The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 17, No. 3


25¢ March 1, 1987

[Front page:

Congress moves toward trade legislation--Workers of the world, unite against the capitalists!;

Reagan - man of lies;

Denounce police-state attacks on Arabs in the U.S.!]


UC Berkeley: Fight against repression.......................................... 4
Chicago: Protest against Iran-lraq war........................................... 5
INS contingency plan against Arabs.............................................. 4
Los Angeles: Arrested Palestinians supported............................... 4
Chicago: Rally against Simpson-Rodino....................................... 5
New INS rules: ID checks and repression..................................... 5

International Working Women's Day............................................. 6
Lack of maternity laws: A disgrace................................................ 6
In defense of abortion rights.......................................................... 6

Union bureaucrats and trade war.................................................... 7

Strikes and Work Place News:

Flint auto workers fight plant closings; 50th anniversary of Flint sit-down; GM targets parts workers; fight plant closings............... 8
Strike vote at Pontiac GM plants; rally for LTV retirees; USX Tarben Chemical workers betrayed; pickets confront Lockheed's scabs................................................................................................ 9
Pickets battle at Rohr Aircraft; victory at Rutgers; NY jobs workers jobless; labor-management cuts jobs at Trico................... 10

On Tower Commission Report........................................................ 11

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

New surge of struggle in El Salvador; after the earthquake............ 12
Duarte regime in crisis; contra organizer Abrams denounced in Philadelphia..................................................................................... 13

Apartheid No! Revolution Yes!

Struggle in South Africa can't be censored out; Reagan and Thatcher veto UN sanctions…........................................................ 14

World in Struggle:

Protests against torture in South Korea; Spanish high school Students; Mexican students block cutbacks.................................... 15
From the resistance against Khomeini............................................ 18

Eyewitness report on Manila massacre........................................... 16
40,000 suffer on Aquino family plantation..................................... 16
Filipino left a year after fall of Marcos........................................... 17
Israel kidnaps 50 Palestinians......................................................... 18


Congress moves toward trade legislation

Workers of the world, unite against the capitalists!

Reagan - man of lies

Denounce police-state attacks on Arabs in the U.S.!

Protests against 'Amerika'

Noah Roisten gets 12-20 years for self-defense

Down with racist injustice!

Black youth in the streets against choke-hold murder in Tampa

INS plan for secret hearings, internment camps and deportations of Arabs

Arrested Palestinians get support in L.A.

The fight against repression at Berkeley campus

New INS rules: ID checks and repression against immigrants

Militant rally against Simpson-Rodino in Chicago

Demonstration held against Iran-Iraq war

International Working Women's Day - March 8

Stand up for the rights of poor and working women!

The lack of maternity leave laws is a disgrace

Reaganites' new attack on abortion rights

Demonstrations defend women's right to choose

Union bureaucrats support capitalist trade war

Strikes and workplace news

Reagan appoints the Tower Commission--and the Tower Commission exonerates Reagan

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

[Graphic: Apartheid no! REVOLUTION yes!]

The World in Struggle

Eyewitness report of Aquino's massacre of farmers in Manila

Behind Cory Aquino's sweet words

40,000 Filipinos suffer on Aquino family plantation

The Filipino left a year after the fall of Marcos

Truce collapses, but illusions in the liberal regime remain

Israel kidnaps 50 Palestinians

The other hostages

Revolution and civil war in Spain - Part 3

The defense of Madrid by the armed people

Congress moves toward trade legislation

Workers of the world, unite against the capitalists!

With an enormous hue and cry about combatting "unfair trade" and "saving workers' jobs" from the "foreign" peril, Congress is moving towards new trade legislation. "America" confronts a new war, they say. "America" must become more "competitive," they say. A trade war is upon us and Congress must galvanize "America" into action, they say.

Workers, watch out! The main casualties in this war will be the workers in the U.S. and abroad. The proposed trade legislation aims to step up the concessions drive against the workers at home. It aims to further open foreign markets to reap greater profits off the workers of other lands. It aims to help the billion dollar bosses and no one else.

The workers' interests do not lie with the trade war between the monopolies. The workers must fight to defend their jobs and livelihood, but this fight is against the monopolies. Whether in the U.S. or Japan, West Germany or Mexico, the workers everywhere face the disaster of unemployment, layoffs, and falling wages. It's time to step up the fight for our own class, to stand shoulder to shoulder against the common class enemies. U.S. workers, unite with workers of the world to fight the U.S. multinationals and the capitalists of all countries!

Trade Bills to Step Up the Takeback Drive

Right now there are three trade bills before Congress.

The Democrats, having won a majority in the Senate as well as in the House, are in the driver's seat. Last year Reagan blocked the Democrats' bill in the House. This year the Democrats have brought that bill (HR3) back to committee and it's being reworked for a vote in April.

In the Senate, Texas Democrat Lloyd Bentsen has put up another bill and hopes for a Senate vote by May.

"Free trader" Reagan has been humbled and now also agrees that there must be trade legislation. He put up his own version, dubbed the "competitiveness" bill, February 19. The Democrats are overjoyed. They want "competitiveness" too. So while the debate between "free trade" and "protectionism" continues to rage, and one can expect months of haggling before a final trade bill is forged, all agree on one thing -- U.S. monopolies must become more "competitive" and that means more concessions from the workers.

All along the appeals against imports have been used to throw the U.S. workers into competition with their class brothers abroad. ' 'Competitiveness ' ' has meant workers competing over which will take the most concessions. Now "competitiveness" is being written into law.

All three trade bills tie any restrictions on imports to "industrial adjustment plans" for the monopolies to carry out measures to become "more competitive." The Democrats' HR3 bill would even establish a 16-member "industrial competitiveness council." This council would "develop strategies to boost productivity (read job eliminating automation, job combination, speedup, gutting protective work rules, deteriorating safety conditions) and performance of U.S. businesses (read: wage and benefit cuts)."

This trade legislation, while promoted as the ultimate in jobs protection, will in fact help the monopolies eliminate jobs and redouble their takeback offensive against the workers.

Bills to Force Open Markets for the Monopolies

The Democrats and Republicans have also found agreement on the need to force Japan, West Germany, Taiwan, and other countries to buy more products from U.S. monopolies. The particulars of the different bills vary greatly. But they all combine provisions to subsidize U.S. dumping of goods and investments in other countries with threats of tariffs and quotas if other countries don't buy more from the U.S.

These measures are described euphemistically as combatting "unfair trade practices" of other countries. But it is perfectly obvious that the U.S. monopolies are using the same dirty methods as the foreign monopolies. Vicious exploitation of the workers, bullying and plunder of weaker countries, these are just the dog-eat-dog methods of competition that the capitalist system is notorious for. There is nothing fair in it.

It's not the unfair trade practices but economic crisis which is causing the trade war. The monopolies of every country are feverishly scrambling for markets because capitalist economic crisis is knocking on everyone's door. There is a worldwide overcapacity for the production of automobiles, steel, textiles, and other goods. And because the workers are able to produce too many goods for the monopolies to maintain their high profits, they are being laid off left and right. While plant closings grow in the U.S., Western Europe is beset with double-digit unemployment, and Japan is closing down steel mills and facing growing unemployment for the first time in decades.

The current trade war is the product of this exploitative system which is so bankrupt that for the workers to produce plenty means their loss of jobs and impoverishment. The issue for the workers is not to join the war on foreign competition, but to organize for a class war against the capitalist system.

Wage Independent Action For Jobs

To enlist the workers in their trade war, Reagan and the Democrats are promising that trade legislation will contain relief against plant closings and layoffs. But these promises are another trick.

For years Reagan has been cutting back unemployment benefits and supplemental relief like that from the Trade Assistance Act. Now he claims to want to double the money to the laid-off. But this would still leave it way below the level it was at before Reagan took office. What is more, it is only to be spent for job retraining and supplemental cash benefits are completely eliminated.

The Democrats want to retain some supplemental cash benefits, but a worker could only receive them if he or she is in a job retraining program and can prove that their job was lost to foreign imports.

This relief is too little and has too many strings attached. What the workers need are jobs or full unemployment compensation until a decent job is found. But neither Reagan nor the Democrats are about to give this to them.

The workers will have to organize against both the Democrats and Republicans. These two parties are just out to serve the monopolies. The workers have to fight for themselves. Reject the trade war of the monopolies! Say no to the competition of worker against worker! Make our "own" capitalists pay to provide jobs or a livelihood for the workers! Unite the workers of the world for the class struggle against the capitalists!

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Reagan - man of lies

The Reagan administration stands exposed as an administration of liars and sneaks.

Reagan couldn't tell the truth even to his own hand-picked Tower Commission. After months of silence on the Iran-contra scandal, allegedly to learn the truth, Reagan appeared before the Tower Commission. And Reagan couldn't even keep the lies straight. First he told one story about the arms sale to Iran. Then he came back and said the exact opposite. And finally he wrote the Tower Commission a letter telling them to disregard both stories -- he couldn't remember. Thus Reagan inadvertently admitted that his whole testimony was one string of fabrications.

Lies in Public, Crimes in Secret

This is how Reagan always acts. He tells fairy tales to the people about how moral and good the capitalists and the militarists are. He portrays himself as fighting for the forces of good against evil. Then behind the scenes he commits crime after crime.

He tells the world he is against the killing of innocents. Meanwhile behind the scenes he helped both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. Can a more criminal, blood-thirsty policy be imagined? Let both sides bleed, after all, it is only Arabs and Iranians. Help them to kill as many of each other as they can. Reagan holds whole countries hostage, and yet he has the gall to call this "fighting terrorism."

A War Based on Lies

Reagan's whole war on Nicaragua is based on lies. Reagan says that he is for freedom and does not support the former dictatorship over Nicaragua exercised by the late pro-U.S. tyrant Somoza. Then Reagan arms thousands of pro-Somoza thugs and sends them to kill Nicaraguan toilers and Sandinista officials.

Reagan says that he is not trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. Then he mines Nicaraguan harbors one day, declares an embargo against Nicaragua the next. And Secretary of State Shultz and other Reaganites say again and again that if the contras don't win, then U.S. troops may be committed to battle. But, of course, no one is to think that this is for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government. Why, Reagan wouldn't think of it.

A Nuclear Buildup Based on Lies

Reagan's whole Star Wars program is based on lies. Reagan tells us he is allegedly for the "zero option" of ending all nuclear weapons, rendering them obsolete. Yet he is actually spending billions upon billions to perfect a first- strike weapon for a "winnable nuclear war." He is stepping up the construction of satellite systems which have the purpose of allowing the waging of a protracted nuclear war.

Why Don't They Call Him a Liar?

Today Congress and the press have finally made a big discovery -- Reagan doesn't always tell the truth. But even now they won't come right out and call them lies. And they aren't concerned that his administration is based on one lie after another. All they are concerned about is that he is too clumsy and empty-headed and that he blundered.

The only thing that the Tower Commission and Congress are asking is that Reagan make more use of regular government channels, like the CIA and the State Department. They don't want him to entrust quite so many things to his private staff of harebrained colonels such as Ollie North.

As if it was possible to wage dirty wars and run CIA operations without using harebrained crazies without any sense of morals! As if the CIA were the model of truthfulness! After all, everyone knows how truthful and open the CIA is!!! The CIA is nothing but a machine to concoct lies, lies, lies -- and yet the newspapers and the Congress are making a big deal about how the brave Tower Commission recommended the use of the CIA as a cure for, believe it or not, "over-obsession with secrecy."

Why do Congress and the newspapers overlook so many of the Reagan lies? Why are they so polite to him that they don't even call him a liar, but just huff and puff about his staff members?

Behind the Lies

This is because the ruling class in this country, the capitalists, are a small minority. They need lies in order to continue exploiting the vast majority. They need to convince the majority that it loves to be exploited. They need to convince the majority that it is good to sacrifice for the profits of the corporations, and that it is worthy to kill Nicaraguans and Libyans and Russians at the command of the Pentagon.

There Are Those Who Need the Truth

There is only one alternative to this barrage of lies. Those who are hurt by the lies must organize. The working class needs truth in order to organize it. It is in the class interest of the working class to know the truth,.because the workers are the majority and because they live off their own labor and not by exploiting others. It is in the interest of the working class to know the truth because the workers of all countries want to live together as brothers, and not kill each other in a competition to see which country will dominate the world.

The capitalists thrive on lies and deception, on advertising puff jobs and on lying politicians. But the working class needs to expose the truth about a of society. It is not a matter of changing a few individuals in the White House staff. It is a question of changing which class runs the whole system.

We Have Had Enough!

The day is coming when the exploited majority will raise its mighty fist and say it has had enough. Let us hasten this day by spreading the truth about capitalist rule. Let us study the truth about how to change society and end exploitation as summarized in the science of Marxism-Leninism. And let us organize ourselves for struggle, for we need truth and knowledge first and foremost to help us wage a mighty struggle for a new society.

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Denounce police-state attacks on Arabs in the U.S.!

During World War II, capitalist 'America interned 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps. What was the excuse for this shameful act? The Japanese were said to be threats to "national security." Simply because of their nationality.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, during a wave of anti-communist hysteria, Washington rounded up large numbers of political and union activists. Among them, hundreds of immigrant workers were forcibly deported.

Today, in the era of Reagan, in the midst of hysteria over "terrorism," the eyes of the police agencies of the government have focused on Americans of Arab origin.

Once again, the reason for this infamy is said to be "risk to national security." And just as in the past, this is merely a lying pretext for the unjust persecution of another group of people -- simply because of their nationality or the ideas they may hold.

A New "Contingency Plan" and Its First Victims

During the last month, details have emerged about a new campaign by the Reagan administration to persecute Arab residents in the U.S. It is a campaign of mass arrests, large-scale internment, and deportations.

Recently Arab-American groups made public several government documents which detail a contingency plan of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that would round up, intern and deport thousands of Arab Americans during a so-called "terrorism crisis."

INS bureaucrats have responded by claiming that this plan was merely an idea, not actual policy. However facts speak louder than lying denials.

On January 26, immigration, police, and FBI agents launched raids in the Los Angeles area, arresting six Palestinian men and a Kenyan woman. Many of them were woken up at gunpoint. The arrested were thrown into maximum security prison. They were shackled hand and foot when they were allowed to meet with their lawyers. More recently, another Palestinian man was seized.

The government admits that it has no evidence that these people committed arty crimes; nor does it claim they were planning any. Still, they are charged with being threats to "national security." And on what grounds? Simply because they allegedly read literature of a Palestinian organization which the government claims spreads the doctrines of "world communism." Never mind that these magazines are easily available in public book stands in southern California.

In other words, the crime of these people is merely that they happen to be of the "wrong" nationality and they have beliefs which the government does not like. Their arrest is part of a crusade inspired by racist bigotry against Arabs. This drive is aimed at the persecution of immigrants who are critical of policies of the U.S. government. The targets of the INS in Los Angeles are merely the first victims of the Reagan administration's latest anti-Arab crusade.

The Domestic Meaning of Reagan's "War on Terrorism"

This filthy campaign shows once again the domestic implications of Reagan's "war on terrorism." Behind war cries of "fighting terrorism," the government is stepping up political terror against the people.

Government statistics themselves don't show any problem of Arab terrorism in the U.S. In fact, the truth is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, terrorist acts in the U.S. are the work of right-wingers -- from the likes of the Klan, neo-Nazi groups, zionist Arab-haters, and anti-abortion zealots. What's more, there is the routine terror carried out by the police agencies of the government itself against workers, youth and minorities. But of course, you won't find the Reagan government going after right-wing terror.

No, the true meaning of the Reaganite crusade against terrorism is to step up real terror against the foreign-born and against political activists of the left.

The Reaganites must not go unanswered. Workers of all nationalities, all those who despise Reaganism, all who hate bigotry and repression, must not allow the capitalists to scapegoat the Arabs. We must step forward and organize against the government's anti-Arab terror campaign.

[Photo: New upsurge of struggle in El Salvador--page 12]

[Photo: Eyewitness report of Aquino's massacre of farmers in Manila--page 16]

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Protests against 'Amerika'

The mini-series Amerika was an advertisement for the Pentagon budget. It was intended to whip up patriotic frenzy for stomping other countries in the name of "freedom" and all opposition in the name of "patriotism."

