact Tutu's troubles were just beginning. Two days later Tutu attended what he called "a very amicable meeting" with the racist Deputy Minister of Law and Order and Defense Adriaan Vlok. But the next day Tutu had to admit to a mass rally of 40,000 protestors that the racists "have nothing to offer, only promises." What a confession! Tutu admits his chitchat with the white supremacists got nothing. Nevertheless, and here's the important thing for him, the meeting was "amicable"! It never strikes Tutu why it is that the same police that beat up the activists would chat amicably with those who tell the fighting masses to go home.

Tutu Booed

When the masses heard Tutu's shameful report, they were enraged. The bishop was roundly booed and a section of the masses walked out in disgust. The militant black masses condemned Tutu's treachery with shouts of "It is not enough! The death of our people must be avenged! Down with Botha!" and other slogans of struggle.

The angry denunciation of Tutu is a positive development in the anti-apartheid struggle. It shows that the masses are becoming more aware of the gulf that exists between the bankrupt path of Tutu's liberal reformism and their own revolutionary strivings.

While the liberals cringe at the prospect of confronting the racists, the masses are increasingly becoming convinced of the need for militant struggle and revolution. Experience is teaching them that the liberal path of reconciliation gains nothing from the Botha regime but cheap talk of reform while the masses continue to be slaughtered in the streets and treated as subhuman slaves. The oppressed are coming to realize that freedom can only be won when the fist of the revolution smashes the apartheid system to dust.

3M workers in South Africa support 3M workers in the U.S.

[Photo: Black workers at the 3M plant in Johannesburg, South Africa display their solidarity with 3M workers in Freehold, New Jersey who are fighting against a plant shutdown.]

At the end of February, workers at a 3M company facility in South Africa held a sit-in. This action was in solidarity with 3M workers in Freehold, New Jersey who are fighting the company's attempts to close down their plant and throw several hundred people jobless into the streets.

The action of the South African workers is an example of the international solidarity between the workers of South Africa and the U.S. Dockworkers in the U.S., for example, have demonstrated solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa by holding militant protests and refusing to unload South African cargo. And thousands have participated in the mass anti-apartheid rallies and marches around the country.

The international unity of the workers is entirely fitting as the workers' struggle meets the international opposition of the exploiters. The capitalist rulers of the U.S. and South Africa work hand in hand to crush the workers and oppressed in South Africa. In this way the rule of the racists is strengthened while the U.S. capitalists reap fat profits from the slave-like conditions for the workers under apartheid.

This alliance of the exploiters must be met by the proletarian internationalism of the working class of both countries. The anti-apartheid activists in the U.S. must work hard to organize the American workers as a powerful force in the anti-apartheid movement.

Anti-apartheid sit-in at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

Students at Smith College have launched a spirited action against apartheid. On February 24th, 200 students took over the administration building and have occupied it through the end of the month.

The building takeover took place after the school's trustees arrogantly ignored a student demand for complete divestment of the college's $23.3 million investment in companies doing business in South Africa. Instead the trustees only agreed to divest a paltry half million dollars while maintaining investments in companies that sign the Sullivan principles. The Sullivan principles are those phoney paper declarations that allow companies to stay in South Africa, making a fortune and propping up the racist regime, provided they pretend to oppose racism. This flimsy maneuver failed to fool the student activists however, and their protest began.

The action at Smith College demonstrates that the anti-apartheid sentiment among the college students remains strong. Last year the anti-apartheid movement rocked the campuses across the country. Recently protests have broken out at Dartmouth, Brandeis, Stanford University and the University of Utah. And nationwide anti-apartheid actions involving hundreds of campuses are scheduled for late March and early April.

GM's "anti-apartheid" heroics

General Motors, the giant auto monopoly, is one of the American firms that has plants in South Africa. It exploits the cheap labor of the black workers, who are oppressed by the brutal apartheid rule.

But GM would have us believe that it is really in South Africa in order to help the black people. In order to prove this, the local manager of a GM plant in Port Elizabeth has announced that GM will pay the legal expenses of any GM employee who is arrested while seeking to integrate whites-only beaches in the area. This is supposed to make up for the economic support that GM is giving the apartheid regime and give GM anti-apartheid credentials.

This is nothing but a public relations move. GM has taken this step only after seeing that the white minority regime itself is willing to concede on the question of integrated beaches. It regards various measures of the so-called "petty [aspects of] apartheid'' as expendable, as long as real power remains in the hands of the racist rulers.

Thus some years ago the apartheid regime announced that the question of whether to integrate beaches would no longer be subject to national control, but would be at the discretion of the provincial authorities. In Durban and Cape Town, most beaches have already been integrated. In Port Elizabeth, where the GM plant is located, almost half the city council is already in favor of integrating some beaches.

GM has merely seen which way the wind is blowing. And this is what it would have us believe is proof of its anti-apartheid credentials. It only proves that GM is marching in step with Botha himself, who offers one petty promise after another, right on up to a powerless "advisory council" to include a few black sellouts, while directing the army and police to smash the anti-racist movement of the black majority.

Another plan to save apartheid: Botha talks of 'power sharing'

For some time the Botha regime has been trying to cover over its murderous repression of the black majority and other oppressed people with talk of "reform." The racists' latest round of "reform" propaganda took place at the end of January and the beginning of February. Racist president P.W. Botha made a "reform" speech at the opening of the whites-only chamber of parliament on January 31. And in the following days the government took out big newspaper ads proclaiming all the fine things they would allegedly do to help the black people.

Not surprisingly, the "new" promises of reform offered almost nothing beyond the old fraudulent reforms already proposed by the white supremacists. However this time the regime floated its bankrupt schemes under the banner of "power-sharing," the slogan traditionally trumpeted by the liberal opponents of the Botha government.

The Fraud of "Power-Sharing"

The heart of Botha's "power-sharing" proposal is the creation of a National Statutory Council. This body is to be composed of the bantustan leaders and other servile lackeys of the racists, and it is to be chaired by Botha himself. (The bantustans are barren, segregated wastelands set up by the white minority rulers of South Africa as so-called homelands for the blacks and which are administered by puppet leaders on behalf of the apartheid regime.) It has no power and can only advise the government. What a sham! This plan does not give an ounce of political power to blacks. And, with such sellouts as the bantustan leaders in the council, it will be nothing but a rubber stamp for the white rulers.

But already the plan for this council has run into difficulties. Chief Buthelezi, the KwaZulu bantustan leader and a notorious bootlicker of the racists, was considering participating on the council. But then the president, P.W. Botha, went into a tirade against his foreign minister, Roelof "Pik" Botha, for speculating that it may become "unavoidable" that "in the future you might have black presidents in South Africa." President Botha spelled out in no uncertain terms that his government wanted white domination to last forever. This cast doubt on his ability to carry through the double talk that the reform schemes required. Buthelezi then balked at joining the council. This was not due to his opposition to the plan itself. Buthelezi admitted his fear was that, with the plan discredited for the time being by Botha himself, he would be scorned by the black masses if he supported it. Thus the council may never even get off the ground.

The National Statutory Council proposal is a particularly clear example of the fraud of "power-sharing." It thus helps expose the bankruptcy of the whole concept of "power-sharing." The South African liberals have long urged Botha to take up "power-sharing"; in comparison to Botha they have clothed their versions of power-sharing in even more elevated anti-apartheid rhetoric, have promised blacks more autonomy on the local level, have emphasized the need to bring the ANC leaders into the plan, etc. But they still take care to ensure that ultimate power would remain in the hands of the white minority. (See the article "On the stand of the white liberals in South Africa/Preserving white domination under an anti-apartheid banner" in the January 1 issue of The Workers' Advocate.) Indeed, the liberal strategy is to persuade Botha and company to implement power-sharing, so it is Botha's schemes that are slowly revealing the true coarse reality behind the exalted liberal phrasemongering.

More Posturing From Botha

The rest of Botha's proposals were just as fraudulent as the plan for "power-sharing." Botha announced he would "remove existing influx control measures," the pass laws which control the movement of blacks. He is replacing these laws with "orderly urbanization." And who will make the process "orderly"? The racist authorities themselves. Thus "orderly urbanization" means that the movement of blacks will still be subject to the control of the white slave masters.

Botha claimed he would grant "one citizenship for all South Africans." One of the outrages of apartheid is that the black majority is not even considered South African citizens but citizens of the bantustans based on tribal origins. But even as citizens of South Africa the black people will still remain without the most minimal rights, such as voting. They will still be shot, jailed and exploited at will -- but as citizens!

In his speech the racist South African president also spoke of "equal provision of education." The empty reality behind this vague promise was soon spelled out by Botha's home affairs minister, F.W. de Klerk. Asked whether the government would ever support school integration, the minister stated "not as long as my party [the National Party -- ed.] is in power." (New York Times, February 17, 1986) Thus the racist school system is to be preserved. So Botha is just serving up the old apartheid ideology, only now clothing it with the hypocritical fraud, so beloved by American segregationists, or "separate but equal."

The Reagan Administration Hails the Fake Reforms

These "reforms" offer nothing for the black masses. But this does not bother the Reagan administration in the least. They continued their warm embrace of the racists, lavishing praise on the proposals. Indeed State Department spokesman, Bernard Kalb, gurgled that Botha now has "outgrown the outdated concept of apartheid"! Such bizarre cover-ups for the racists are typical of the administration. Who can forget, for instance, Reagan's infamous declaration last year that Botha had ended discrimination. As in the past, U.S. imperialism remains a mortal enemy of the oppressed in South Africa.

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The fall of Duvalier in Haiti

On February 7, a day long sought for by the Haitian people arrived. The tyrant Duvalier fled. The people danced in the streets with joy. And they took action against the hated symbols of the old regime.

The masses went after the Tonton Macoutes, the torturers and murderers who had long been the bulwark of Duvalier's bloody rule. They smashed up the luxury car dealership of Duvalier's in-laws. They tore apart the tomb of Papa Doc who had set up the dictatorship 28 years ago. They stormed the central office which stored identification records on the people. And they destroyed the eternal flame monument in front of the National Palace.

Baby Doc Duvalier is gone. But the Haitian people are still angry. The thorough uprooting of the dictatorship required the revolutionary overthrow of Duvalierism -- but this was cut short. Frightened of the mass upsurge of the Haitian toilers, imperialism and the bourgeoisie came together to fly out the dictator and put in his place a regime made up of Duvalier's military men and his cronies.

The joy of the masses over the fall of Duvalier is tempered with skepticism towards the new regime. Already protests are underway against the ruling junta. Spuming the appeals of the regime and the priests for reconciliation, the Haitian people believe that there is more to be done to settle accounts with Duvalierism.

And at the same time, as the society emerges from the shadow of Duvalier's tyranny, the Haitian toilers are beginning to voice their social demands against the exploiters. Learning rapidly in the course of struggle, the Haitian toilers are marching ahead. The fall of Duvalier was not the end of the struggle of the masses but just the beginning.

It Was the Mass Upsurge Which Brought Down Duvalier

Still, the fall of Duvalier was an important achievement for the Haitian people. No matter how much the shameless liars of the U.S. bourgeois press may credit Reagan for this event, the fact remains that it was the struggle of the Haitian masses which brought down the hated despot of Port-au-Prince.

For nearly 30 years, the Haitian people groaned under one of the most brutal tyrannies in the world. They have been hunted down by the Tonton Macoutes; they have been left in ignorance without education; and they have been left to starve in a country with little economic development but fat profits for the U.S. and other foreign exploiters who came to get dirt cheap labor.

But in recent years, as a severe economic crisis hit the country, rumblings of popular discontent began to be heard around Haiti. And last year, the long-suffering masses finally decided that enough was enough and they took to the streets in determined struggle against the dictatorship. In town after town, as well as in the villages, the people rose up.

Duvalier lashed out with the Macoutes and the army. He slaughtered people -- men, women and babies. But the demonstrations continued. Strikes broke out. Barricades went up. Government buildings were stormed. The momentum continued to build. The masses who had dared to rise up against Duvalier realized that it was a fight to the finish -- either they went all out or else the Macoutes would come back and wreak their vengeance.

The writing was on the wall. Duvalier's time had come. A revolution was in the making. But the revolution was going to be cut short. The masses were going to be cheated of a real victory over Duvalierism. However the situation in Haiti remains explosive. The last word in the current struggle is yet to be spoken. The immediate prospects depend on whether the masses can regain the revolutionary initiative and push the struggle forward.

U.S. Imperialism and the Bourgeoisie Step In

As the mass upsurge showed no signs of letting up, powerful interests that had long backed the tyranny -- U.S. imperialism and the Haitian bourgeoisie -- decided to distance themselves from Duvalier and find a way to stop the popular rebellion. They were afraid that the movement was going to turn in a radical direction if allowed to continue.

On January 13, a section of the Haitian bourgeoisie, through the Association of Industries of Haiti, came out with a public call for changes in the government. (The Chamber of Commerce however responded with a declaration in defense of the government.) Meanwhile, church leaders, who had taken on the role of a liberal opposition to Duvalier, began to promote the idea of replacing Duvalier with a regime of the army.

When the writing was on the wall that Duvalier's days were numbered, the Reagan administration began to work to replace Duvalier. Eight days before Duvalier fled -- a mere eight days -- the U.S. State Department suddenly began to posture against Duvalier and prepare a slight change in the regime.

Washington was clearly worried about the prospects of popular revolution in Haiti. In fact, it even made a premature announcement on January 31 that Duvalier had left. That announcement, it turns out, was made the same morning that a massive demonstration was to march from the hillside slums of Port-au-Prince to storm the National Palace, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor of February 7. But "the false news of Duvalier's overthrow as well as the ensuing confusion which resulted from his presence in the capital kept most people at home.''

In its Haitian policy, the U.S. was helped by the reactionary Seaga regime in Jamaica. Seaga, who is one of Reagan's lapdogs, sent an envoy to Duvalier on February 2 to urge him to abdicate for the sake of the peace of the Caribbean. Seaga was worried about the impact a revolutionary uprising in Haiti would have on the suffering toilers of the region. He shuddered to think that they might rise up against the "democratic'' regimes of the exploiters as well, like his own.

Thus, on February 7, the U.S. Air Force flew Duvalier, along with family and close friends, out of the country. Duvalier had taken care to remove all the foreign exchange from the country's treasury and of course the U.S. helped to carry the loot out with the dictator as well. French imperialism meanwhile agreed to provide Duvalier with refuge since it too was eager to prevent things going too far in its old island colony.

