The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 17, No. 11


25ยข November 1, 1987

[Front page:

The crash of '87--Liberate labor from the stock market!;

Uphold the October Revolution of 1917 and the Central American struggle;

U.S. gunboats out of the Persian Gulf!;

U.S. tour by Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists postponed]


Down with Racism:

Defend Ellis Lawrence..................................................................................... 2
1,000 march in LA against Simpson-Rodino................................................... 2
Working people in Maine rally against the KKK............................................ 2
Atlanta blacks protest Young's killer cops....................................................... 2
Andrew Young and Guatemalan death-squad police....................................... 3

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

Has Arias pact given Nicaragua breathing space?........................................... 3
Arias turns the screws on Nicaragua................................................................ 3
Prensa Proletaria: 'Don't give the streets up to reaction'................................ 4
What about the contra bases in Honduras?...................................................... 4
Sandinistas spend millions on tourist resort.................................................... 4
Arias pact stirs struggle inside Nicaragua....................................................... 4
Protests nationwide vs. U.S. intervention in Central America........................ 5
Detroit activists shout down contra scum....................................................... 5

Lessons from the October 1917 Socialist Revolution:

Revolution is the way out for Central America............................................... 6
The Russian revolution and the fight for jobs................................................. 6
Gorbachev's stand vs. revolutions worldwide................................................. 7
China offers U.S. agribusiness cheap labor..................................................... 7

Strikes and Workplace News:

Job-cutting contract at GM.............................................................................. 8
Degraff Hospital strike in Buffalo................................................................... 8
What is Reagan up to in the Persian Gulf?...................................................... 9

The World in Struggle:

Strike in Mexican maquiladora plant............................................................... 11
70,000 protest Mexican government negligence............................................. 11
General strike against Chilean dictator............................................................ 11
Ecuadoran general strike.................................................................................. 11
Strike shuts down Brazilian VW and Ford...................................................... 11
Colombian general strike vs. right-wing murder............................................. 11
Clashes on South African campuses................................................................ 11
Palestinian youth confront Israeli troops......................................................... 12
Reagan's democracy and death squads in Haiti............................................... 12
Haiti elections will be a farce........................................................................... 12

The crash of '87

Liberate labor from the stock market!

Uphold the October Revolution of 1917 and the Central American struggle

U.S. gunboats out of the Persian Gulf!

U.S. tour by Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists postponed


Has the Arias pact given Nicaragua a breathing space?

Arias gets the Nobel Peace Prize -- and turns the screws on Nicaragua

Andy Young and the Guatemalan death-squad police

Don't give up the streets to reaction!

What about the contra bases in Honduras?

Why are the Sandinistas spending millions on a tourist resort?

Pact stirs struggle in Nicaragua

Protests nationwide vs. U.S. intervention in Central America

Detroit activists shout down contra scum

Lessons from the October Revolution

Revolution is the way out for Central America

The Russian revolution and the fight for jobs

Gorbachev's stand against revolutions around the world

China offers U.S. agribusiness cheap labor

'UAW -- You Ain't Working'

Job-cutting contract at GM

Buffalo hospital workers win release of 2 strikers

[Graphic: Help raise a roof for a workers' meeting hall in Managua! Support the revolutionary workers of Nicaragua!]

What is Reagan up to in the Persian Gulf?

The World in Struggle

The crash of '87

Liberate labor from the stock market!

October 19. Devil's Night came early for the stock market. There was the biggest drop ever. The stocks lost 22.6% of their value in one day. This was almost twice as much as during the famous crash of 1929 which signaled the coming of the Great Depression.

And October 19 itself followed a week of decline. In a few days' trading one trillion dollars, one thousand billions, of paper values vanished.

What happened? Had hurricanes and tornadoes destroyed the factories? Had a nuclear exchange devastated lives and property? Had drought and pestilence spread over the countryside?

No, the country's factories and farms were still there. But under capitalism, one needs more than factories and farms, raw materials and workers' labor, to produce wealth. All these things are owned by a handful of rich. On the stock market, they trade the certificates that stand for this ownership. And only when it helps them make more wealth will the factories produce more goods and will food be available to the people.

A Sign of a Tottering Economy

The stock market crash is a sign of the rot that has been building for years all through the economy. It has awakened widespread fear of the ruin that awaits the masses under capitalism. It is a warning of the deeper crash that is waiting to happen. And it will bring in its wake more factory shutdowns, more unemployment, more demands for concessions.

It seems that the stock market is a no-win market for the workers. Today they are talking about the newest increases in stock prices being perhaps a "suckers' rally.'' But the stock market itself is a suckers' market. Whether it was the long "bull market'' of 1982-7 in which the stocks leaped up fantastically, or the stock market crash of this October, it is the workers who are called on to pay the bill.

Behind the Stock Market's Prosperity of 1982-7

For some time the capitalists had been claiming that the country was prosperous. And certainly the stock market was. From 1982 until the crash of October 19 the stock market had gone up and up, while the economy was pretty stagnant and poverty and homelessness spread.

From where did all the fortunes come that were made on the stock market? This market had quadrupled in value over the last five years. Production hadn't. So where did all the material wealth come from to fill up the fortunes made on Wall Street? Where did the hundreds of millions of dollars owned by the Ivan Boesky's and other speculators come from? Where, did the million-dollar salaries expected by new stockbrokers come from?

The Workers Were Bled for the Profits of the Speculators

In the final analysis, it was paid for by the concessions and wage cuts that have been forced out of the hides of the workers. Any worker who lost his job and was forced to take a new job at half the wage was contributing to the stock market. Any worker who now has to do the work of two in order to make the same money as before contributed to the stock market. Any Worker who was injured because the companies were cutting back on safety equipment was a victim of the stock market.

The workers and peasants abroad who were victimized by austerity measures to pay back the American bankers also made their forced contribution.

The stock market went up. But real wages per hour of work went down. To make ends meet took longer hours and more people working per family.

What Was This Sacrifice Used For?

What was this sacrifice used for? Was it used to build up schools, to clean up the environment, or for some other worthy task?

No! All this sacrifice went to the rich. It went to their escalating military budget. And it went to finance the huge growth in stocks and bonds, the huge paper profits, the shower of money going into the pockets of the parasites who play with paper on the stock market.

And now a fourth or so of these values have vanished in a few days. The trading for stock has become revealed as a war of one parasite against another, a war which threatens to ruin the country. The line between investment and speculation has proved to be an illusion.

Trying to Plug the Dike -- With More Sacrifice from the Workers

Well, now that the paper fortunes have been cut back a bit, will the workers get back their concessions and jobs?

Not on your life! The capitalists will make the workers pay even more. They differ on their pet schemes, but they all agree that the workers must sacrifice their living standards. Some are trying to fix up the economy by using more federal budget cuts on social programs. This is the meaning of the "fiscal conservatism'' that all the Democrats are starry-eyed about. This is the meaning of the talk about "reassuring" the stock. market through deficit reduction. This is the meaning of the Gramm-Rudman budget process that Reagan and the Democrats are working together on.

Liberate Labor from the Stock Market

It is time to eliminate a system that relies on the stock market. To produce food and clothing and housing and all other material wealth takes labor, takes raw materials, takes factories, takes farms. But it does not take stocks and bonds, parasites and rich executives. Stocks and bonds are needed to ensure the wealth of the rich.

Let us workers take control of the economy ourselves! Let us produce for the sake of satisfying our needs and for the sake of producing more factories and tools that will help us satisfy our needs in the future!

To do this, to eliminate the rule of the stock market, we will have to overthrow the political power of the rich. We will need a socialist revolution. It will take organization, effort, and solidarity of all who toil for their living.


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Uphold the October Revolution of 1917 and the Central American struggle

The rich and their toadies tell us workers that the path of class struggle and revolution is a prescription for disaster. And they say that the vision of a socialist world without exploiters and bosses is out of date.

We say no! This winter marks the 70th anniversary of the October revolution in Russia. That was an occasion when hungry and downtrodden workers rose up in an earth-shaking upheaval. A time when workers took power to build a society which wasn't to be based on greed and profit for the few.

Our workers' party, the Marxist-Leninist Party, will celebrate this anniversary with a campaign of meetings around the country.

This campaign will also express solidarity with the fighting toilers of Nicaragua, who are now at a crossroads in their revolutionary struggle.

We invite to these meetings workers and all those who are active in the struggle against war, racism or exploitation.

Against Gorbachev

At a certain point in its course the revolution in Russia got sidetracked. Bureaucratic degeneration led to capitalist restoration. Today's Soviet Union is just another sick, capitalist society. That experience is something workers have to learn from in order to avoid such tragedies. This means we have to fight revisionism -- the revising of Marxism into something tame, dead and stultified. This is a cause which revolutionary Marxist-Leninists like our Party are committed to.

Still the eventual fate of the Soviet Union does not take away from the fact that the Russian revolution of 1917 remains a model for the struggle against exploitation, war and all injustice.

Indeed, the big events of the present time all affirm the vitality of the ideas of the October revolution.

Wall Street Crash Shows Up the Absurdity of a System Based on Profit

A couple of weeks ago, Wall Street burst like a punctured balloon. In a day, the Reaganite propaganda of a new era of unending capitalist prosperity took a dive. The stock market crash points to the insanity of an economic system based on immense wealth for a few and hunger and poverty for so many.

The alternative to this system is socialism. The vision of socialism that was raised by the October revolution is as relevant today as it was back then.

Workers: Look at what the capitalists have wrought. All they can offer is a tiny crust of BMW millionaires and ever more homeless and hungry people than ever. And now when they talk about economic solutions, Republican and Democrat alike, all they can promise is more belt-tightening for the working people.

Workers, see what the trade union sellouts and Democrats have given us by telling us to stay away from class struggle. See where labor-management cooperation gets us. It's only meant a vicious concessions drive. The factories -- those that remain after the continuing waves of shutdowns -- are worse hellholes than ever.

We say: workers, this is a time to look at the path the Bolsheviks blazed in Russia back in 1917. Organize the class struggle. Prepare for a socialist revolution against the callous and high-living exploiters. The workers can build a better system.

How Can Reagan's War in Central America Be Ended?

War and peace in Central America are also very much in the news today. The Central American peace pact signed in August is supposed to open the way for peace and justice.

But the contra war continues on Nicaragua. The only ones to really benefit from the peace pact have been the wealthy businessmen and right-wing opposition in Nicaragua. And they demand no less than turning the clock back in Nicaragua where eight years ago the toilers smashed up the hated Somoza tyranny.

Meanwhile the death squads murder with impunity in El Salvador. Just a few days ago they killed the last surviving member of the human rights commission there. And Duarte has just amnestied other death-squad murderers.

No, the path of revolution blazed by October 1917 isn't outdated. It Is the only way that the revolutionary gains won by the people of Nicaragua in 1979 can be defended and deepened further. And it is the only way the toilers of El Salvador, Guatemala and the rest of Central America can win liberation.

We say to all activists and workers who want an end to the contra war -- look at the results of the first 90 days of the peace pact. Come join a discussion on the peace agreement and let us work together for building up a truly effective movement against U.S. intervention in Central America!

Workers, anti-imperialist activists! Come out to the meetings organized by the MLP to advance the struggle against U.S. intervention in Central America and to celebrate the October socialist revolution!

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U.S. gunboats out of the Persian Gulf!

For seven years, a cruel war has raged on between the reactionary governments of Iran and Iraq. Now the U.S. military machine has poured into the Persian Gulf to turn it into a sea running over with firepower.

The Pentagon has stationed some 30 warships there, accompanied by over 24,000 military personnel. As this armada has grown, so has U.S. military involvement in the Iran-Iraq war. Already there have been a number of attacks by U.S. forces on Iranian boats and oil terminals. Each clash brings with it the threat of a new round of confrontation.