All across the U.S. there were small protests against Amerika. The bourgeois newspapers had a different view: they tried to calm everything down by saying that, don't worry, the program isn't a hit. What do they want anyway? Colorful and effective propaganda for fascism?

At the University of California at Berkeley, over 100 activists and students participated in a noon rally on February 18 denouncing Amerika. Below are excerpts from the speech delivered by a representative of the Marxist-Leninist Party:

Amerika -- the Boring

After trying to watch a couple of episodes of Amerika, I began wondering if anyone has been able to stay awake through it. Here is this big forty million dollar, 14-hour effort to get Americans excited about Reaganism and ready to wave the flag, but the effect has been more like taking a valium than going out to sign up for the army. Still, boring or not, it is a very reactionary piece of propaganda and it has to be taken very seriously. It deserves all the opposition it is getting.

An Amerikan Fairy Tale

Of course, according to ABC, there is nothing political about Amerika. It's just coincidence that it is the same fairy tale we've been hearing from Reagan for the last six years. Here you have the U.S. invaded by troops from greater Cuba -- that is, Central America and more specifically Nicaragua and El Salvador. And then it is occupied. Why? Because of its weak, unprepared military and a lack of patriotism -- where have we heard this before? And then it's one shoddy Reaganite lie after another -- how the "old America" suffered from the way blacks and immigrants had life handed to them on a silver platter without having to earn it, or how people didn't realize what they were paving the way for when they protested the Vietnam war.

Unabashed Reaganism -- Brought to You by the Liberals

This fantasy is bad enough, but what is equally disgusting is that it is being handed to us by the liberals. The screen writer, director and producer, Donald Wrye, is a self-proclaimed Kennedyite liberal who claims to have opposed the war in Vietnam. And Kris Kristofferson claims to oppose U.S. intervention in Central America.

It seems like a contradiction on the surface, but actually it is not. Look at the support Reagan has received for his program from the liberals. He could not have gotten the money for the contras, or the big increases in the military budget, or the cuts in social services, without the support from the Democratic Party liberals.

The Ills of Present-day American Capitalism Are Presented as the Result of Future Soviet Occupation

Another thing this film does is to totally whitewash capitalism. The farm crisis, the decay of the cities, the drug and alcohol abuse, the degradation and raping of women, the homeless and the police-state measures are all supposed to be the result of the Soviet occupation. But this is nothing less than life in the U.S.A. in 1987. It's also not much different than life in the Soviet Union because Russia is about as socialist as Reagan is. But the producers of this film are trying to make us think that there is a difference and that capitalism is something worth putting our lives on the line for and getting patriotic about.

Well, they can forget it! They can produce all the reactionary extravaganza they want, but that won't erase our memory of the Viet Nam war or the hundreds of other atrocities committed by the imperialists.

The Reaganites Hate the Mass Actions

While the Reaganites and liberals step up their war preparations, we should step up the fight against them. And the forces to build this fight do not lie with the big-name left Democrats or with passive liberals. Our strength lies among the ordinary people, the workers, the students, and the poor, because we are the ones who suffer the attacks of Reaganism.

And our weapon does not lie in relying on Congress or radical-sounding politicians; it lies in our ability to organize militant mass actions that hit at the heart of Reaganism; Mass protest is the last thing the capitalists want to see happen. This is why the protest against the Viet Nam war is attacked in the scenes of Amerika. And this is why the actions and activists here at Berkeley have received so much fire from the University of California administration.

This protest today, and the coming actions this spring, show that we are not intimidated by propaganda like Amerika any more than we are intimidated by all of (U.C. administrator) Mr. Heyman's attempts to suppress the movement at Berkeley. Yes, the imperialists are preparing for war, but let's make sure that their preparations are at the great expense of arousing a militant mass movement even stronger and more determined than the one in the late sixties.

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Noah Roisten gets 12-20 years for self-defense

Down with racist injustice!

(Reprinted from "Boston Worker," paper of MLP-Boston.)

Oh Monday, February 2, Noah Roisten was sentenced by Judge Mulligan in Suffolk County Court to 12 to 20 years in prison for having defended himself from an extremely violent racist attack and having killed one of his attackers, Joseph Hennigan, in the process. This is an outrage.

12 to 20 Years for Standing Up to a Racist Attack

In justifying his sentencing of Noah, Judge Mulligan stated in open court that he realized that Noah had been attacked, that Noah was being beaten with an 18-inch long metal club being wielded by his attacker (actually there were two attackers), and that this attack was racially motivated and had been initiated by Hennigan who was out of control. The judge admitted that Noah was not a troublemaker, that he had no previous criminal record and had been minding his own business when he was attacked. Judge Mulligan admitted that he did not think that Noah was a danger to society and did not need rehabilitation. The judge granted that Noah had faced the danger of serious physical harm from Hennigan's club-wielding attack (Noah did in fact suffer some internal injuries). But Judge Mulligan said that he felt that use of a knife against this attack was "excessive force." Apparently Noah was supposed to turn the other cheek while Hennigan and his friend Rasso beat him to a pulp.

Mulligan then sentenced Noah to 12 to 20 years in the penitentiary on the grounds that such a heavy sentence was necessary to avoid "inflaming racial tensions." But obviously punishing a man who defends himself from the racists can only encourage the racists.

The Dirty Tricks of the Judge and the DA

The sentence imposed upon Noah did not come about as the result of having been found guilty by a jury. After sitting in jail for 20 months awaiting trial on phony first-degree murder charges, Noah finally succumbed to extremely intense pressure to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In the middle of jury selection for Noah's trial, Judge Mulligan and District Attorney Keirnan took Noah into the judge's chambers. Dropping all pretenses of being an impartial judge, Mulligan played the role of a police interrogator. He repeatedly picked up the pocket knife used in the fatal stabbing and said to Noah, "You used excessive force, didn't you." The judge told him that if the case went to trial he would likely be found guilty of second-degree murder and get 20 years to life. This badgering went on for almost an hour.

Noah became convinced that he had no chance at a fair trial, given the open hostility of the judge as well as the DA and he was not confident in his lawyer's preparation for trial. The previous day Noah had seen the judge try to seat the DA's secretary on the jury and had seen him declare a snickering racist to be an impartial potential juror. He had seen the DA try to exclude anti-racist blacks and whites from the jury. In this situation Noah decided to plead guilty to manslaughter rather than take his chances in a trial. He felt that the prejudice of the judge and DA would outweigh the strong evidence in his favor.

Racist Justice

The dirty tricks used in railroading Noah Roisten to prison show once again that it is the government of the rich and its police and courts which are the pillars of racism in our society.

Noah Roisten is an honest young working man. Even the racist judge who sent him away had to admit that. When Noah stabbed Hennigan, Hennigan and his friend Rasso were beating Noah with metal clubs. Hennigan by accounts of all witnesses including his friends was berserk. He was in a complete racist frenzy. The coroner's report showed that Hennigan was high on cocaine and alcohol. One of the young women who had been with Hennigan earlier in the evening stated that he told her that he was "going to get a n---r." If anyone was responsible for Hennigan's death it was Hennigan himself and the people who pumped him up with racism and with cocaine. If courts had any interest in justice they would have given Noah an award for bravery instead of sending him to jail.

But the police departments and courts of this country are not really in the business of serving justice or even combating crime. Their real business is keeping everyone in his place: the rich on top, the workers under them and the black working people on the very bottom. The police departments and courthouses are populated by a strata of people who live off the backs of the working people and help the rich keep them down. And so it is only natural that the authorities would coddle the racists and throw the book at a black man like Noah who defends himself from the racists.

The Movement to Defend Noah

Although the racist authorities were able to put Noah in prison they did not get their way entirely. Originally they wanted to put Noah in prison for life. They thought that no one would notice or care.

But soon after Noah was first arrested a movement began to grow up in his defense. Based on reports from Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority workers, the Marxist-Leninist Party distributed thousands of flyers telling the truth about what Noah had done and what was happening to him. In April of 1986 the Noah Roisten Defense Committee was organized to raise money for his legal defense and popularize his case. Hundreds of workers showed up at rallies and fundraising dances to help support Noah and raise money for his legal defense. A militant anti-racist spirit and unity began to develop among sections of the workers, especially among sections of MBTA workers.

With thousands of people aware of Noah's plight and supporting him the government became convinced it could not afford the fallout from a trial where the facts of the case and its own racism would get publicly aired. So last May the prosecutors began offering Noah plea bargaining deals. The longer Noah held out and the more support he got the more the government had to lower his sentence. The movement was not strong enough to free Noah, but without it he would have received a much longer sentence. In the struggle to free Noah a number of workers have gained some experience in building up a movement. The lesson from the sentence imposed on Noah is that we must work even harder to build up a militant anti-racist movement.

More Work Is Needed to Build the Anti-Racist Movement

The fight against racism is becoming an extremely important issue for the whole working class. The rich are in crisis. The economy is heading for another depression and the capitalists are out to save themselves and their profits by pushing the working people to the wall.

One of their favorite tactics these days is a vicious assault on the rights of black people and the promotion of racism to divide the workers. The KKK attacks on civil rights marchers in Georgia, the murder of Michael Griffith in New York and the persecution of Noah Roisten in Boston are not isolated incidents. They are part of a racist crusade that has the support of the whole government apparatus from Reagan on down.

This racist crusade will not simply go away of its own. The liberal politicians and official "community leaders" who wouldn't lift a finger to help Noah are not going to do anything to stop the racist offensive of the rich. It is up to the workers of all races and the poor and oppressed black masses, the people on the bottom, to revive the revolutionary spirit of the 60's and build once again the fighting anti-racist movement.

This is a difficult task but the disgust with Reaganite racism is growing among the oppressed and working people. It is no accident that hundreds of workers rallied to defend Noah and 20,000 people showed up to demonstrate against the Klan in Georgia. Building a fighting anti-racist movement is an important part of uniting the working class and will hasten the day when the whole racist capitalist system is brought down.

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Black youth in the streets against choke-hold murder in Tampa

Tampa, Florida. On Thursday, February 19, Melvin Eugene Hair, a 23-year-old black man, was put in a choke hold by a white police officer while being put under arrest. His windpipe was crushed and he died of suffocation.

That evening, 200 black youth filled the streets of the College Hills Housing Projects in an angry response to the police atrocity. Rocks, bricks, pieces of concrete and bottles were hurled at police and local businesses. Seventy five police in riot gear were sent to "the war zone" to contain the struggle. At least 18 people were arrested over two nights of protests. And further protests broke out again the next week on February 26.

Contributing to the outburst of anger in the black community was a report issued the day Melvin Hair was murdered whitewashing the brutality of the Tampa police against Dwight Gooden, a black pitcher for the N.Y. Mets, in a December incident. The city attorney's report admitted that Gooden was "undoubtedly struck several times by various (nine) officers with fists, knees, flashlights and nightsticks" and that an officer placed the barrel of his gun under Gooden's chin in a neck hold. But the report went on to state that the incident was not racially motivated, that the police were not responsible for any wrongdoing and that the incident never would have happened if Gooden had not been so "hostile" when stopped for a traffic violation. When the protests broke out against the choke-hold murder, the former president of the local NAACP chapter, Robert Gilder, and other "community leaders" took to the streets to put out the flames of rebellion. The reformists worked to convince the youth to put down their rocks and bricks and end their protest. And they called on parents to keep the youth home throughout the weekend.

These young people had put aside their own concerns and filled the streets to stand by their fallen friend, protest police brutality and demand justice. The "community leaders," however, tried to break up the protest, disperse the youth and drive them back into their homes. They wanted them to meekly accept the brutality the police dish out. "Community leaders" such as this do not even deserve the name.

But many parents and their children were demanding justice. They voiced their concern that the murder of Melvin Hair would be whitewashed just like the brutality against Gooden.

Following the protests, the police department declared that they have ended their policy of choke holds to subdue their victims and that more black police would be hired. Choke holds are indeed a particularly brutal technique of police violence. But no one should think that police brutality has ended in Tampa. Even if they do stick to their promise about choke holds, police brutality is applied across the country with guns, clubs, ropes, electric shocks and fists. More black police doesn't stop police violence either. The police remain tools of capitalist oppression of the workers and youth and of racist terror against minorities.

The working masses need to get organized to resist this terror. And relying on the militant spirit of the workers and youth, build a fighting anti-racist movement.

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INS plan for secret hearings, internment camps and deportations of Arabs

Last year, the Reagan administration developed a "contingency plan" aimed at the intimidation and persecution of the Arab-American community. This is spelled out in 35 pages of internal memos of the Immigration and Naturalization Service which were recently made public by Arab-American groups. These memos dated between May and December of 1986 are titled "Alien Terrorist and Undesirables Contingency Plan."

Under the pretext of dealing with some mythical domestic "terrorism crisis," the INS plan calls for singling out immigrants from Iran and seven Arab countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon and Libya). It calls for holding suspects without bail on the charge of being "national security risks," for secret hearings to deport people, and for internment camps to hold immigrants from the targeted countries.


* The plan calls for the INS to "routinely hold" any immigrants suspected by the department as dangers to national security. Those arrested are to be denied bail.


* What's more, the plan calls for secret court hearings where "classified" materials charging prisoners are to be submitted. Neither the accused nor their lawyers are to have the right to see or refute the alleged evidence.


* The INS has already made plans for the expansion of detention facilities in the event of a "large influx of apprehensions." For the moment, the INS proposes to use the existing Oakdale, Louisiana INS detention center for the holding of up to.100 immigrant prisoners. This site has been recently used to detain and deport hundreds of refugees from Central America; at the moment it houses long-term Cuban detainees. For the future, if as many as 5,000 people are rounded up, the INS plan calls for putting them in camps in southern Florida, housing them in tents on some military base. Meanwhile, a makeshift facility to house 500 is under development in Oakdale, where, according to the INS plan, "One hundred acres are cleared... and water, sewer, gas and electric are already on site for hookup" and fence materials are "stored nearby."


* According to the New York Times of February 6, last September an Alien Border Control Committee was formed by the Reagan administration. This group is meant to review contingency plans for the removal of selected immigrants and for the sealing of borders. It calls for deporting "activists" who have irregularities in their immigration status. As well, the INS is to be given access to intelligence information from the CIA.


* The INS documents also say that new laws authorizing such actions are unlikely to pass Congress, and therefore it suggests that changes be put into effect immediately, bypassing procedures that involve "long delays for public comment." Congress, controlled by the capitalist political parties, is of course no friend of the immigrants, as seen by their passage last year of the Simpson-Rodino bill. But what the INS is really worried about is public discussion of their outrageous proposal. They would much rather carry out their repression behind the backs of the people.

Fostering State Terror Under the Guise of "Fighting Terrorism"

The INS contingency proposal is being planned under the guise of the crusade against "terrorism." That is a red herring. The Reagan administration has defined all militant opposition to U.S. imperialism abroad as "terrorism." And it is similarly defining as "terrorism" anything here that may be an obstacle to the reactionary policies of the U.S. government.

The Arab community in the U.S. is being targeted simply because it is of the "wrong nationality." In this community there are people who oppose the reactionary, pro-Israeli warmongering policies of the U.S. government in the Middle East. Just as the U.S. government fosters aggression and terror against Arab peoples in the Middle East, the U.S. government finds the Arab community in the U.S. as a convenient target to hit upon.

What is this hue and cry about connecting Arab residents to a domestic "terrorism crisis"? Have any Arab residents been involved in "terrorist acts" in the U.S. lately? No. In fact, the vast majority of real terrorist acts here in the U.S. are from right-wing groups. And Arabs here are often the victims of terrorist thugs. In 1985, for example, Alex Odeh, an Arab activist of the liberal Arab -- American Anti-Discrimination Committee, was murdered in southern California by zionist terrorists. Needless to say, his murderers have not been arrested.