The New Regime -- Duvalierism Without Duvalier

The new regime was worked out in advance by the U.S. imperialists, the Haitian army chiefs and Duvalier himself. Duvalier boasted in a recent interview with the Paris Le Figaro that he had personally selected all the members of the junta. And the New York Times admitted that U.S. Ambassador Olayton E. McManaway Jr. took part in deciding the composition of the new government. (McManaway, interestingly enough, came to the diplomatic service from the CIA only four years ago. In the mid-1960's he played a leading role in the CIA's Phoenix program which was responsible for murdering at least 60,000 Vietnamese suspected of being liberation fighters.)

The new ruling council is dominated by the army and other Duvalier supporters. It is headed up by Lt. General Henri Namphy, the chief of the military under Duvalier. It also includes Colonel Avril, who was Inspector of Duvalier's Presidential Guards and a very close friend of the Duvaliers, and Mr. Alix Cineas, a minister of Duvalier's who comes from a well-known Duvalierist family. In fact only one member of the council had not been directly associated with the Duvaliers. And later when the council appointed the new cabinet, it too turned out to be full of people with connections to either Jean-Claude Duvalier or his father; some hold the same position they held before.

This regime represents Duvalierism without Duvalier. It is an attempt to preserve as much of the old institutions as possible although the strict tyranny has fallen.

What Has the New Regime Done?

The new regime did nothing against Duvalierism. In fact it began its reign by declaring that it would not prosecute anyone involved in human rights abuses during the Duvalier regime.

Take the question of the Tonton Macoutes. It was the masses who chased down these hated butchers and began to beat them to death. Only then did the new regime act -- not to crush the Macoutes but to save them from the wrath of the people. The first act of the new regime was the declaration of a 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew to prevent mass actions against the symbols of Duvalierism. And to limit the rest of the world knowing about what the Haitian masses were doing, the regime imposed a ban on news agencies sending out television pictures from the country.

The regime began to take some of the Macoutes into custody but only for their protection. It took several days before the regime finally announced the abolition of the Macoutes. But there is not much indication that this means more than the abolition of a name. And what is even more ominous, there are even schemes being floated about integrating the Macoutes within the army or a new police force.

In another development, on February 23, Colonel Albert Pierre, who headed the army-run secret police since 1974, a man notorious for great cruelty, was escorted by the army to the airport and allowed to leave on a private jet to Brazil where he had been offered asylum. (So much for the new "democratic" regime in Brazil!) This was denounced by the masses as an outrage.

Meanwhile the new regime is mouthing off about freedom for the people. But words are cheap. Elections have been proposed -- but for some undetermined time in the future. Freedom of political parties and of trade unions is also promised, but not much of that either has been forthcoming.

The dictatorship forced hundreds of thousands of Haitians into exile abroad. Many among them who have long opposed the tyranny are eager to return. But the new regime refuses to open the doors for the return of the exiles. Travel to Haiti is restricted and government officials openly express their worry about the returning exiles. Guy Meyer, a holdover from Duvalier who is still director of the Ministry of Information, says: "The one thing that unites people here, be they in the new government, the upper echelons of business, and some of the political parties, is their fear of the exiles' return." (Christian Science Monitor, February 13) No doubt what is on the minds of the Haitian bourgeoisie is the fact that in the exile community there is a widespread awareness that the new government represents the continuation of Duvalierism.

During the last week of February, as a new wave of mass action hit the streets of Haiti, the government, even while repressing the people, scrambled to defuse popular discontent. It made a new statement that it will now prosecute individuals for human rights abuses. But it is widely known that the government has helped to spirit many of the top butchers out of the country just like Albert Pierre. The regime now even promises to seek the extradition of Duvalier and Pierre. But this too is just so much empty grandstanding. Its main significance is that it shows how besieged the regime feels from the pressure of the masses.

The Masses Are Rapidly Learning

Under the brutal rule of Duvalier there was no political life allowed in Haiti. Political organizations and trade unions that had once existed in the country were smashed. Due to the tyranny and the absence of revolutionary organization, the Haitian masses did not get much of an opportunity for political development. This is what the U.S. and Haitian bourgeoisie have counted on in their schemes to continue exploitation as usual, but without Duvalier.

But revolutionary struggle teaches rapidly. The removal of Duvalier will usher in -- is already ushering in -- a rapid political awakening of the Haitian people. Already there is struggle breaking out against the Duvalierist policies of the new regime.

And the poverty and backwardness under Duvalier has not magically vanished with his flight. It may be remembered that the Haitian people in their struggle against Duvalier had also raised the slogan Down with Poverty! The removal of Duvalier has created conditions for the class struggle to come out in the open. This will lead to the development of independent organization of the Haitian toilers.

[Photo: Haitians in Brooklyn, New York celebrate Duvalier's downfall.]

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U.S. imperialism: Baby Doc's godfather

The liberal press in the U.S. is full of praise these days for President Reagan for his "triumph of democracy'' in Haiti. The "human rights" standard bearers in Congress and the media, as soon as Duvalier left Haiti, erupted with joy over their great president who had finally brought "democracy" to Haiti. But what is the truth about the U.S. role in Haiti?

Treatment of the 'Boat People' Shows the True Face of U.S. Imperialism

Any ordinary worker who thinks of the treatment meted out to the Haitian "boat people" by U.S. imperialism must be sick to his stomach when he hears about the U.S. government "standing tall for democracy" in Haiti. For years the government has been hounding these refugees from the hellhole of Duvalierism, pursuing them like pirates on the high seas and then, when survivors of the boat trip do manage to stumble onto beaches in Florida, arresting them and holding them without bail or trial for years on end -- and then, more often than not, returning them to the tender mercies of the Tonton Macoutes in Haiti. Right now there are over 25,000 Haitians in Florida awaiting disposition of their cases, and many of them have had to wait for years in concentration camps.

The government's excuse for persecuting Haitian immigrants has all along been that Haitians were not eligible for political asylum because they were allegedly not persecuted in. Haiti. How could there be persecution under the regime of Baby Doc Duvalier with such "democratic" institutions as the Tonton Macoutes? And just in case anyone missed the point, the State Department would go on to clarify that certainly there is progress in human rights in Haiti, because "the government of Haiti is providing full cooperation to the U.S. on halting illegal emigration"!!

U.S. Imperialism Has a Bloody History in Haiti

The crimes of U.S. imperialism in Haiti go back at least to 1915, when the Marines invaded Haiti to "restore order." From then until 1934 Washington ruled Haiti as a direct colony, running its foreign trade, forcing conscript labor to build roads for U.S. plantation owners, and suppressing native guerrilla forces. During this period the U.S. also created the Haitian army and other still-existing organs of repression.

The U.S. came close to sending in the Marines again at the time Papa Doc Duvalier died in 1971 and there were problems with the accession to power of Baby Doc. The U.S. ambassador in Haiti arranged for U.S. warships to be sent into Haitian waters as a warning that any deviation from the planned-for coronation of Baby Doc would be dealt with by the big stick of the Pentagon.

During the Duvalier years the U.S. propped up the dictatorship with yearly economic aid. Each year, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the State Department certified that the regime in Haiti was making progress in human rights, and Congress dutifully rubber-stamped support for the murderous regime. This aid was very important to the Duvaliers, considering that in Haiti 75% of the national budget is paid for by foreign aid.

The U.S. also provided important political support for the Duvaliers, both in Haiti and in the U.S. It directly assisted the dictatorship's repression, training and supplying its army and police. The U.S. government also helped the Duvaliers by suppression of the Haitian exile movement in the U.S. Besides persecution of the "boat people," the U.S. provided surveillance of Haitian legal immigrants and allowed the Tonton Macoutes to operate (albeit secretly) in U.S. cities. And of course U.S. police forces, with their training in racist attacks on the masses, have always been eager to suppress demonstrations of Haitians.

U.S. Imperialism Wanted Gold, Not Democracy, in Haiti

Why did the U.S. support such an openly fascist regime as the Duvalier dictatorship? Because it provided them with a favorable investment climate in Haiti. While the economic interests of U.S. imperialism in Haiti go back at least 50 years, these interests have ballooned in just the last few years. More than 250 U.S. corporations have set up shop in Haiti recently, most of them garment or toy manufacturers but also including some electronics firms. For example, the entire production of Cabbage Patch dolls has been moved to Haiti.

The Duvalier regime provided U.S. investors with a capitalist paradise: a minimal wage of $3 per day, an unemployment rate of at least 50%, no unions, no right to strike, no limit on the workday, no overtime pay. Also, U.S. companies got tax exemptions and favorable terms for exporting goods to the U.S.

The U.S. was also interested in Haiti for strategic interests. The Pentagon is interested in getting a chunk of northern Haiti to use as a base, and just prior to his downfall Baby Doc was negotiating with the U.S. over this.

Reagan's "Triumph of Democracy" Is Duvalierism Without Duvalier

Given this history, it is no surprise to find the U.S. government giving wholehearted support to the new regime in Haiti, a regime headed by Duvalier confidantes, and hailing it as the "triumph of democracy." But of course the U.S. is not just hailing this after the fact; the U.S. played a major role in installing the new junta into power in the first place. The U.S. Air Force meanwhile flew Duvalier to a safe exile, while U.S. warships in the Caribbean were alerted to stand by for action if the new junta was not able to prevent "anarchy."

Now the charade has started up again. Already Secretary of State Shultz has certified that the new regime has "made progress in human rights" and hence is eligible to receive $26 million in aid. Ironically, this announcement came right after the news that the junta allowed some of Duvalier's top fascist butchers to leave Haiti for safety in other countries, and the junta's army is using clubs and tear gas on the masses who are going into the streets to protest this. The top faces in Port-au-Prince have changed, but the vicious, hypocritical nature of U.S. imperialism remains the same.


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The Haitian people declare: "It's not over yet!"

Baby Doc Duvalier was whisked out of Haiti on February 7 by the U.S. government. Washington and the Haitian bourgeoisie hoped that the mass unrest would now be quelled.

But while the Haitian masses celebrated the fall of Duvalier, their full reaction was not exactly what the imperialists desired. Instead of meekly thanking Mr. Reagan for flying Duvalier and his stolen loot away, the masses raised the pitch of their revolutionary struggle. They took vigorous action against the hated symbols of the Duvalier tyranny.

And it continues. Every few days reports continue to come in from Haiti of fresh actions by the masses. And the slogan heard over and over again from them declares: It's Not Over Yet!

Hunting Down the Tonton Macoutes

With the fall of Duvalier, one of the principal targets of the wrath of the masses has been the Tonton Macoutes, the special police force used by the Duvaliers to keep down the people. For decades, these thugs freely butchered the Haitian people. Now it was pay back time!

The bishops and priests appealed for reconciliation, asking the people to forgive the Macoutes. But the people turned a deaf ear to these pleas. They made short shrift of any Macoutes they could get their hands on. A number of their headquarters were assaulted and many of their homes burned down.

This issue presented the first major clash of interests between the masses and the new regime. The regime sought to put down the mass rebellion as fast as possible, but given the fever pitch of the mass struggle, it could not yet launch an all-out attack against the people. The regime adopted the course of trying to quietly defuse the issue. Wherever they could, the regime's troops stepped into crowds attacking the Macoutes, took the Macoutes into protective custody, and dispersed the crowds. Soon after, however, the army began to use force against the enraged masses.

There continue to be reports of crowds trying to hunt down the Macoutes who are in hiding, with one or two being killed every day.

During the last few days of February, the Haitian people launched a new wave of action against the Macoutes. With the news that Macoutes in hiding had poisoned a water system in northern Haiti, the masses went Macoute hunting. They attacked at least nine houses and tore them apart; they also destroyed a convenience store that was owned by Madame Max, the head of the Macoutes. The government responded with a dusk-to-dawn curfew order, many arrests and a number of shootings.

But the Haitian people are not just taking action against the Macoutes. They are also raising their voices against the new regime.

Protests Against the New Regime -- Gonaives

Several demonstrations have been held in Gonaives, the center of the anti-Duvalier movement, where tens of thousands made it clear that they wanted further change. A communique issued by the marchers declared that "The battle is not over. It has barely begun.''

The Gonaives demonstrators condemned the presence in the new government of men "who supported the Duvalier regime with all their might...who wallowed in all the crimes of that regime.'' And they concluded with the warning that "The people are watching to ensure that their liberation is total and definitive.''

The demands of the protesters in Gonaives also included trials for the Tonton Macoutes; the extradition of Duvalier; the arrest of all who enriched themselves off the government treasury; an end to torture; a minimum wage of 65 cents an hour; and the freedom of the exiles to return.


February 18:

Such demands are also being echoed in other cities. On February 18, demonstrators in Port-au-Prince, mostly young people, denounced the presence of Duvalier's confidantes in the new government.

This demonstration came into a direct clash with the army. As the protesters shouted slogans outside the presidential palace, they were attacked by army and police units who used clubs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. But this did not put an end to the mass action. The demonstrators broke into bands of 30-50, raced through the streets of the city and closed down the capital's schools just a day after they had reopened.

Schools were also shut down in Gonaives and two other cities.

February 23:

On this day, rumors spread around town that Col. Albert Pierre, the brutal head of the Army's secret police, was going to be allowed to leave the country for Brazil. Protesters gathered at the Brazilian embassy, where Pierre had been given shelter on February 7, and at the airport. But they were too late to prevent his flight under military protection.

February 26:

On Tuesday, February 26, once again hundreds of young people ran through the streets of Port-au-Prince shouting "It's not over yet!'' They denounced the Duvalierist composition of the new regime. This action began around the presidential palace and later spread to the downtown area, following a ceremony which raised the new blue-and-red flag over the palace.

Support the Haitian People's Struggle

It has been a great joy to see the Haitian people rise up in struggle against Duvalier. And it is even more heartwarming to see the toilers and youth of Haiti continue to hold aloft the banner of struggle.

Many illusions have been promoted among them -- that the army will liberate the Haitian people, that the present regime is a democratic one, that it should be given time, and so forth. But struggle is stripping away the hold of illusions among the masses. The Haitian people refuse to be quieted with sweet promises while the familiar faces of Duvalierism still ride high.

The workers, peasants and unemployed also refuse to reconcile themselves to the incredible poverty and hunger that burns in their stomachs. With the end of one-man rule, the social movement of the toilers is once again emerging. There are reports of strikes and the organizing of trade unions.

After so many years of being crushed underfoot, the Haitian toilers are now determined to be counted as a force to be reckoned with!

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Haitians demonstrate in the U.S.