The Democrats in Congress have grumbled a bit, but each aggressive act by the U.S. Navy has been promptly supported by the liberal politicians. The Democrats aren't opposed to U.S. war provocations -- they complain only because they fear that Reagan's policy isn't well-planned and may end up in a debacle for the Pentagon, such as happened to the U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983.

Reagan claims that the U.S. is in the Gulf not for hostility. Who's he kidding? The truth: what's at work here is big-power bullying and warmongering, plain and simple.

The Excuse of Protecting World Shipping Is A Fraud

Take a look at the main reason given to justify the U.S. presence in the Gulf -- the claim that the Navy has been deployed to protect international shipping.

For one thing, this is imperialist arrogance. How does Washington give itself the right to be the policeman for shipping in the Persian Gulf, thousands of miles away from the shores of the U.S.?

But what's more, this is a bald-faced lie.

The "tanker war" has been going on since 1981. It was launched by Iraq, and since then both the Iraqi and Iranian regimes have been involved in attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. In fact, all told the Iraqi military has attacked more ships than Iran -- up to October 11 Iraq's total amounted to 257 ships while Iran had hit some 138.

But the U.S. Navy is not protecting tankers from Iraqi attacks. It does not even pretend to be safeguarding all shipping from the attacks of both sides. The real reasons behind Washington's presence in the Gulf are quite sordid.

Extending Imperialist Influence -- That's the Name of the Game

All through the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. government has had a consistent predatory policy. It has worked to maximize its imperialist interests out of the tragic bloodletting in the Iran-Iraq war. It has looked for such things as greater leverage over local reactionary regimes, expanded military rights in the region, shutting out Russian imperialist influence, and profits from arms sales.

So the U.S. has played both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. It has established influence in Iraq and with secret arms sales it also sought openings in Tehran. After the exposure of the Iran-contra deals, Reagan is now again tilting towards Iraq.

Today Washington wants to pressure Iran to back off from a potentially serious offensive against Iraq. But the U.S. does not want to push this to all-out war either, because it doesn't want to burn its bridges to Tehran.

The U.S. recognizes that war-weariness is growing in both Iraq and Iran; both regimes are under great strain. When the war ends, the U.S. wants to come out with strengthened influence throughout the region. It wants military rights in the Gulf kingdoms and, if possible, regimes in both Iran and Iraq who would be friendly towards the U.S.

A Volatile Situation

That is what U.S. imperialism would like. But what happens could well be another story. Given a volatile Gulf region, the U.S. could get drawn deeper into the war. A policy of confrontation against the Iranian regime could end up escalating. Meanwhile, the Russian imperialists have a presence in the region too and they are also seeking to increase their leverage.

As well, the long-suffering workers and peasants of the region could play a decisive role if crisis in the local despotic regimes gives rise to revolutionary outbursts.

Raise Your Voice Against the Gulf War!

Working people -- both in the Gulf region and here in the U.S. -- have no interest in Reagan's imperialist adventurism. It is the toilers of the region who will end up suffering the most from greater U.S. domination. And if the U.S. involvement in the war enlarges, it is working class youth from the U.S. who would join the cannon fodder in the Persian Gulf. They would be used as tools in another war waged in service of the billionaires.

Workers, we should raise the cry: U.S. imperialism, get your aggressive claws out of the Persian Gulf! Down with the Iran-Iraq slaughter and all the imperialist efforts to profit from it!

Only the exploiters benefit from this war! The progressive force against the Gulf war is revolutionary movements of the oppressed toilers against the regimes in Baghdad and Tehran!

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U.S. tour by Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists postponed

We regret to announce that the speaking tour by a delegation of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua has been postponed. Mass political discussion in Nicaragua has sprung up faster than anticipated around the Central American peace pact (Arias plan). Big mass meetings and demonstrations will be taking place one after another in Nicaragua this month. Each Nicaraguan political party will be seeking to sway the masses at this critical turning point. The MLPN will need to send all its speakers and agitators to these actions.

The Sandinistas will seek support for their policy of bartering away the gains of the revolution in the vain hope of using the Arias plan for their own advantage. The right wing will use the Arias plan to put pressure on the Sandinistas to capitulate to the Nicaraguan capitalists and the Reagan administration. The MLPN will oppose the Arias plan and both the right- wing and the Sandinista policies. It will put forward the tasks of revolutionary mobilization for deepening the revolution.

The MLPN comrades have informed us that, for these reasons, they cannot send a delegation to tour the U.S. this month. They hope instead to send a delegation sometime in early 1988.

In the U.S. too this is a critical time for the anti-imperialist solidarity movement. It is necessary to fight hard against the brutal pressure that Reagan and Congress are exerting on Nicaragua. And the attitude towards the Arias plan is a hot issue today.

So our Party has decided to continue agitation on the Nicaraguan issues in our November campaign that also deals with the issues of socialism and the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. These meetings will deal with the Arias plan and the tasks of the solidarity movement as well as the road of socialist revolution for the U.S. working class movement. See the accompanying article.

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Defend Ellis Lawerence!

On October 6, MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) bus driver Ellis Lawerence was arrested, beaten by police, and suspended by the Authority with the recommendation to fire him. Why? Because he simply questioned MBTA police who were viciously beating Walter Coleman, a 15-year-old black teenager.

Ellis drove his bus into Mattapan station that day and began talking with some inspectors. They told him that a white youth had just made a racist remark and had cut a gash (later requiring eight stitches) in Walter Coleman's face. Coleman had responded to this unprovoked attack by giving the racist a good thrashing. Coleman had then left to patch up his face. Meanwhile, the racist youth had gotten into a car with the MBTA police and began talking to them.

While Ellis was talking with the inspectors, Coleman returned with a bandage on his face and walked over to the cop car. The police jumped out and began beating him. At this point Ellis Lawerence went over and asked why the cops were attacking the black youth. The police responded angrily. One of the inspectors suggested that Ellis should get back on his bus. Ellis turned around to go back to his bus and said, "This is racist.''

But just at this point two plainclothes cops pulled up. Neither of them identified himself at the time. One blocked Ellis' path and put his hand on Ellis' chest. Ellis pushed the man's hand off his chest and tried to proceed back to his bus. But the cops began to club and kick him. Eventually Ellis was handcuffed and arrested. As he was being led away, the plainclothes cop who had launched the attack on Ellis told him, "You can kiss your MBTA job good bye."

Workers, the police beating of Ellis Lawerence and the black teenager is an outrage. The rich like to tell us what a free country this is. But just try to challenge the police or government officials when you see them violating another person's rights. For standing up for what is right and for telling the truth, Ellis Lawerence has been charged with two trumped-up felonies. And of course the MBTA management -- with their typical police mentality and general racism -- started procedures to fire Ellis. Only the united action of the working and oppressed people can stand up to the official racism and bullying of the rich and authorities.

Defend Ellis Lawerence and Walter Coleman! Demand that the police drop all their phony charges and that Ellis be reinstated with full back pay! It is not Ellis who should be punished, but the police officers who beat him and Walter Coleman.

(Based on the Oct. 21 issue of the "Boston Worker," paper of MLP-Boston.)

1,000 march in LA. against Simpson-Rodino

The struggle against the racist and anti-immigrant Simpson-Rodino Bill continues.

On September 12, workers and progressive activists held a militant march and rally in downtown Los Angeles protesting increased attacks on immigrants. An estimated 700 people began the march, and by the time it reached the rally site, onlookers had joined in and swelled the ranks to about one thousand. Many were undocumented workers who braved the threat of arrest and deportation.

There has been a step-up of harassment by the INS in and around Los Angeles including increased factory checks and the stopping of cars along the freeway between LA and San Ysidro near the border. Many more Central American immigrants have been picked up, brutalized and deported.

Militant mass protest, like the September march, is what is needed to combat this persecution. The marchers persisted with slogans for the total repeal of the Simpson-Rodino Bill, despite the wishes of the official march organizers. These reformist misleaders had wanted to tone down such slogans in favor of their propaganda for legislative tinkering with some aspects of the bill.

Supporters of the MLP took an active part in the march. They distributed over 1,000 copies of El EstandarteObrero and EEO reprints, as well as over 100 copies of The Workers' Advocate.

Let all workers and progressive people -- native and foreign-born, legal and "illegal" -- join the battle to defend the immigrants. Build the struggle for all workers in this country, no matter their land of origin, the language they speak, or the legal status imposed on them by the government.


Working people in Maine rally against the KKK

When the Klan targeted the lumber town of Rumford, Maine for a racist rally and organizing drive, it ignited a series of anti-Klan meetings, rallies and protests throughout the entire state.

For the Klan it was racist business as usual. A handful of them marched on September 26 and then retreated to the outskirts of town to some "private land" for their ritualistic cross-burning.

The masses of Rumford were outraged by the presence of these filthy racists. Four hundred people demonstrated their solidarity against the racists at a rally at the Rumford High School auditorium. Paperworkers filled the crowd, including those from Boise Cascade in Rumford and strikers from International Paper in Jay; and a black paperworker from Randal spoke at the rally. They were joined by other progressive people from Rumford and students from colleges in Waterville, Lewiston, and Plainfield, Vermont.

Later, about 150 protesters confronted the Klan at the site of their cross-burning. The demonstrators ridiculed the racists and enthusiastically burned an effigy of a Klansman. The police were on hand to protect the Klansmen and arrested several of the anti-racist demonstrators.

Hundreds more demonstrated against the Klan throughout the state. In Portland, 250 turned out for a protest rally. In Auburn, 150 people demonstrated. Additional hundreds of people attended meetings and rallies in Bangor, Augusta, Kennebunkport, Orland, and Orono.

The Klan's attempt to rally in Maine for the first time in 20 years is no random event. They are trying to sow racism to split up the workers and divert their anger away from the corporations.

It was just a year ago that the paperworkers in Rumford were embroiled in a bitter 11-week strike against the Boise Cascade Company's vicious concessions drive. And for the last several months, workers in Jay (just 20 miles from Rumford) have stood firm in their strike against the giant International Paper Company. The strike has given rise to a massive show of solidarity among the workers. The solidarity was highlighted by a rally of 9,000 people from Maine and other states on August 1. This included white, French Canadian, native, Latino and black workers.

Klan literature began to appear right after this rally. One KKK leaflet tried to incite racism by blaming blacks in general for scabbing against the strikes. But in fact it was Boise Cascade and IP and the professional strikebreaking firm they hired, BE&K, which -- as one part of their attacks on the strikers -- brought a few blacks from Alabama to scab. This is an old trick of the capitalists. They try to incite racism to split up the workers and embroil them in fighting each other so that their struggles are weakened against the filthy rich capitalists. The KKK has come into Maine to carry out dirty work for the companies.

But the protests against the Klan that broke out across the state gave a rebuff to this racism. Unity against the racists will help strengthen unity against the strikebreakers and the wealthy corporations.

Anti-Klan protests also broke out in Pennsylvania. Shouting "Death to the Klan!" and "KKK Go Away!" hundreds of people protested a Klan rally on October 3 in Ephrata, some 60 miles west of Philadelphia. The police acted as the "bouncers" for their white- robed hoodlum friends, questioning each person before allowing them onto the Klan site. Five demonstrators were arrested.

Atlanta blacks protest Young's killer cops

[Photo: The working people of Atlanta have staged a series of protests against the September 10 police killing of Eddie Lee Callahan.]

Protests have continued in Atlanta against the execution-style murder of a young black man by the police. On September 10, Eddie Lee Callahan was pistol-whipped to the ground, one policeman handcuffed him, and the other cop shot him six times at point-blank range using hollow-point bullets.

Outraged by this brutal racist murder, some 400 residents of the Carver Homes housing project stormed out of their apartments and chased the two policemen away. Protests continued into October with at least two demonstrations a week and many mass meetings. On September 19, for example, 200 people marched three miles to protest at the Atlanta Police Headquarters.