Remember when, a few years ago, the government made a big noise about Libyan-sponsored hit squads? The whole country was placed on alert; they even published newspaper pictures of policemen peeking inside manholes in Washington, D.C. to find these alleged hit squads. But they didn't find any. A few weeks ago, there was a small item in the news, but it didn't get too much attention. It was revealed that the source for this story was none other than Oliver North's Iran-contra network. The story had been based on reports from Ghorbanifar, one of the Iranian arms merchants involved with North. These days Ghorbanifar is someone the government itself finds to be a "dubious and unreliable source."

However, at that time, the anti-terrorist hysteria was used to pass new regulations to bolster the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Today we are again subject to a new round of anti-terrorist hysteria, as Reagan tries to brush up his "anti-terrorist" credentials after the Irangate scandal. And this time, more ominous plans are underfoot.

The Ruling Class Fosters a Racist Climate Against Arabs and Immigrants

The anti-Arab plans of the INS are part of a general climate of racist hysteria against Arabs promoted by the U.S. capitalist class and government. This has been going on for a long time now, especially since the "oil crisis" of the early 1970's. Racist stereotyping of Arabs is a constant feature of the bourgeois cultural scene, in movies and TV. And in areas where Arab Americans live, racist harassment and attacks against Arab people take place routinely. Sometimes, as in the case of Alex Odeh, it takes the form of outright murder.

As well, the anti-Arab contingency plans of the INS are part of the latest wave of anti-immigrant fever sponsored by the capitalist ruling class. This got a recent boost with the passing of the Simpson-Rodino anti-immigrant bill. Scapegoating "foreigners" for the ills of capitalist America is a common theme daily promoted by the bourgeoisie.

Workers Unite! Fight the Anti-Arab Terror!

The anti-Arab campaign of the Reaganites is an outrage. It is an unjust drive to deprive a minority community of its rights. It should be strongly condemned and protested by all workers and progressive people.

With its plans to persecute Arab residents, the Reaganites want to encourage hatred and distrust against Arab people in the U.S. This is one more scheme to divide the ranks of the working people, to divert the masses away from fighting the capitalist offensive. For the working class to successfully defend its interests and rights from the capitalist exploiters, it is essential that this racist and repressive crusade be fought.

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Arrested Palestinians get support in L.A.

On February 17, a bail hearing was held in downtown Los Angeles for seven Palestinian men and one Kenyan woman arrested by the INS recently. A multiracial group of 200 people came out to protest their persecution. The demonstrators carried banners and signs opposing deportation of the victims and condemning the Reagan government's repressive crusade.

Six of the Palestinians and the Kenyan woman were seized in early morning raids on January 26, and another Palestinian some time later. The government has charged them with being threats to "national security."

The immigration service has invoked the McCarthy-era McCarran Act which prohibits immigrants to the U.S. from having anything to do with the ideas of "world communism." The Los Angeles Eight have been charged with possessing and distributing magazines connected to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

These magazines are freely available in Arab stores and on campus newsstands. They contain, among other things, material critical of Israeli zionism and U.S. support for Israel. The PFLP claims to be a Marxist organization, but unfortunately it is only a left-nationalist Palestinian organization.

Zionist political forces are supporting the persecution of the Los Angeles Eight. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith monitors pro-Palestinian activities in the U.S. and, according to the Los Angeles Times of February 17, it turned over to the FBI information that assisted the government case. As well, a few fascist thugs of the zionist Jewish Defense League came to support the government in a counter-demonstration against the February 17 protest outside the bail hearing.

The real crime of the Los Angeles Eight is that they have been critical of U.S. policy in support of the Israeli subjugation of the Palestinian people. Their arrest is in fact the opening shot of a government contingency plan aimed at the mass intimidation, arrest and deportation of Arab Americans. This brutal plan includes, among other atrocious provisions, measures for holding people without bail and for secret hearings where material charging suspects are not to be shown to the suspects or their lawyers.

And sure enough, the INS lawyers argued at the February 17 bail hearings that the judge should deny the prisoners bail. They argued as well that they couldn't show any evidence for this demand in open court, but would only show it to the judge in private. This was done in the name of "national security," the INS lawyers adding that this was on direct orders of Edwin Meese, the Attorney General of the federal government.

As it turned out, the INS plea was refused. All eight were let out, five of them on their own recognizance and the three others on bail of between $500 and $3,000. However this was only a bail hearing. The charges remain. The deportation hearing is tentatively set for April 28.

With this case, it is once more driven home that the Reaganites are out to suppress political rights of the masses, especially where it concerns activists who speak out against U.S. imperialism's worldwide crimes.

It is already a well known scandal that the government routinely invokes the McCarthyite McCarran Act to refuse entry into the U.S. to open critics of the U.S. government. Now, the government seeks to use the McCarran Act to throw out resident immigrants who take any stands in opposition to U.S. imperialism.

But political activists from countries which are victimized by U.S. imperialism are a valuable section of the working people. They help to bring out the truth about U.S. policy in other lands. They bring experience of struggle in other countries to the U.S. political scene. It is this positive impact on U.S. politics that the government wants to snuff out.

[Photo: Outside of the court hearing in Los Angeles, protesters condemn persecution of Palestinians.]

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The fight against repression at Berkeley campus

On February 12, students and activists came out to a panel discussion on the attacks of the University of California administration against the mass movements at Berkeley. Speaking at the meeting were five campus activists, some facing criminal trials and campus disciplinary hearings for their part in mass struggles against apartheid in South Africa, U.S. militarism, and the oppression of women. These activists not only detailed the administration's despicable repression against the students, they also exposed what lies behind the repression.

John Winters, a campus activist and supporter of the MLP, explained the UC administration's repression this way. "From its three-plus billion dollar investment in apartheid to its numerous contracts with defense contractors, from ROTC and Lawrence/Livermore labs to the brain-fodder it produces to run the Department of Defense -- UC's heart beats with that of the big corporations and the government. The UC administration is a well compensated servant of the interests of U.S. imperialism and capitalism. It does not want its real role in the world exposed and seriously challenged at any cost."

The activists also explained the need to rely on the struggle of the masses of students to combat the repression and to build up a conscious anti-imperialist movement on campus.

The meeting was organized by the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the Student Movement. Its basis of unity is:

1. The UC administration is on an offensive against the student movement. This offensive is based on the threat of the student movement to the pro-imperialist stand of the administration;

2. The best way to fight against this offensive is to promote these issues (the police attacks on mass actions and individuals, police surveillance of activists, disciplinary hearings, bureaucratic harassment of campus groups, etc. and the university's ties to imperialism via investments in apartheid, SDI and other nuclear war work, ROTC and so on) on campus and to organize a mass struggle against them;

3. All those who agree with the above points will work for a public meeting on campus to raise and discuss these issues with the aim of mobilizing for mass actions.

The meeting, and the widespread leafletting to prepare for it, sparked a lot of discussion among-the students on the campus and helped to build up support for the activists who are still facing charges.

John Winters went to trial for the bogus charges of resisting arrest and assault on an officer on February 17.-On February 20 he was acquitted. Other activists still face various charges. But the activists are preparing to defend them and build up the anti-imperialist movement at Berkeley.

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New INS rules: ID checks and repression against immigrants

At the end of January the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released its proposed regulations for the implementation of the Simpson-Rodino immigration law which was passed last November. The bill gave the repressive and hated INS itself the authority to write these new regulations. A revised version will be issued on February 25. After a period for public comments and review, the final version of the regulations will be released in mid-April.

Regulations to Restrict "Amnesty" to a Few

These regulations contain more specifics on documents which undocumented immigrants can use to prove that they have lived in the U.S. since January 1982. It is clear that for many who for years have been trying to hide their existence through the use of assumed names, or working illegally under the table for cash, such proof will be nearly impossible. The government intends to use these rules to exclude large numbers of immigrants from the "amnesty" provision.

There is also talk of charging large fees for processing amnesty applications; amounts between $100 and $250 per person are being considered. For a family of four this would be a thousand dollars. This is in addition to any money the immigrants would need to spend on legal advice. And this is just to apply, with no guarantee of amnesty. This is outrageous! Immigrant workers who are paid low wages, often less than the minimum wage, can barely afford necessities, never mind such excessive fees.

Regulations to Restrict Employment

A basic part of the new Simpson-Rodino immigration law is the requirement that everyone -- citizen and immigrant, "legal" and "illegal" -- must show documents indicating their, citizenship or immigrant status to employers in order to obtain a job. The minimum is to show both a driver's license (or state- issued ID card) and a social security card. (A birth certificate can substitute for a social, security card, a U.S. passport or various certificates from the INS can substitute for both documents.) Even many citizens do not have such documents. Many do not drive, particularly the impoverished workers in the cities, and many do not have birth certificates or passports.

Many will have to scrounge frantically or pay large fees to lawyers to establish the correct documentation. Some will have to buy it on the black market. Others, particularly the undocumented immigrants, will be forced to take any job they can find with the constant threat of deportations and firings hanging over their heads, serving to stifle the slightest stirring of protest. By oppressing the immigrant workers further, the capitalists are out to drive down the living conditions of all the workers.

Regulations to Increase Discrimination

It is also clear from reports that, since the new law against any new hiring of "illegal" immigrants went into effect in November, massive discrimination is occurring. Foreign-looking applicants and those who speak English with an accent are being asked for full documents, while others are not being asked for any. There are many reports from all across the country of immigrants hired before November, including those hired many years ago and therefore not supposed to be subject to the new sanctions, being callously fired. In Chicago, a factory closed down during the Christmas holiday and then required all the former workers to show their employment documentation when it reopened. These are fascist measures directed against citizens and "legal" immigrants as well as the undocumented.

Down With the New INS Regulations

For the working class, every worker who lives in this country has the right to a job and a decent standard of living whether they were born here or not, whether they are here "legally" or not. All of us workers are suffering together under the Reaganite capitalist offensive. Such repressive measures of control will lead to worse conditions for the immigrants and for the rest of the working class.

The capitalist government has called for a period of public comment on these regulations. Let's give them our comments in the form of denunciations, pickets, demonstrations and other mass actions.

Full rights for all immigrant workers!

Build the unity of the working class!

(Excerpted from Feb. 16 "Chicago Workers' Voice," paper of Chicago.)

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Militant rally against Simpson-Rodino in Chicago


On Saturday morning, February 28, nearly 125 workers, students and activists demonstrated in defense of immigrants outside the Chicago offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The protesters picketed the INS offices before ending with a short rally in Federal Plaza.

The demonstration was organized by the Committee in Defense of Immigrants as part of a campaign against the anti-immigrant Simpson-Rodino law. The protesters carried banners and signs and chanted slogans, in both Spanish and English: No to Simpson-Rodino! No to the Migra! No to Deportations! No to Raids! Immigrant workers to the struggle! Jobs yes, Deportations No! Full Rights for All Immigrants! There were also slogans in defense of Palestinian immigrants and Salvadoran refugees, and against the imposition of English as the official language.

At the concluding rally, speakers spoke out against the Simpson-Rodino law and called for struggle to defend the immigrants. Solidarity was expressed with the Palestinian immigrants recently arrested in Los Angeles.

The demonstration was attended by both native-born and immigrant people. A group of workers from Douglas Furniture came. These workers, the majority of whom are Latino men and women, are currently on strike against concessions.

The Committee in Defense of Immigrants is a group formed to fight for the rights of immigrant workers after the passage last fall of the Simpson-Rodino bill. On December 13, it held a militant march against Simpson-Rodino in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

The Chicago Branch of the MLP, which takes part in the Committee, actively built for the action. The Chicago Workers Voice and Voz Obrera de Chicago, newspapers of MLP-Chicago, publicized the rally, and the MLP comrades mobilized a vigorous contingent at the demonstration itself.

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Demonstration held against Iran-Iraq war

On January 31 more than 80 people held a demonstration to protest the reactionary Iran-Iraq war. This protest was organized by progressive Iranian residents in the U.S. It was held at the Civic Center Plaza and proceeded down State Street where literature denouncing the war was distributed to the shoppers.

This demonstration targeted the reactionary regimes of Iran and Iraq. It denounced the war which is bleeding dry the peoples of both Iran and Iraq. Both regimes are prosecuting the 'war in order to achieve their own expansionist purposes, to bind the masses to themselves with nationalist appeals and to suppress the revolutionary masses. The demonstration also targeted U.S. imperialism which has been providing arms and aid to both sides of the war in order to make huge profits and in order to decimate the people of the region whom they fear for their revolutionary potential.

Slogans were vigorously shouted by the demonstrators. "Down with Khomeini! Down with Saddam!" (the president of Iraq) "Stop selling arms to Iran and Iraq!" "No to sexual apartheid in Iran!" (a reference to the brutal discrimination against women in Iran) "No to U.S. genocide in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon!"

All progressive people should support the struggle against the reactionary Iran-lraq war and the fight of the Iranian and Iraqi masses against these reactionary regimes.

(Reprinted from Feb. 16 "Chicago Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP-Chicago.)

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International Working Women's Day - March 8

Stand up for the rights of poor and working women!

March 8 is International Working Women's Day. In their overwhelming majority women are workers, housewives of workers, and unemployed heads of households. International Working Women's Day is a day for this majority. Women and men around the world celebrate it as a day of struggle for the emancipation of working women from their double oppression and exploitation.

Oppression in the Name of "Family Values"

Today the rights and livelihood of all working people are being challenged. This capitalist attack is bearing down particularly hard on women.

The Reagan government says that it wants to restore "family values." And under this signboard it is spearheading the capitalist attack on women's rights. The government is working to reinforce the walls of job discrimination and to roll back the gains women won as part of the powerful mass movements of the 1960's and early 1970's.

Reagan himself is the godfather of the anti-abortion movement. This movement is out to rob women of the democratic right to abortion. It seeks to restore the days when women were butchered by back alley abortionists. In the process, this movement is spawning right-wing cadres, including terrorists and firebombers.

Women have also been special targets of capitalist Reaganomics. High unemployment combined with the cuts in social programs -- welfare, food programs, medical services, child care and educational programs, subsidized housing, and job training -- translates into one big disaster for poor and working women. Yet Reagan is pushing for deeper cuts and the wealthy ladies and gentlemen in Congress agree.

Skinning Welfare Recipients Twice

There's lots of talk these days about welfare reform. New schemes are being cooked up to rob the meager benefits of jobless and poor women and their children.

Reagan's special panel on the family recently made a number of proposals. One of these is for a welfare reform to bar all unmarried mothers under 21 years old from welfare (AFDC) and housing assistance. This is allegedly supposed to keep young mothers with their families. In reality it means condemning even more young mothers to the ranks of the homeless and hungry.

At the same time, if a young mother wants to go out and get a job to support herself, the White House panel on the family is opposed to that too. It actually proposes that discouraging women from working should be made government policy, getting rid of such evils as tax credits for child care.

Then comes the Catch-22. This is called "workfare." The National Governors Association has just come out in favor of a sweeping welfare reform to require welfare recipients to work. At the center of this are a series of sub- minimum wage and humiliating "workfare" schemes. The governors argued that this is no longer the 1930's when mothers were not expected to work. Now it is the 1980's and mothers with children three years or older should be made to work or starve.

The White House sees that this too is a handy argument for skinning welfare recipients. And Reagan wants to give state and local officials a free hand in their "workfare" reforms.

Women at Work

Government callousness doesn't stop at the homeless and jobless. It is also pressing down on the some 50 million women in the work place. Capitalism has put these women in a vise.

On the one side, economic necessity has driven record numbers of women into the work force: both single women as well as married women whose families cannot survive on a single shrinking paycheck. Women today make up 44% of the work force. This includes the majority of mothers with small children. Among women over 30 with infants under a year, 52% are working. This is almost twice the percentage of only 10 years ago.

On the other side, capitalism tends to make life for women who work sheer hell. On the job, women face all types of discrimination, abuse, and miserable working conditions. For this they are paid around 60% of the wages paid to men. Then at home, they still carry the heaviest burden of housework.

To make a bad situation worse, the government and the employers have totally neglected the huge needs of this swelling army of workers. Among other things, there are such basics as taking care of children. While day care costs are soaring, public assistance to day care has been slashed. And the U.S. government is the only one among the industrial countries of the world that allows employers to fire workers for taking maternity leave. (See article on this page.)