The tyranny and poverty in Haiti under the rule of Duvalier forced hundreds of thousands of Haitians to flee abroad. Nearly half-a-million Haitians live in the U.S. In their hearts they have carried a burning hatred for Duvalier. And with the fall of Duvalier on the heels of the mass upsurge of the Haitian people, the Haitian people in the U.S. have taken to the streets in celebration and struggle.

Miami's Little Haiti section, the largest Haitian community in the U.S., repeatedly erupted in February. At the end of January, Haitians repeatedly came out into the streets upon hearing rumors of Duvalier's fall. And when Duvalier finally did go, several thousand rallied on February 7. While there was joy over Duvalier's fall, there were also protests voiced against the army which dominates the new regime. Slogans were also raised to "Close the Krome concentration camp,'' where Haitian refugees are confined by the U.S. immigration service.

On the next day, thousands of Haitians demonstrated on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. Here too while there was joy over Duvalier's fall, a whole section of people demonstrated with the view that the struggle was still continuing. They rejected the new regime which they believed represented Duvalierism without Duvalier.

In Boston, the day Duvalier fled, 75 Haitians stormed the Haitian consular office, burned the flag and smashed up Duvalier's portraits. Two people were arrested by the police.

As well, a demonstration was called for February 15 at Government Center. The Boston Branch of the MLP supported this call and also issued a call to rally a contingent in Cambridge to join the rally downtown. This group of demonstrators marched through a section of Cambridge, including part of the MIT campus, and later joined the other action. Two hundred and fifty people took part in this spirited demonstration. As the protesters marched to the Common, they shouted "Light the fires everywhere, the people demand liberty!,'' "USA stay away, Let us do it our way!,'' and "Down with the junta of Reagan and Duvalier!'' There were demands raised for Duvalier's head and the junta was condemned.

On the last week of February, as rumors spread that Duvalier might be given asylum in the U.S., hundreds of Haitians gathered in protest at Kennedy Airport in New York.

There have been other actions in the Haitian community as well. As the struggle continues in Haiti, the Haitian community in the U.S. also remains in ferment.

[Photo: Haitians in New York City gather at Kennedy Airport on February 25 to denounce Duvalier, upon hearing a rumor that he may arrive there.]

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The World in Struggle


German workers fight new anti-strike law

As the workers in West Germany face contract battles, they are also fighting against new anti-strike legislation from the conservative government of Helmut Kohl.

On Tuesday, February 4, several hundred thousand workers marched in demonstrations. On the next day, as the Bundestag (parliament) began debate on the new law, large numbers of workers downed their tools to follow the debate on radio or TV. And public sector workers also halted city transportation for several hours in various cities.

The fight for wage increases is occupying a major place in this year's contract struggles. The metalworkers' union is demanding 6 to 7.5% hikes while the capitalists are offering 4%. And in the public sector, the government is offering only a 3% increase while the largest union is demanding 6%.

Meanwhile, the new anti-strike bill seeks to bar unemployment benefits to those workers who are indirectly laid off by strikes but in a position to benefit from the settlement of these strikes. This bill would leave large numbers of workers without any livelihood if they were laid off or locked out by the capitalists during strikes.

The new law appears to be designed especially to prevent a repetition of such struggles as the two-month long metalworkers' strike in 1984 for a shorter workweek. At that time, 60,000 autoworkers went out on strike in the state of Hesse, but virtually all the autoworkers were idled -- 150,000 of them by employers' lockouts and another 100,000 due to parts shortages. If the new law had been in place, these 250,000 workers would have been deprived of unemployment benefits.

The Social-Democratic Party is making a show of opposition to the new bill. But this is merely an empty gesture in the parliamentary talkshop. The Social-Democrats do not believe in organizing working class struggle against the capitalist offensive. What's more, their opposition to the new bill is not out of concern for the workers' interests but out of the fear that the country's "social peace" will be disrupted. But the truth is, there will be no progress for the German working class without smashing the "social peace" which is so dear to the hearts of the Social-Democrats and the leaders of the unions connected to them.

Huge protests against NATO in Spain


Hundreds of thousands -- possibly three-quarters of a million -- people marched in central Madrid on February 23 to express opposition to Spain's continued membership in NATO. The huge march was organized by over 150 organizations. On March 16 the Spanish government is sponsoring a referendum vote on the question of Spain's membership in NATO. The Social-Democratic government is campaigning for continued membership but the Spanish masses are demonstrating their opposition.

Struggle under the tyranny of Khomeini

(The following reports on recent struggles of the toilers of Iran are taken from Report, No. 7, 15-30 January 1986, a bimonthly publication of the Communist Party of Iran -- Committee Abroad.)

Strike News

A Five-Day Strike Over Overdue Wages

It is [been] some time that the majority of the state construction companies are facing budget deficits. As a result, the workers' wages are being paid with several months' delay. This has given rise to widespread protests by the construction workers.

In a state construction company in Tehran (belonging to the "Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Iran") the payment of workers' wages had been delayed by two and a half months. The workers protested against this situation and went on strike. The management tried to talk the workers back to work. But the workers did not give up the fight and after a five-day strike forced the management to pay the workers two months' overdue wages.

Brickyard Workers on a Four-Day Strike

About 60-70 workers' families work in a brickyard situated near the Mahabad-Urumia road in Kurdistan. In September, the workers whose wages had not been paid for four months and were fed up of repeatedly seeing the owner over this, stopped work, assembled in the yard and began a sit-in. At this moment the factory owner came to the yard to protest at the workers' action, but was badly beaten up by the workers. He called for troops from the nearby gendarmerie and three workers were arrested. This did not frighten the workers and they remained on strike for four consecutive days. As a result of their persistent action, the workers finally forced the brickyard owner to concede to their demand and pay all the overdue wages. They also had their comrades released.

Strike by the Taxi Drivers in Bokan

The taxi drivers in Bokan (Kurdistan) struck for three hours during September over the harassment of one of their colleagues and the arrest of several others.

The strike followed an incident in which a taxi driver was abused by a traffic officer, infamous for his constant harassment of the drivers. Fighting broke out between the two, and other drivers came to the help of their colleague. The Pasdars arrived on the scene and arrested the drivers.

Hearing the news of the arrests, the town's taxi drivers stopped work and gathered in front of the taxi drivers' union offices. The authorities tried to talk the drivers out of any further action. But the drivers remained insistent on their demands. In the end, the police officer came to the drivers' assembly and apologized for his action. The arrested drivers were also released.

In the Regime's Prisons

* Broojerd: It has been reported that during the latest bombing of the town of Broojerd, a large number of prisoners (200-300) managed to escape from the prison. Some of the prisoners were later rearrested by the Pasdars.

*Vakil-Abad Prison (Mashad): About 8,000 prisoners are held in this prison in the city of Mashad, 2,000 of whom are political prisoners. The morale among the communist prisoners is high.

*Saghez Prison: The conditions in the Saghez prison (in Kurdistan) are appalling. Because of the scarcity of food, many prisoners suffer from stomach ulcers.

News From Kurdistan

Attacks on Regime's Military Bases

* Saghez, December 25: In the morning of December 25, a large military base of the Islamic regime's forces near the town of Saghez was attacked and fully captured by the Peshmargas (armed communist militants) of the Kurdistan Organization of the CPI (Komala). During this operation, 19 of the guards were arrested and the rest died in the confrontations. Large quantities of guns and ammunition, including 46 G-3 rifles, 300 mines and an antiaircraft machine gun were seized. Our comrades were unhurt.

* Baneh, December 15: In the afternoon of this day, several units of Komala Peshmargas surrounded a military base of the regime near Baneh and brought it under their fire. A heavy battle raged for two hours, during which the regime's forces suffered heavy casualties and a large part of the base was destroyed. Unfortunately one of our comrades lost his life during this battle.

Resisting the Regime's Attacks

*Marivan, December 7: On this day the regime's forces attacked a village near the town of Marivan where the Komala Peshmargas were stationed. After a heavy battle, our comrades succeeded in breaking through the encirclement of the enemy and leaving the village. At least three of the guards were killed and a number of them were injured during this confrontation. The Komala Peshmargas were unhurt. At the end of the battle, the guards arrested two of the villagers, executing one and wounding the other.

* Marivan, December 6: On this day, the regime's forces entered a village in the Marivan area in order to arrest a Komala Peshmarga. Our comrade resisted and engaged in a 10-hour intense and unequal battle with the guards. Despite involving tens of Pasdars and troops and making use of heavy guns and mortars, the regime's forces were unable to arrest the Komala Peshmarga. Finally, with the active assistance of the village toilers, our comrade managed to break the encirclement and join the Komala Peshmargas several days later. In this epic battle, three of the guards were killed and two were injured. The day after the incident, the regime's forces entered the village, harassing and beating up the people and looting their belongings. But the toilers jointly protested and drove them out of the village.

General strike in Greece


Tens of thousands of workers staged a one-day strike throughout Greece on February 27 to protest the austerity policies of the ruling Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). A broad spectrum of workers joined forces in the nationwide strike, and thousands participated in a spirited march through the streets of Athens. The strike closed factories and banks, brought public transport to a halt, and grounded Olympic Airways. True to the social-democratic tradition of scabbing against the workers, PASOK's Labor Minister denounced the strike as "abusive and illegal." But the Greek workers are determined to carry on the fight against Prime Minister Papandreou's austerity program.

Strike movement revives in Bolivia

With the new year, the strike movement has revived in Bolivia, as workers have gone into action against the vicious austerity program of the conservative Paz Estenssoro government.

Workers carried out a nationwide work stoppage January 13 and 14 to press their demands while the government held negotiations with the leaders of COB (Bolivia's federation of labor unions). When the talks broke down on January 20, miners, teachers, and factory workers announced work stoppages and hunger strikes to fight for wage demands and as a protest against the massive layoffs now taking place.

Estenssoro is once again setting the army against the working class. In January, he ordered troops to take control of roads to mining camps, to prevent striking miners from marching into the cities. The army also took control of the Palmasola oil refinery where workers are on strike.

Estenssoro's economic policies are wiping out what is left of the meager purchasing power of the workers. The rate of inflation multiplied five times in December alone, and in January there was a 100% decrease in the value of the Bolivian peso relative to the U.S. dollar. The current minimum wage barely covers transportation to and from work, much less living expenses for the average worker.

Paz Embraces Banzerite Fascists Against the Workers

To force this savage offensive on the workers, Paz Estenssoro relies more and more on the army to suppress the working class movement. And as he does so, this conservative bourgeois politician is forging a close political alliance with the Banzerites, the most reactionary section of the army officers. These are the supporters of Banzer, the former military dictator who ruled the country in the 1970's and who tried to get himself elected to the presidency last year. Estenssoro is promoting pro-Banzer officers to top positions in the army and uniting with the Banzerites against the workers. This is a sharp refutation of those political voices who last year promoted illusions that Paz would be some sort of block against the threat of Banzerite fascism.

It is useful to recall a few things from last year.

Under the previous reformist bourgeois government the workers were building up momentum in their struggle against capitalist austerity. Last spring the workers had launched a powerful general strike movement and carried it for two weeks. But the leadership of COB, which could not drop its faith in the reformist government, called the movement off. The Bolivian bourgeoisie then organized an election maneuver and seized the political initiative. The elections resulted in the bourgeoisie replacing the reformists with the conservative Paz regime. Paz immediately proceeded on an offensive against the workers' movement, and he has rushed headlong to embrace the fascists.

In this situation, the revival of the strike movement in Bolivia is good news indeed. What the Bolivian workers' movement needs is the end of faith in all the bourgeois politicians, reformist and conservative alike. Only the independent strength and political movement of the toilers can defend their interests.


Protests against IMF austerity sweep Ecuador

Recently nationwide demonstrations have been organized in Ecuador to protest the government's economic policies which are devastating the workers' livelihood. The demonstrations also targeted the government's increased police repression against the masses.

On January 16 trade unions and community organizations staged a nationwide protest against the policies of President Febres Cordero. Rallies were especially militant in Quito, where students clashed with police and 80 were arrested.

The trade unions and community organizations followed this up with a general strike on January 29. In this action they protested the paltry annual wage increase declared by the government on January 1. Febres Cordero had declared a 17.6% wage increase and a minimum wage of 10,000 sucres, but workers need at least twice this amount to make ends meet.

A Model of Free Enterprise

While the Ecuadoran masses were protesting his policies, President Febres Cordero was in Washington meeting with Ronald Reagan. Febres Cordero is one of Reagan's favorite Latin American leaders, since he follows IMF austerity measures to the letter and never hesitates to implement new anti-worker programs for the greater profits of the multinational banks and the domestic bourgeoisie. Reagan praised Cordero's free market policies as a model of Latin American capitalism.

Of course what Reagan did not mention is the effect these policies have on the Ecuadoran masses: 10% unemployment with about 50% underemployed, and for those working a one-third cut in the spending power of wages since 1980.

Reagan also did not mention the stepped-up use of police terror against the Ecuadoran masses as Febres Cordero tries to suppress growing ferment in town and countryside.

Brazilian liberals show their anti-worker colors

The pace of the class struggle is picking up in Brazil as the working people see through the empty promises of the Sarney government.

The second week of January striking truck drivers surrounded Rio de Janeiro with pickets and roadblocks, causing food and fuel shortages in Rio. Among other things, the truckers were demanding the right to consolidate the 500 independent truckers unions into one national union.

Despite not being able to win most of their demands, the truckers' strike was important for the impetus it gave to upcoming working class actions in March.

There is much ferment among the workers over the issue of quarterly wage increases to keep up with inflation. Presently Brazilian workers are given half-yearly cost-of-living increases, but inflation is running so far ahead that these are not frequent enough to keep workers' pay above the poverty level. Before being elected, the present government had promised that it would support this demand of the workers, but after taking office Sarney reneged on that pledge.

The Brazilian workers have fought a number of struggles for this demand. Now the major trade unions have been forced to call for a nationwide campaign of struggle in March for quarterly wage increases.

Liberals Against the Workers

The liberal politicians of Brazil who parade as oh-so democratic are continuing to show their anti-working class colors. Sarney remains adamant that he will not agree to quarterly wage increases, no matter what the workers do. This adds insult to injury as it comes on the heels of the news that Sarney's economic policies are devastating the workers' paychecks, with a record 16% inflation in the month of January alone -- an annual rate of 238%.