Black Masses Denounce Mayor Young

The protesters have been especially angry at Atlanta's black Democratic Party mayor, Andrew Young. He has handled the murderous policemen with kid gloves. Meanwhile, calling for "calm and patience," he has tried to head off the protests.

After the first three days of demonstrations, the two policemen were suspended without pay. This was the first time such an action has been taken against Atlanta policemen in 10 years. But it only lasted a day. The city reversed itself, and put the policemen on suspension with pay. In short, Young gave them a paid vacation. In justifying this action Young claimed, "We are committed to due process, not lynch law. People have the right to be innocent until proven guilty."

Of course no such "due process" was given Eddie Callahan whom the policemen claimed had stolen a car (the car was not stolen, but turned out to belong to Callahan's stepfather). Nor was due process afforded a clerical worker in the office of the county medical examiner. The worker was summarily fired for telling the press that county pathologists disagreed on their report, a report that's been used to try to discredit the eyewitness accounts to the murder.

People are also angry over Mayor Young allowing the police to use hollow- point bullets. In 1972-3, the police killed 21 black people with the hollow-points. Most were shot in the back. Due to the mass outrage, the use of hollow-point ammunition was banned. But in April this year, the Young administration reintroduced the use of the deadly bullets. Hollow-point shells expand on impact insuring greater damage to the person who is shot. The Young administration claimed they are "safer for the public" since it would supposedly take less shots for the police to bring down their victim. Obviously Young's concern is not for the "safety" of the public but for terrorizing it.

Democrats Behind the Police Terror

The outrage of black people in Atlanta is not over this racist killing alone. The same two cops brutally beat up a black man in May and murdered another man last winter. And their actions are part of a systematic citywide police clampdown aimed at "cleaning up the city" before Atlanta hosts the Democratic National Convention next year. The police have been sweeping through the streets to clear them of the homeless, street vendors, and others the city considers "undesirable." Racist harassment, police brutality, and racist murders have accompanied this campaign.

Andrew Young and his Democratic Party claim to be the party of the black people and the foremost champions of "human rights." But the police terror in Atlanta gives the lie to this claim. Young is himself black, but he is a spokesman for the black bourgeoisie. And the black bourgeoisie is selling out the interests of the masses of black workers and poor for the sake of their own positions and riches. Young is out to prove to the ruling class in this country that a black official can be just as "effective" in suppressing the black working people as Bull Conner and the other white racist officials of old. But the masses are stirring. They will not long tolerate racist abuse even if it's a liberal black mayor who stands behind it.

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Has the Arias pact given Nicaragua a breathing space?

The Central American peace pact (Arias plan) has been presented as the alternative to the contra war. Many people have hoped that, despite its various faults, it would at least mean the end of the CIA-organized contra war against Nicaragua.

But has it really given the Nicaraguan people a breathing space? What has the experience of its first 90 days revealed?

* The contras have tried to step up their attacks on Nicaragua in this period. And they have used the new missiles that the CIA and the Pentagon have supplied them with. For that matter, the State Department and the contras openly declare that the Arias plan means that there must be more attacks on Nicaragua in order to extract more concessions.

* The contra attacks have come from bases in Honduras and Costa Rica. Arias is president of Costa Rica, but the contras can still even use Costa Rica as a base to torture and murder Nicaraguans.

* The Arias plan accepts the idea of humanitarian aid to the contras. And since the signing of the Arias plan, there is no longer even the pretext of cutting off anything but "military" aid to the contras. When Congress voted more "humanitarian" aid to the contras, this was supposedly part of its loyalty to the Arias plan. When Speaker of the House Wright or President Arias talk of cutting off aid to the contras for a few months, they are talking solely of military aid. Yet it is well known that the Congressional "humanitarian" aid of the past was only a fig leaf for supporting the contras. And today the contras have stepped up their attacks on Nicaragua while receiving "non-lethal" aid.

Actually, the Arias plan would be nothing without the contras. Its whole point is to extract concessions from Nicaragua under the threat of the U.S. bayonet. It demands that Nicaragua legitimize the contras, hand them newspapers and presses and political posts, or face the continuation of the contra war. And the Reagan administration declares that even if Nicaragua makes these concessions, the contras must be kept in reserve, so that the contra war can be started again whenever Washington isn't satisfied.

[Photo: In the name of adherence to the Arias pact, the FSLN plans an amnesty for counterrevolutionaries. This includes releasing contra murderers and bloodstained thugs from the old National Guard. On September 29, women in Managua marched against this amnesty carrying pictures of victims of these right-wing assassins.]

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Arias gets the Nobel Peace Prize -- and turns the screws on Nicaragua

On Wednesday, October 14, the newspapers were full of a sensational announcement. President Arias of Costa Rica, the leading light behind the Central American peace pact, had received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The very next day, Thursday, October 15, President Arias used the prestige of the Peace Prize to make new demands of Nicaragua. It is well-known that it is the CIA that is behind the war against Nicaragua. But, according to Arias, it is the Nicaraguans who are refusing to make enough concessions.

In the past, the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to such "peace lovers" as Henry Kissinger, a key planner under Nixon of the bloody U.S. war on Viet Nam. And it has gone to Menachem Begin, the fanatic organizer of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. It seems that the Norwegian committee that awards the Peace Prize now has its sights on Nicaragua.

Arias Puts the Blame on the Nicaraguans

The Arias plan is having a hard time. The promises of universal and lasting peace are not being met. So who does Arias blame?

Does he blame the CIA for stepping up the war on Nicaragua? No.

Does he blame the U.S.-backed regime in El Salvador for carrying out more death-squad murders? No.

Does he blame the contras for not accepting the cease-fire offered by the Sandinista government to the local contra units? No. He justifies the contras by demanding that the Sandinistas talk directly to the top contra leadership. Otherwise, he says, there is no "negotiated" cease-fire.

Does he blame the U.S.-backed Honduran regime for continuing to shelter the contras? No. He defends the contra bases in Honduras. He holds that first the Nicaraguans must make one concession after another and then the question of contra bases in Honduras can be discussed.

Arias Moves Closer to Reagan

The Reagan administration first sounded a note of outrage over Arias being given the Nobel Prize. But in fact the Reaganites have become more and more reconciled to the Arias peace plan. They have learned how to make demands of Nicaragua in its name.

Arias, for his part, has moved closer to Reagan. The New York Times itself pointed out that, in his comments after receiving the Nobel Prize, Arias had "moved close to the Reagan administration's insistence on a negotiated cease-fire." (Oct. 15, front page) "Negotiated" cease-fire, one recalls, is the new code word for first agreeing to contra demands.

For that matter, Arias has always been in the back pocket of U.S. imperialism. (This year the U.S. government has been playing with turning on and off U.S. "aid" to Costa Rica just to ensure that Arias and his colleagues haven't forgotten who calls the tune.) The only question has been whether he was closer to Reagan or the Democrats. The signing of the Arias pact had a great deal to do with the Democrats influencing him to drop temporarily various of his demands on Nicaragua in order to get a document that Nicaragua would sign. Once Nicaragua had signed, then Arias and Congress and Reagan could simply reinterpret the document to include any demand that they pleased.

One Demand After Another

Arias also demands a big amnesty for the pro-Somoza forces in Nicaragua. There was a time when Arias and Reagan made the reopening of the pro-contra newspaper La Prensa into the big issue. But now that the Sandinistas have given the green light to La Prensa, Arias and Reagan have decided that wasn't such a big thing after all. They are demanding that more and more of the Nicaraguan news media be turned over to the reactionaries. (But, strangely enough, Arias does not demand that big newspapers and TV stations be set up in El Salvador to broadcast the views of the insurgent workers and peasants.)

The Peace Plan Is Another Means of Pressure on Nicaragua

The Nobel Prize is intended to bolster Arias' prestige. It is supposed to ensure that it is Arias' interpretation of the peace pact, worked out hand in glove with Washington, that counts, while the views of Nicaragua will be discarded. That is why Nicaragua makes the concessions, but Arias gets the Peace Prize.

Arias' statements prove that the peace plan does not protect Nicaragua. We must defend Nicaragua's right to self-determination and denounce the attempts of Arias, Reagan, and Congress to dictate to Nicaragua. We must defend the Nicaraguan workers and peasants, our class brothers, and support the continuation of the Nicaraguan revolution.

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Andy Young and the Guatemalan death-squad police

Protests have begun to emerge against Andrew Young's offer to train the death-squad police of Guatemala at Atlanta's police academy. Young made the offer in response to Guatemalan Interior Minister Juan Jose Rodil's request for Atlanta's assistance in "professionalizing" the country's National Police. Rodil admits he chose Atlanta because he thought that Young's international reputation as a champion of "human rights" would help counteract his country's brutal image.

Police Part of Death Squad Terror Against the Guatemalan Masses

It is estimated that about 100,000 civilians, in Guatemala's population of 8.3 million, were "disappeared" under a succession of military dictatorships over the last 20 years. It is well documented that the police have been fully involved in these political killings and disappearances.

This situation is little changed since the election of a civilian president, Vinicio Cerezo. It is still estimated that there are 60 to 90 killings and disappearances a month. Cerezo claims that these killings are just a matter of common crime. He argues that the police need to be better trained to combat the crime wave.

But it is well known that the police are subordinated to the Guatemalan military which has headed up the death-squad activity for decades. Indeed, the police have come under more direct control of the military since Cerezo took office. After his election, the military officers pressured Cerezo to replace the civilian head of police with an active army officer, Colonel Caballeros. He is a ranking member of G-2, the army intelligence branch. Caballeros says he views the police as the vanguard in combating "subversion." That is to say that Caballeros wants to use the police to step up the suppression of the popular struggles of the Guatemalan workers, peasants, and oppressed.

Young Claims Training Police Helps Democracy

But Mayor Young claims that Guatemala is on the road of "democratization" and should be assisted. In a recent press conference Young criticized Reagan's policy of supporting the Nicaraguan contras as a "no-win situation." In other words, he is not upset with the contra murderers but with the fact they are losing.

Instead, he argues, the government should cover up its support for death- squad terror with a mask of "democratization." Young declared, "I would hope to get the Democratic Party committed to working with democracies like Guatemala, like the Philippines, like Argentina." But these "democracies" are still pursuing the bloody suppression of the workers and peasants. Not only are the death squads still active in Guatemala, but in the Philippines liberal President Aguino has unleashed the police and military to shoot down strikers and peasant demonstrators while launching a wide military campaign to suppress the guerrilla insurgents in the countryside. The mask of "democracy" and human rights is wearing thin.

Black Bourgeoisie Out to Prove Its Worth

Young is not out to help the struggling masses of Guatemala. Rather he wants to prove his worth to the white ruling class in this country. He is trying to demonstrate that he, and the black bourgeoisie he represents, can do a better job than Reagan of keeping U.S. imperialist control over Central America, that he can provide a human rights cover for the death-squad regimes.

This is why Young claims that racism is the source of the just protests against his plan to train the Guatemalan death-squad police. Stoney Cook, Young's former aide who arranged the meeting with Rodil, argues that, "White groups will concede black leadership on foreign policy issues concerning Africa, but that's about it. These groups act as if they know everything there is to know and we're naive know-nothings who've got it all wrong. They seem to forget that Young was an ambassador with extensive experience in international diplomacy. He's traveled widely and is very knowledgeable about global problems, especially problems involving democratization."

But the problem is not Young's knowledge, or a racist blind spot against blacks holding major positions. The problem is that Young is fighting for U.S. imperialism and the death-squad regimes in Central America against the workers and peasants of those countries. Just as Young has recently unleashed the police against the black masses in Atlanta; and just as Young has been covering up for years the police complicity with racist gangs in "disappearing" black youth in Atlanta and in scapegoating Wayne Williams for these crimes; Young is backing the enslavement of the toiling masses of Central America by U.S. imperialism. We, the workers of all nationalities in the U.S., must stand up against our "own" imperialist government and expose the "human rights" tricksters like Young who are trying to prettify this slavery.