The Reagan government mocks at the plight of women workers. It thumbs its nose at them with the bigoted lie that "women's place is in the home."

Of course, neither Reagan nor the capitalists intend to drive women out of the work force. Employers don't hire women for charity. They hire them because the exploitation of their labor produces high profits. Driving young mothers into "workfare" also has potential for moneymaking.

At the same time, preaching about the alleged evils of women working provides a justification for women's oppression. It is a cover for job discrimination. For neglecting the special needs of women workers. For pitting men and women workers against each other. And for chaining women down to better exploit them.

Liberation Through the Revolutionary Workers' Movement

So how are women to free themselves from the jaws of exploitation and oppression?

There is no refuge in the Reaganite fairy tale that the best life for women is to be confined within the four walls of a home. This is exactly that -- a fairy tale. It is economically not possible. And even if it were, many find spending their days restricted to the petty tasks of housework sheer drudgery.

There is also the option offered by the official bourgeois women's movement. The leaders of NOW and other bourgeois feminists preach their own utopia. Women's liberation, they say, will come through women gaining access to the corporate boards, top professions, or posts in government or the Democratic (and even the Republican) Party.

This is fine and dandy for upper crust and better off women. For the rest, however, it is only a way out for the handful who "make it." Meanwhile, these self-styled leaders of the women's movement have a nasty habit of ignoring the plight of the vast majority of poor and working women who remain at the bottom.

Then there is the path of the masses. There is the path of waging the fight for women's rights and freedom as part of the class struggle, as part of the struggle of all the workers and poor against the capitalist exploiters and oppressors.

From this standpoint, the growing numbers of women in the work force can only strengthen the fight for women's liberation. Women workers are not only victims of exploitation; as active workers they also have greater power to bring about change.

In the work places, women take part in every stirring among the workers, they stand, along with men, on the front lines of the reviving strike movement. They are a vital section of the working class.

The discrimination, low pay, and abuse heaped on women is a load on all the working masses. Every worker, every progressive person must take up the fight against this special oppression as their own fight. And all the thousand and one barriers that capitalism throws up against women's full participation in the mass movements and political life need to be torn down.

The participation of women is essential to launch any serious mass struggle. This was shown in the big mass movements of the 60's and early 70's. At the same time, women's gains in those days can't be separated from their role in the anti-racist struggle, the fight against the war in Viet Nam, and the student and workers upsurge.

In short, women's liberation is inseparable from the revolutionary movement of the working class. The final aim of this movement is the overthrow of all forms of capitalist exploitation and injustice. This alone can smash the chains of women's oppression and bring freedom to all the exploited and oppressed.

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The lack of maternity leave laws is a disgrace

When Lillian Garland, a bank receptionist in Los Angeles, had to temporarily stop working because of medical complications with her pregnancy, she expected to be able to return to her job. This was supposed to be assured under California's pregnancy leave law. However, the bank filled her position. Garland ended up unemployed, was evicted from her apartment, and even lost custody of her child.

The Garland case is not some freak incident. The lack of decent maternity leave and benefits is a major problem faced by millions of women workers whose needs are totally neglected by the employers and the capitalist government.

And the Justice Department's role in the Garland case is a further indictment of the Reagan regime, which hypocritically promotes "family-ism" while wreaking havoc upon women and their families at every turn.

The Reaganites Cry "Discrimination!"

When Garland took the case to court, her employer, the California Federal Savings and Loan Association (Cal Fed) challenged the state law on pregnancy leave. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the California maternity leave law, six to three, in a January 13 ruling.

Now, the California law, while offering some minimal protection to pregnant workers, is really pretty thin gruel. The woman has to be physically incapacitated to qualify. (She can receive up to four months leave, but only for a specific medical problem.) This means there is no provision for time to care for the newborn child.

What's more, the leave is unpaid. This is a painful hardship for most workers, especially single parents.

Nevertheless, the capitalists went whole hog to defeat this miserly law. Reagan's Justice Department, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Women Business Owners joined together with Cal Fed to overturn it.

In 1978, a federal law was passed against employers discriminating against pregnant workers. Like they have done with other laws against discrimination, the Justice Department lawyers tried to turn it on its head and use it against the victims the law is supposed to protect. They claimed that the California law is discriminatory because it gives "preferential treatment" to pregnant women. They demanded that the law be struck down so that all workers can be denied disability leave equally.

Their bottom line argument, however, was that it is bad for business. How is a capitalist to be "competitive" and make money, they argued, if women have the right to take off for several weeks to have children.

A Liberal Democrat Sides With the Chamber of Commerce

A number of voices among the liberal Democrats also came out against the leave law. This included Dianne Feinstein, a self-styled advocate of women's rights and mayor of San Francisco.

"What we women have been saying all along," Feinstein declared, "is we want to be treated equally. Now we have to put our money where our mouth is. (The California law) creates a special group of workers...pregnant women and new mothers. I just don't agree with that. I don't think the work market has to accommodate itself to women having children."

Feinstein just rehashes the Chamber of Commerce argument. Up until now, females happen to be the sex which bears children. Employers have always used this fact of life to discriminate against women and to deny them job security. Maternity leave is a step against this discrimination and towards gaining real equality.

Supreme Court Also Approves of Leaving New Mothers to Starve

No one should think that the Supreme Court is now the friend of women workers. Only 10 states have statues or regulations like the California law. The rest have no protections at all.

Just a week after the Garland case, the Court ruled in a Missouri case. It upheld the denial of unemployment compensation to women who are out of work because their bosses refuse to reinstate them after childbirth. Missouri is one of only a handful of states that goes to the length of denying such unemployment benefits. The Supreme Court was unanimous in its approval of this discriminatory system for starving new mothers.

The Parental Leave Proposals Don't Go Nearly Far Enough

The lack of maternity leave laws is a real disgrace. The majority of women in their childbearing years work. And 90% of these will have children. Some women are covered by private maternity leave benefits, which mainly exist at the bigger companies. Others are covered by laws in the few states that have them. The rest, the vast majority, have no maternity leave rights at all.

This is such a glaring contradiction that a number of leave bills are finally in the Congress. These bills, however, show that even their liberal sponsors only want to grant the most minimal reforms that are a far cry from what's needed by working women.

Representatives William Clay (D- Mo.) and Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.) as well as Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) are sponsoring family leave legislation. The proposed legislation would establish job-protected leaves for new parents and for people who need to care for a seriously ill child or dependent parent. While one version of the bill calls for health insurance to be continued during the leave, all of the proposals agree that the leave should be entirely without pay.

These parental leave bills would apply to both the mother and father. For many new parents this would provide some additional relief.

However, it is absurd when NOW and bourgeois feminist organizations linked to the Democratic Party present parental leave (in place of maternity leave) as a panacea which will bar discrimination against women.

First of all, it's a fake argument that maternity leave will somehow frighten employers from hiring women. Employers hire women because their labor makes profits; and maternity leave won't change that. Moreover, the struggle against discrimination in jobs and for equal pay will have to go on with or without parental leave. (It should be noted that, especially with an unpaid leave law, women will still miss much more time in connection to childbirth, and this is hardly a secret from the employers.)

One of the biggest holes in these bills is that they provide only unpaid leave. Who can afford to take off work for the needed time without pay? For sure it isn't the poorer sections of the workers. But then again, the liberal ladies and gentlemen in Congress never show much concern for the millions at the bottom.

None of the pressing needs of working women will be wrenched out of the capitalist ruling class without a struggle.

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Reaganites' new attack on abortion rights

Demonstrations defend women's right to choose

In mid-January, demonstrations were organized in many cities across the country to defend women's right to abortion. They marked the 14th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

On January 22, a rally of 200 people was held on Sproul Plaza of the University of California at Berkeley. After the rally, demonstrators marched to the Berkeley Pregnancy Crisis Center, a right-wing "anti-choice" clinic. This is one of many such clinics cropping up nationwide where pregnant women are lured by promises of pregnancy counseling but are in fact subject to vicious antiabortion propaganda. The Berkeley action was supported by the Bay Area Branch of the MLP.

A few days earlier, on January 17, over 100 men and women militantly rallied in Los Angeles in defense of the right to abortion. The spirited protesters denounced the terror campaign by the so-called pro-life movement against abortion and birth control clinics. Supporters of the MLP actively participated in the action.

The 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion (Roe vs. Wade) was one of a number of concessions granted by the government in response to the mass movements of the 1960's and early '70s. While wealthy women had been able to purchase abortions anyway, poor and working class women were subject to the most deplorable conditions, including mutilation and death at the hands of back-alley abortionists. After the 1973 ruling abortion-related deaths dropped by 73%.

However, since that time, both Republican and Democratic administrations have sought to take back this democratic right. Thus in 1977, under the Carter administration, the Hyde Amendment was passed which abolished the use of Medicaid funds for abortion. Every year since then Congress has re-passed the amendment. Moreover, the ban on federal funds for abortion has gradually been expanded to include programs such as federally subsidized health insurance for military personnel and government employees, and medical services for Native People on reservations and for women in federal prisons.

A New Anti-Abortion Proposal From the Reaganites

Now the Reaganites are launching yet another assault on women's right to abortion. Draft legislation has been prepared which would permanently wipe out all federal assistance for abortions, eliminating the need for yearly congressional action. Reagan endorsed the proposal in late January.

Besides banning federal aid for abortion, the proposal would also prevent federal funds from going to any organization which performs abortions or counsels women on this option. In addition, the draft legislation also pompously declares that the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion was "wrongly decided."

At the same time as making it ever more difficult for impoverished and working class women to obtain safe, legal abortions, the Reaganites have worsened conditions of life for women with children. They have cut to the bone or eliminated altogether programs that gave some assistance, meager though it may have been, to families with children, programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Headstart, nutritional aid to pregnant women and infants (WIC), and others.

For all their grotesquely hypocritical crying about the "right to life," Reagan and his anti-abortion friends show that they don't give a damn about the life of the working and poor -- in or out of the womb.

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Union bureaucrats support capitalist trade war

The union bureaucrats are the loudest shouters for a flag-waving crusade against foreign imports. The AFL-CIO executive board declared that this year the passage of trade legislation is their number one priority. Meanwhile the United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders have just unleashed a $2 million TV advertising campaign to convince the workers to enlist in the capitalists' trade war. In the name of saving jobs from the foreign peril, the union bureaucrats have become the front-men for the capitalists' concessions drive against the workers.

Encouraging Competition of Worker Against Worker

The union bureaucrats claim they only want to protect U.S. workers' jobs from the "unfair" foreign monopolies. But once you look beneath their jobs rhetoric you find what they actually support is the attempts of the U.S. monopolies to make the U.S. workers compete against their class brothers in other countries.

Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, admitted this much recently. The February 7 issue of the AFL-CIO News declares, "American workers are willing to help fair employers become more 'competitive' Kirkland said, providing sacrifice is shared and competition doesn't become synonymous with wage cuts." In the language of the bureaucrats "shared sacrifice" means the workers give up concessions like job combinations, speedup, other job-eliminating measures and wage and benefit cuts. In return the capitalists make empty promises and sometimes put a bigwig union official on the board of directors. The AFL-CIO bureaucrats have simply swallowed whole the capitalists' "competitiveness" justification for concessions.

Replacing the Fight for Jobs with Joining the Trade War of the Monopolies

But in agreeing to help the monopolies become competitive, the union big-shots have turned aside from the fight to defend the workers' jobs.

When last November GM announced plans to close 11 plants and eliminate 29,000 jobs, the UAW leaders didn't even remember to criticize GM. The November 1986 issue of Solidarity explained their orientation. "The UAW will do all it can to help members survive the impact of major General Motors' plant closings, while trying to halt further layoffs by curbing unfair competition from abroad."

In other words, forget about opposing the present plant closings and layoffs. Shift the blame for job loss away from GM to foreign competition. And replace the fight for jobs with joining the trade war of the monopolies.

Curbing Unfair Competition Means Dumping Foreign Workers in the Streets

But what does this fight against "unfair competition from abroad" amount to? Recently, at the UAW's annual Community Action Program legislative conference, UAW president Own Bieber spelled this out. First Bieber justified GM's plant closings and layoffs saying, "GM has, after all, added significantly to its capacity by building new plants in the last few years..." In other words, GM needed new plants to become more competitive, so who cares how many workers lose their jobs?

Then Bieber moves on to graphically illustrate what "curbing unfair competition from abroad" means. Bieber calls for GM and the other auto monopolies to throw Canadian and Mexican workers out into the streets.

He declared, "When they talk about reducing their North American capacity, how come it's always U.S. plants that get hit? I was taught in school that North America includes Canada and Mexico, yet GM is still going flat out in Canada and is planning to add nine more parts plants in Mexico during this year alone. Ford and Chrysler are doing much the same. 1 think it's time we start pulling some of the work back in our direction."

Apparently Bieber learned more than geography in school. He also learned bitter chauvinist hatred for workers from other countries. Bieber never once questions GM's malicious job elimination. He never even considers fighting to defend the workers from the capitalist onslaught. He has but one thought and that's to screw the Canadian workers, screw the Mexican workers.

Combatting "unfair competition from abroad" turns out to mean nothing more than joining with your own boss and helping him attack other workers.

Dressing Up the Trade War as a Fight Against Unfair Labor Practices

Seeing such crude hatred of workers from other countries, one can only be appalled to find the union bureaucrats claiming that trade legislation is really to help out foreign workers against the unfair labor practices of their governments.

The heads of the AFL-CIO, the UAW, and so forth have gone all out to push for the trade provision of the Missouri Democratic Congressman Richard Gephardt. This provision, which is included in the HR3, would require tariffs and import quotas against goods from South Korea and other countries that deny "internationally accepted worker rights."

No worker can fail to want to support the South Korean workers whose movement at every turn confronts vicious police repression and jailing by the barbaric Chun dictatorship. But the bureaucrats' claims that they want to help South Korean workers by restricting the import of South Korean goods is pure hypocrisy. It is simply a dirty attempt to make the trade war of the U.S. monopolies appear to be a noble crusade to help out the oppressed workers of other countries.

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Strikes and workplace news

2,000 auto workers in Flint demand: 'Stop plant closings! Fire Roger Smith!'

The anger against plant closings and layoffs in the auto industry is mounting.

On February 11, more than 2,000 auto workers marched in front of Fisher Body No. 1 plant in Flint, Michigan chanting "Stop Plant Closings! Fire Roger Smith!" GM Chairman Roger Smith announced last November that the Fisher Body plant would be closed by December. This is part of GM's plan to eliminate over 40,000 jobs by shutting down 14 assembly and stamping plants. GM also plans to close or sell off some 20 parts plants over the next few years.

The angry protest against GM was not what the United Auto Workers (UAW) union leadership had planned. They had arranged another one of their small gatherings of bureaucrats for sentimental recollections on the 50th anniversary of the Flint sit-down strike. But when workers heard that the rally was to be held in front of the threatened Fisher Body No. 1 plant -- one of the three plants the auto workers seized in the daring 44-day sit- down strike -- they came out from Flint, Detroit and other Michigan cities to express their outrage against GM.

The UAW bureaucrats don't view the Flint sit-down strike -- with its features of militant mass struggle against GM, plant seizures, defiance of court injunctions and of government threats -- to be q model for the fight against plant closings today. On no, rather than fight against the auto monopolies the UAW officials claim the workers must immerse themselves in finding ways to help the auto billionaires better run their businesses. Concessions to make plants more "competitive" and joining the trade war against foreign competition, that's what the UAW hacks stand for.

But the rank-and-file auto workers are getting fed up with the treachery of the UAW leaders. While shouting militant slogans against GM, many workers at the rally were also heard grumbling against the sellout hacks and talking about how to organize for a serious strike to defend their jobs when the GM contract expires in September.

50th anniversary of Flint sit-down strike

At the end of 1936, workers seized Fisher Body No. 1 and two other key GM plants in Flint. Led by the communists, the workers defied GM's goons, court injunctions, police attacks, and machine gun-wielding national guard troops that were sent into the city by the Democratic Party Governor Frank Murphy. After 44 days of struggle, on February 11,1937, GM finally agreed to recognize the workers' union.