The malaise in the economy has created a big crisis for the Sarney regime. Besides working class ferment, Sarney is also being faced with growing calls for new presidential elections. As we go to press, Sarney made a demagogical announcement of a new anti-inflation program. He refused to grant the demand for quarterly wage increases. Instead he has ordered a wage and price freeze. This will no doubt turn out to be essentially a freeze on wages while businessmen find ways to raise their prices. Not surprisingly, even before the new measures were officially announced, Brazilian businessmen were scrambling to reprice their goods. But the masses are not about to stand for this -- there are reports coming in from Brazil of mass actions against supermarkets and restaurants.

Other liberal heroes are doing no better than Sarney. Take, for example, Leonel Brizola, the governor of Rio de Janeiro state. Brizola is the head of the social-democratic Democratic Labor Party who has ambitions of succeeding Sarney in Brasilia. Many of his supporters as well as the Brazilian ultra-right love to paint Brizola in "red" colors, but he is a liberal politician who has proved his loyalty to the status quo.

The truckers' strike was yet another test for Brizola, and Brazilian reaction speculated that he might side with the strikers. Brizola however passed his test with flying colors -- for the bourgeoisie, that is. He sent police and army units to attack the workers' pickets and cleared away the truckers' roadblocks with army troops and helicopters. These actions once again gave the Brazilian bourgeoisie confidence in their new "democratic" politicians.

Carrying On in the Tradition of the Generals

A few other noteworthy actions of the Sarney regime show that it is not straying from the path beaten by the military regime that it replaced.

Recently Brazilian national TV taped an interview with some liberal politicians who expressed the view that they favored presidential elections this year. Incredibly, Sarney refused to allow the interview to be broadcast, his spokesmen branding such talk as "subversive activity."

The regime also showed its "commitment" to the cause of democracy abroad during the last week of February when it allowed Col. Albert Pierre, one of Baby Doc Duvalier's most vicious butchers, to get political asylum in Brazil. And the Brazilian embassy in Haiti had sheltered Pierre for 16 days after the fall of Duvalier.

The latest events in Brazil once again highlight the importance of separating the working class from the treacherous influence of liberalism.

General strike paralyzes India

[Photo: Ten thousand people demonstrate near India's parliament on Wednesday, February 26. This was one of many actions during a 24-hour nationwide general strike that shut down most of the country, protesting price hikes on essentials such as bread, rice, gasoline, and kerosene.]

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How Marcos fell and the liberals came to power

It was the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants that was the scourge of the Marcos dictatorship. The tyrant lived with daily fear of the revolutionary forces that were growing all over the country.

But besides the revolutionary left, a bourgeois liberal opposition also emerged against Marcos. It was formed by those sections of the Filipino oligarchy of capitalists and landlords who Marcos had cut out of his system of corruption and cronyism. Many of them had even once been loyal allies and servants of Ferdinand Marcos. The liberals thus had no fundamental class differences with Marcos. They came from the same upper classes. This is why one finds so many wealthy families that figured in both the Marcos and liberal camps.

The liberals wanted a share of power and, as the revolutionary movement grew, they wanted a regime with more democratic trappings in order to steal the thunder away from the left.

For most of the years of Marcos' reign, the liberal opposition was meek and mild-mannered. They begged and prodded Marcos for an accommodation. Or they pinned their hopes on replacing Marcos through the election frauds that the dictator would periodically organize. And they actively worked the lobbies in Washington to convince the U.S. government, which retained a powerful hold on the politics of its former colony, that they could do a better job at combating the revolution.

But Marcos refused to reconcile with the liberals. He did not shy away from ruthless measures against his liberal opponents. While the most ferocious terror in the country was reserved for the poor and the left, Marcos was not above killing and jailing the liberals. The murder of the liberal leader Benigno Aquino in August 1983 was carried out as a desperate act to intimidate the liberal opposition.

But the plot misfired. It aroused a storm of indignation among the Filipino people. The revolutionary movement was rapidly gaining momentum. In this situation, the liberals became ever more active, seeing a golden opportunity to capture mass influence. For the first time, the liberals began to call mass rallies and demonstrations.

Meanwhile, more and more sections of the capitalists threw their support behind the liberals. Makati, Manila's Wall Street, became a hotbed of liberal politics. Besides their fear of the strength of the New People's Army and the growing strike movement, the capitalists were also deeply concerned that Marcos' continued rule was not helping their profit margins. The country has been gripped by a severe economic crisis in recent years.

The Recent Election Maneuver

In the meantime, U.S. imperialism also began to worry about the fate of the Marcos dictatorship. All along, while backing Marcos to the hilt, they had kept their fingers in the liberal camp -- just in case a change of horses became necessary in Manila. U.S. imperialism was determined to maintain its influence on the post-Marcos era in the country.

The Democratic Party in particular urged more active support for giving the Philippine government a "democratic" facelift. Last year, the Reagan administration, which had an especially ardent love for Marcos, finally decided to adopt the Democratic Party's policy of distancing itself from Marcos and pressuring for "reforms" in Manila. The main concern of the U.S. imperialists, Democrat and Republican alike, was that Marcos was no longer an effective regime in the war against the revolutionary insurgency.

Under the U.S. pressure, Marcos obliged by calling for new elections. However, Marcos also made it clear that he was not going to quietly step aside.

U.S. imperialism backed both sides in these elections. On one hand, they were reluctant to give up support for a loyal old friend like Marcos. They also wanted to continue backing him were he to succeed in pulling off another election victory without too much of a political crisis.

But at the same time, U.S. imperialism for the first time made a big effort in support of the opposition. They expanded their longstanding links with the liberals. They worked out a united opposition ticket with Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel, on a properly conservative platform. The U.S. press actively backed Aquino, and even the U.S. Army decided to give her campaign a boost by releasing -- after two decades -- records proving that Marcos' credentials of being a World War II hero were a fake. Meanwhile the U.S. multinationals in Manila were openly backing Aquino.

Marcos was not about to give in. He made use of his extensive arsenal of fraud, cheating and terror to steal the elections. But instead of getting away with it, he faced a grave political crisis.

Marcos Runs Out of Luck

The stealing of the elections was so flagrant, and the bourgeois disaffection with Marcos had become so extensive, that Marcos was not able to get away with it. Unlike previous election frauds organized by Marcos, this time a whole series of powerful interests of the oligarchy, not just those in the liberal camp but most significantly even within Marcos' own camp, had decided to use these elections to replace the tyrant.

Even in the midst of the elections, signs emerged of defections from Marcos' apparatus. For example, a series of wives of Marcos' cabinet members were active in the liberal vote-monitoring outfit NAMFREL, and the Reform the Armed Forces movement among military officers also threw their weight behind the liberals. These were the elements who protected the computer operators who walked out denouncing Marcos' attempts to steal the vote count at government election headquarters.

And above all, the defection of Marcos' Defense Minister Enrile and General Fidel Ramos, key figures in the military, had already been planned to take place, as it has now been revealed.

After Marcos stole the elections, the liberals threatened a program of struggle against Marcos. They were at first full of sound and fury. Aquino had at one point during the elections threatened daily mass demonstrations against Marcos. But ultimately she did not call for mass demonstrations. The U.S. government warned that such actions would be inadvisable. This offers an instructive lesson about the liberals' attitude to the masses. In their opposition to Marcos, they did not want to use methods of struggle that would involve mobilization of the masses into action. This is how much they fear the masses in motion. It is useful to remember this in the face of today's hoopla about "people power" in the Philippines.

Despite the grave crisis confronting him, Marcos had become so arrogant about his power that he refused to see which way the wind was blowing from Washington and the Filipino oligarchy. Instead it appears that he decided on a desperate gamble to crush the liberal opposition and the dissidence within his own camp. He apparently thought he could rally the military forces for this task. But this was not to be, showing how far detached he had become even from his own base of support.

The Military Rebellion

It was in this situation that the military rebellion broke out. This had been planned for some time; and despite all her talk of "non-violent resistance," Mrs. Aquino was holding it in reserve as her trump card against Marcos. But because of Marcos' attempt to launch a pre-emptive strike, this plan had to be hurried into place. And this was what turned out to be the decisive factor in forcing Marcos out. Marcos tried to muster his military support, but it appears that the military dissidents had the main forces on their side.

What's more, as the events during their rebellion showed, they had the all-important backing of U.S. imperialism. This was clear from official statements from Washington during the crisis. It has now also been revealed that the helicopters which landed in the rebel camp on Monday, February 24, providing the key sign of military supremacy on the side of the rebels, had been fueled and armed the night before during a stopover at the U.S. Clark Air Force Base. Faced with the depth of the post-election crisis, the Reagan administration had come to the conclusion that this was indeed the best way to get rid of Marcos.

For some time there had been talk of preparing for a military coup to force Marcos out if he didn't clean up his act. Last year, The New York Times had in fact editorialized precisely to this effect, and this newspaper is well known as an important voice of U.S. capitalist circles. But a military coup by itself carried the danger that it would be too naked, it would lack the proper "democratic" cover, and it could be a very destabilizing factor within the military itself, opening the way to a wave of factionalism and coups and counter coups. U.S. imperialism can remember the fate of the South Vietnamese regime after the military coup against Diem in 1964, when the U.S.-organized overthrow of a dictator who had lost his usefulness gave way to a succession of unstable regimes.

But in the Philippines here was an opportunity for the generals to use the mass influence of the liberals to carry out a transition away from a discredited dictator. Here was a way for these generals, stained with the blood of the Filipino people, to suddenly declare themselves as "people's fighters" and as revolutionaries, no less!

And the liberals needed the generals just as much. The liberals never tire of their propaganda of the glories of "nonviolence," about how tyranny can be removed by peaceful means. But the truth of the matter is that extraordinary means were needed to replace Marcos. The liberals would not stand for the extraordinary means of revolution, not on your life. But the military revolt and the U.S. backing for this rebellion gave them the means to come to power. To talk of the virtues of "non-violence" in a situation where the generals have thrown in their lot behind you is nonsense. Of course, the liberals can talk so sanctimoniously today because their gamble succeeded. If Marcos had been able to get enough military support on his side, a bloody outcome could well have resulted.

However, when all is said and done, the electoral course was the central feature of the transition away from the Marcos regime. No matter that the tyrant had sought a different outcome from these elections, a good part of his apparatus, along with the liberals, had decided to use these elections to set up a new regime. The military rebellion, although being the decisive act to force the dictator out, was merely a means to enforce the electoral transition.

And it is precisely because the change took place by electoral means that there has been so little real change in the Philippines today -- many of the same faces who were in charge yesterday are still there. After all, these were elections organized under the rules and regulations of the dictatorship -- that had only allowed sufficient space for a liberal ticket of the exploiters to run, but provided no conditions whatsoever for the participation of anyone who sought radical change in the Philippines. (And even the liberals had to suffer nearly 100 murders during this election process.)

Yes, the Philippines does prove the effectiveness of "non-violence" to end tyranny. That is, if you have the generals on your side, if Washington throws its weight behind you, and, most importantly, if all the change you want is merely a few new faces added to the powerful figures of the old ruling apparatus. But if anyone wants more, they will turn down the lies of the liberals, and hold out and work for a real change -- one that requires the smashing of the old order by revolutionary force.

[Photo: Workers and students march in Manila on February 18 to denounce Marcos' fraudulent election victory and U.S. support for the Marcos government.]

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The Aquino regime:

A regime of liberal compromise with Marcos' generals

The Corazon Aquino regime is being described in Manila and Washington in the most extravagant terms. Every other word out of the mouths of Aquino and her cohorts is "people" or "revolution." And American politicians and journalists are heaping praise on the new regime, spewing out such phrases as a "real people's revolution," "perhaps one of the few authentic democratic revolutions in history," and so forth.

But this is fantasy. In fact the new government in Manila is a regime of compromise between the liberals and a good part of the Marcos dictatorship. The Aquino regime does proclaim that it is a regime of reconciliation -- and that is one of the few honest declarations coming from Manila.

Marcos' Military Is the Mainstay of the Aquino Regime

Reconciliation with the Marcos apparatus is indeed the alpha and omega of the new regime. Indeed, it owes its origins to the fact that Marcos' top military officers came over to the liberal opposition. And Aquino has kept them in the exact same positions they held in the old regime. Who are these people that are being paraded as the chiefs of the so-called "people's army"?

* Enrile. Juan Ponce Enrile had been one of the dictator's closest cronies for decades. As the Defense Minister, he was one of the top men in charge of the apparatus of repression, torture and massacres of the people. And Enrile enriched himself royally through his positions in the Marcos regime. One recent book writes: "Enrile was big: in addition to coconuts, farm lands in Isabela and the legal business of crony firms, he had been part of the timber land grabs, and he also had multimillion-dollar property holdings in such places as San Francisco and Dallas."

Enrile was a Marcos loyalist to virtually the very end. In fact, he himself admits that he fabricated 300,000 votes for Marcos in the latest elections.

* Ramos. And what of General Fidel Ramos? The press portrays him as an honest, "professional officer," trained in West Point. Indeed Ramos is a professional fighter against revolution. Ramos was one of the key figures in the brutal war of the Marcos dictatorship against the revolutionary movement. He is a product of the U.S. military's counter-insurgency school at Fort Bragg.

A recent article in the New York Times cannot fail to admit that "as chief of the Philippines Constabulary in the Marcos administration, he supervised the 70,000-man Civilian Home Defense Forces -- a civilian militia created to combat the insurgency -- which had been responsible for some of the military's most egregious abuses." Only last September, troops under Ramos' command massacred dozens of unarmed sugar workers at a demonstration in Escalante on the island of Negros.

The Aquino regime is making a big deal out of its proposal to retire a few old generals. But this is an empty gesture to show the people that it is cleaning up the military. But in fact, this act is being carried out under U.S. advice because Washington believes that these officers have not been effective enough in organizing the military for counterrevolution. The bulk of the military apparatus -- Marcos' mainstay of terror against the masses-- is being kept intact. As Salvador Laurel, the new Vice President puts it, "We believe in the ability of human beings to change themselves." Sure, and pigs can grow wings too.

And What About the Liberals?

The liberal politicians do not see anything wrong in reconciling with Marcos' kingpins because they come from the same capitalist-landlord class. And many among them were themselves Marcos followers not too long ago.

* Laurel. Take Laurel, for example. He comes from a rich family of the Filipino establishment. His father had been President of the puppet regime under the Japanese occupation. And he was a politician in Marcos' ruling party until only a few years ago. Laurel has been the most conservative figure in the bourgeois opposition, with very close ties to U.S. imperialism. And even after the recent elections, he admitted that he would have been willing to serve as Vice President under Marcos. (In the Philippines, the votes for President and Vice President are counted separately.)