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Don't give up the streets to reaction!

[Prensa Proletaria masthead.]

(Reprinted from the September "Prensa Proletaria," paper of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua. Translation by "Workers'Advocate.'')

The streets belong to the people. No to the intervention. Defend the popular gains.

U.S. imperialism, through the lavish visits of the last few days of dozens of U.S. congressmen, is sniffing out what internal impact the Esquipulas accords [the Central American peace pact] could have. For its part, local reaction has, since the moment of signing the accords, been positioning itself to set in motion' what it thinks is the counterrevolutionary Trojan horse. It thinks it has the trick to opening the gate from within, when the siege so far has not produced results for the forces opposed to the revolutionary process.

That is to say, the counter-revolutionary strategy has gained an important step in having won official recognition of its right to carry out, on an internal level, political, organizational and ideological actions. These actions complement the direct military action carried out by the mercenaries and imperialist military forces, especially the ones stationed in Honduras.

This situation puts the revolutionary forces of the workers and peasants in a situation of relative disadvantage at the moment. The FSLN will try to implement the accords since, given the nature of its logic and of the accords, it didn't have any other way out. The right will take advantage of the moment to gain ground for the counterrevolution.

What must the revolutionary forces do, pressed between the pragmatism of the FSLN and the eagerness of the right to reverse the revolution?

In the first place, the Esquipulas accords hold obligations for the government, but not for the workers and peasants of Nicaragua. The accords must not be a rope around the neck of the revolution. The vital interests of the revolution stand above the diplomatic maneuvers of the government. Therefore the revolutionary forces must mobilize themselves so that the accords don't become a kind of coup d'etat against the conquests won on July 19 [the day of victory over Somoza]. We must not give an inch to the demands which involve recognizing more economic, political and ideological rights for reaction; instead, we must take away democratic privileges from the right, leaving them exclusively for the workers, the people of Nicaragua. The FSLN must take heed of the democratic demands of the masses and not in any way restrict their leftist demonstrations, their signs of advance, which have been occurring these past eight years.

In the second place, it is essential not to permit the right wing to win control of the streets. This must be the exclusive domain of the popular masses, who won this historic right through the insurrection against the Somoza dictatorship. But the FSLN must stop restricting the organization, the mobilization and activity of the masses against reaction, against opportunism, bureaucratism and militarism. The streets belong to the people and are not the property of the right wing, nor of the FSLN. We must defend and win this right, in practice.

In the third place, the revolutionary forces must close ranks and unite to be able to confront more firmly not only the military assaults of imperialism, but also the political-ideological counteroffensive that reaction is letting loose in the wake of the signing of Esquipulas. The FSLN in particular must leave aside sectarianism, hegemonism and petty-bourgeois vanguardism, and show its anti-imperialist significance, converging with the revolutionary forces in the order which is being established in these critical moments for the Nicaraguan people:

Unity of action between the anti-imperialist forces behind:

* The defense of the Nicaraguan people's right to self-determination.

* No to external interference in our internal affairs.

* Defense of the popular conquests won since July 19,1979.

The political struggle of the working class and people is becoming more complex to the extent that imperialism and reaction see their interests being threatened. The revolutionary forces, the Nicaraguan workers and peasants, will firmly confront the present challenge, saying:

No to the concessions to reaction!

No to the intervention!

Defend the popular conquests to be able to advance in the liquidation of capitalism and dependence in the construction of socialism in Nicaragua!

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What about the contra bases in Honduras?

It is claimed that the Central American peace pact will end the U.S. pressure on Nicaragua. Four pro-U.S. regimes in Central America -- Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica -- allegedly joined with Nicaragua to defy the U.S.

But let's see what one of the signers of the pact, President Azcona of Honduras, himself says. He came to Washington in the latter half of October. On Wednesday October 21 he held that U.S. aid to the contras must be used as pressure against Nicaragua. Why, he said at a meeting with reporters, to stop the U.S. campaign against Nicaragua "would be torpedoing the Guatemala agreement [another name for the Arias pact, which was signed in Guatemala].'' He suggested that Congress vote more aid for the contras, but put it in escrow until January. If the Nicaraguans didn't capitulate to every demand of their pro-U.S. neighbors, then the aid should be given to the contras.

Azcona talked like a dyed-in-the-wool Reaganite. He called the Nicaraguan revolution a "betrayal'' of the people, and he demanded that the whole world put pressure on the Sandinistas "as that there can be no second betrayal of the people of Nicaragua."

And what about the contra bases in Honduras? The Arias pact is advertised as requiring the removal of these bases and those in other countries. But Azcona's view was that the contras should first get what they wanted in negotiations with the Sandinistas, after which they wouldn't have need for bases anyway. It seems he regards that the bases in Honduras will be eliminated -- if the contras themselves decide they are no longer necessary. Oh, what defiance of the U.S. war on Nicaragua!

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Why are the Sandinistas spending millions on a tourist resort?

The Nicaraguan government has found the new way to solve the economic crisis. It is going to spend $30 million to build a tourist resort and casino. (See "Looking for a Resort to Golf or Gamble? Give Nicaragua a Try,'' The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27) "Fundamentally, what we're interested in now is classical tourism, not sociopolitical tourism,'' states Nicaraguan tourist official Mercedes Vargas. To this end the Sandinista tourism ministry is renovating Montelimar, a plush seaside resort of the deposed hangman Somoza. Here tourists can gamble and dine in elegance. The tourism project also includes a casino, private cabanas, a hotel, a night club, a golf course, and a private airstrip. There are even plans to sell cruises on a yacht donated by a Seattle anti-nuclear group.

Will This Solve the Economic Crisis?

The Nicaraguan masses are dirt poor and are enduring shortages of basic necessities. There is a life and death war going on against the U.S.-backed contras. But what do the Sandinista officials do with the sparse resources of the country? What do they do with the wealth created by the sweat of the toilers? Do they devote them to improving the production of basic goods?

No, they are looking towards the same gimmicks used by bourgeois regimes. And it ends up that they are now going to build a luxurious playground for the rich.

This is typical of the Sandinista economic policy. Instead of using their resources to develop the economy for the benefit of the toilers, they constantly give incentives to the rich exploiters. Subsidies, grants and other resources are made available to the bourgeoisie. And for the toilers it is sacrifice, sacrifice and more sacrifice.

Of course the Sandinistas try to paint this policy up as strengthening the revolution. They claim that bolstering the exploiters will eventually bring benefits to the workers and poor peasants. If this theory sounds familiar, it should. It shares the same basic premises as Reagan's bogus "trickle-down'' economics: the rich should get richer -- for the benefit of the poor!

The Sandinistas tell the workers to work harder and longer and not to make demands for better living conditions because it will undermine the war effort against the contras. And then they turn around and give aid to the exploiters, who sympathize with the contra war. The Nicaraguan workers are willing to sacrifice to defend the revolution. But they are not willing to be plundered by the rich under the pretense of defending the revolution.

Stand of the Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists

There is a revolutionary organization in Nicaragua opposed to the Sandinista policy, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua. The MLPN is fighting for the interests of the working masses. The Wall Street Journal reports that "the opposition Marxist-Leninist party'' is fuming. It quotes Fernando Malespin, a MLPN central committee member, denouncing the tourism plan. Malespin states that the Montelimar resort will become a resort for "the bourgeoisie and privileged bureaucrats.'' He added: "They'll be playing with the sacrifices of the workers.''

But while the Sandinista bureaucrats hobnob with the rich in Nicaragua and from abroad, the MLPN will be organizing to push forward the revolution in the interests of the exploited.

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Pact stirs struggle in Nicaragua

Nicaragua today is going through a critical period.

The peace agreement promises peace, but the contra war continues. The only thing the plan has produced is Sandinista concessions to the right-wing capitalist opposition inside Nicaragua.

And what are the right-wing forces doing with their new rights? They are calling for further steps to dismantle the Nicaraguan revolution.

They want a deal worked out with the contra leaders. They want amnesty for all contras and for the National Guard butchers of Somoza. They want expropriated property restored to the capitalists and landlords. They want the disarming of the people.

The right wing is holding demonstrations and meetings to promote its counterrevolutionary platform. At their meetings they invite such imperialist mouthpieces as Jeanne Kirkpatrick and diplomats from the embassies of the U.S., West Germany, Honduras and El Salvador.

Signs of Renewed Mass Ferment

The Nicaraguan toilers are not about to take these demands standing still. As a result of the peace pact, the way is being opened up for a new round of class struggle. Already there are signs of a renewed mass ferment.

The Sandinistas are also organizing demonstrations. These are meant to show public support for their signing the pact. But within these demonstrations, working people are coming out to denounce the demands of the right wing. And despite being under FSLN influence, many people are also expressing discontent with concessions to the right.

For example, on September 29th 10,000 women marched through Managua in an action organized by the Sandinista women's organization AMNLAE. In this march, one of the most popular slogans opposed a general amnesty for the contras and National Guardsmen.

There are other demonstrations planned this month. They include actions by workers' organizations.

MLPN Stands Up for Toilers' Interests

The Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists are working among the toilers, both in the current demonstrations and in the work places, fighting for a revolutionary stand. They raise the militant slogan: Don't give up the streets to reaction! They are the force in Nicaragua standing up to the right wing and to the FSLN policy of making concessions to reaction.

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Protests nationwide vs. U.S. intervention in Central America

At the end of September and early October, nationwide protests were held against U.S. intervention in Central America. Actions were scheduled in over 200 cities.

Los Angeles

One of the biggest protests took place in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 27. Two thousand demonstrators ringed the Westwood Federal Building and marched through a shopping center near the UCLA campus. Supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party distributed 850 leaflets and 90 copies of The Workers' Advocate.


On Tuesday, September 29th, 800 people rallied in Boston against the U.S. contra war. Activists not only stood up against Reagan's naked aggression. There was also widespread suspicion about the fraudulent Central American peace plan (Arias plan) being trumpeted by the Democratic Party liberals. The treacherous record of the Democrats, who claim to be for peace while financing the contras and supporting Duarte's death-squad regime in El Salvador, has started to shatter the illusions in the liberal politicians and their schemes. This is an important development which will aid the building of a powerful, militant struggle.


In Seattle, 500 activists met on September 29 in front of the Federal Court House and marched through downtown streets. The atmosphere was strikingly more political than has been the case here for a number of years. And there was a better reception to revolutionary literature, with 50 copies of The Workers' Advocate being distributed. There was also more interest in the MLP literature table.

The general attitude toward the Arias "peace plan'' was one of hope that it will bring peace, but deep skepticism that it will. Activists doubted that Reagan will honor the accord. The Party did work to show the true nature of the Arias plan as another form of brutal pressure on Nicaragua.

At one point of the rally a section of the protesters blocked a street with a peaceful sit-down. The police, again demonstrating their role as guardians of the capitalist warmongers, eventually arrested 100.


One hundred and fifty activists rallied in protest at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. Spirited slogan shouting broke out as the protesters picketed against the contra war and U.S. military aid to El Salvador.


On Sunday, October 4th, 1,200 workers, students and other activists marched and rallied in Detroit against U.S. intervention in Central America and against South African apartheid.

Bolstering the ranks of the protest were hundreds of young activists just awakening to political life. Their homemade banners and picket signs marked contingents representing a number of high schools and colleges in southeast Michigan.

The Marxist-Leninist Party worked hard to strengthen the demonstration. In the weeks preceding the October 4 protest the Party took the news of the action to thousands of people in the factories, schools and communities.