This daring strike was an important part of a wave of sit-downs and other strikes which swept across the country and built up industrial organization among the workers. The strike wave, along with the battles against unemployment, the mass actions against racist terror, and other workers' struggles upset the political realities of the day and won a number of concessions from the capitalists and their government. Unfortunately, the Communist Party, USA -- which was in the center of these mass battles -- slipped from a revolutionary orientation into tailing after the liberal-labor coalition of President Roosevelt and the union bureaucracy. The organizations of the workers were robbed of militancy; the fighting spirit of the workers -- the very thing needed to resist the capitalists' take- back offensive today -- was smothered; and liberal-labor politics became a blight strangling the workers' movement.

[Photo: Fifty years ago, workers at Fisher Body No. 1 in Flint, Michigan celebrate the victory of their sit-down strike.]

GM targets parts workers for concessions -- UAW leaders say O.K.

On January 26, GM announced plans to move 10% of its parts business outside of the company in 1987. Unless it receives more local concessions from parts workers, plants in the following divisions will be closed or sold off: Delco, Inland, Fisher Guide, New Departure Hyatt, Harrison Radiator and AC Spark Plug. Immediately the UAW hacks - from Bieber on down to the local presidents - dropped to their knees before GM and begged to be allowed to present new, more "competitive" contracts fleecing the workers yet one more time.

GM parts workers beware! The traitors in the UAW leadership have for years gone along with GM's blackmail of pitting one plant against another. Now in the 1987 contract one of GM's goals is to split the parts workers off from the rest of the GM workers. They are already doing that piecemeal now, picking off workers plant by plant. Without militant action by the rank and file, the spineless UAW misleaders will surely surrender the parts workers' contracts to the GM hatchet in the near future.

And that's not all. Split up and weaken the parts workers here and then pit them against workers abroad to see who will work for the least! What treachery! Just listen to one of our "modern" labor bureaucrats in her own words. In an interview with the Detroit News (February 1, 1987), Odessa Komer, head of UAW's supplier department, said: "My job, as I view it, is to keep a plant alive." Of course, the thought of defending the workers against the greedy capitalists never enters her head. She says of the parts workers: "They must be competitive, not only with other plants in the U.S., but with nonunion plants here and offshore producers." (Including presumably Mexico, Korea and Malaysia where workers make $1 per hour! -- DWV.)

This latest scheme of the GM billionaires to divide up and conquer the workers section by section is patterned after Toyota's system of parts production. GM, like Toyota, gets about 70% of its parts internally. But in Toyota parts divisions are "affiliates" within the Toyota group. So while Toyota assembly workers make as much as $20 per hour in wages and benefits, parts workers are under separate contract and are paid much less! Such an arrangement would allow GM to keep tight control of key supplies while reducing parts workers to second-class status -- lower wages and more "flexible" work rules!

GM and their lackeys in Solidarity House have an endless bag of tricks to rob the workers and disorganize their resistance. Enough is enough! No more competition among workers to work for less! Unite as one against the moneybags and their bootlicks! Make the billionaires pay for the crisis in the auto industry!

(Reprinted from Feb. 21 "Detroit Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-Detroit.)

Fight plant closings and layoffs!

On January 31, several hundred auto workers came out to a "Rally to Stop Plant Closings and Fight For Jobs!" held in Flint, Michigan. Workers turned out not only from Flint but also from auto plants in Detroit and other Michigan cities, and from Ohio and Indiana. They expressed deep anger and a determination to fight against the plant closings and layoffs that are sweeping through the auto industry.

The Rank and File Want to Fight for Jobs

The auto monopolies are raking in billions and billions of dollars in profits. They can well afford to provide the workers with jobs or pay them full wages and benefits until jobs are found.

But the top leaders of the UAW have refused to lift a finger to organize mass struggle of the workers to resist job elimination by the auto giants. This outrage is leading to disgruntlement against the UAW bureaucrats. The rank-and-file workers are searching for their own way to fight.

The Flint rally is another sign of this ferment among the auto workers. Last year there were strikes for job security against subcontracting and speedup at Ford's Hapeville, Georgia plant; at GM's tech center in Warren, Michigan; at the Delco plant in Kokomo, Indiana and elsewhere. This year we've seen the Flint rally against plant closings and layoffs, the February 11 march in Flint, and the strike vote at a GM plant threatened with shutdown in Pontiac, Michigan.

The emergence of these strikes and other mass actions, and the fact that various groups are springing up on the jobs fight, are promising signs. To advance this movement, the workers need to build up organization that is independent of the union bureaucrats and direct the struggle squarely against the monopolies and the government that serves their every whim.

Local Bureaucrats Out to Limit the Fight

Feeling the heat of the workers' anger, some local UAW presidents and other, lower level bureaucrats are starting to posture as if they too want to organize the fight for jobs. But they are trying to limit the struggle to minor reforms while keeping the workers tied to the coattails of the top union bureaucrats and liberals of the Democratic Party.

The jobs rally in Flint was headed up by some of these local hacks. The rally was called by the Jobs and Justice Fightback Committee of Flint and was supported by the Stop Plant Closings Committee of UAW Local 15 at the threatened Fleetwood Cadillac plant in Detroit. Some rank-and-file workers are joining these committees. But they are dominated by local UAW bureaucrats and other reformists like the Workers World Party.

Joe Wilson, the president of Local 15, was a featured speaker at the rally. He tried to narrow down the fight for jobs to seeking legislation for a moratorium on plant closings until hearings are held where "the company would have to show cause why they are closing the plants."

John Conyers, a Democratic Party congressman from Michigan, was also a featured speaker. For years Conyers has promoted legislation for prior notification of plant closings. At the rally he said he would also support moratorium legislation.

Both prior notification and a moratorium might have some value in giving the workers more time to organize for strikes and the other mass actions that are needed to resist plant closings and press for job guarantees. But the reformist hacks are not organizing for such a militant mass struggle of the workers. Rather, they are promoting these bills as panaceas that by themselves would defend the workers' jobs. They are creating the illusion that all the workers need is to get behind some reform-spouting politicians from the Democratic Party and then everything will be fine.

But the Democratic Party is just another party of the capitalist exploiters like the Republicans. Carter launched the concessions drive with his push for concessions at Chrysler back in 1979. And since then the Democrats have gone along with virtually every takeback measure the Reaganites have called for. Honey-mouthed liberals like Conyers and Jesse Jackson only provide the "pro-labor" image to cover up the big business heart of the Democrats.

Given the limited fight these local hacks want to wage, it is not too surprising to find that they don't want to oppose the top officials of the UAW. In fact, only two days before the Flint rally, Joe Wilson declared, "We are in full support of the international UAW and its policies." Now how can you organize a fight to defend the workers' jobs without opposing the top UAW leaders who are standing in the way of that fight?

Build the Fight for Job Guarantees

Rank-and-file ferment to fight for jobs is growing. For this fight to be truly effective it must be organized as a class struggle against the capitalists. For this the rank and file need organization built up independently from the union bureaucracy and from the capitalist politicians of the Democratic Party.

Another rally has been called for March 21 in Detroit by the Stop Plant Closings Committee of Local 15. All workers should come out to this rally to voice their demands for jobs or a livelihood at full wages and benefits. Spread the word, pass out leaflets, and use the work for the rally to build up the movement in every factory against plant closings and layoffs.

Strike vote at GM plants in Pontiac

On February 21, workers at three plants in Pontiac, Michigan voted overwhelmingly to strike against GM.

The 8,300 production workers at GM's Pontiac East, Pontiac Central, and Pontiac West plants are all in the same local of the UAW. The workers are boiling mad over a series of contract violations through which GM is eliminating jobs by speeding up the lines, subcontracting work, and undermining seniority protections. There are more than 1,000 unresolved grievances on these issues and on health and safety problems arising from the job elimination.

The workers are also outraged at GM's threats to close Pontiac Central. Last November, GM Chairman Roger Smith announced that part of the Pontiac Central truck assembly would be closed, eliminating 2,000 jobs. Then GM began to threaten to shut down the rest of the plant, eliminating the remaining 2,500 jobs, if the workers don't agree to a whole slew of concessions including the elimination of most job classifications and the gutting of protective work rules and seniority rights. GM tried to force the Pontiac Central workers into a bidding war with workers at GM's Janesville, Wisconsin plant over which would give up the most concessions.

But in January the Pontiac workers condemned this attempt to pit worker against worker and refused to open up their contract for new concessions. Now the workers are preparing to fight GM's attempts to violate the contract and impose the concessions it wants on a piecemeal basis at all three Pontiac plants.

The February 21 local union meeting marked a new round in the fight. This was the largest local meeting ever held, as nearly 80% of the production workers at the three plants showed up. In a militant demonstration of their wrath against GM, the workers voted 6,404 to 153 to go on strike. Although the strike vote is formally on the unresolved grievances, it is obviously also a protest against GM's plant closing threats.

The Pontiac workers have shown their determination to fight GM. But they have to be on guard against the treachery of the UAW bureaucrats. By UAW rules, the workers can't strike until they receive approval from the UAW executive board. And these bureaucrats have been neck-deep in GM's dirty plots to pit worker against worker and impose concessions at plant after plant all across the country. The rank and file must get ready to fight, with or without the UAW leaders' approval, because the mass struggle is essential to defend jobs and resist the GM billionaires' concessions drive.

Rally held for LTV retirees

On January 31, over 3,000 retirees and employed steel workers marched in Youngstown, Ohio to demand full restoration of all retirement benefits to LTV workers. Workers came to the rally from New York, Cleveland, Canton, Pittsburgh and Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. Two days before, a protest rally of 1,000 former LTV steel workers was held in Aliquippa.

During the Youngstown demonstration, the shouting never stopped. "We worked for it, we earned it, we sweated for it, it's ours!"

The workers were protesting the LTV- government conspiracy to reduce and endanger their pension benefits. The pensions, which represent deferred wages belonging to the workers, had all been agreed to in contracts. However on January 13, LTV dumped their three largest pension funds on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal agency. LTV also announced it was stopping the payment of a negotiated supplement to early retirees. LTV had previously asked workers to retire early so it. could cut the work force. Those who did take early retirement were supposed to get $400 a month until they reached age 62, after which they would get the normal pension. But now they've been left out in the cold.

With PBGC in charge, some 60.Q00 LTV retirees will receive lower pensions because the agency has a lower cap than the negotiated benefits. As well, the $2.3 billion tab for LTV's unfunded pension liabilities more than doubles the PBGC's deficit. If it takes over other large pension plans the agency itself could go bankrupt. But the Reagan government doesn't care. LTV's off the hook and the only ones to suffer are the workers. The government is just an instrument in the hands of the capitalists to oppress the working masses.

Last year, the LTV workers went on strike to defend their pensions. Frightened that LTV and USX might be shut down at the same time, Congress and the courts quickly forced LTV to temporarily continue its obligations. That strike showed the potential power of the steel workers. By returning to the picket lines, and working to bring out the steel workers throughout the industry, the workers can defend their pensions and resist the entire takeback offensive of the monopolies and their government.

[Photo: Three thousand steel workers, retirees and their supporters demonstrate against robbery of their pension benefits by the LTV steel capitalists.]

USX workers left high and dry at Tarben chemical

The 87 Tarben steel workers in Clair- ton, Pennsylvania, were locked out with their fellow USX brothers. However, while the United Steel Workers (USW) union officials ordered other USX workers back to work, the Tarben workers have been left on the picket line to fend for themselves.

Tarben is the Chemical Division plant at the USX coke plant in Clairton. One month prior to the USX lockout, the steel giant demanded that Tarben workers break away from the union and give USX a 60-day extension on the contract. The workers resoundingly defeated this rotten deal. When the lockout began they took part in the national struggle against USX.

However, in December 1986, the USX chemical plant was "sold" to a group called Aristech -- conveniently owned by former USX management. Although this deal amounted to simply changing the name on the plant, the USW leadership abandoned the Tarben workers. Not only have the Tarben workers been forced to negotiate a separate contract, but the USW leaders also ordered the other workers at the Clairton USX plant to cross the Tarben workers' picket lines.

Aristech is demanding the elimination of two-thirds of the Tarben jobs -- they propose to cut the work force to 37 from 87. They also want a five dollar an hour wage cut and other concessions.

Even though they have been sold out by the USW officials, the Tarben workers are fighting back. On January 31, the workers blocked all access to the plant. The state police were called to escort management out of the plant which they did amid loud opposition from the picketers. The Tarben workers have vowed to keep the plant shut down.

Cook's Foods workers resist scabbing

February 3, more than 125 workers formed a picket line to block the scabs hired by Cook's Family Foods in Hamtramck, Michigan. The picketers blocked a scab truck trying to leave the parking lot and rocks and bottles were hurled at other scabs. Police were called in to break the picket line. The police knocked one worker to the ground. Standing on the worker's back, the police declared, "Get up, you're under arrest for assaulting a police officer!" The man arrested was a Hamtramck city sanitation worker who came to the picket line in support of the Cook workers.

The Cook workers have been out on strike since January 1. They are fighting for a pay raise (laborers make only $3.35 an hour), safer work conditions, and against overtime. Cook only employs 200 people. But conditions there are so bad that it is reported that more than 6,000 people have worked and then left their jobs over the last few years.

[Photo: Mass picket at Cook's Family Foods in Hamtramck, Michigan blocks scabs from entering plant.]

Pickets confront Lockheed's scabs

On Friday, February 13th, 150 workers from various shipyards and from the tugboat strike carried out a mass picket at the gate of Lockheed yard two. Each time Lockheed tried to run its busloads of scabs into the yard, the workers blocked the path and refused to move. The scabs also ran into other bad luck. For example, they had a rough ride because bee stings had caused the buses' tires to go flat. Certain scab lovers, including Seattle Metal Trades Council President Nate Ford, tried to clear a path for the buses. However, the workers resisted this treachery and eventually about 20 Seattle police in riot gear had to come to clear the scabs' way.

Within hours, King County Superior Court Judge Robert Dixon slapped a 10-day injunction on the picketers, limiting the maximum number to eight. The Friday rally was the first sign of resistance growing directly against Lockheed's scab operation. That is why first the cops and then the court moved quickly to try to nip it in the bud. This swift intervention of the bourgeois state on Lockheed's behalf is an indication that the shipyard workers are on the right track. The capitalists are very worried about any growth of mass actions against the scabs because this is the central and most important tactic for defeating the lockout. The issue now is for the workers to continue to build up the forces to defy the court injunction and militantly defend their pickets from any attacks by the police.

The shipyard workers are organizing united actions of workers from many different shipyards and even from other waterfront unions. In addition to the pickets at Lockheed, a protest was held in Olympia three weeks ago against the denial of unemployment benefits to the locked out workers. Over 200 workers from the Todd shipyards punched out at 9:00 a.m. and went to that demonstration. This path of class solidarity and mass actions is the only way to build up the forces to fight Lockheed.

Union Hacks Escort Scabs Through Picket Lines

The mass pickets at Lockheed are even more significant if one considers the extremely difficult situation confronting the workers. The layoffs, the separate negotiations at each yard, the lockout, the denial of unemployment benefits, and the police escorts are bad enough. But on top of all this, since the first day Lockheed reopened, the bureaucrats of the Seattle Metal Trades Council (SMTC) have come to the gate to escort the scabs through the picketers! What?! Unbelievable as this sounds, during the last few weeks there have actually been two different "rallies" organized each morning. On the one hand, rank-and-file workers from several shipyards have organized themselves to mass picket and confront the scabs. On the other hand, a motley crew of metal trades hacks, a couple of shameless shop stewards, and various leaders of the phony "Rank-and-File Solidarity Committee" have rallied to break up the mass pickets and let the scabs through. (Despite its name, the "Rank-and-File Solidarity Committee" allows the SMTC to lead it around by the nose.) Then, to add insult to injury, these scab lovers such as Nate Ford puff themselves up to the bourgeois reporters and try to take credit for the mass pickets!

The workers are capable of pushing forward their struggle. But they have to pull the knives out of their backs by building up organization independent of the union hacks.