* Aquino. Meanwhile Corazon Aquino, while being a political newcomer, was not only the wife of the late Benigno Aquino but herself a daughter of one of the wealthiest families in the country, the Cojuangco family, with longstanding interests in banking and sugar. She was the cousin of Eduardo Cojuangco, who by supporting Marcos made himself the second richest man after the dictator.

The new cabinet appointed by Aquino is also being described as "properly conservative." While one or two positions have been given to reformist bourgeois politicians -- to help shore up popular support -- the key positions are in the hands of people with proven loyalty to the status quo. Laurel became both prime minister and foreign minister. And Jaime Ongpin, head of the country's largest mining firm, a Marcos supporter until a few years ago, became Finance Minister. (Ongpin's brother had been Marcos' minister of trade and industry.)

Reconciliation with Reaction, Empty Promises for the Masses

The main policy statements made by the new regime stress reconciliation and forgiveness for the dictatorship. Marcos was allowed to flee the country and the new regime has declared that it will not bring the tyrant to justice for the crimes he committed. The regime is making some noise about getting Marcos to return his stolen loot, but don't hold your breath on that effort. After all, the regime allowed the U.S. to fly not only Marcos but also a large pile of loot out of the country with him.

Other statements of the regime stress the historical commitments of the Filipino oligarchy. They make it clear that U.S. imperialism will continue to have its privileges in the country. The U.S. bases will stay. And exploitation by U.S. and other multinationals will not only continue, but the regime also hopes to create an even better climate for more investment from the capitalist sharks abroad. And the regime promises to do all it can to boost the domestic capitalist profiteers as well.

The old apparatus will remain. Of course there will be a few removals from office, a few investigations, and perhaps even a few court cases against this or that individual, but the regime has already flatly ruled out pressing any general action against the old regime and its loyalists. Any action taken against Marcos loyalists will not be taken to root out reaction, but merely to open up positions to fill up with loyalists of the new regime.

To portray itself as a regime of change, the government is removing some of the most odious features of the dictatorship. It is striking off some of Marcos' extraordinary powers and removing a few legal restrictions on democratic freedoms. On the issue of the release of political prisoners, the regime has vacillated. First it released a few and said it would review the rest; then it said that it would release all; and as we go to press, the regime is hesitating on the release of four prisoners.

Meanwhile, the regime has a host of empty promises about a better, freer future in the country. The workers and peasants are asked to give up their struggles, to give up the armed revolutionary movement they have built up through years of tenacious struggle, and wait for manna to fall from the sky. And if they refuse to be taken in by these sweet appeals, the regime has made it clear that it will prosecute the counter-insurgency war with vigor, and it hopes, with even more efficiency than Marcos himself.

[Photo: Leftist demonstrators in Manila burned effigies of Reagan and Marcos and used the "X" sign to call for a boycott of the January 31 snap elections.]

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Let us not forget U.S. imperialism's record in the Philippines

If one is to believe the politicians in Washington or the U.S. news media, one of the key architects of freedom in the Philippines is none other than Ronald Reagan. Capitol Hill echoes with gushing praise for what is being called the masterful policy of the White House. Liberal Democratic stalwarts like Ted Kennedy and Stephen Solarz are warmly applauding Reagan. Not a single discordant voice is heard in the capitalist establishment on this issue.

This is no doubt the most disgusting feature about the events of the last week of February. Incredibly enough, the longstanding criminal policy of the U.S. government in the Philippines is shoved aside, as something no longer worthy of attention.

But the working people must not forget this history. From this one can see what the U.S. is up to today in the Philippines. And it is not a pretty picture.

A Shameful Record of Imperialism

The capitalist rulers of the U.S. grabbed up the Philippines as a prized colonial territory at the end of the last century. Replacing Spanish colonial rule, the U.S. intervened to prevent the Filipino people from achieving self- determination. And it waged a colonial war against the Filipino people, a war waged with brutality that had many similarities with that seen in the Viet Nam war.

For years the U.S. freely plundered the Philippines as a direct colony, although gradually the domestic upper crust was brought into sharing in the power and privileges of government. During World War II, the country fell under Japanese occupation (and while the Filipino masses fought Japanese imperialism, the wealthy class served the Japanese occupiers).

After the war, the U.S. returned but, in the face of widespread anti-colonial sentiment, decided to continue its domination through indirect means. The country was given independence and the Filipino capitalist-landlord oligarchy was given a greater role in the political and economic life of the Philippines. But the Filipino regime was faced with an active communist-led insurgency. This the U.S. helped to crush.

Through the 50's and 60's, the Filipino oligarchy ruled with ruthless measures against the working people. The regime maintained a democratic facade, but in face the laws were full of exceptional measures to keep a lid on the ability of the toilers to organize and fight for their interests.

Marcos' Rule Was Propped Up by Five U.S. Presidents

Marcos was elected president in 1965, and for the first seven years of his reign, he ruled under the accepted norms of the whole Filipino ruling class. And in those early years, the regime's attitude towards the masses was not significantly different than the reactionary regimes that had preceded him.

Marcos was loyal to U.S. imperialist domination of the Philippines. He supported the U.S. bases, supported plunder by U.S. corporations, and he maintained Manila's role in supporting the U.S. war effort in Viet Nam. In turn, he was amply rewarded by the U.S.

In 1972, faced with a growing revolutionary movement, Marcos declared martial law. He built up a huge military apparatus against the Filipino people. And his prime supporter in this task was the U.S. government. Having been supported by Johnson in the 60's, Marcos now would receive also the backing of Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. Democrats and Republicans alike helped prop up the Marcos tyranny.

A Good Friend of Reagan

Today Reagan is praised for letting go of Marcos. For what? Reagan only stopped support for Marcos' rule in the very last days of the collapsing dictator! But what's the Reagan record?

Reagan and his wife are longstanding friends of the Marcoses, from the 1960's. After Reagan's election, he loudly affirmed his staunch support for the despot in Manila.

In 1981, Reagan dispatched Vice President Bush to Manila who gushed: "Mr. President, we stand with you, sir. We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic processes, and we will not leave you in isolation." The next year, Reagan received Ferdinand Marcos in the White House, calling the dictator "a voice of reason and moderation." And during his 1984 re-election campaign, Reagan reaffirmed his support for Marcos.

Meanwhile, U.S. military and economic support continued to pour in for Marcos, over $200 million each year.

Only in the last year did the Reagan administration finally decide to move away from such a tight embrace for Marcos and to pay more attention to preparing a post-Marcos script. But it was not until the crisis during the latest elections that the White House decided to finally let go of Marcos. And even then, the U.S. helped Marcos to escape the wrath of the Filipino masses and to carry out tons of money and gold stolen from the Philippines. Meanwhile, even while posing as the liberator of the Philippines, the Reagan administration cannot stop praising Marcos!

The U.S. Concerns -- Bases, Profits and Counterrevolution

Today Washington strikes a pose as if its policy in the Philippines is guided by nothing but the loftiest aims -- concern for human rights, for the prevention of bloodshed, for democracy, and what not. What rot! The record of history offers ample testimony to the contrary.

In fact, what guides U.S. policy towards this Asian country is much tawdrier stuff. For one thing, it is robbery. U.S. corporations have long robbed the country of its land and labor. The fruit monopolies came here many years ago. And during the recent decades, U.S. corporations sank in $2.5 billion investment to make profits in the great "investment climate" offered by Marcos -- pitifully low wages as low as $3 per day and repression against workers.

Then there are the bases, Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay naval base. These are there for the strategic interests of U.S. imperialism, to guard its imperial sphere of influence in South and Southeast Asia. After the U.S. defeat in Viet Nam, Washington considered these bases to be even more crucial than ever.

And finally, the U.S. interest in the Philippines is the war against the revolutionary movement. This country today has developed over the last two decades one of the most vigorous guerrilla movements, threatening the rule of the oligarchy and imperialism. The U.S. has backed the Marcos regime in order to crush this insurgency.

But over the years the Marcos regime lost its effectiveness in defending the concerns of U.S. imperialism. Thus the change of horses in Manila. And thus the support of Washington for the new regime.

[Photo: In the slums of Manila, residents survive by scavenging through garbage.]

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U.S. Imperialism, Get Out of Central America!


The Pentagon's "low intensity conflict" in action:

A new name for Viet Nam War-style atrocities

The new U.S. military doctrine is "low-intensity conflict" against the ''terrorist" threat. This top-level U.S. military doctrine contends that ''the most important security challenge confronting the United States is to improve its military capabilities for low-intensity conflict." (Military Review, January 1985) A typical example of what the Pentagon means by ''low-intensity capabilities" can be seen in El Salvador. ''Low-intensity conflict" turns out to be nothing but the old practice of forced relocation of civilians, ''strategic hamlets," and killing any civilians who remain in liberated zones -- as practiced by the Pentagon in Viet Nam.

Trying Out "Low-intensity" Warfare in El Salvador

The Pentagon has wasted no time in trying out its new doctrine in El Salvador. At the direction of its U.S. advisers, the Salvadoran army of the rich oligarchy recently launched a new offensive against one of the main guerrilla bases of the insurgent workers and peasants.

On January 10, Salvadoran government troops surrounded some one to two thousand civilian peasants on rebel-held Guazapa volcano, 18 miles north of San Salvador. They then proceeded to raze the area and to capture and forcibly remove the population. One peasant who escaped the scene reported: ''There are still thousands of people there. Many are wounded. We live like animals. When they see people, they [the government troops] fire many rounds indiscriminately.... They entered into the houses, burned the corn, clothes, fruit trees, the earth and the grass. They burned everything. Those that didn't leave hid so they wouldn't be found." (Guardian, February 12)

By January 29, according to Salvadoran army chief of staff, Gen. Onicifero Adolfo Blandon, the troops had removed 208 peasants from Guazapa. The government wants to continue the offensive through the end of March or until all civilians in the area are relocated. The army says that, after Guazapa is reduced to ash, it will repopulate it, molding a ''new society" under military control.

Guazapa volcano is a longtime stronghold of the liberation movement and a strategic position in the center of the country. In the course of the war the government has delivered over half of its bombs onto this mountain without being able to capture it. The peasants remaining on Guazapa are firm supporters of the guerrilla struggle whom the government has been unable to dislodge. This is supposed to justify any atrocity against such "terrorists."

Viet Nam All Over Again

It is clear that these "new" tactics are simply a repetition of U.S. imperialism's Viet Nam war tactics. Seeing that the strength of the Vietnamese liberation forces lay in its mass support, the U.S. armed forces tried to round up the peasants into concentration camps called "strategic hamlets." Now, based on a slew of studies of the U.S.'s Viet Nam-era methods, the "low- intensify conflict" strategy has revived these methods.

This in fact merely means a slight shift on the Salvadoran army's methods, which have always been aimed at killing all opponents of the Salvadoran exploiters. Previously, the army's basic approach was to concentrate on attempting to defeat the guerrillas militarily while also massacring their civilian supporters and trying to terrorize them into giving up the struggle. This policy tended to galvanize support for the fighters and to further isolate the army. The Pentagon thinks that this policy failed only due to poor technique, and that by a variety of new techniques the Salvadoran army can accomplish its aim of splitting the civilian sympathizers away from the guerrillas by force.

The army claims that its program of capture and forced relocation offer the civilian peasantry an "incentive" to desert the guerrillas. By such phrases they hope to give some "human rights" coloring to the government's practice of raining death on the rural population. This program, said the military press spokesman, "is easier to justify." (Ibid.)

Massive Force to Substitute for Popular Support

The relocation operation, carried out at the direction of the U.S. advisers, involves a massive mobilization of force. It includes three U.S.-trained elite counter-insurgency battalions, a fleet of U.S.-supplied A-37 jet bombers, as well as an army brigade, two artillery divisions, a navy battalion and paratroopers.

Nevertheless, the offensive is not going unopposed. It is being met with stiff opposition by the guerrillas, who have already caused the army 125 casualties.

[Photo: Hundreds of activists in Los Angeles protest against the Salvadoran army's offensive on the Guazapa volcano, February 4.]

American helicopters won't save the death-squad regime

On February 4, Salvadoran guerrillas shot down a Hughes-500 helicopter over the eastern province of San Miguel. The U.S.-supplied fleet of attack helicopters, now temporarily reduced by one-eighth, is one of the death-squad regime's most destructive weapons against the Salvadoran people. A Huey carcass makes a valuable prize for the Salvadoran liberation forces, just as American helicopters previously did for the Vietnamese people.

Confessions of a Salvadoran army hit-man

For the first time, a former Salvadoran army officer has publicly admitted the army's participation in death squad murders and terror. West Point graduate ex-Lt. Ricardo Ernesto Castro left El Salvador in 1982 and is now seeking political asylum in the U.S. He first spilled his story to free-lance reporter Allan Nairn, and it has been been published in Progressive magazine.

Lt. Castro's story is nothing new to people familiar with the situation in El Salvador, but it punches another hole in the attempts of the Reagan administration to distance the Salvadoran military command and its American advisers from the notorious, subhuman death squads of El Salvador. Reagan and the Congress pretend that only some bad individuals in the Salvadoran military have been linked to the death squads, but Lt. Castro's statements directly implicate the military as a whole.

Lt. Castro describes the death-squad killings of suspected "subversives" as a routine activity of the Salvadoran army in early 1981. He personally led four assassination missions at that time, killing a dozen people. In the fall of 1981 Lt. Castro witnessed the army's counterinsurgency sweep near the Rio Lempa in which it murdered unarmed women and children and placed the bodies in shallow streams in an attempt to terrorize the rest of the population into submission.

Lt. Castro's statements also show that U.S. Congressional aid to El Salvador, totaling $1.7 billion under the Reagan administration alone, is not for the purpose of supporting "human rights" but instead finances the ghastly death- squad terrorism that preys upon the Salvadoran people.

U.S. 'advisors' filmed in combat

Every time U.S. military personnel are killed while on duty in El Salvador, the Reagan administration and the U.S. news media pretend that these soldiers are not war casualties and present the troops as "victims of terrorism" as if they were innocent tourists or motorists who had taken the wrong turn and found themselves in El Salvador. In fact, the Pentagon and State Department not only finance the war in El Salvador, but American personnel are directly involved in training the reactionary forces, directing the war, providing reconnaissance information, and even in the fighting on the battlefield. American troops are dying because the U.S. government is at war against the people of El Salvador.

This month another small glimpse of U.S. "advisers" participating in combat in El Salvador made it into the press.

In the first week of February, at least three U.S. "advisers" participating in combat in El Salvador made it into the press.