As the march was assembling, a singing group of Party supporters greeted the arriving activists to help set a militant tone for the day's events. In the march the MLP raised slogans such as "USA, CIA, Hands Off Nicaragua!'' "Revolution Yes, Apartheid No, Death to Apartheid Blow by Blow!'' and "No Funds for La Prensa; Support the Workers' Press!"

Party literature was spread throughout the demonstration. As well there was a literature table, including a display on the campaign to help the class conscious workers of the Nicaraguan Workers' Front (associated with the MLP of Nicaragua) build a roof for their workers' meeting hall in Managua.

This work struck a responsive chord. Many people joined in with the militant slogans during the march. Numbers of marchers grabbed up picket signs, anti-apartheid buttons and stickers which the Party had prepared. About 600 copies of The Workers' Advocate were distributed along with hundreds of Detroit Workers' Voice leaflets and other literature. The literature table was a center of discussion on the burning issues facing the movement.

The MLP agitation emphasized the need to orient the movement against the imperialist system as the source of the people's suffering. It pointed out the importance of building the mass struggle based on the independent action of the working and progressive people, not on the false "saviors" of the Democratic Party. And the Party worked hard to expose the Central American "peace" pact as a fraud aimed at undermining the Nicaraguan revolution. Most activists at the demonstration had only heard that this plan was supposed to relieve the suffering of the war-ravaged people in Central America. But they were open to discussion, and the Party's analysis of the Arias peace pact provoked much interest.

The news about the Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists was also well- received. Numerous contributions were made to the campaign to build a roof for the workers' meeting hall. And upon hearing of the upcoming U.S. tour by the Nicaraguan comrades, a number of activists expressed a desire to meet with them and hear their views.

Reagan may pledge to aid the contras to his last breath. But the demonstrations across the country are declarations that the masses will fight against U.S. aggression every step of the way.

[Photo: Eight hundred people marched in Boston September 29 against U.S. aggression in Central America.]

[Photo: One thousand two hundred demonstrate in Detroit, October 4.]

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Detroit activists shout down contra scum

When the contra supporters brought a contra to speak at Wayne State University in Detroit on October 26, they got more than they bargained for. A group of activists boldly confronted the contra and his supporters, forcing them to abandon their meeting.

Activists Mobilize Quickly

The Young Republicans brought a contra and a contra lobbyist to the campus to drum up support for the U.S.-backed war on Nicaragua. When word leaked out that the contra thugs were on their way, a protest was quickly organized. Lack of time prevented a big mobilization. Nevertheless a determined group of about 40 activists assembled outside the building where the contra was to speak.

Contras Denounced

The protesters decided to go up to the contra meeting room and denounce the contra forces to their faces. They marched right into the room and packed the meeting. When the contra tried to talk, slogan shouting began. "No Contra Aid!" "No Right to Speak!" "Death to the Contras!" "USA, CIA, Hands Off Nicaragua!" and "Republicans Are Nazis!" rang out for 45 minutes, drowning out the contra supporters.

At one point some reformists decided to accept an offer to address the Young Republicans in return for letting the contra meeting go forward unimpeded. But they couldn't stop the slogan shouting, and so the Young Republican plan to subvert the protest failed.

Meeting Canceled

Under this barrage of opposition, the Young Republicans announced that the meeting was canceled,. and the contra and Reaganites scurried out. The contra lovers were able to sneak away to another room and hold a closed meeting. But protesters who stayed on their trail reported that only a few of the original small handful of contra supporters were still around.

Role of the MLP

Supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party were in the thick of things. They encouraged the slogan shouting. And they opposed the plan to end the slogans and allow the contra meeting a free hand.

Anti-contra protests like this one are just what the contra butchers deserve. The contras don't give the Nicaraguan workers and peasants any right to speak, but use bullets, bombs, and missiles against them. The contras may get arms, money, and radio stations from their CIA and State Department bosses and thousands of platforms in every newspaper in the country, but they get only contempt from the progressive masses.

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Lessons from the October Revolution

Revolution is the way out for Central America

How is Central America to emerge from the grip of blood, hunger, and U.S. intervention?

Will peace and well-being come to the region through the Central American peace pact (the Arias plan)? This is the solution of the ruling regimes of the region, backed by the U.S. Congress and U.S. imperialism.

Or will it come through revolution? This is the answer of the masses, of the workers, farm laborers and poor.

Arias may have gotten the Nobel prize, but history favors the latter. Let's contrast the Arias plan to a model revolution of our century -- the October Socialist Revolution in Russia.

A Death-Squad Peace

Take the question of peace. Everyone says they want an end to the fighting. The Central American presidents and most of their military officers say it. The imperialist politicians in the U.S. Congress say it.

Supposedly this is to come about through the Arias plan. Through "national reconciliation'' between oppressed and oppressor. Through dialogue between the right-wing death squads and their left-wing victims. Through harmony between the wealthy slave drivers and the starving slaves of the factories and fields.

But what has this plan brought so far: an orgy of CIA/contra conspiracies against the people of Nicaragua and a blanket amnesty for El Salvador's death-squad commanders.

This is a death-squad peace. A peace of the grave.

Peace and Revolution

The October Revolution in Russia blazed a different road to peace. In the middle of the human butchery known as the First World War, it showed that the only way out of the war was through revolutionary struggle against the governments and rich exploiters responsible for the war. It showed that all talk of peace that was not connected to such struggle was just a sham to dupe the masses.

Later, with words of "peace'' and "democracy'' on their lips, the imperialist gentlemen of the League of Nations sent their troops against the Russian workers' revolution. The Russian workers and peasants fought back and triumphed over the alliance between the foreign invader and the Russian landlords and capitalists.

In Central America, too, peace for the working people can only come through their own revolutionary action. Through the overthrow of the death-squad regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Through the defeat of the contras and the whole capitalist counterrevolution inside Nicaragua. Through driving out the U.S. military bases, smashing the CIA's conspiracies and all the other tools of U.S. intervention.

Death-Squad Democracy

"Democracy" is the other buzz word circling around the Arias plan. The regimes are preening themselves up as "democracies" in order to hide the real source of the convulsions gripping Central America.

This is the revolt between the poor and the rich. The workers against the owners. The farm' laborers and poor peasants against the big landholders.

The wealthy classes of the whole region, in league with their rich friends in the U.S., have unleashed a dirty war on Nicaragua because the working people of that poor country dared to rise up and overthrow the Somoza dictatorship of the rich capitalists.

In El Salvador and Guatemala, the rulers have answered the revolutionary upheaval of the workers and peasants with death squads and U.S.-directed air wars.

All the "democratic" tinkering that has gone on in recent years hasn't changed this one iota. They may no longer declare a state of emergency. They may carefully stage elections to produce civilian front men. Meanwhile, the massacres of strikers, demonstrators and suspected leftists continue. The naked terror of the rich against the poor remains.

The Arias plan doesn't change this one bit. It's just another "democratic" facelift for the death-squad regimes of hunger and exploitation.

Democracy and Revolution

The October Revolution in Russia showed that freedom and democracy for the masses can best be achieved through revolution, through the smashing up of the oppressive regime of the exploiters.

The rule of the exploiters rests on the stifling bureaucratic-police apparatus. The power of the working masses, on the other hand, rests on revolutionary democracy. It rests on the militant mass organizations embracing millions of working people awakened to a new life. It rests on workers' control of industry, on ordinary working people taking over the affairs of state, and on making the workers and toilers the true masters of the new society.

Such a revolutionary democracy can only be protected and expanded by carrying forward the revolution to socialism -- by uprooting the capitalist and landlord system that gives rise to bureaucracy, militarism and death squads.

Which Way Nicaragua?

Nicaragua has taken the first step. The people's revolution that overthrew Somoza opened the door for the broadest freedom that the toilers of Central America have ever known.

But U.S. imperialism and the capitalist forces in the region have been trying to shut this door. That's what the Arias plan is all about: pressure on the petty- bourgeois Sandinista government to step back towards a new capitalist tyranny.

To defend their gains, the Nicaraguan workers and peasants have to stand up for their own interests. They need to carry forward the revolution against the reactionary bourgeoisie and despite the bureaucratic and vacillating Sandinista government.

The revolutionary workers and their Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua are organizing this struggle. They reject the Arias plan and call on the people to deepen the struggle against both the CIA's contras and against the internal reaction which is in league with them.

They are working in the factories and fields to bring the masses into struggle for a government of the workers and poor peasants. They are working towards the proletarian revolution that can release the collective energy of the masses to create a new and better life.

In short, the Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninist workers are struggling for the same socialist road taken by the Russian workers in their October Revolution.

[Photo: Meeting of workers from the Putilov factory for elections to the Petrograd Soviet, 1920. The revolutionary power of the Russian workers rested on the Soviets, the mass organizations of the men and women of labor.]

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The Russian revolution and the fight for jobs

The corporate bosses, and the union officials in their back pockets, treat plant closings and unemployment as if they are a natural disaster -- something you have to learn to live with even if you're driven to starvation.

GM is carrying out its plans to quickly close some 19 plants and is on the road to eliminating some 100,000 workers' jobs. And UAW president Owen Bieber only shrugs, "The companies will inevitably move to reduce their work forces. That's going to happen...." Indeed, when he was confronted with calls for a fight against the plant closings, Bieber sarcastically replied that's "not very realistic...I somehow would like to have the answer as to how you keep plants open producing automobiles you can't sell." And so capitalist logic goes -- layoffs are inevitable and winning real job guarantees is impossible.

But the current job loss is not some unwelcome gift from god. It is a product of this particular economic system, of capitalism. It shows how rotten this system is that it can't even provide a livelihood for its workers. But more, it shows this system must give way to another, higher system, to socialism.

The October 1917 socialist revolution in Russia proved this truth in practice. Although today the Russian workers suffer from unemployment and all the other diseases of a restored capitalist system, back in 1917 they blazed a trail of revolutionary struggle against job loss and devastation. And they opened up the road of socialism which later eliminated unemployment and economic crisis for many years.

Revolutionary Struggle Against Shutdowns and Economic Dislocation

In 1917 the Russian workers were confronted with economic crisis and a growing famine in a country ravaged by World War I. What is more, after the February revolution that overthrew the tsar, the capitalists (who took over the government) actively sabotaged the economy for the sake of profiteering and to try to undermine the revolutionary workers' movement. Materials needed for production were hoarded and prices jacked up.

Production at some plants was stalled and other factories were closed down. Lockouts spread from one region to the next.

The vanguard of the Russian working class -- the Bolshevik Party led by V. I. Lenin -- mobilized the workers to confront the capitalists. They organized the workers to carry forward the revolution begun in February to the seizure of power by the workers and the building of socialism.

As part of this struggle the Bolsheviks led the workers to fight plant closings and layoffs. And they demanded "full social insurance" for the unemployed including "free medical and medicinal aid" with "the cost of insurance to be borne by the capitalists" and "all insurance institutions to be administered entirely by the insured themselves." (Lenin, Collected Works, "Draft of Revised Party Programme," Vol. 24, p. 475)

As the strike wave spread across the country and the revolutionary movement of the workers deepened, the Bolsheviks built a movement for the workers' control of the factories. Big strikes and solidarity actions broke out against plant closings. In the Donbas, the miners removed managers and took the administration of production into their own hands. The metal workers of Kharkov arrested the managing directors of the General Electric Company and placed them under the custody of the Red Guard. At the Kelferich-Sade works in Kharkov, work refused to submit to the closing of the plant and continued to work, entrusting the management of the plant to a special committee. In other factories the workers began to institute workers' control by decree of the factory committees or the Soviets. And the movement spread.

The workers' control struggle was only possible as part of a countrywide revolutionary movement and as a component of the struggle of the working class to seize state power, to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. In October (on the tsarist calendar, November by our present system), the workers, accompanied by the peasants and soldiers, rose in a new insurrection that overthrew the capitalist government. They took power into their own hands and ruled the country through revolutionary committees known as Soviets.