The shipyard workers are not only fighting for themselves. They are fighting an important battle on behalf of all the workers in the Seattle area. Lockheed's arrogant lockout is a green light for the concessions drive in not only shipbuilding but in other industries, too. Boeing and other big capitalists are openly lobbying the legislature to block or at least ensure that the bill to give unemployment benefits to locked out workers will expire before their own labor contracts are renegotiated. The unity of the bourgeoisie can only be countered with the unity of the working class.

Shut down Lockheed's scab operation!

(Reprinted from Feb. 18 leaflet of MLP-Seattle.)

Picket line battle at Rohr aircraft

Four hundred machinists battled management officials and police at the Rohr aircraft parts plant in Riverside, California on February 17. The machinists refused to let Rohr managers across the picket lines. Rocks, bottles, concrete chunks, flaming sticks, and ball bearings were thrown and shot from slingshots. Several car windshields were smashed and five cops were injured. Fourteen picketers were arrested as a force of 25 policemen cleared the picket line. The police were helped in this dirty job by officials of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) who ordered the picketers to disperse. The IAM officials later blamed the militant action on "outside agitators."

A mass picket line was also organized at Rohr's plant in Chula Vista, California. Management officials complained they suffered nine flat tires after driving through the militant picket line.

These actions were the opening shot of a strike of 8,000 machinists against Rohr Industries, Inc. Rohr produces various parts of aircraft. They have raked in record profits for the last five years. But they still want more. Rohr is demanding that increases in basic wages be replaced by one-time bonuses. They also want other concessions.

[Photo: Picket line of Rohr aircraft workers and supporters stands firm against strikebreakers.]

Victory in Rutgers University strike

The first strike in the 221-year history of Rutgers University in New Jersey ended on January 27 with the signing of a new three-year contract.

The 2,800 clerical and physical plant workers at RU had been without a contract since June 1986. On January 19 they had enough and went out on strike.

Rutgers faculty members refused to cross picket lines and students organized class boycotts and other support for the strikers. During the first week of the strike at least 60% of the classes were cancelled.

On January 21, over 1,000 strikers, faculty members and students marched to the home of the university president. As well, some professors and students helped man the picket lines. In one incident, a striker and a student supporter were arrested while trying to stop deliveries to the campus. Another striker was injured while trying to block a truck.

The militancy of the strikers and the impressive show of support from faculty and students paralyzed the campus and quickly brought the Rutgers administration to its knees. The administration was forced to give up its own demands for concessions and to grant a number of the workers' demands. The Rutgers workers won wage increases of 6%, 5%, and 6% over the three years of the contract. They also retained their right to automatic salary increments, their option to choose extra pay or extra time off for overtime worked, and the right of pregnant women who work on VDTs (computer monitors) to transfer to other jobs.

[Photo: Workers at Rutgers University rally support for their strike.]

New York job placers jobless

During a blinding snowstorm on January 22, over 500 New York state employees rallied to protest layoffs outside of Governor Mario Cuomo's office in Manhattan.

Cuomo has announced plans to cut the State Department of Labor work force by 20% -- laying off 1,000 of the 5,000 employees. These are the people who match job seekers with job vacancies, process and mail unemployment checks, and so forth. Now they will be standing in the same lines with the unemployed they were supposed to help.

Cuomo blames the layoffs on Reagan's budget ax which cut some $30 million from federal money to the state. But the state employees point out that the governor is refusing to use money that is in the state coffers which could offset the Reaganite cutbacks. Nor has Cuomo considered other possible measures, such as taxing the rich to prevent layoffs and help the unemployed.

Cuomo is a liberal of the Democratic Party. He is fond of wringing his hands over the vicious takeback offensive of the Reaganites. But when push comes to shove, Cuomo won't lift a finger to fight the Reaganites or the rich that they serve. Why? Because the Democrats are another party of the big businessmen just like the Republicans. The fight against layoffs and relief for the unemployed must be waged against conservatives and liberals alike.

[Photo: Five hundred New York state unemployment workers rally against layoffs ordered by Governor Mario Cuomo.]

Labor-management cooperation cuts jobs at Trico

While Trico Products Company (the giant producer of windshield wiper equipment) has been out to cut operating costs and increase profits on the backs of the workers, the UAW leadership has been running around saying "Please, let us give you a hand." And they have done just that.

Faced in November 1985 with 1,100 layoffs, the UAW leadership threw all their efforts into helping Trico become "more productive and profitable" under the banner of "saving jobs." This path of helping Trico get richer, of insuring Trico's economic stability, of putting first priority on the profits of the company is in fact a betrayal of the Trico workers and has nothing to do with saving jobs.

The UAW leadership's gigantic efforts to "save jobs" culminated in negotiating a new job-eliminating contract and selling it to the Trico workers. It is clear that the job reclassifications and greater flexibility in assigning work given the company in this contract will accomplish the UAW leadership's stated goals: "Our goal has been to help Trico be more productive and profitable in Buffalo".

And what about the Labor-Management Committees (LMC), which according to the UAW leadership "will provide us with the opportunity to insure the future of our jobs"?

According to the contract, "The Union agrees that the long-term competitiveness and profitability of the Company is of the highest priority and represents a common goal." A common goal for the UAW leadership, but not for the workers. In fact, these LMCs will be mechanisms by which any aspect of the contract which restricts Trico's ability to squeeze maximum work from each worker can be changed -- in the interest of giving "first priority" to the profits of the company. LMCs are aimed at disorganizing the workers' struggle and preventing them from fighting against the job eliminations. LMCs are good for business (period).

(Excerpted from Feb. 16 "Buffalo Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-Buffalo.)

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Reagan appoints the Tower Commission--and the Tower Commission exonerates Reagan

The Tower Commission has delivered its report. It has finished its months of study. Congress and the press are in raptures. Here is a tough report, they cry.

But what was the Tower Commission? It was personally appointed by Reagan to exonerate him. It was headed up by Reagan loyalist John Tower.

And it did its best to carry out its mission to the T. It found that Reagan was simply a wonderful man, a little forgetful, betrayed by overzealous aides. A man who might make mistakes, but, Tower himself stresses, not as bad as those of other people.

And the system of covert operations, of CIA dirty deeds, of "National Security" secrecy, why this was something that had "served us well" in the eyes of John Tower. (Tower Commission press conference, February 26)

Reagan's Image Unravels

But nothing Tower could do could prevent Reagan from sinking deeper. How can one deal with a man who keeps changing his story from day to day? And what about the scandals that kept dropping right at the feet of the Tower Commission? Presidential adviser McFarlane kept contradicting Reagan and then attempted suicide. Many secret documents had been destroyed -- only for their copies to turn up preserved in a computer's storage device. Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary, announced that her boss had had her destroy and alter documents.

The Tower Commission did its best to keep its eyes shut tight. Tower said "We don't use the term cover-up." Instead it was only "a deliberate effort to mislead by those who prepared these materials." (Ibid.) That's not a cover-up, oh no.

And was it Reagan who did these things? After all, he used these materials prepared deliberately to mislead. And everything he said about the Iran-contra deal turned out to be lies. But he wasn't responsible. Tower went on to state that "I don't believe that the president wittingly misled the American people." He misled, but not "wittingly."

But the revelations just wouldn't stop coming. And so, despite itself, the Tower Commission collected evidence of blunders, lies, and cover-ups. It collected evidence about how a gang of government cutthroats act when they are carrying out a dirty war against Nicaragua and about how little substance there is to the myth of Reagan's brilliance. It sees only some procedural problems with all this, "too little formality," an "unprofessional" implementation. But the class conscious working class will have a different opinion.

And what could the Tower Commission do when Reagan wouldn't yet even admit he had made any mistakes at all? With such a ridiculous pose, even the Tower Commission had to contradict him. And so Reagan's own Tower Commission has turned into another fiasco for his administration.

There is now less talk about the "Teflon president." Now the talk is that Democrat and Republican must get together to help prevent the Reagan administration from being disgraced. The Democrats used to help out Reagan on the plea that Reagan was so strong. Now they help him out on the plea that Reagan is so weak.

The allegedly "anti-Reagan" press is full of talk about how there must not be another Watergate, another American president must not fall into disgrace. But the press is a little late. It is locking the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Tower Commission Findings

The Tower Commission did its best to downplay every revelation about the Iran-contra scandal. It only admitted things that were already well known and undeniable. It is hardly news in February 1987 that the arms deal with Iran was for releasing hostages. So the Tower Commission "boldly" declared what the whole world had known for some time. It is hardly news that the Reagan administration blundered. So the Tower Commission "boldly" admitted that.

But what about the systematic crimes of the CIA and the National Security Council and the other spy agencies? The Tower Commission defends these institutions to the hilt.

Lovers of the CIA

Take the CIA. The whole theme of the Tower Commission is that the CIA would have handled things better. The Tower Commission glorifies the Pentagon and the CIA. It never questions their role in oppressing other countries, but praises their "professionalism." It holds that "The initiative [Iran arms sale and support of the contra war against Nicaragua] fell within the traditional jurisdictions of the Departments of State, Defense, and CIA. Yet these agencies were largely ignored. Great reliance was placed on a network of private operators and intermediaries.... The result was an unprofessional and, in substantial part, unsatisfactory operation." (New York Times, February 27, p. 16, Tower Commission Report, Part IV)

True, commission member Muskie at the press conference stated that "Well, I think the single most important factor here is the over-obsession with secrecy...." But, believe it or not, he was referring to keeping things secret from the CIA and the Pentagon. He pretends that North was "operating outside established government circles."

Greater love for the CIA has no men. Imagine! Pretending that the dirty war on Nicaragua has been carried on without the CIA! And this after the shooting down of Eugene Hasenfus over Nicaragua and the thousand and one confirmations of the dirty role of the CIA.

Saving the NSC From Itself

The Tower Commission pretends that no government agency was tarred by the Iran-contra affair. All these colonels and CIA men and Reagan men allegedly worked outside the government apparatus, which for unknown reasons just happened to keep paying their salaries.

So the Tower Commission not only loved the CIA and the Pentagon. Its first love was the National Security Council, which sits on top of the whole military and intelligence apparatus, and such members as Reagan and Vice-President Bush. It took upon itself the role of saving the NSC from any blame for the crimes it committed.

The news media cries out about how the Tower Commission is supposedly raking the NSC over the coals. But actually the Commission only criticizes certain individuals for allegedly acting outside the NSC system. Tower stressed that "The NSC system is alive and has served us well for the 40 years of its existence." He called the Iran-contra affair a simple "aberration."

And Muskie added that "...there were not more than two or three... meetings of the National Security Council to consider this policy...." And he draws the conclusion that Vice-President Bush and the NSC had little opportunity to play a role in the Iran-contra affair. Can you believe it? The Tower Commission even admits the NSC discussed the policy, but mandating it "only two or three times" doesn't count.

Recommendations of the Tower Commission

And what does the Tower Commission recommend? Does it suggest that the dirty war against Nicaragua is unjust and immoral? Does it suggest that the U.S. government stop its military intervention in the Middle East? Does it suggest dismantling the U.S. spy apparatus?

Not on your life! It suggests that Reagan should have better staff. And there should be some technical improvements in the NSC. Mind you, there should be "no substantive changes" in such a wonderful system.

And what about the problem of obsession with secrecy? It takes that straight on. It suggests that there are too many congressmen involved in congressional oversight of the covert operations. So it proposes that "Congress consider replacing the existing intelligence committees" with a single joint committee "with a restricted staff." In short, secrecy should be improved.

Tower Commission and Reagan Agree on Goals

The Tower Commission promises much but gives little. This is because Reagan, Tower, and the Democrats all agree on the same goals. They have the same aggressive stand against Nicaragua. They have the same desire to protect the American "dollar empire" that stretches its multinational companies and its warships around the world.

The working class has a different mission in life. Workers all around the world must join hands against the spy agencies, the militarists, and the "covert operations." We can never accept the recommendations and conclusions of the Tower Commission cover-up. But the scandals uncovered by the Tower Commissions and the congressional investigations will prove very useful in undermining the very institutions that Tower and company wish to shore up.


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


New surge of struggle in El Salvador

[Photo: Salvadoran guerrillas rebound after two years of setbacks.]

This fall and winter saw a new surge of struggle against the U.S.-backed Duarte regime in El Salvador. For some time now, the U.S. imperialists have been chuckling in self-satisfaction that with Duarte in power, the back of the revolutionary movement has been broken. El Salvador, they said, has been pacified. But now, even in the capitalist media, you find signs of worry about the stability of the Duarte regime.

A Huge Demonstration Marches through San Salvador

On January 17, workers, students and other sections of the oppressed masses came out in force into the streets of San Salvador to protest the enactment in December of the latest phase of the government's austerity program. Over 50,000 people marched through the capital calling for an end to Duarte's plans for new tax hikes and a nationwide draft.

Students in Motion

Students at the University of El Salvador held one of their most militant protests in recent years when President Duarte set foot on the campus on November 11 to inspect the results of the October earthquake. Hundreds of students burned an effigy of Uncle Sam and threw rocks at Duarte, denouncing him with slogans of "Murderer!," "Puppet!," and "Terrorist!" The students denounced Duarte for the massacre of scores of students during an army and police attack on the university under his junta in 1980. "Duarte," yelled the students, "you have hurt the university more than the earthquake!"

The students have also been fighting the government's cutbacks in education. On December 5, ten thousand people representing the University of El Salvador marched to the National Assembly to demand full funding for the university from Duarte. Duarte refused to meet with the demonstrators.

Another Strike Wave

A strike wave swept the country in September and October right on the heels of last summer's strikes. Strikes were waged by construction, hospital, textile, telecommunications and poultry-processing workers, as well as teachers.

Some of the strikes were especially hard-fought. The strike at the CIRCA Levi jeans plant was declared illegal by the government. This resulted in a plant occupation and hunger strike by the employees who won the reversal of the government's ruling, the reopening of contract negotiations, and finally, a $1 per day wage increase with the rehiring of all those fired.

On October 4, the workers' anger burst out in a 50,000-strong demonstration through the capital, which pressed the demands of the ongoing strikes.

Guerrilla Movement Also Rebounds

In the countryside the guerrilla movement is regrouping after two years of heavy toll from the government's air war.

A war of attrition continues against the regime. The rebels have complete control of many areas. As well, they are reoccupying some areas which they had lost, such as the strategic Guazapa volcano. They are also moving into new areas such as the western province of Santa Ana. The guerrillas are now active in all 14 of the country's provinces.

Recently the guerrillas have been helping peasants displaced by the war to repopulate their communities. There is an influx of peasant refugees back into the countryside, particularly to the war zones in northern and eastern Morazan and Chalatenango. Hundreds of thousands of peasants had been languishing in the government's forced relocation camps near the cities. Now, enraged by the government's terror tactics, and devastated by the economic crisis, they are determined to return to their homes.

The guerrillas have won a number of successes in their recent battles.

* On February 2 they won the release of 57 political prisoners and 42 guerrillas from jail in exchange for Army Colonel Avalos who they had in their custody.

* On January 4 rebels assaulted the Army post at Osicala, Morazan, causing severe damage to the garrison and destroying a military tank.

* A December 9 nationwide transportation stoppage was 90% effective.

* On December 6 guerrillas attacked the garrison of the 3rd Infantry Brigade at Santa Rosa de Lima in La Union. The Army suffered heavy casualties. The guerrillas succeeded in ambushing a convoy of reinforcements, preventing it from reaching the surrounded base.

The increasing activity of the masses, in city and countryside, is pressing hard against the Duarte government.

After the earthquake in San Salvador

Last October, a major earthquake leveled half of San Salvador. It killed over 1,500 people, injured 20,000, and left some 200,000 homeless. The disaster was compounded by more than a thousand aftershocks, heavy winds and rains, and huge mudslides.

El Salvador is a society divided into a handful of rich lording it over five million poor toilers. It was the poor of San Salvador, including 500,000 refugees of the civil war who stay in bamboo and mud huts on steep hillsides, who bore the brunt of the quake.