In the first week of February, at least three U.S. "advisers" took part in the assault on the guerrilla-held town of Perquin, 69 miles northeast of the capital city of San Salvador. Two U.S. advisers were even filmed in combat.

The army's assault on the guerrilla- held area was covered by Visnews, a British-based independent television news-gathering service. Along with hundreds of villagers fleeing gunfire, the Visnews tape shows an American military official crouching alongside Salvadoran soldiers, holding an M-16 rifle ready in front of him. Another U.S. official can be seen walking down the street, holding a rifle in the air, with his hand on a pistol grip.

Such incidents are only the tip of the iceberg concerning the involvement of U.S. personnel in the fighting in El Salvador. (And, as well, U.S. troops are involved in combat operations against Nicaragua. See "U.S. Combat Troops in the Secret War on Nicaragua," The Workers' Advocate, January 1, 1985) However, they suffice to give the lie to the Reagan administration's claim that U.S. forces are not involved in combat against the people of El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Death squad commanders get a promotion

The human rights pretensions of the Duarte government in El Salvador (at no time convincing) are being bared to the bone as several army officers, notorious for death squad killings of workers and peasants opposed to the regime, are being rewarded and promoted to higher positions.

Maj. Ricardo Pozo, an ex-intelligence officer in the bloodstained "security forces" and Lt. Col. Mario Denis Moran (implicated, besides his crimes against the Salvadoran people, in the 1984 Sheraton Hotel murders of two U.S. land reform advisers) both received promotions this year. Pozo and Moran have been singled out by investigative reporters for their leading roles in organizing the Salvadoran military's death squads which terrorize and murder opponents of the brutal U.S. puppet oligarchy. As well Lt. Rodolfo Lopez Sibrian (also connected to the Sheraton murders) was promoted last year. Meanwhile Capt. Alfonso Eduardo Avila (formally accused in the Sheraton killings and also implicated in the 1979 murder of the reformist leader, Archbishop Oscar Romero), has been acquitted of all charges.

The crimes of these individuals are so well known that even the Reagan administration has had to pretend to oppose them as part of the U.S. government's hypocritical tears against "human rights" abuses in El Salvador. (Of course Reagan and Congress have focused their attention on the murders of the U.S. officials and nuns rather than on the slaughter of tens of thousands of Salvadoran toilers.)

In 1983, when the Reagan administration and Congress staged a "human rights certification" to put a good face on U.S. aid to El Salvador, they pinpointed Pozo and Moran as human rights violators-who had to be brought under control before the aid could be released. Vice President Bush himself flew to El Salvador to make a demagogical speech condemning death squad violence and demanding that Pozo and Moran be reprimanded. Tongue in cheek, the Salvadoran government immediately "reprimanded" these criminals by transferring Pozo to a diplomatic post in Paraguay and transferring Moran to the U.S. (Twenty lashes with a wet portfolio.) The Democrats in Congress collaborated in this cynical maneuver by then approving an increase in aid to the Salvadoran regime.

The purpose of this charade of concern for "human rights" was not to stop the murdering of the Salvadoran masses. (After all, the Duarte regime and the U.S. government are the ones waging a genocidal war against the masses.) The purpose was simply to put a good face on stepping up U.S. intervention on the side of the reactionary Salvadoran government.

Once the path was cleared for a massive influx of aid to El Salvador, the politicians in Washington forgot their interest in "human rights" as suddenly as they had found it. While the death squads have been on the rampage, U.S. Congressional aid has continued to pour in, including military aid going directly to the fascist colonels.

Now the Duarte government, which advertised itself as an alternative to the guerrilla movement in solving the problems of the death squads and murderous repression, is itself promoting known death squad champions. At the same time, Duarte's love affair with even the most bloodstained butchers has evoked not one peep from the knights of "human rights" in the White House and Capitol Hill.

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Against the exclusion of women from the Nicaraguan military reserves

The Nicaraguan people face a harsh struggle for the defense of the gains of their revolution in the face of the CIA-sponsored contras and the saber rattling of the Reagan government. The political and military mobilization of the workers and poor peasants is the key to blocking the aggression of the bourgeoisie and U.S. imperialism.

Since coming to power, the Sandinista government has step by step curtailed this essential mobilization of the masses. As part of its petty-bourgeois policy of compromise with the capitalists and landlords, it has made efforts to take the guns out of the hands of the working masses and to organize defense along the lines of a traditional bourgeois army.

This has meant placing the main emphasis on building the regular army through the military draft (Patriotic Military Service -- SMPJ. It has also meant cutting back the role of the popular militias, which emerged out of the anti-Somoza insurrection.

Originally the workers' militias were organized along factory and work place lines, which was favorable for the political organization and mobilization of the workers. But the government has been striving to obliterate the class nature of the militias, to put them under the strict bureaucratic control of the regular army, and thereby transform them into reserves typical of capitalist armies.

Women's participation in the reserves has been one of the victims of this process. Below we reprint an article from Prensa Proletaria (No. 18, January 1986), newspaper of the Leninist Party of Nicaragua. Here the Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists stress the significance of the participation of women, both for strengthening the mass mobilization against the U.S.-contra aggression and for the political development of women. (Translation by the WA staff.)

[Prensa Proletaria masthead.]

Women's Reserve Battalions (the "Erlinda Lopez" and the ''Heroes and Martyrs of Batahola" in Managua, the ''Varonica Lacayo" in Leon, etc.) are being dismantled, under allegations of some type of ''technical" problems. This is a pragmatic justification that doesn't contemplate the potential political development to be gained through the organization of the militia and women's participation in them, women who still have to fight for particular demands within the struggle against the bourgeoisie and imperialism.

Women still have to struggle for the legalization of abortion, sex education, child care, etc. This struggle is not isolated from their participation in the militia, but it is intensely linked to it.

Recently a call was made to men between the ages of 25 and 40 to comply with the Reserve Military Service (SMR). This falls within the all-around a-class logic [in regards to military] defense. Moreover, it converts it into forming a new means of sexual discrimination. Despite the conditions that lend themselves to the incorporation of women into the plans of the war, their exclusion is curtailing their right to advance towards the tasks of the vanguard.

It is certain that the Patriotic Military Service performs an important military role in containing and annihilating the aggression. Nonetheless it doesn't accomplish the political objective of bringing together the working class, including the laborers and revolutionaries identified with the proletariat, as the militias have the potential of doing.

The incorporation of the militias must not make sexual exclusions, because by their nature they are composed of men and women equally involved in production. And although there are those who admit that the state of women's participation in production, in general terms, doesn't give sufficient immediate conditions for their direct participation in the war fronts, it is necessary to admit that the Reserve Military Service, by its character of reserves, offers perspectives for the advance of women in the development of their role in defense.

Women must include themselves in the SMR and rescue this channel of military participation in order to convert it, together with men, into an alternative of political growth and participation. The working class with its men and women must also be clear that, although the SMR can have potential for the integration of the masses into the tasks of defense, it can also serve as an element of control and militarization over the masses. The working class must point this out in good time, and not permit that their military integration signifies the limitation of their trade union freedoms and their capacity of criticism.

The militia member, man or woman, is not only a soldier, but a political element destined to play a strategic role in the [military] defense and the participation of women. In this sense, it cannot be negated or limited, and in the present conditions, their participation cannot be postponed.

[Photo: Nicaraguan women joined the insurrection that toppled Somoza and have taken part in the tasks of the military defense of the revolution.]

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The Nicaraguan workers demand:

'Abortion must be legalized, but that is not enough'

For centuries, the women of Nicaragua suffered under the heavy oppression of the landlords and capitalists, kept in their place by backward Catholic and nearly medieval social customs and laws. The revolution of the Nicaraguan workers and peasants, which overthrew the tyrant Somoza, struck blows at this oppression and backwardness. A marked victory of the revolution has been that the participation of women in the struggle has given women new life.

However, it has been six years since the smashing of the U.S.-backed dictatorship, and there is still a long row to hoe. The petty-bourgeois Sandinista government has put brakes on the revolution, seeking a compromise with the capitalists and landlords. It has tried its best to not disturb the Catholic officialdom and the other nerve centers of capitalist reaction. As a result of this policy of class compromise, further steps against the oppression of women have come very slowly and many backward things remain untouched.

One such thing is that the abortion laws from the time of Somoza are still in force. Abortions are only legal when judged medically critical by a panel of three doctors and the woman can get the approval of her spouse.

In practice, like in every capitalist country with such laws, only the wealthy have access to relatively safe abortions. But poor women are put at the mercy of back-alley abortionists. Every year hundreds of Nicaraguan women die from illegal abortions, and for every death many others are permanently sterilized or otherwise mutilated. And the situation is reportedly growing worse as the economic situation deteriorates.

Last November, the Sandinistas at least opened up a public debate on this problem, which has become hotly contested inside Nicaragua, and which has drawn a good deal of international attention.

Within the ranks of the supporters of the Sandinista Front (FSLN), there are different points of view. There is a minority which opposes abortion rights. However, the majority appears to favor a change in the abortion laws, although there are different shades of argument.

With a typically petty-bourgeois spirit, some of these FSLN circles are full of radical-sounding phrases about how abortion rights will give women ''control over their own bodies." Phrasemongering along these lines spreads the illusion that changing the abortion law will bring women near the pinnacle of final emancipation.

This petty-bourgeois illusion-mongering has an echo among the FSLN's biggest boosters in the U.S., such as the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. The SWP's Militant has given prominent coverage to what they describe as the ''central question" of abortion rights in Nicaragua.

''As the experience of six and a half years of the revolution has demonstrated," the Militant theorizes, ''lack of the right to control their own bodies -- to decide when and if to have children -- limits women's ability to determine every other aspect of their lives, from their personal relationships, to their jobs or education, to their ability to be politically active. Thus the abortion debate gets right to the heart of the question of women's rights as a whole." (January 10,1986)

True enough, abortion rights are important for women's political participation, etc. But the reformist phrasemongers have overlooked a small matter. With their gushing phrases about ''control over their bodies," they have left out of the picture what is, in fact, the principal obstacle to women's participation.

What the Militant writers don't like to admit, even though it is irrefutable, is that capitalist relations are still in force in Nicaragua. And the perpetuation of capitalist exploitation, not abortion rights, is what fundamentally determines women's jobs, education and so forth. Moreover, it is the FSLN's policy of reconciliation with the capitalists and landlords which has put severe limitations on the participation of the working masses in political life. In fact, this has hit women particularly hard as the FSLN dismantled or demobilized the militias, the CDS neighborhood defense committees, the literacy campaigns, and other mass forms which had a strong women's participation.

The revolutionary workers of Nicaragua have a very different stand. The party of the Nicaraguan proletariat, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua, argues forcefully for the right of women to abortion. But at the same time it opposes creating any euphoria about what this right will bring, stressing that the demand for abortion rights must be linked to the revolutionary struggle of the working masses against the exploiters and the capitalist "mixed economy" defended by Sandinism.

The following article has been excerpted from the newspaper of the MLPN, Prensa Proletaria, of January 1986. Translation is by the WA.


The Sandinista Television System absorbs a wide audience for half an hour every day with the obscurantist television novel "The Right of Birth." Meanwhile, on the other hand, Sandinism has initiated in its other means of mass communication a polemic over the problem of abortion in Nicaragua.

The posing of the debate in the means of communication has been in itself a positive step for the Nicaraguan people to be able to know and discuss a problem that has been largely hidden away by the reactionary forces.

It is necessary to recall the fact that the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML), has been the only one to pose the necessity of the legalization of abortion with medical vigilance. This was a major point in the plan of struggle proclaimed by the Party in the electoral campaign of 1984.

But it is necessary to ask oneself what is behind this Sandinista campaign, this apparently so abrupt turn in respect to its traditional prudishness towards this type of issue? Why have the official pronouncements avoided making reference to the class struggle that lies behind the themes of "growing population," "contraception," "machismo," "sexual place," etc.?...

What does the proletariat, and more concretely the proletarian women, have to say on this problem?

From the outset it has been clear and forceful: Abortion must be legalized, and all the necessary conditions must be created for women to receive all the medical and physical attention that is required to avoid traumas of whatever type. Nevertheless, abortion cannot be and must not be undertaken as an intrinsic part of a daily birth control policy and method. Although it must be a technical alternative and be legally obtainable for whichever woman desires it, other social mechanisms must be put in place as part of the methods that must free human sexuality of all the obstacles and fetters that bourgeois morality, including feudalist morality, has imposed on men and women.

But it happens that those who have referred to the right of abortion as part of women's own demands as such, have forgotten to place the category of "women" in the class perspective. This applies as much to the Sandinista point of view, that is to say the petty bourgeoisie, as to the bourgeois-feudal point of view. For both, "women" is a biological entity that suffers discrimination and sexual oppression, from this biological, not social, perspective. Thus, both prance around discussing over the "right to give birth" and the "right to not give birth." They speak of "women must have the right to abortion," as if upper class women have not had this before and still continue to have it. As if the consequences are not shouldered unequally, according to the class to which they belong. It is precisely the working class woman, the laboring woman, that has suffered every type of cruel actions against her body exercising her right to abortion illegally and at high cost....

"Women must have the right to use and control their own body," the radicals of the petty bourgeoisie say, very convinced and proud of themselves. They hide the fact that in our capitalist system, euphemistically called "mixed economy," a woman worker of the Zona Franca or a textile plant in Managua or some coffee farm, could have the full right to abortion, to this right to "decide over her own body," although in all forms this worker will still be obliged to continue surrendering her body in the daily workday that she yields to Capital, in the obligatory yielding of surplus value.

This woman worker can exercise her right to abortion. But she will continue to be forced by existing capitalism to not have control of her own body, physical vehicle of her social force, of her force of labor, since the capitalists and the bureaucrats of Capital are the ones who decide on this....

And to be more clear, we mention that the woman worker we referred to also cannot decide over her reproductive functions in biological terms: pregnancy tests in applications for employment for women, which are something very common in Nicaragua, determine that a woman who has decided to have a child cannot have it if she wants employment, because this is what the boss has determined.

The bourgeoisie doesn't say anything in these cases when this worker resorts to clandestine abortion to repair her situation and subordinate herself to the dictate of Capital. But the bourgeoisie and its accomplices, the priests, when they speak of the legalization of abortion, hypocritically ask, as the daily La Prensa of Managua has done, how many valiant men would be left of birth if abortion would be legalized.