Economy Run for the Workers' Benefit

As the power of the capitalists was broken the Soviet government step by step took over the factories, the mines, the land and all of the large-scale means of production from the ownership of the rich. Gradually the economy was organized to benefit the working masses instead of for the profit of the capitalists. Over the years, unemployment was eliminated, economic crisis was conquered, and agriculture took big steps on the road of collectivization. The use of planned economy rather than cutthroat competition allowed the improvement of efficiency without unemployment. Mechanization and automation did not result in throwing workers onto the street, but transferring them to other jobs and workplaces.

In the 1930's workers in the U.S., Europe, and most of the rest of the world were devastated from the plant closings and massive unemployment. But socialist Russia was immune from the onslaught of the Great Depression.

Until the revisionists turned away from revolution and led Russia back to capitalism, the working class took giant strides on the path marked out by Lenin. "By introducing social in place of private ownership of the means of production and exchange, by introducing planned organization of social production to ensure the well-being and many-sided development of all members of society, the proletarian social revolution will do away with the division of society into classes and thereby emancipate the whole of oppressed humanity, for it will put an end to all forms of exploitation of one section of society by another." (Collected Works , "Draft of Revised Party Programme," Vol. 24, p. 468)

Build a Revolutionary Movement for Jobs

This is the path for the workers in the U.S. today. Unemployment is not "inevitable." The October socialist revolution proved that. But to stop capitalist devastation requires struggle. Today we must fight against the elimination of every job, against each new round of layoffs, against every plant shutdown. We must build these struggles into a broad mass movement; organize this movement independently of the union sellouts and the capitalist parties they follow; and inspire this movement with the perspective of socialism. Capitalism has not only created misery for the masses, it has also created its own gravediggers in the working class. Let us get organized as a class and give the gang of rich men what they deserve.

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Gorbachev's stand against revolutions around the world

From Reaganite propaganda, one would get the impression that the Soviet Union pursues an active revolutionary policy around the world.

But this is just another right-wing fantasy. And in this case, unfortunately so. If the Soviet Union were still socialist and supported revolution, the struggles of the world's toilers would be greatly strengthened. But the Soviet Union has restored capitalism and follows a typical big-power policy.

Internationalist Legacy of 1917 Revolution Has Been Trampled

Many decades ago the Soviet leadership did promote an internationalist line of solidarity with the revolutionary toilers. That had been one of the earthshaking legacies of the Russian revolution of 1917.

The October socialist revolution was a tremendous inspiration to the workers and peasants of the world. The Russian Bolsheviks, together with the communist workers of other countries, went on to found a new, revolutionary international organization. The Communist International helped to forge new, communist parties in scores of countries and actively supported the revolutionary movements of the world's toilers.

But in the mid-30's, the CI and Soviet leaders abandoned the revolutionary perspective. They began to promote an essentially reformist orientation to the communists and toilers of the world.

The Soviet leadership proceeded to revise and abandon Marxist-Leninist theory all along the line. They have continued to give lip service to Marxism-Leninism, but its revolutionary essence has been gutted. This is why revolutionary communists denounce the rulers of the Soviet Union as revisionists.

Gorbachev Stands for a Renewed Campaign Against Revolution

The current Gorbachev leadership carries forward the revisionist program. In fact, as part of its platform of glasnost and "renewal," the Gorbachev regime is stepping up its effort to stamp out the revolutionary movement around the globe.

Wherever there are just struggles, the Russian revisionists wring their hands about dangerous "regional conflicts." And instead of support for revolutionary struggles, the Soviet leaders advocate the theme of "peace" and "reconciliation" as the first priority. They avidly promote the idea that the world's toilers should compromise with their oppressors.

This stand is based on their view that oppressors and oppressed can reconcile since "after all we are all part of one human family." Supposedly the exploiters and exploited have common interests and can live together in harmony.

But such a pacifist view runs counter to reality and the Marxist outlook. The exploiters do not give up oppression out of good will. For the oppressed to accept the "turn-the-other-cheek" outlook means to be left at the mercy of capitalist bloodsuckers, death squads, and police torturers.

Why is the present Gorbachev regime so upset with revolutionary clashes? For one thing, the Soviet Union is an imperialist power itself. It has become a defender of the status quo of exploitation. It is afraid of revolution breaking out within its own sphere of domination. What's more, Moscow sees revolutions worldwide as obstacles to the goal it is pursuing of economic collaboration with Western imperialism. To win agreements with the West, the Soviet Union is willing to use its influence to barter away the struggles of the oppressed masses.

What does Gorbachev's pacifist program mean in concrete terms today? Let's take a look at one important example.

Stabbing the Nicaraguan Revolution in the Back

Contrary to the lies of the Reaganites, the Soviet revisionists are no friends of the revolution in Nicaragua. In fact, Moscow is one of the most vigorous advocates of the view that Nicaragua must abandon revolution as part of a compromise with U.S. imperialism.

Today, Moscow eagerly backs up the Arias "peace plan." This plan claims that it will bring peace to Central America. But it rests on the region's pro-U.S. and right-wing governments. And it does not hide its central demand that Nicaragua dismantle the revolution. It calls for Nicaragua to open its doors to the contras and allow more room to the reactionary capitalist forces who are not-so-hidden supporters of the counterrevolution.

The problem isn't just that Moscow holds a wrong opinion about what should be done in Central America. The Russian revisionists back this up with treacherous acts. They use the political and ideological leverage they have upon the Sandinista regime. If that's not enough, a few months ago the Soviet Union also cut back on its oil supplies to Nicaragua. This created a very difficult crisis for the Nicaraguan economy.

It appears that the Russian cutback of oil was a direct pressure on the Sandinistas to agree to the Arias plan demands. Now that the Sandinistas have begun to make new concessions to the reaction, Sandinista leaders are talking about the possibility of the Soviet Union "raising its oil quotas."

The Soviet stand has amounted to a shameful stab in the back for the Nicaraguan workers and peasants.

Soviet Revisionism: A Developed Platform of Reformism

These stands are not exceptions; they are part of a general policy being pushed by the Moscow revisionists.

The Soviet revisionists stand at the head of an international movement. There are pro-Soviet parties around the world which claim to be communist. In many cases, they exercise influence over sections of the working class. But the pro-Soviet parties are not forces for proletarian revolution.

Instead of class struggle, they promote reformism. The pro-Soviet revisionists are infamous for urging workers to tone down their struggle, to keep their demands restricted. They are opponents of militant and revolutionary methods of struggle. Instead they promote begging for the support of liberal and reformist bourgeois parties. They have no faith in the strength of the workers.

Instead of revolution and socialism, Soviet revisionism promotes a reformed capitalism as the goal. And where it is able to influence actual revolutions, it supports not those who fight for working class rule and socialism but bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces who seek to put brakes on the revolution. And it does not matter a bit that some of these forces are the worst hangmen of the revolution. For example, Moscow supports the despotic regime in Ethiopia and not too long ago supported the Islamic regime in Iran.

The fight for working class interests, for revolutionary struggle, for proletarian socialism -- all call for an incessant struggle against the theory and practice of Soviet revisionism. Only in this way 6an the lessons of the October revolution remain vital and fresh for the workers of the world.

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China offers U.S. agribusiness cheap labor

There's nothing socialist about the People's Republic of China save the label "socialist country." The Chinese revisionist leaders make no bones about it: their models for "modernization" are capitalist models. And they have no shame about adopting even the most obnoxious and cruel methods of capitalist slave-driving.

One such method is the contract labor system. Presently, the Chinese government has contracted out some 50,000 Chinese laborers to build roads, harvest crops, and so forth, in some 70 countries. For the Chinese rulers this is a means of earning hard foreign currencies. For the host countries, corporations and middlemen, it's a profitable source of cheap labor.

Now American agribusiness wants to get in on the act. A New York firm, the Chinese Agricultural Manpower Center, has a contract with the Chinese government to begin delivering Chinese farm workers to American fruit growers next spring.

The firm claims that there will soon be a demand for tens of thousands of such contract laborers. They will be recruited by a Chinese government agency, the China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation. The workers will be brought in to work the harvests for up to ten months at a time. Chinese supervisors are part of the package deal.

The new Simpson-Rodino immigration law is opening the doors wide for this modern slave trade. Simpson-Rodino expanded the H2-A contract labor system. Under H2-A, growers claiming a labor shortage can contract workers from the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere to harvest their crops. These workers are under short-term restricted visas allowing them to work temporarily for the employers that contract them.

Such contract labor schemes serve the capitalist growers hungry for an unlimited source of cheap field hands. If possible, they want hands without rights. They don't want hands that make outlandish demands for sanitary conditions, housing, schools, or to be fed after the harvest is in. And they don't want hands that might be drawn into union organizing drives. Whereas we demand that all workers brought into the country must have full rights.

It says a lot about U.S. capitalism in the late twentieth century that it is resorting to methods smacking of the coolie labor system or indentured servitude of centuries past.

It also says a lot about Chinese revisionism that it would go in for making money off the trade in coolies to the American millionaires.

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'UAW -- You Ain't Working'

Job-cutting contract at GM

The General Motors billionaires and the United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders are crowing about the passage of their latest contract. Based on the rotten Ford deal, this agreement virtually ensures the elimination of 100,000 jobs at GM. Forty thousand laid-off workers are left out in the cold. Thirty-seven thousand workers are thrown out with the UAW hacks' agreement to the closing of 19 plants. And another 30,150 jobs may be eliminated through attrition with the agreement to replace only one worker for every two that are fired, forced out of work, or retired. It's absolutely shameless for the union hacks to gloat about this travesty.

Low Vote Shows Rank-and-File Disgust

Still, the trade union leaders claim their enthusiasm is justified. After all, they say their tally of an 80% "yes" vote proves that the rank and file overwhelmingly supported the contract.

But the actual attitude of the workers is not shown by the percentage of "yes" votes. Rather it is demonstrated by the more than 221,000 workers (some 59% of the GM production workers) who did not vote at all. Far more workers voted on the 1984 contract (only 36% are reported to have abstained). And that larger vote almost defeated the '84 concessions agreement despite the union bureaucrats' vote tampering. But after the 1984 railroad, the workers had no trust that they could stop the railroading of this contract. So the majority didn't bother to vote. Mass Disillusionment with Union Hacks

Mass Disillusionment with Union Hacks

Of course the UAW leaders claim the low turnout proves support for the contract. As one hack put it, "It's hard to get people out when they're satisfied."

Hogwash! Militants from our Party distributed leaflets against the contract and talked with workers at a series of plants and union meetings. We found no such "satisfaction" with this contract. Quite to the contrary. Workers were disgusted with the deal. And more, they were bitter against the union leaders who pushed it through.

A worker at the Detroit Fleetwood local meeting shouted at the union hacks, "UAW -- U Ain't Working, that's your answer." Of course the anger was most explosive among workers facing immediate plant closings, such as at Fleetwood where half the workers at the Local 15 meeting stormed out in outrage. But our Party frequently heard statements like "we don't have a union anymore" among GM workers at many plants (and similar bitter statements among Ford workers where the low vote also masked the disgruntlement with their contract).

Turn Disgust to Independent Organization

Of course this attitude expressed by many workers also represents a problem. Although they didn't like the contract and are disillusioned with the union bureaucracy, they have not yet found a way to fight back.

They are suffering from the feelings of disorganization, of the mood of each man for himself. The top bureaucrats have spread this mood with their assistance to GM's campaigns to pit plant against plant.