El Salvador is also a society gripped by acute class conflict. It is a society in which a civil war rages between the toilers and the wealthy rulers. And even natural disasters have tremendous political consequences. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Duarte government has again been exposed as a ruthless regime, a regime of the exploiters, a regime of massive corruption, a regime of contempt for the victims of the earthquake.

In a society like El Salvador, an earthquake frequently helps to fuel the fires of mass unrest.

No Government Relief

In the wake of the disaster, government relief has been virtually nonexistent. Apart from taking care of its air base at Ilopango and protecting its own warehouses, the government's self- declared role has been one of "standing guard." In the days following the quake soldiers watched with M-16 rifles as volunteers searched the rubble for survivors. Months later, victims in the worst-hit areas have yet to see any government aid.

Worse yet, the Duarte regime sabotaged international relief campaigns and attacked those mounted by the people themselves.

Duarte Regime Sabotages International Relief Efforts

At the airport the army blocked shipments destined for distribution by trade unions. Fifteen planeloads were denied landing rights immediately after the earthquake. The army delayed other shipments, searching and pilfering the cargo to siphon off the urgently needed medicines and supplies for its own stockpiles.

The government then turned over the coordination of relief to the Salvadoran Foundation for Development, an outfit linked to the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). AID is infamous for providing U.S. support for counterinsurgency campaigns in the countryside.

Vindictiveness Against Militant Workers Comes First

The government also delayed important repairs to the city in order to avoid using certain union workers. With 30,000 phone lines down, the military manager of ANTEL telecommunications contracted a foreign team rather than hire back 20 fired technicians. And ANDA waterworks advertised for new hires rather than use 236 fired union activists.

The Rich Line Their Pockets

A large number of the damaged shacks that were inhabited by the poor are not being rebuilt. Instead the landlords are reclaiming the land and relief money is going towards private construction projects.

Corruption of the relief process has been so rampant that Salvadoran Attorney General Jose Francisco Guerrero said "public clamor" had forced him to start an investigation of the use of the earthquake funds. Of over $100 million which has been sent in earthquake aid, little or none of it has reached the victims.

Prison and Bullets Against Relief Efforts by the Masses

The regime has also lashed out against the relief efforts taken up by the people themselves.

The government outright rejected the offer of a truce from the guerrilla forces who unilaterally declared a cease-fire in order to devote their attention to earthquake relief. And what's more, the government continued its kidnapping and killing of activists amid the ruins.

Several agricultural cooperative members were arrested while providing relief, including Celso Antonio Rivas, who was taken December 1 as he distributed food in Barrio San Jacinto, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in San Salvador. Electrical worker Francisco Mendez, union activist Armando Melendez, and seven members of a refugee relief organization were shot by the army while aiding victims.

President Duarte gave the government's attitude to the situation when he told a construction group, "The extreme left is visiting the shanties of the earthquake victims telling them to ask for more aid from the government." Duarte warned the victims "not to heed these troublemakers."

Earthquake Fuels the Mass Ferment

In spite of the repression, the Salvadoran people through mass organizations have persisted in their own relief campaigns. As well, the working masses have launched demonstrations demanding earthquake relief from the government and protesting its callous actions.

* The National Union of Salvadoran Workers formed aid committees in 80 neighborhoods.

* Forty brigades of students worked in the most devastated sections of San Salvador. Students in the western province of Santa Ana marched through the country's second largest city collecting donations for victims. And when Duarte showed his face at San Salvador University to "inspect" the earthquake damage, students launched a powerful protest against him, driving him out of the campus.

* On November 22, fifteen thousand demonstrators marched through the most damaged areas of the capital. They demanded fair distribution of aid to the victims.

* A federation of agricultural coops also worked on relief. On December 12, five thousand people marched to the presidential palace to demand freedom for coop member Rivas and 11 other jailed activists.

* The relief efforts gave birth to a new organization when 700 people attended a general assembly of quake victims on January 18 and formed the National Union of Earthquake Victims of El Salvador (UNADES). It is fighting for government aid to the poorest neighborhoods of San Salvador.

As with the earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, the San Salvador earthquake has shown the hideous nature of the government of the rich, and it has galvanized the workers and the poor into action. The alleviation of the most elementary suffering of the masses requires rising in struggle.

Duarte government in crisis

Over the last year, as news from El Salvador has generally been ignored by the U.S. press, heavy pressures have been building up against the hated U.S.-supported Duarte regime. A number of factors are behind the current upswing in popular unrest in that country.

There is mounting resentment among the masses over the hardships of the regime's militarism and war, and over a severe economic crisis. It is the workers and the poor who pay the heaviest price. Making this worse, the government has recently imposed a series of new austerity measures. These austerity measures are unbearable. Finally, there is added bitterness towards the ' government for its bankruptcy in dealing with the October earthquake and for its role in the contra war against Nicaragua, freshly exposed during the Hasenfus affair.

Economy in Shambles

The Salvadoran economy is plagued by a foreign debt of over $2 billion, a $1 billion flight of capital over the last few years, and unemployment and underemployment totaling 60%. Because of the war, over half of all government expenditures go to the military. Now the country is also facing falling prices of its main export, coffee, and rising oil costs.

The international bankers, multinational corporations, and El Salvador's own capitalists continue to pull their profits out of this wreckage which they have created. Even the huge U.S. aid to the regime cannot plug these leaks in the economy.

The masses of people have been the ones to sacrifice during the crisis. On top of the toll of the war they have long suffered from lack of food, shelter, medical care, and other basic necessities. Rising prices and taxes and falling wages (for the minority with regular work) are devastating their standard of living, which was miserable to begin with.

Duarte's Answer Is More Austerity and a Draft

The Duarte regime's only answer to the crisis is to bow to the pressure of his U.S. benefactors to bleed the people with more austerity measures. In December the Constituent Assembly enacted phase II of the U.S.-imposed austerity program. Phase I began in January, 1985.

The new program devalues the currency, raises the interest rates, and imposes a war tax on a series of items including coffee, bread and other staples, gasoline, luxury goods, and agricultural exports. It also mandates military service for all draft-age men and women.

A Mounting Crisis for the Regime

The new austerity program has thrown the government into crisis. Mass protests, including the large demonstration against the program on January 17, forced the government to withdraw the tax hikes. The regime can neither satisfy the masses' demands, nor keep down their resistance to its policies.

Meanwhile in the countryside, the government is failing in its efforts to win a base of support through its U.S. Agency for International Development- sponsored pacification project, "United to Rebuild." It is also having more and more difficulty recruiting into the Army.

The Right Wing Seeks to Capitalize on the Discontent

But it is not just the workers, students and peasants who are stirring into action in El Salvador. Since December the regime has been further pressured by the stepped-up activity of the far right.

On the one hand the right opposes the austerity program on its own accord, because the draft could affect its children (at least the few who may be unable to buy their way out), and some of the economic measures may prove to be of some discomfort to its ranks. On the other hand the right also is trying to coopt the discontent of the working masses against the austerity measures.

Business associations and the death squad ARENA party have been railing against the tax hikes and the draft on television, boycotting the National Assembly, and appealing to the high command of the Army for a coup. Even Major Roberto "Blowtorch" D'Aubuisson, infamous leader of the death squads, has come out of the retirement from public political life that he had been pressured into by the U.S. Embassy a while ago.

The right is worried that the Duarte regime will be unable to keep the masses at bay. It wants to use the mass outrage against the austerity program to strengthen its own position and prepare to set up another openly rightist dictatorship.

Time for the Toilers To Push their Struggles Forward

The difficulties of the Duarte regime offer an opportunity for the mass struggle of the toilers to make gains.

As the U.S. imperialists' model of the "democratic alternative" to revolution in Central America, the Duarte regime is coming apart at the seams. It is up to the workers and peasants who are fighting the regime to use the government's crisis to strengthen their own movement.

In recent years, the fighting consciousness and spirit of the masses has suffered from mistaken conceptions in the leadership of the Salvadoran left. These wrong positions have built up illusions about short-cutting revolutionary struggle through schemes of reconciliation with the Duarte regime. The overcoming of the influence of class conciliationist ideas is vital to the advance of the revolutionary movement of the toilers.

[Photo: Fifty thousand protest Duarte's austerity measures in San Salvador on January 17.]

Contra organizer Abrams confronted in Philadelphia

On January 28, a militant picket was held in Philadelphia against Elliot Abrams, Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. Four hundred people protested the appearance of this ardent contra- supporter and self-described "gladiator" for Reagan's policy in Central America.

Abrams was scheduled to speak on "human rights" before the American Jewish Committee, but demonstrators exposed his real stand on human rights by shouting slogans such as, "Murder, rape, torture, lies -- that's what contra money buys!"

The Philadelphia Committee in Support of the MLP,USA participated in the action, raising picket signs and slogans against U.S. intervention in Central America, and distributing leaflets on the Iran-contra scandal. The comrades also promoted the work of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML) and collected contributions for the Nicaraguan Workers' Press Campaign which sends material aid and solidarity messages to MLPN's newspaper, Prensa Proletaria.

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[Graphic: Apartheid no! REVOLUTION yes!]

The struggle in South Africa cannot be censored out

Today in South Africa a tight clamp has been put on all reporting on the anti-apartheid movement and on government efforts to crush it. But hiding the truth does not change it. And the truth is that the black and other oppressed people are continuing to strike blows against the racist oppressors.

News of the Struggle Trickles Out

The continued vitality of the struggle can be seen even from the few crumbs of information contained in the official news releases issued by the racists themselves. Let's look at one daily 24- hour report issued by the racists' Bureau of (withheld) Information. The report for February 8, for example, lists the following incidents:

* a group of blacks attacked a member of the security forces in Sebokeng township, 37 miles south of Johannesburg;

* a police vehicle was stoned in Lingelihle township in the eastern Cape province;

* unrest developed in Soweto (near Johannesburg) and Bethal (in the eastern Cape province); and

* there were other "cases of stone-throwing, petrol bomb attacks and arson."

Moreover, there appears to be nothing exceptional about this particular day. For example, according to government reports, in Guguletu township, near Cape Town, a policeman was stoned and burned to death on February 2. This brought to five the number of racist forces wiped out by the masses in this one township since December. On February 24, the Bureau of Information announced another police officer had bit the dust.

The Black Townships Continue to Seethe With Revolt

From these few sporadic reports it is obvious that the black townships continue to be hotbeds of anti-apartheid rebellion. In particular, it is clear that a low-level but growing guerrilla war has been developing against the hated security forces.

The growth of attacks on the racist troops is quite significant. The Botha regime has banned all protest and it has unleashed savage police terror against the masses. This has caused temporary setbacks for the struggle. But such measures have not brought the masses to their knees. Instead Botha's terror has further highlighted the futility of expecting the racist system to reform itself. The confrontations with the racist military are one sign of the growth of revolutionary determination among the toilers.

White Athletes Protest Racism

This past month also gave fresh evidence of anti-racist struggle from among the white community. In mid- February, 100 white competitors boycotted a track meet because a black athlete was banned. The dissatisfaction with apartheid among a section of the whites has been growing during the last couple of years. White students have participated alongside black and mixed- race students in anti-apartheid actions on university campuses. And a movement against conscription into the racist armed forces has been building up momentum.

Apartheid's Days Are Numbered

There are undoubtedly many more actions taking place that are simply not reported by the racists. But even from the brief glimpses it is currently possible to get, it is clear that all of Botha's repression has not halted the liberation struggle. The racist reign of terror and press censorship may give the appearance that the racists are all-powerful. But in fact these are signs of desperation, signs of a system gripped in crisis. The racists may win a battle or two today. But the system is doomed to fall. The heroic masses of South Africa will make it fall through their revolutionary struggle.

Reagan and Thatcher veto UN sanctions

Helpers of apartheid

Once again racist Reagan has ridden to the rescue of South African apartheid. On February 20, the U.S. and British representatives in the Security Council of the United Nations vetoed a proposal for mandatory worldwide sanctions against South Africa. Reagan and Britain's "Iron Lady" Thatcher did not stand alone in their open support of the racist regime. West Germany also voted against the measure (but it does not have a veto in the Security Council), while France and Japan abstained. Such was the support for slavery given by the leaders of the so-called "free world."

The UN Sanctions Were Mere Token Measures

From the reaction of Western imperialism to the proposed sanctions, one might think the proposed measures would have been a powerful blow to the Botha regime. But in fact these sanctions were quite meek; they were not at all what the anti-apartheid working people around the world demand. Instead they were patterned after the token sanctions passed by the U.S. Congress last year.

Like the U.S. sanctions, the UN measures were not designed to help the black people crush the racists. They aimed at gently nudging the racists to make a few small reforms and to engage in empty negotiations with some black leaders. The sanctions were supposed to be an alternative to a revolutionary uprising against the racist system, and not a way of hastening the revolution.

Reagan and Botha -- Two of a Kind

Even so, these measures were too much for the racist Reaganites. Of course they couldn't admit their real motives. So a U.S. deputy delegate to the UN, Herbert Okun, tried to explain away the U.S. veto claiming that "mandatory sanctions would fail to bring an end to apartheid." Presumably the Reagan administration will "bring an end to apartheid" by protecting the racists from even the weakest measures! What garbage!

The truth is that Reagan considers the racist South African rulers as his brothers. Ever since coming to office his policy of "constructive engagement" has meant all-round support for apartheid. And Reagan openly declares that South Africa has "democracy."

Meanwhile the administration has carried out its own racist offensive at home. Reagan seeks to bring back the "good old days" of Jim Crow segregation. He has inspired the Klan and other racist goons to unleash a wave of racist terror. Under Reagan's baton, the U.S. is the land of the Howard Beach lynch mob, Klan violence in all- white Forsyth County, Georgia, and racist murder by the police in Tampa; Florida. The administration's racist nature is such that Pat Buchanan, Reagan's communications director until recently, is now campaigning on behalf of John Demjanjuk, currently on trial in Israel for carrying out mass exterminations of Jews as a guard at the Nazi death camp at Treblinka during World War II.

It is clear that the Reaganites are dyed-in-the-wool racists themselves. Is it any wonder then that the U.S. vetoes even mild measures against the South African racists?

Presidential Advisory Committee Urges a Better "Anti-Apartheid" Pose

It is interesting that the U.S. veto comes only a week after a Reagan-appointed advisory committee on South Africa criticized "constructive engagement." It called on the administration to support sanctions such as the ones just vetoed by the U.S. And it wanted Reagan to stop Israel and other partners of the Pentagon from continuing to send military aid to the South African racists. But this does not mean the committee stands with the oppressed in South Africa. Indeed the committee endorsed Reagan's basic objectives and criticized constructive engagement only for having "failed to achieve its objectives." It agreed completely with Reagan on opposing the revolutionary movement.

But most of the committee realized that brute force alone has failed to stop the uprising in South Africa. Thus the committee felt it was necessary to use token sanctions to prod the Botha regime to throw some empty sops to the black masses. In particular the committee wants the Botha regime to agree to negotiations with some black leaders. It hopes that such negotiations would convince the black masses to give up militant struggle and follow the fatal path of relying on the "good will" of the racist oppressors.

Two Faces -- One Racist Policy

So far the administration is refusing to accept even the timid measures of the presidential advisory committee. Indeed they are bragging that their policy has brought many wonderful reforms to South Africa already. Why, there's the new press blackout, the police cordons around the black townships, and the coming whites-only elections -- what more could one want? But whether the Reaganites stick to their open support of the racists or take up the phoney posturing of the committee, U.S. imperialism will continue to be the loyal friend of the South African slavemasters.

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The World in Struggle


Protests against torture in South Korea

In the past month South Korea has been shaken by a series of demonstrations against the police murder of a student activist.

Park Jong Chul, a 21-year old linguistics student at Seoul National University, was tortured and killed as he was being interrogated by police on January 14. Two policemen repeatedly shoved his head under water in a bathtub to force him to reveal the whereabouts of a leftist student leader. While doing this they crushed his windpipe against the bathtub edge, and Park suffocated to death. Doctors who examined the body also said it bore numerous wounds and scars and revealed the type of blood clots that result from electric shock torture.