In other words, the proletariat can not take up the matter of the right to abortion, a legitimate democratic demand of the popular classes, aside from the class struggle, the struggle against capitalism, against the bourgeoisie. The emancipation of the working class implies the emancipation of the oppressive situation of women, on account of it is forces of capitalism and its remnants which multiply this situation of oppression or prolong it....

A woman worker with let's say three children and the fourth is coming, decides for economic reasons to abort it. And the economic reasons for abortion have been mentioned in the debate. And what do they signify for the woman worker but the wage situation, the high cost of living, the lack of social facilities, of housing, education, food, health care, etc.?...

...And in the economic reasons are found the tapestry of the class struggle that already touches on the fight between the profits and interests of the capitalist minority and the necessities of the laboring class.

It is this class struggle which the petty bourgeoisie and the feudalist bourgeois are trying to hide with their discussion in Nicaragua over the right to abortion.

The demand for the right to abortion is a democratic right that must be part of the more general struggle for better wage conditions, price controls, more attention and protection of the youth on the part of the state, better working conditions, sexual education for the population, the spreading of contraceptive technology, and the right to sexual pleasure without the compulsion of pregnancy or of abortion. These are democratic struggles which will not gain their full content except under socialism, struggles that must be channeled precisely to strengthen the working class in the fundamental struggle against the capitalist system....

...The toilers must be conscious of the problem, to acquaint ourselves of what is the situation and even how our intimate affairs, including biological functions, are subjected to capitalism. We must be clear that only struggling for socialism can we recover our humanity. The legalization of abortion is essential, but it alone is not sufficient, because it can only acquire a revolutionary sense in the midst of the toilers simultaneously giving battle against the capitalist system, against exploitation and class oppression.

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Mr. 'Human Rights' visits Nicaragua--with a contra wish list in his pocket

In February, former president Jimmy Carter visited Nicaragua with the aim of pressuring the Nicaraguans to bow to U.S. dictate through negotiations. Traveling in his habitual "peace" and "human rights" mantle, Carter made the stated mission of his journey the exploration of opportunities for peace in the region.

Carter -- Architect of the Internal Counter-revolution in Nicaragua

By "peace," Carter means the end of the revolution in Nicaragua and the restoration of full bourgeois rule. This can be seen by Carter's role, when he was president, in trying to sabotage the Nicaraguan revolution.

Carter, it will be remembered, is the president who, after the fall of Somoza, sent his diplomats to try to influence the Sandinistas to set up a government jointly with the bourgeoisie. Carter's Undersecretary of State William Bowdler negotiated with the Sandinistas on behalf of the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie and even accompanied bourgeois figures on a flight home to Managua. (If this sounds similar to what Reagan is doing today in Haiti, in imposing a Duvalierist government on the masses who rose up and forced Baby Doc Duvalier out, it is no accident.) If Carter had succeeded, the Nicaraguan revolution would have been nipped in the bud and an ordinary government of exploitation and repression of the masses would have been set up.

At the same time, seeing as the bourgeois elements quickly left the government and formed an opposition to the petty-bourgeois Sandinistas, Carter also began the preparations for military intervention against Nicaragua.

Today Carter is still up to his old tricks. Seeing as the Sandinistas have made major concessions to the bourgeoisie and have repressed the independent forces of the workers in Nicaragua, Carter still has hopes that U.S. imperialism can obtain its aims by pushing the Sandinistas further to the right. At the same time, he does not rule out the use of the contras to overthrow the Nicaraguan regime; he simply says that they should not be (further) funded by the U.S. government until the other methods of inducing concessions from the Sandinistas and undermining the revolution have been exhausted.

Carter -- Advocate of Contadora

So for the time being, Carter is back to his old tricks of negotiating with the Sandinistas the end to the revolution. To this end, he sees great use for mediation by the Contadora group, although he also thinks other mediators might prove useful.

Naturally, Carter expressed his support for the Contadora negotiations as simply a high-minded search for peace. The rationale of the Contadora negotiations (in which the Contadora group of bourgeois regimes of Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Panama is supposed to mediate between Nicaragua on one side and, on the other, the U.S. and its counterrevolutionary allied regimes in Central America) is the false premise that it is possible to reconcile the interests of U.S. imperialism and Central American reaction with those of the Nicaraguan people. In particular, Contadora advocates claim that an agreement is possible which would satisfy both the Nicaraguan people and their mortal enemies: U.S. imperialist aggressors, the contra counter-revolutionary plunderers, and the internal Nicaraguan opposition of the big capitalists and landowners. If the Nicaraguan people were really so eager for some agreement reuniting them with Somoza's henchmen and the U.S. State Department, and for an agreement that requires them (as the Contadora proposals do) to renounce aid for the revolutionary struggles of the workers and peasants of El Salvador and other Central American countries, then why did they bother to overthrow the U.S.-backed tyrant Somoza in the first place? Why have they gone through all the trouble of having risen up against the grim exploitation of the rich plantation and factory owners?

No, there are no common interests between the Nicaraguan toilers and the counterrevolutionary front which is oppressing them. (Nor are the Contadora regimes impartial between U.S. imperialism and revolution, seeing that all of them are involved in suppressing their own toilers and all of them are scared that the revolutions in Central America might spread and affect them.) Negotiations cannot create a common interest that doesn't exist. The U.S. imperialist aggression against Nicaragua can only be ended by defeating it. In general, negotiations can register the actual successes of one side or the other in a struggle, or can register the capitulation of one side to the other, but they can not bridge the gap between revolution and counter-revolution.

Actually, behind all the hype, the real purpose of the Contadora negotiations is to reinforce U.S. imperialist pressure on Nicaragua and to try to influence the Sandinistas to give up through negotiations that which the contras are trying to win by terror and murder.

This was again demonstrated by the trip of Carter, arch-champion of "negotiations."

Carter -- Courier for the Contras

It is clear which side Carter is on by who he wants to satisfy. Before arriving in Nicaragua, Carter first met with the contras in San Jose, Costa Rica and obtained from them a list of their demands, which he presented to the Sandinista government. Once inside Nicaragua Carter also met with the leaders of the Democratic Coordinator, a counterrevolutionary coalition of right-wing capitalist parties in Nicaragua. As well Carter lunched with editors of La Prensa, the newspaper of the big Nicaraguan exploiters, which hardly hides its longing for U.S. intervention and its love for the contras.

Carter was also received by the Sandinistas for private discussion. In his 12 hours of discussions with senior Sandinista officials, including President Daniel Ortega and Interior Minister Thomas Borge, what did Carter say? Carter made no public statements on these discussions; it is reported only that he transmitted the contras' demands and that he expressed concerns about the Sandinista's "human rights" policies. You can be sure that, by "human rights," Carter didn't mean support for the consistently revolutionary workers' forces to the left of the petty-bourgeois Sandinistas; no, Carter meant full rights for the bourgeoisie to carry out exploitation and counterrevolutionary agitation at will.

Carter is reported to have sought definite answers on the conditions that would be necessary to have negotiations between the Sandinistas and the contras. What Carter meant by such conditions is unmistakable from the description, given by what the New Times calls "a source who accompanied Mr. Carter" on his Latin American tour, of what the Sandinistas said in reply to him. (New York Times, February 12, 1986) Of course, it cannot be guaranteed that this report from an unnamed "source" is accurate about the concessions promised by the Sandinistas. But there is no doubt that this report accurately reflected the type of bargaining of interest to Carter in the discussions and his desire to force the Nicaraguan people to accept the contras.

This member of Carter's entourage claimed that in the discussions the Sandinistas merely asked for a cease-fire with the contras and the postponement of further U.S. aid to the contras. In turn, they are supposed to have offered extensive concessions. These included lifting restrictions on the counterrevolutionary press in Nicaragua and also on the reactionary Catholic clergy which is a hotbed of plots against the revolution. They are also supposed to have offered to "permit all parties in the conflict to contest free municipal elections next year." (New York Times, February 12, 1986) This presumably means that they would allow contra spokesmen to take part in these elections. This, it should be noted, would be impossible without trampling on the Nicaraguan workers and peasants, who would bitterly oppose any such step. During the 1984 elections, the speeches of the politicians who advocated boycotting the elections because sufficient concessions hadn't been given to the contras, provoked angry demonstrations.

This means that Carter was taking proposals on giving full freedom for the right wing to trample on the revolution from the inside. And as we have seen, in return for all this, Carter would still keep the contra military machine in reserve.

And What of the Sandinista Response?

Whatever the accuracy of the account by this source, it is notable that the concessions it claims the Sandinistas offered are quite close to what the Sandinistas have offered publicly at other times. And the Sandinistas, while they thought it best to keep secret the actual proposals to U.S. imperialism that they floated through Carter, did publicly release two political prisoners in his honor. But who were these prisoners who were released to honor Carter's alleged commitment to "human rights"? They were two counterrevolutionaries, enemies of the Nicaraguan workers and peasants.

One, Luis Mora Sanchez, had been arrested for attacking the police during a demonstration in support of the Archbishop of Managua, Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo, who is a major figure in the counterrevolutionary internal front of the bourgeoisie. The other, Jose Altamirano Rojas, had been charged with aiding an "internal front" directed by the contras.

Not Deals With the Democrats and the Contras, But the Advance of the Revolution

But the only way to safeguard the Nicaraguan workers and peasants from the contras and U.S. intervention is carrying forward the revolution. The friendship of the Sandinistas for Mr. "human rights" Carter is a sign of the bankruptcy of their policy of trying to balance between the revolution on one hand and U.S. imperialism and the local bourgeoisie on the other. This policy has led them to try to find life-giving medicine in the poison pills which Carter, architect of the internal counterrevolutionary front in Nicaragua, came to deliver them on behalf of the contras.

[Photo: Terrorist contras being trained in Florida for the U.S. government's "dirty war" on Nicaragua. Here is the real face behind Washington's anti-terrorist hypocrisy.]

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Hoax of the 'automatic' nature of Gramm-Rudman cuts

Most of the talk about the budget this year has centered on the Gramm-Rudman bill. And there's more to come. It is said that last year there were political choices in funding government programs. But this year everything is supposed to be forced by the need to reduce the deficit according to the Gramm-Rudman bill.

Underneath all this hub-bub one thing stands out. The benefits to the workers -- including unemployment benefits, health care, education, federal employees' wages -- are to be cut. The politicians will say that they didn't want to do it, but their hands were tied -- by Gramm-Rudman.

Meanwhile the military budget will continue at record heights. And, in the name of tax reform, taxes will be shifted more and more onto the workers and away from the rich. "Not raising taxes" means, in Reaganite language, not raising taxes on the rich. Instead they are to be raised by taxes that hit especially hard at the poor. Instead of the graduated income tax, a national sales tax is being proposed.

The capitalist politicians are crying out that they really don't want this. On no sirree. Why, they are just following the dictates of Gramm-Rudman. "Oh," they will wring their hands, "if only we could give you the funds for these programs. We tried, and we allocated the funds. But all must sacrifice equally to the Gramm-Rudman ax. The military too, poor dears, will take such deep cuts."

In fact, there is nothing automatic in the Gramm-Rudman cuts. And it is a fraud that Gramm-Rudman will stop the military budget. As soon as Gramm-Rudman was passed, the Reaganite administration began to talk about methods to protect military spending, and the financial analysts started listing ways around Gramm-Rudman.

Below are some of the ways the capitalist politicians have already thought up to get around the Gramm-Rudman ax -- when they wish to, of course. A number of them are, in fact, traditional budget process maneuvers.

Loopholes in the Gramm-Rudman Method of Budget-Balancing

* Pad military spending. This has already been suggested by top administration officials; for that matter, Reagan has already done this in every defense request he has made to Congress. Ask for more money than one needs, so that the cuts will simply pare down military spending to what the administration really wanted in the first place. This allows the Democrats to posture as ax-wielders valiantly chopping the military budget while giving Reagan everything he could ever dream of.

* Negotiate defense contracts with harsh penalties for cancellation or modification, so that contracts cannot be cut by Gramm-Rudman reductions without actually increasing the deficit. (It is reported that much of the Navy's new shipbuilding program is already being done on contracts that are basically of this type.)

* Amend, or even simply ignore, any part of the law that one wants to. The Gramm-Rudman law has no enforcement provisions. And, for that matter, it has been traditional for Congress to ignore its own budget rules. And it is traditional for the Democrats to wring their hands in mock surprise and then do nothing when they see the Reagan administration simply doing what it pleases despite Congressional mandates.

* Place a special provision in the spending bill that provides extra money for a program if its budget is cut by Gramm-Rudman. This method of special guarantees against across-the-board cuts has been used previously by Congress. And if it fails in any particular situation, Congress can simply go back and add directly to the funding of the program after the Gramm-Rudman cuts. This too is acceptable under Gramm-Rudman.

* Declare war on some country -- that automatically removes all Gramm-Rudman spending limits. This measure may seem extreme as a way to solve the budget crisis, but given all the present U.S. military activity in Central America and elsewhere, it is not out of the question. Reagan isn't building the weapons just to put them into storage.

* However, rather than declaring war, Reagan can simply declare a "national emergency." Bear in mind that Reagan already declared one. "national emergency" to get the authority to embargo Nicaragua, and another to take measures against Libya. That's two national emergencies running simultaneously. So there is ample precedent for declaring a third emergency in order to cast off Gramm-Rudman whenever Reagan decides that it has become inconvenient.

* Just wait for the economy to turn downward again. Gramm-Rudman contains a provision suspending it at such times. And such downward turns are inevitable as the business cycle takes all capitalist economies up and down, up and down, even in the midst of the present general stagnation. This provision alone of Gramm-Rudman shows how completely frivolous is its claim to solve the deficit problem.

And these by no means exhaust the possibilities.

One-Time Only Loopholes

Furthermore, besides the permanent loopholes, there are some one-time only exceptions to the Gramm-Rudman bill that can only be used this year. And since the Gramm-Rudman process probably won't last that long anyway -- at least not without more alterations -- these one-time loopholes are by no means negligible.

For example, the Reagan administration protected foreign aid to the Israeli militarists -- can't let them run out of bullets as they bomb Lebanon every other day. This was done by specifying that all money for Israel be spent in the first quarter of fiscal 1986, thus exempting it from the across-the-board cuts that began on March 1.

And Just Let the Courts Add to the Loopholes

And once the courts start ruling on the Gramm-Rudman bill, a whole new series of arbitrary interpretations are possible. The "full force of the law" may enforce whatever cuts the Reaganites want, while exempting others.