This mood has also been set up by "opposition" hacks like Local 160 president Pete Kelly and Local 15 head Joe Wilson. Kelly actually dropped all opposition to this contract and turned his back on other GM workers in return for a promise that GM would "investigate" the subcontracting problems at his plant. Meanwhile Wilson -- even though he's spoken against the closing of his plant and criticized this contract -- has refused to come out strongly against the top UAW bureaucrats. Nor has he been willing to unleash the fighting spirit of the rank and file who have wanted to carry out job actions at the plant and who proposed at the local meeting to picket UAW headquarters.

The present difficulty in the auto workers' struggle is the product of a transitional stage where the workers must learn how to turn their disgust with the union bureaucracy into independent organization and action. Here and there strikes, demonstrations, and in-plant actions have broken out in the last year. In some cases local union officials have allowed some room for struggles. In others the workers' anger busted through the bureaucratic morass. But for these struggles to be carried through and built into a broad and serious movement, the networks of militants must be organized more firmly and take up a conscious struggle against the union misleaders.

Get Organized

This contract is settled. But the auto workers' fight is far from over. As GM tries to spread its "team work" system of speedup to every plant, it will provoke resistance from the shop floor. Struggles may also continue to develop at the plants that GM, Ford and Chrysler are planning to close. And as the laid-off workers face increasing hardships a movement will have to be built up in defense of the unemployed.

In spite of all the talk of a new era of "labor-management cooperation" by the auto billionaires and the UAW hacks, conditions are being created for new outbursts. It's time to get organized to push these struggles through the bureaucrats' blockade and unite all the auto workers for conscious class struggle against the capitalists.

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Buffalo hospital workers win release of 2 strikers

A series of solidarity actions have been held in support of the strike of the non-nursing staff at DeGraff Hospital in North Tonawanda, New York. The most militant action occurred on September 30.

Some 250 workers came from many area plants. They denounced the DeGraff administration for strikebreaking and supported the workers in the fight to regain their jobs. A spirited picket line stopped a van carrying scabs from leaving the parking lot. With the help of the North Tonawanda police, who pushed and shoved workers out of the way, the van slowly inched out. After the van was in the clear, the police proceeded to arrest one of the strikers.

The workers were angry -- it was obvious that one worker was being singled out as a warning to all the strikers. As soon as the police car departed, 125 workers marched off to the police station. All along the route, they chanted slogans against the police, the scabs, and the hospital administration. "Let him go!" repeatedly rang out.

After the march arrived, another worker was arrested for holding open the door of the police station. Approximately 25 workers stormed into the station -- shouting and stamping and demanding the release of their fellow workers. Unable to deal with the situation, the police were forced to call the mayor. And finally, in order to defuse the protest, the mayor and police released the two workers.

The DeGraff workers have refused to bow down to the media lies, the threats of firings, the scabbing, the police intimidation, or administration harassment. Because they have stood up they have won the support of workers from factories throughout western New York.

(Based on the Oct. 6 "Buffalo Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP-Buffalo.)

[Photo: Three hundred and fifty workers rallied on Tonawanda, NY to support DeGraff Hospital strike.]

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[Graphic: Help raise a roof for a workers' meeting hall in Managua! Support the revolutionary workers of Nicaragua!]

The revolutionary workers of the Frente Obrero (Workers Front) trade union center have set up a workers' meeting hall in an industrial zone of Managua. The Frente Obrero wants to complete the roof over the building to create a larger hall for workers to hold mass meetings. But they face a shortage of materials and funds for this roof because of Reagan's blockade and the economic problems gripping the country.

The MLP,USA is raising funds to help raise a roof for this workers' meeting hall. We invite all opponents of the U.S. war against Nicaragua to assist in this effort.

International solidarity is a powerful force. Concrete assistance such as this is one way of building links with the workers and poor of Nicaragua and Central America. It's their revolutionary movement, with the support of working people throughout the Americas and the world, that can best settle accounts with Reagan's mercenaries, the death-squad regimes, and all the reactionaries that are bleeding the people of this region.

Send contributions and inquiries and make out checks to the "Campaign for the Nicaraguan Workers' Press." Please designate "for the workers' meeting hall."


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What is Reagan up to in the Persian Gulf?

Until only a year ago Reagan was secretly selling weapons to Iran. So how come he's now playing a game of military brinksmanship with Tehran in the Persian Gulf?

On the surface, it appears to be a strange flip-flop. But in fact throughout the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. government has played both sides. All along, U.S. imperialism has had the same goal: to find ways to profit from the Persian Gulf slaughter.

Reagan Winked at the Iraqi Invasion

When the Iran-Iraq war began, the U.S. egged on the Iraqi invasion. It built new links with the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in Iraq, which had earlier been cool towards Washington and closer to the Soviet Union. The U.S. also expanded its military privileges in the region. Thus U.S. AW AC radar planes were given rights to use Saudi bases, and the Pentagon got bases in Egypt for its Rapid Deployment Force.

And He Also Sought Deals with Iran

As the Iran-Iraq war wore on, the U.S. also carried out behind-the-scenes deals with the Khomeini regime. Washington sold weapons to Iran and provided it with intelligence data; for example, it gave information to Khomeini to repress the pro-Soviet revisionist Tudeh Party.

Then Came Irangate

But a year ago, there was a change. The secret arms deals between Iran and the U.S. were exposed publicly. At the same time, with the help of the U.S. weapons among other things, Iran made a major military advance against Iraq. It threatened the important city of Basra and the road to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital itself.

One result of the Irangate exposures was that the U.S. government lost some face in Iraq and the Gulf states. The Iranian military advances also deeply worried these regimes. Then this spring Kuwait played the Russian card, inviting Moscow to flag a few of its tankers.

At this point, Reagan scrambled. He offered to put the U.S. flag on Kuwaiti tankers and deployed the Navy in a major push into the Gulf. This policy also allowed Reagan to resume his "tough-guy" image towards Iran, which had been damaged by the Irangate exposures.

Now A Tilt Towards Iraq

At the moment, the U.S. government has tilted towards Iraq. As before, this new phase of Washington's policy has several goals in mind.

On one hand, Washington is busy working on the Gulf kingdoms. It is using Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti installations and ships to serve notice that these regimes must give the U.S. bases and military rights. One idea going around the Pentagon is to get the Gulf states to join a de facto alliance with NATO.

Towards Iran, the U.S. is following a policy of upping the military ante. By putting a huge armada in the Gulf and by getting the NATO allies to also send warships there, the U.S. is confronting Iran with an overwhelming military presence. It wants to put notice on Tehran that it should not try to carry out a military victory over Iraq and should instead back off.

At the same time, Washington does not want all-out war against Tehran. It has carried out a few military assaults and publicly speculates about other possible hits, but much of this is simply meant to threaten Iran with worse.

And behind the scenes, diplomatic maneuvers are going on to see if the military pressure and the war-weariness in the region can force a settlement of the war on terms dictated by world imperialism.

But U.S. Capitalism Doesn't Want to Burn Its Bridges to Iran

But the U.S. attacks on Iran are a gamble. In fact, the mouthpieces of U.S. capitalism are openly expressing the worry that Reagan isn't taking enough care to keep connections open with Tehran. These worries are taking place in the context of renewed economic links between Iran and the Soviet Union.

Thus Richard Perle, a Reaganite former bigwig at the Pentagon, warned in the U.S. News and World Report that

"Over the long term, America's deepest strategic interest in the Gulf lies in the eventual reconstruction of our relations with Iran....preventing Soviet encroachment on Iran is still our most important strategic objective in the Gulf." (Oct. 26,1987; p.27)

And the Wall Street Journal editorialized:

"Ayatollah or no ayatollah, Iran is and will remain the most valuable sovereign land mass in the Persian Gulf. That is why we remain perplexed that despite the administration's assertion of neutrality, it is widely perceived as tilting toward Iraq....As the Gulf tit for tat becomes more intense, it would be helpful to hear [administration] officials say publicly that indeed they will not flinch from taking actions like yesterday's strike, but it is also not the U.S.'s intention to seal off the West from such a geostrategically vital nation." (Oct. 20, 1987; p.36)

There is a complex web of conflicting interests at work in the Persian Gulf. Washington has moved in militarily; but it wants to have its cake and to eat it too. It seeks to establish its own hegemony over the whole region. But the danger remains that the U.S. military assaults could escalate into a wider war.

No matter which way the gamble works, it is the toilers of the region who lose. A wider war is of no interest to the people. Nor is expanded U.S. domination through the success of Reagan's adventurism.

For the masses, the road to a just peace, the hope for recovery from the ravages of the current war lies through revolutionary struggle against all the backward forces -- against both the local tyrants and the imperialist vultures.


Washington's imperialist goals

The major components of U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf war have included the following:

1) Reagan has sought greater leverage in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf kingdoms by using their fear of the Iranian revolution against the Shah and their worry over the Iran- Iraq war and Khomeini's Pan-Islamic foreign intrigues.

2) The U.S. tried to help efforts to restore the Shah's monarchy. But as these were going nowhere, the U.S. also worked for a deal with the Islamic regime in Tehran. It wanted to get Iran lined up against the Soviet Union and to get Tehran to stop its Pan-Islamic destabilization abroad. In return, Washington offered help for the consolidation of the Tehran regime.

3) Washington has tried to reduce the influence of Washington's imperialist rival, the Soviet Union, throughout the region.

4) The U.S. government has helped to fatten the profits of arms manufacturers through weapons sales to Iran, Iraq, and the other regimes in the region. Recently it has come out that U.S. capitalists have also made money selling new pipelines to Iraq and the Gulf states using worry over the unsettled conditions caused by the Gulf war.]

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The World in Struggle


Palestinian youth confront Israeli troops

[Photo: Protests against Israeli occupation continue in face of tear gas, beatings and shootings.]

Early in October, Secretary of State George Shultz visited Israel. His mission was aimed at forwarding the U.S.-inspired "Middle East peace process." This is an effort to do away with the Palestinian struggle by working out a deal between the Israeli Zionists and the reactionary monarchy of Jordan. This is a sellout deal which can't improve anything for the Palestinians, but it is portrayed as a solution to the oppression of the Palestinian people.

During Shultz's visit, a new wave of protest broke out in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This struggle again exposed the viciousness of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, underscoring that there can be no progress for the Palestinian people through deals with their oppressors.

The protests began after a shootout between Israeli troops and Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip on October 6. For days after the shootout Palestinian youths blocked roads with barricades of burning tires, paralyzing traffic and commerce. The demonstrations culminated in a showdown at the Gaza Islamic University between Israeli troops, armed with assault rifles, and Palestinian youths with bricks and bottles.

On October 11, over 2,000 Palestinians came into the streets of Jerusalem to protest an attempt by Israeli religious groups to take over a Muslim religious shrine. Police attacked the Palestinians with tear gas and clubs, injuring 25.

After this, demonstrations spread to the West Bank. Protesters confronted Israeli troops at Bir Zeit University and at high schools. In these protests the protesting youths defiantly waved the Palestinian flag, which is illegal in Israel. In one protest Israeli troops opened fire and killed a woman bystander.

The renewed protests show that the fighting spirit of the Palestinians in the occupied territories remains unbroken.

Reagan winks at death squads, claims 'progress towards democracy' in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, October 13. A candidate for president in the coming November 29 election was shot and killed outside the main police station. Yves Volel, a lawyer, was assassinated as he stood outside the police station giving a press conference calling for the release of a political prisoner detained there.

Volel's assassins had emerged from the police station as he spoke. After shooting Volel in the head, they went back into the police station. When friends and supporters of Volel demanded an investigation, the police refused.

Volel was a liberal politician. And the attack on him is not unique. On August 2 a right-wing mob attacked and killed another presidential candidate, Louis Eugene Athis, on the streets of Port-au-Prince. And on August 23 five opposition priests were badly beaten by a mob next to a military checkpoint.

It is the Namphy regime which is behind this repression. And if this is the way they treat liberal critics, one can well imagine how the regime deals with working class activists and revolutionary-minded people. Indeed, in the last couple of months the government has unleashed death squads which routinely prey on the poor residents of the capital. Almost every morning the bodies of victims are found in the slums of Port-au-Prince.

This is just the kind of behavior that would warm the heart of a friend of tyrants like Ronald Reagan. And sure enough, on August 26 Reagan certified to Congress that Haiti, is "making progress" toward democracy. This cleared the way for the remainder of this year's military aid -- $1.6 million in police training and riot gear -- to be sent to Namphy.

Some Congressional Democrats are criticizing Reagan for giving his stamp of approval to the Namphy regime. But they agree with Reagan that, for now at least, there is no alternative to the Namphy regime. Thus the capitalist politicians all fall behind the military regime.

Haiti elections will be a farce

In the last week of November the military regime of generals Namphy and Regala will hold elections in Haiti.

Several times in recent months it looked as if the class struggle had gotten so hot that the generals would cancel the elections and try to maintain power in an open military dictatorship. But they could not get away with this.

For one thing, there is a section of the Haitian bourgeoisie who had been kept out of power under the Duvalier tyranny. They very much want to use the elections to get their "fair share."

But more importantly, the exploiters know that the Haitian masses are not the same people as they were two years ago. After the experience of the upsurge that brought down Duvalier, the masses are more politically conscious and active. To try to return to an open dictatorship now would likely risk a mass rebellion of even larger proportions than February 1986.

So the Haitian exploiters, with very strong pressure from the U.S. imperialists, have decided to go through with the elections in an effort to achieve political stability by lulling the working masses to sleep with fairy tales about "democratization." In fact, the elections are being financed with the help of money from the U.S., French and Canadian imperialists.

But the elections of the junta are a mockery of democracy.

The Parties Must Be Okayed By the Death Squads

To participate in the elections a party must comply with the junta's election decree of July '86. This requires that every party must submit a list of 5,000 supporters to the military regime.

For the parties of the landlords and the businessmen this is not a problem, but for the organizations based among the masses this would be like signing a death warrant for their own execution! This decree assures that only those organizations that feel they have nothing to fear from the death squads of the exploiters will take part. And in fact the regime is so reactionary that even some pretty well-heeled politicians have been murdered. In addition parties with any trade union affiliation are prohibited from running.

Duvalierlsts and Liberals Are the Main Candidates

Despite this law more than 30 candidates have registered to run for president. Most are leaders of small circles, but there are some major social trends represented among the candidates.

* Duvalierist and right-wing bourgeois candidates. There are seven or eight such candidates currently.

The election law says that any one who served Duvalier "with zest" cannot run. It is possible that probably two or three of these candidates will be disqualified by the electoral commission as a gesture to mass anti-Duvalierist sentiments.

But the Baby Doc dictatorship was of such a factional character that many bloated landlords and bourgeois, who actually profited greatly off the regime, had some petty falling out with the Duvalier family. Some even got fired from a government post or put in jail for a couple of days. So today these reactionaries try to dress themselves as opponents of the tyranny. But the main thrust of their campaign is the need to restore order and take measures against radical and communist ideas among the masses.

* The other major trend is made up of candidates of the liberal bourgeois opposition. This includes Christian Democrats and the Front for Concerted Action. These candidates are known for being critics of the dictatorship. And their attitude towards the Namphy junta has moved from critical support to tailing for its replacement with "constitutional" rule.

The liberals suffer repression alongside the militant masses, but instead of struggle they promote illusions of peaceful reform. The liberals have played a major role in undermining and cutting short every major mass upsurge against the Namphy regime.

* Finally there are also a few social-democratic candidates and one from the pro-Soviet revisionist PUCH. But their positions do not go beyond trailing behind the bourgeois liberals.

The Militant Activists Call for Boycott

But not all Haitian political activists are taken in by the farce of the elections. A series of trade union and popular organizations have called on the masses to boycott the elections. They do not believe that there can be any progress through these elections under the Namphy junta.

Even if the elections end up being held, they will change nothing. Power is in the hands of the generals of Duvalier's army and they are not about to hand it over. Even if a liberal gets elected, he will be nothing but a front-man for the military -- or else he will not last very long. That message has already been made clear by the murders of two liberal candidates.

The fraud of elections does not mean there is no alternative but Namphy. The alternative for the masses is revolutionary struggle. Struggle to smash up the exploiters' army and government. Struggle to root out Duvalierism. Struggle to establish a revolutionary democracy of the workers and peasants and open the road to socialism.

[Photo: Haitian toilers in struggle.]

Strike in Mexican maquiladora plant

American employers have rushed across the Mexican border to set up maquiladora plants where they exploit the workers with low wages and wretched working conditions. The capitalists think that across the border they can have an exploiters' utopia where the workers slave away meekly and without complaint. But they are finding out that wherever there are wage slaves, inevitably the specter of workers' struggle raises its head.

At the moment, workers at the Vestamex garment factory in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, are involved in a bitter struggle. The factory is owned by Fashion Enterprises based in El Paso.

Recently the workers here formed an independent union and raised several demands to the company. They are seeking a wage of $28 a week instead of the $20 they are paid now; bus fare; a non-profit cafeteria; company-supplied uniforms; and an end to speedup.

The company agreed to arbitration but the arbitrator ruled that the union couldn't be recognized since it was not approved by the Mexican government. The 1,600 workers then carried out a sit- in at the plant and threatened to burn down the factory if police interfered.

Seventy militants of the struggle were fired. Six of them are currently on a hunger strike on the steps of the cathedral in Juarez.

70,000 demonstrate against Mexican government's negligence


September 19 marked the second anniversary of the devastating Mexico City earthquake. The anniversary was marked this year by a militant demonstration of 70,000 people marching through downtown Mexico City. The demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans and demanded care for the earthquake victims. Participants in the march included garment workers, neighborhood activists, and students.

The government pooh-poohed the aims of the demonstration, saying that "all of the problems of the victims have been resolved or their solution has been fully negotiated."

But this attitude ignores the plight of the 2,000 families still living in tents, or the 8,000 families in temporary tin housing. The marchers also demanded that negligent government officials be brought to justice for neglecting the maintenance of housing units, which resulted in many deaths from the earthquake.

General strike against Chilean dictator

A general strike on October 7 shut down much of the public transport in Chile. Many workers in Santiago stayed home and threw up street barricades in the barrios. In clashes on the barricades the police opened fire and killed at least one person.

The strike was called by a coalition of trade unions opposed to the continuation of Pinochet's dictatorship.

The Christian Democrats, the liberal opposition party, opposed the strike. The Christian Democrats are opposed to any action which might lead to a mass confrontation with Pinochet's troops. These cowardly bourgeois are instead focusing their attention on a voter registration drive!

Yes, Pinochet has promised that there will be an election by 1989, and the liberals are scrambling to fit themselves into Pinochet's election law. Of course they will probably not even be able to vote for a Christian Democratic candidate. Pinochet's election plan calls for there to be only one candidate, and that will no doubt be Pinochet himself. Nonetheless the liberals are so intent on participating in Pinochet's election that they have turned against any anti-Pinochet mobilizations.

But while the liberals seek a corner for themselves in Pinochet's election scheme, Chilean workers are again taking to the streets. Indeed, it is the mass actions of the workers that are the key to overthrowing the dictatorship and preparing for the socialist revolution.

General strike in Ecuador defies rightist president

More than a million workers -- one-tenth of the entire population and a third of the work force -- participated in a general strike in Ecuador on October 28. The workers were joined by about 800,000 farm laborers and students. Strikers threw up, barricades in the streets of the two main cities, Quito and Guayaquil.

The main focus of the nationwide strike was a demand for the dismissal of Interior Minister Luis Robles. Robles was impeached and convicted last month for violating the rights of political prisoners. Nonetheless conservative President Leon Febres Cordero has kept him in office. The strike also demanded the impeachment of Febres Cordero.

The strike had other demands, including a halt on payments of Ecuador's foreign debt, the withdrawal of U.S. troops now deployed in eastern Ecuador, and an increase in wages. Altogether the demands added up to a general condemnation of Febres Cordero's policies.

Strike Declared Illegal

Febres Cordero, a friend of Reagan, refused to tolerate such a challenge. He declared a state- of emergency, prohibited the strike, and sent troops and riot police into the streets. During the strike police attacked groups of workers with tear gas -- one worker was hurt by an exploding tear gas canister. In Quito police opened fire on workers outside a factory and wounded two workers.

Nonetheless the strike was a success. Public transportation was closed by strikers' roadblocks and no-show drivers. The workers' defiance of Febres Cordero shows the mass outrage against this right-wing scab.

Strike shuts down Brazilian VW and Ford

Brazilian auto workers shut down Volkswagen and Ford plants beginning October 20. The strike stopped assembly lines at VW and Ford and caused management losses of $14 million a day.

The 30,000 auto workers are paid about $340 a month. They are demanding a 65% wage increase to partially make up for the huge pay cuts they have suffered due to inflation. Brazil's capitalist economy and the austerity plan of President Jose Samey have produced an inflation rate of 230% so far in 1987. But VW and Ford refuse to give more than a 21% raise to the workers.

Clashes on South African campuses

A wave of protest is sweeping across university campuses in South Africa to oppose new restrictions on student activism imposed by the racist Botha government.

On October 28, at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, 5,000 students and faculty attended a general assembly. A section of the demonstrating students wanted to carry the protest off campus but university administrators tried to block them. Nevertheless several hundred students marched to the sidewalk on the edge of the campus and sat down. About 50 riot police fired tear gas on them and beat up protesters with batons.

The same day, protest rallies were also organized at the University of Capetown, the University of the Western Cape near Capetown, and the University of Natal in Durban. There was also a protest meeting of 300 at Stellenbosch University near Capetown. Rhodes University in Grahamstown held a protest assembly the previous week.

The university protests were directed against new regulations imposed October 19 by the National Education Minister.

These new rules require university officials to put bans on campus demonstrations, on the xeroxing of prohibited publications, and on any actions that could lead to what the government describes as disruption of campus life. University officials are also required to spy on activists and provide intelligence to the authorities. Schools failing to comply would be subject to cuts in government subsidies.

[Photo: Five thousand black and white students in Johannesburg denounce apartheid. As usual, the racist police attacked the protest with tear gas and clubs.]

General strike against right-wing murder in Colombia

Demonstrators set up barricades of burning tires in many cities of Colombia on October 13 as workers carried out a general strike against political assassinations.

Right-wing death squads tied to the military have murdered hundreds of left-wing activists in the last year. On October 11 the president of the Patriotic Union party was shot to death. This was followed by 11 more murders in the next two days.

In Bogota workers blocked main streets with barrels and burning tires. Some stores were sacked. Demonstrators burned three buses that were on the streets in Medellin. In Barrancabermaja, workers fought soldiers who tried to break through barricades. The soldiers opened fire and killed one boy.

This shows the two-faced reactionary nature of the Colombian government of Barco, which professes to be for democracy and peace. While the government finds it "impossible" to do anything against the death squads, it finds no difficulty in attacking workers' demonstrations.

The Patriotic Union is an electoral bloc associated with the pro-Soviet revisionist CP of Colombia and its FARC guerrilla front. The revisionists follow a reformist policy. They preach to the toilers that the present sharp conflicts in Colombia can be toned down through a democracy that will presumably stand above all classes. In a country where open political activity is met with a bullet, they have a particularly absurd reliance on parliamentarism. But the brutal death squads daily expose the hollowness of the reformist preachings. Hundreds of members of the Patriotic Union have been murdered by the death squads over the last year, along with activists from other left-wing organizations.

The answer to reactionary terror in Colombia does not lie in dreams of democratic changes attained with the consent of the exploiters. No, it lies in preparation for the revolutionary overthrow of their oppressive state machinery.

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