This process has, in fact, already begun. On February 7 a panel of three federal judges ruled that the part of the Gramm-Rudman law calling for automatic cuts, without Congress and presidential approval, was unconstitutional. But that didn't stop these "unconstitutional" cuts from being implemented this March 1. Nor did it reverse the suspension in the cost-of-living adjustments for federal retirees that had begun on January 1 under this same "unconstitutional" provision. The panel of judges held that all these unconstitutional cuts should continue until the U.S. Supreme Court examines the panel's decision.

Meanwhile Michael Davidson, counsel for the U.S. Senate, has suggested that the Supreme Court might itself hold that (parts of) Gramm-Rudman are unconstitutional -- while leaving in place the cuts that were made prior to its ruling. Naturally this is still speculative. But it shows that highly placed bourgeois lawyers themselves admit how arbitrary the courts might be on Gramm-Rudman if they so wish.

Nothing But a Way of Pointing the Finger Somewhere Else

Clearly there is nothing automatic in the Gramm-Rudman procedure. It is simply a pretext for the capitalist parties to cut. social spending while blaming it on cruel fate, which acts anonymously. The Democrats and Republicans have reached a consensus in Congress on how to squeeze the people Still more. That consensus was expressed in the Gramm-Rudman bill. And the Democrats and Republicans are only squabbling over who will take the blame for these cuts in the coming November elections!

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'Blue Collar Holler' -a song

Well, I wake up in the morning at a quarter past five,

Cursing at this job I have to keep me alive.

Everyday I wonder how I'm going to survive,

This damn Reaganite productivity drive!


Hey now, let's organize!

We can beat the capitalists with a militant fight!

Gotta bring down this Reaganite concessions drive!

Well, it's punch that time clock at seven-o-three

And I can hear that foreman shoutin' at me,

"You're late again, you're tardy well isn't it

a shame?"

"But for this written warning only you are to blame!"

Then it's speedup, harassment, wage cuts and more,

And if you don't like it they will show you the door.

And don't look for a fight from those union chiefs,

'Cause they're sittin' on the board of the company!

One day that boss is going to wake up and see,

A factory of workers marching in the streets.

Gonna shut down those robots and the assembly line,

Gonna stop those concessions at the picket line!

At Hormel, Bath Iron, Wheeling Pittsburgh and LA,

Striking workers have been fightin' back,

showing the way,

Saying, "No more concessions! Let's organize

the fight,"

"The capitalists say cut back and we say -- strike!"

We can beat back all of these Reaganite attacks,

When we workers fight together, solid as a class.

Gonna march in demonstrations and organize

big strikes,

Gonna build a mighty movement when the workers


-- Sung to the tune of "White Collar Holler,"

by Stan Rogers

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May First and the fight for the 8-hour day

From the earliest days of factories and railroads in this country, the worker and the capitalist were locked in a bitter conflict over the length of the workday. A high point of this struggle was the great 8-hour movement of the 1880's and the May First general strike of 1886.

A hundred years after this historic clash between capital and labor, it is useful to look back on the protracted struggle for the shorter workday. It carries many valuable lessons for today's struggles of the workers against the current capitalist offensive of takebacks and overwork.

The 8-Hour Movement from the Atlantic to the Pacific

The 8-hour fight was launched in earnest after the Civil War. "The first fruit of the Civil War," Karl Marx noted "was an agitation for the 8-hour day -- a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California." (Capital, Vol. 1, Chapter X, Section 7)

The 8-hour movement was a powerful unifying force. The workers quickly realized that relief from the misery of 10 or 12 or more hour workdays could not be won factory by factory and piece by piece. They combined their struggles against individual employers with demands for 8-hour day laws on the state and federal governments, which represented the capitalist class as a whole.

The fight for the shorter workday played a big part in the setting up of a new wave of trade unions. This demand also played a big part in every major effort to establish nationwide working class organization.

The May First Strike Showed the Power of the Class Struggle

The preparations for the 1886 May First strike for the 8-hour day brought together a class-wide movement. The masses of unskilled laborers, who were still outside of the trade unions, joined the struggle. Strikes spread like a prairie fire. A powerful class struggle was underway. Some 350,000 workers in cities across the country took part in the May First work stoppage.

Before the power of the workers' corned action, the employers gave in to the 8-hour demand of about half the strikers. Many of the rest of the workers won a reduction in the workday. But these victories were to be short-lived.

On May 4, the Chicago capitalists and police engineered the Haymarket Massacre, which became the signal for a nationwide counteroffensive against the workers. It took several years for the 8-hour movement to get back its momentum. But even then the movement was undermined by Samuel Gompers and the other conservative labor leaders of the AFL. They scuttled the plans for another general strike on May 1, 1890, and broke up the class-wide movement. For decades afterward, the workers of each employer or trade were condemned to fight for the 8-hour day on their own.

Capitalists Apply Reforms to Put Brakes on the Struggle

The demand for the 8-hour day ran strong and deep, and the capitalist government periodically offered tidbits of reform legislation to keep the movement in check. But the whole history of workday legislation in this country is a lesson in how the capitalists strive to limit and mutilate the workers' demands for reform.

In 1868, congress passed a bill mandating an 8-hour day for federal government workers. (This may come as a surprise to any present-day postal worker putting in long hours of overtime.) The bill, however, only covered a section of the federal workers, and along with it came a 20% wage cut. In 1876 it was made worthless by a Supreme Court decision allowing the government to make separate agreements with each group of employees. It went round and round like this for decades, with the federal government reducing the workday of its employees, only to turn around and take it back or make it meaningless.

By 1867, six states had adopted 8- hour laws, and there were many other state laws to follow. But these state laws were full of loopholes, frequently containing exception clauses for employers who had contracts with their workers allowing for longer hours. Such laws were next to worthless, and they were never intended to be enforced.

War in the Colorado Mines

In the 1890's, the mines of the Rocky Mountains were gripped by sharp and bloody class warfare. The miners were exploited without mercy, slaving in the mines for up to 84 hours a week for a few dollars pay. The militant workers of the Western Federation of Miners gave battle to this slavedriving, and through their courageous strikes won some relief, including company recognition of the 8-hour day. But as soon as the miners went back to work, the operators would make renewed attempts to extend the workday. When a depression hit the mines, or when for some other reason the miners' organization fell off, all limits on the workday would be thrown aside.

In Colorado the miners succeeded in pushing through the state legislature a law mandating the 8-hour day in the mines. But in 1901 it was declared unconstitutional by the courts. The miners then succeeded in amending the constitution. But when the miners went on strike to enforce the 8-hour day law, the governor once again ordered out the state militia to massacre the miners. As the militia's commanding general put it "To hell with the constitution!"

The miners' experience showed that the 8-hour reforms of the capitalists and their government meant little without the fighting organization of the workers to back them up.

The Federal 40-or-More Hours Law

In the face of the terrible unemployment during the Depression of the 1930's, a strong demand arose to reduce the hours of those still working. Successful union organizing drives in steel and other basic industries led to a number of 40-hour week contracts.

Under the pressure of the working class upsurge, in 1938 congress finally passed the first federal legislation regulating the workday of most industrial workers. This was part of a New Deal labor bill known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) which is still in force today. The act required employers to pay workers time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work. While putting a penalty on overtime hours, it left the door open to much longer hours for any employer willing to pay the price.

The bill didn't go into effect until 1941 as war production was getting underway for World War II. In 1942 a government administrator pointed out: "In the war industries of America today there is no 40-hour week. I mean that literally, for these are the facts: Ninety percent of the plants in important defense industries today are operating more than 70 hours a week." For the corporations growing fat off the war and cost-plus contracts, time-and-a-half wages for overtime was a small price to pay.

After the war, the workers were hit by layoffs and returning soldiers couldn't find work. But the employers tried to maintain the regime of long hours of overtime. This was a major grievance of the workers in the post-war strike wave. The workers demanded observance of the 40-hour week, and in a number of industries they demanded reducing hours to 35 or 30 hours a week. These struggles did not go very far in the face of the stiff resistance of the capitalists and the foot-dragging of the AFL and CIO union bureaucrats. In 1952, about 28% of the workers under the FLSA were still working over 40 hours.

There has been little change since. If anything, in recent years the problem of overtime work has grown worse. Despite the fact that there are some 10 million unemployed, the capitalists' offensive of takebacks and productivity drives has been accompanied with even more 10 or 12-hour days, double shifts, and six and seven-day workweeks.

The 'Time-and-a-Half' Penalty Is Not Enough

The "time-and-a-half" penalty for overtime work is only a halfway reform, which, particularly in the present conditions, doesn't go far enough in meeting the historic demand of the working class to ban work beyond the 8-hour day.

For many capitalists the "time-and-a-half" penalty is not a serious obstacle to the profits to be gained from sweating long hours of overtime out of their work force. This is the case in many sweatshops where the wages are so cheap that time-and-a-half is relatively cheap too (and often goes unreported and unpaid anyway). Moreover, as health insurance and other benefits take up a growing percentage of a worker's total compensation, it becomes increasingly profitable to hire fewer workers and to work them longer hours despite the overtime penalty.

Over the years, workers in a number of industries have won clauses in their union contracts barring or providing for double-time for Sunday work, and other steps to strengthen the overtime penalties. However, many such clauses have been wiped out in the recent rounds of concessions.

All this means that millions of workers are putting in long days and weeks, without a chance to see either sunlight or their families, much less to read and take part in political activity. Of course, as compensation for being worked into the ground the workers receive a few extra dollars of overtime pay.

This is a travesty of the century-old demand for the 8-hour day. The enthusiasm for the 8-hour movement lay in the desire to improve the physical, social, and political well-being of the working class. For the workers to live, think and organize, it is essential that they be liberated from the yoke of endless hours of toil. The pittance of overtime pay doesn't make this yoke any lighter for the worker putting in 60-hour weeks.

Overtime and the Fight Against Concessions

Overtime pay is advertized as an "extra bonus" for the workers. In fact, it only means "extra" exploitation. And one part of this is the close connection between overtime work and low pay and wage cuts.

This is just what we have seen in recent years. The minimum wage has been frozen for almost a decade, compelling many of the lowest paid workers to take as much overtime as they can bear just to keep food on the table. Better-paid workers have been hit by concessions and wage freezes, leaving overtime pay as the only way to fend off the bill collector.

The capitalists and their union bureaucrat flunkeys claim that this shows that grueling hours of overtime are allegedly "popular" among the workers. But the history of the workers' movement points to an opposite conclusion. It points to the fact that the fight for the reduction of the workday is inseparable from the fight for a living wage. That is why, for example, in the May First strike of 1886 the militant workers rallied under the combined slogan of "Eight hours work, with no pay cuts!"

Down With Wage Slavery!

It is a hundred years now since that May First work stoppage, and the workers still face a conflict with the capitalists over the length of the workday. The 8-hour day is still unrealized for many, let alone a seven or six- hour day, which is economically and technically feasible in a rich industrial country like the U.S., and which would be even more favorable to the working class struggle.

There is a growing resentment among the workers against the obscenity of doing long hours of overtime when millions of workers are still out of work. There is also some recognition that demands against overtime work can strengthen the workers' hands in the fight against the companies' concessions offensive of wage cuts, speedup, and layoffs.

Today's relatively small and isolated struggles against the concessions drive are bound to grow and merge into a class-wide movement capable of defeating this offensive of wage cutting and overwork. But it must be kept in mind that no gains achieved by the workers' movement in this struggle will be secure as long as capitalism is in force. As the century of struggle for the 8-hour day shows, the exploiters seek to reverse every gain the workers make.

That is why the revolutionary workers must make good use of the economic struggles of the workers to build organization, to raise political consciousness, and to prepare the workers for the revolutionary onslaught for the overthrow of the capitalist rulers. Only under the rule of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat, will the workers be finally liberated from the tyranny of overwork.

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The myth of the 40-hour week in the U.S.

Whatever happened to the idea of the eight-hour day and the 40-hour week? Isn't that supposed to be the rule of the land? But for tens of millions of workers across the country there is no such thing; it is only a myth propped up by lying government statistics.

The Department of Labor puts the average workweek in private non- agricultural employment at 35.2 hours, and in manufacturing the average is 40.7 (November 1985). At first glance these figures may appear to confirm that the 40-hour week is alive and well.

But look a little deeper and you will find that these "average workweek'' figures are arrived at by averaging out two big poles of misery for the workers.

An Army of Half-Employed

First, mixed into the "average workweek'' figure are 19 million part-time workers, whom the Department of Labor takes as all those working less than 35 hours a week. This is almost 20% of the labor force, and has a dramatic impact on any "average workweek'' figures.

Among the part-timers, the government classifies 5.5 million of them as "part time for economic reasons,'' that is, workers on short hours because they can't find full-time work. About half of these are on "slack work,'' with their employers cutting back their hours. The other half are workers compelled to take part-time jobs for lack of employment. Despite the chatter about "recovery,'' the numbers of partially employed workers remain at levels unheard of since the Depression of the 1930's.

For this army of millions of half-employed, there is no 40-hour week, only the misery of scratching out a living on the pittance of part-time pay.

60 and 70-Hour Weeks

Second, by mixing in part-time work and other means, the "average workweek'' figures hide the fact that millions of other workers are being put through the torture of up to 60 and even 70-hour weeks. This includes sewing sweatshops, hotel and restaurant work, and other jobs that pay minimum wage or less, and where "undocumented'' immigrants and others are often compelled to work 12 or more hours a day.

It also includes work in heavy industry, such as the depressed steel industry. Nearly half the work force in the steel mills has been eliminated in recent years, while it is not uncommon for steel workers to be working seven-day weeks and frequent double shifts.

In other industries where production has picked up, such as the auto industry, the laid-off are still out of work. Output has been restored through a combination of screaming speedup and by reverting to workweeks that were common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The government puts the "average workweek" in the motor vehicle industry at 43.2 hours. This "average" includes the thousands of small parts supply shops, where it is common to work day and night to fill an order on a part, only to cut back again to short weeks. It also includes tens of thousands of clerical and technical workers. As well, it includes down time for model changeovers, parts shortages, holidays, etc., and days off for injury and sickness. All this screens the fact that for the workers on the assembly lines 48 to 60-hour weeks are typical, and in some plants there are seven-day weeks with workers only getting every third or fourth Sunday off.

Statistics Lie

The "average workweek" figure is a good example of how the government uses statistics to lie. It is something like taking the "average" between 50 drowning victims and 50 people perishing of thirst, to come up with an official "average" statistic to give the impression that those 100 people are getting along just fine. Such average-juggling is just one device in the government's vast arsenal of statistical tricks to cover up the real agonies of capitalist exploitation suffered by the working people.

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