Protest rallies were organized immediately after the announcement of Park's death. The government tolerated a few of them at first, as long as they were relatively small and passive. But after a couple of weeks, as the protests began to grow in size and spirit, government repression began to clamp down. This repression turned into overwhelming force mobilized against a nationwide protest on February 7.

The liberal opposition to dictator Chun Doo Hwan organized a nationwide protest against Park's death on February 7. This threatened to be a very large demonstration, with the participation of leftists, and so Chun's government banned the demonstration. In the days leading up to the rally in Seoul, police arrested over 2,000 people for distributing handbills publicizing the event.

On the day of the protest, downtown Seoul was choked with tens of thousands of riot police. Despite the repression about 20,000 people showed up for the rally, but they were blocked from the rally site by about double that number of police. Undismayed, the protesters tried to break through -police lines. Fighting broke out in the afternoon and lasted well into the evening. Downtown Seoul was covered with clouds of tear gas and littered with rocks and broken bottles. In the fighting dozens were injured and over 500 arrested.

Similar rallies and clashes with police took place in Pusan and Kwangju. The. fact that tens of thousands came out to demonstrate despite the massive police presence shows the anger of the masses.

Here in the U.S., a demonstration denouncing the police murder of Park was held in Los Angeles by the Korean community on January 31. About 100 demonstrators marched along Olympic Boulevard with signs saying "Torture and murder must stop in South Korea" and "Death to killer Chun."

Park Jong Chul was not the first student to be murdered while in police custody, and he was certainly not the last to be held without charge and tortured. Today there are about 2,000 political prisoners in Chun Doo Hwan's jails. But the death of Park has elicited mass outrage against the practices of Chun's jailers. The regime first tried to cover up the murder by saying Park died of natural causes. When this did not work, Chun tried to avert criticism of his regime by firing the national police chief.

But the new national police chief, Lee Yong-Chang, is a reactionary from the same mold as the old one. Lee was formerly chief of the Seoul metro police, and in that capacity ordered the massive attack against students at Kunkook University last October.

Changing the faces of the police commanders will not change the Chun regime. Only the mass revolutionary struggle can smash this reactionary regime.

Spanish high school students force government retreat

[Photo: February 11 march in Barcelona, Spain of 10,000 students and striking auto workers.]

High school students in Spain have forced the government to sign an accord promising to maintain or roll back university fees for most students. The accord represents a setback for the social-democratic government of Felipe Gonzalez and its attempts to "reform" university entrance requirements by raising fees and sharply tightening admission standards.

The accord came after a week of protests in which students mobilized hundreds of thousands in demonstrations. The high point of the protests was the joining in of thousands of industrial workers.

High school students fighting against the Gonzalez government's "reforms" continued their boycott of classes in early February. This was supported by a strike of high school teachers. Then the second week of February the students launched a series of demonstrations.

On February 5 student demonstrators blocked downtown streets in Madrid, but were attacked and dispersed by police. Undaunted, on February 6th 10,000 students demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Madrid. The police attacked again, this time with clubs, but the students responded by throwing rocks. Three hours of fighting ended with 13 police injured.

February 11 was the high point of the protests. Hundreds of thousands marched in at least 10 cities in support of the students' demands. Industrial workers marched in the huge demonstration in Madrid, where protesters waved banners saying "Students and Workers United to Conquer." Marchers chanted the demand, "Workers' children to the university! "

Meanwhile in Barcelona 10,000 students joined a demonstration of striking auto workers to support their wage demands. (And in another development in the workers' movement, coal miners in Asturias shut down the mines for two days in a protest against job cuts. Miners staged mass demonstrations in the regional capital of Oviedo.)

The week of protests culminated with a march of 10,000 students on February 13 outside the Education Ministry in Madrid. Students from all over Spain participated in the protest which again clashed with police.

The new wave of protests, combined with the rising workers' movement, apparently forced the Gonzalez government to make some concessions to the students. On February 18 high school student leaders signed the accord which stipulates that university studies will be free for students whose families earn less than $1,080 a month. (This would include 80% of Spain's families.) This stops short of the students' demand that students from poor families be paid a salary while attending a university, but it does beat back the government's attempt to raise fees.

There was no mention of the tightened admissions standards in the accord, however, and at last report the movement against this continues. On February 24 a demonstration of high school and university students blocked the entrance to the Education Ministry, protesting the new university entrance requirements.

Mexican students block education cutbacks

[Photo: Scene from huge demonstration of students in Mexico City.]

After striking for 18 days, students at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City voted to return to classes after the administration agreed to suspend its plan to increase university fees and toughen admission standards.

Suspension of the plan was a victory for the students. Government officials had previously sworn they would not allow the giant university to be shut down by a strike. However after 18 days it was apparent this was an empty threat. Student protesters kept most classes closed from January 29 to February 15. And in the midst of the strike the students organized a huge demonstration on February 9 in El Zocalo Square in Mexico City. The government tried to blame the agitation among students on "outside agitators," but it was finally forced to concede to the students' demands.

In the agreement under which students voted to resume classes, the university administration agreed to suspend the new regulations for higher fees and stricter admissions standards. The administration also agreed to set up a new university congress, with representation from students, which would have to formally approve any of the proposed changes. The demand for such a congress was a demand raised by the students in their strike. As well, in response to another of the students' demands, the government agreed to increase its funding for the university.

The vote to end the strike was preceded by five days of intense debate among the students. Many expressed the desire to continue the strike. While voting to go back to classes, the students also passed resolutions insisting that there be no reprisals against strikers, that the semester be prolonged to make up for lost time, and that no credit be given for classes that met during the strike.

A Victory Against the PRI's Austerity Drive

The students' victory is a positive event for the struggles of the Mexican working people against capitalist austerity. The last four years the PRI government has been on an orgy of budget cutting. Subsidies for food and public transportation have been cut way back. Government-owned factories are closing right and left, throwing thousands out of work. Industrial production has fallen. Meanwhile the few pesos that do get into the toilers' hands are constantly devalued.

The government's plan to increase fees and restrict admissions to the university was another front of the austerity cutbacks, preceded by years of budget cuts for the university. That this plan has been stymied, at least temporarily, by the student movement shows the value of the path of mass struggle as the way to confront the capitalist offensive.

Protest against the Haitian government

[Photo: The first anniversary of the fall of Duvalier: 400 Haitians in Miami, Florida celebrate the date by marching on the Haitian consulate and calling for the overthrow of the CNGP, the governing junta that replaced Duvalier.]

From the resistance against Khomeini

(The newsletter "Report" published by the Committee Abroad of the Communist Party of Iran continues to bring news of resistance inside Iran to the savage tyranny of the Khomeini regime. The following items are taken from the February 1-15 issue of the newsletter.)

Workers Resist Layoffs

In early December, in the Indamin spring-making factory it was announced that a number of workers were to be laid off and the workers were encouraged to come forward voluntarily and enjoy the redundancy pay offered. The closing date for receiving the payment was announced to be December 26. Similar experiences in other factories and, above all, the regret of most of the laid off workers, in particular Iran National car workers, for not having fought to keep their jobs, had a good impact on the Indamin workers to stand against the layoffs. News indicates that by the end of the closing date only three workers had volunteered to leave, two of whom were old enough to be retired.

Hunger Strike in Evin Prison

Recently, nearly all the political prisoners in Evin prison went on a hunger strike in protest over:

* The poor standard of hygiene and food.

* The intensified pressures on the prisoners by the prison guards.

* The transfer of a number of ordinary prisoners to the section for the purpose of exerting more moral pressures on them.

Shortly after the strike began, all the prisoners in section 3 of the prison were prohibited from being visited by their families and were transferred to solitary cells. During the hunger strike, the families of the prisoners went to see the authorities many times in order to remove the ban over visiting their children.

Recently we heard that in mid- December, 40 striking prisoners were executed by the regime. We do not have the details of this brutal act or the way the prisoners have reacted to it.

From the Armed Resistance in Revolutionary Kurdistan

* In mid-December the city of Marivan and the border village of Dezly, in which 500 families live, were attacked by Iraqi aircraft. In these bombardments three people lost their lives and a few were injured. Following the attacks, all the 500 families left their village and chose to live in a nearby village. They are living under severe conditions with six or seven families in one small room.

* In late December some units of Komala Peshmargas (armed militants of the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran-Komala) entered the city of Baneh and became involved in a conflict with the regime's armed men. Heavy firing started between the two sides and after half an hour our Peshmargas left the city, inflicting casualties and damages on the regime. In this battle, five of the regime's personnel were killed or injured. Another confrontation took place just outside the city of Baneh near the regime's base. In this attack, the Komala Peshmargas kept the regime's base under constant fire by heavy and semi-heavy arms. The regime suffered casualties and damages.

* In late December some units of Komala Peshmargas brought the main Sanandaj road under their control and began to talk to the passengers about the reactionary policies of the Islamic Republic. The people, happy to have the Peshmargas amongst themselves, eagerly listened to their talks and discussed with them the methods of confronting and struggling against these policies. The Peshmargas left the area after half an hour without any involvement with the regime's forces.

* The street-peddlers in the city of Sanandaj were once again attacked by the regime's forces. This time they stood unified and firm against the attack and with the support of the other people in the street forced the regime's men to leave the area without being able to take away with them any of the street-peddlers.

* The people in the city of Sanandaj have been facing a shortage of bread. Most of the people go out at 3 o'clock in the morning and wait in long queues for many hours. Many of them come back empty-handed. One reason for this situation is said to be constant stoppage of electricity which has led to the stoppage of many bakeries in the city.

* In late December the regime's men in the village of Nagel in the area of Sanandaj asked the people to stand guard. The people refused and gathered in front of the regime's base. The shootings in the air did not have any effect toward dispersing the people. On the contrary, they started shouting slogans against the Islamic Republic. The people's response forced the regime to give up its compulsory guarding policy in the village.

* The people in the villages of Nagmar and Goyzeh-Koreh in the area of Marivan have demanded that the regime's men leave their villages. The protests have been going on since the regime set up its bases in the mosques of these two villages in the middle of summer. The regime's men have told the people that they will leave on the condition that they get a piece of land outside the village for the purpose of setting up their bases. The people have refused and are carrying on their protests.

* In early December the regime's forces started a new attack on a number of villages in the area of Bookan in order to pick up conscripts for the Iran-Iraq war fronts. On one occasion they tried to gather the people by showing a film about the situation in the war fronts. But the people refused to see the film and the regime's trick did not work. In another attempt, the armed men surrounded and raided more than 10 villages in the area. In the course of this attack, 40 people were arrested but later 38 of them managed to escape.

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Eyewitness report of Aquino's massacre of farmers in Manila

In January two supporters of the MLP visited the Philippines. During their visit, they took part in the January 22 demonstration of farmers and farm laborers in Manila. This was the demonstration which was viciously fired upon by troops of the Aquino government. Nineteen people were killed and a hundred more wounded. We reported on that massacre in our last issue. Since then, we have received a first-hand account provided by one of our comrades.

On January 22, another comrade and I supported and participated in a mass action which was organized by the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), along with the May First Movement (KMU) trade union center and other class organizations.

At the Assembly Site at Liwasang Bonifacio

We first attended the rally at Liwasang Bonifacio. There speakers pointed to the callousness of the Aquino government towards the rights and demands of the working and poor people.

After a year of the new regime, nothing has changed in the lives of the toiling masses. What happened to the promises made by Cory Aquino during her campaign and her May Day speech last year? What about land reform? Thousands of farmers had been camping outside the Ministry of Agrarian Reform for over a week to present their demands to government officials, but to no avail.

This time, the farmers -- 10,000 of them -- supported by many organizations of the workers, urban poor, women, students and youth, had decided to march on Malacanang Palace and present their demands to the president herself. This plan was announced and the government knew of it. But Cory Aquino left her palace and ordered over 500 combat-ready, trigger- happy marines, along with an anti-riot squadron of the police, to stop the demonstration when it would reach Mendiola Bridge near the palace.

Spirited March Takes Off for Malacanang Palace

The march took off from Liwasang Bonifacio with a militant tone. Slogans filled the air. The demonstrators shouted slogans against the poverty, misery and deprivation suffered by the people. They shouted slogans against the pro-imperialist, anti-people constitution that's being introduced by

Cory as the solution to the problems of the people. And they also shouted slogans in support of the guerrilla movement of the New People's Army and in support of revolution.

All along the march route, the masses who lined the streets waved their arms and clapped their hands in support of the demonstration. Firecrackers added to the energetic atmosphere of the protest.

Troops Confront the March at the Mendiola Bridge

As the demonstration neared the Mendiola Bridge, it stopped just short of the 500 soldiers who had barricaded the entire bridge. There were marines in full combat gear with their M-16's, as well as a squadron of police with huge shields and long clubs.

Soldiers Cock Their Guns

Being almost at the front of the march, I witnessed the marines cocking their automatic rifles and some police officers drawing their pistols. The clicking of M-16s in unison was heard by many people and photographers present.

Savagery Unleashed

By this time, I decided to walk towards the side of the demonstration looking for a place to take refuge in case of shooting. After a few steps away from where I had been, I heard rapid gunfire. I quickly turned around and saw people falling down, others ducking and hitting the ground. I hit the ground too and listened as the firing continued. In a crouched position, I ran to the side and inside a small restaurant.

Many other demonstrators also ran, but some were not lucky enough to escape. Some were hit in the backs of their heads and in their backs. After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, tear gas came flying down the streets. And there was continued shooting. Then we saw the police "scat" teams and their jeeps come roaring down the street, chasing after demonstrators. We later learned that they chased the demonstrators all the way to the assembly point and arrested 12 people.

This Is But the Latest Outrage of the Aquino Government

This viciousness reminds me of what I saw in Viet Nam, where the savagery of the U.S. military was let loose against the Vietnamese people.

I follow what goes on in the Philippines. I am fully aware that this massacre is but the latest brutal outrage committed by the Aquino government and its military forces against the working and poor people of the Philippines.

I knew of the large-scale military operations that took place throughout April and May last year in Cagayan Valley, as well as the continuing military abuses and murders on the island of Mindanao and across the countryside. One cannot forget the recent brutal murder of Lando Olalia and Ka Alayay (head of the KMU and the driver of his car) which were committed by the military. Nor can one overlook the murder of many workers on the picket lines in Bohol, Iloilo, and Cebu City and of six labor organizers in Negros province. The Aquino government and its military use brutal violence to quiet down the masses who are fighting for their rights and livelihood.

The True Meaning of Aquino's Policy of "Maximum Tolerance"

This experience dramatized for me the reality behind "Maximum Tolerance," the Aquino government's stated policy towards dissent.

I saw what it meant at Mendiola on January 22 -- the massacre of 19 people and the wounding of a hundred more. On the other hand, I also saw how this policy was applied to the military men who took over GMA Channel 7 station for four days in an attempted coup. The government talked to them for the four days. It allowed food to be delivered to them. And it even permitted people to visit and entertain them. These Marcos loyalists in the military were the same ones who had attempted the previous coup. But they had merely been punished by having to do push-ups and give a promise of loyalty to the Aquino regime.

This stand is no surprise given that the Aquino regime is a regime of the exploiters and in support of imperialism. It is the military which protects the regime against the anger of the masses of the people.

The Struggles of the Toilers Will Continue

The brutal massacre of January 22 did not dampen the militant spirit of the poor and working people. It exposed the true nature of the Aquino government. And it emphasized the importance of pushing forward the revolutionary struggle of the working masses.

The next day after the massacre, hundreds of thousands went into action throughout the country. On January 25, a metro Manila-wide coordinated strike of the "jeepney" drivers took place, paralyzing important sections of Manila. PISTON, the jeepney drivers' union, had been planning a strike to press their demands; they kicked off their 10-day strike in protest of the massacre at Mendiola. On January 26, farmers' strikes took place all over the Philippines. And on the same day, over 20,000 farmers, workers, urban poor and students marched again from Liwasang Bonifacio to Malacanang to condemn the killings on January 22. As well, many mass organizations condemned the massacre and urged the masses on the path of struggle.

We support the sentiment for struggle against the Aquino government that was expressed in these mass actions and public statements.

[Photo: Scene of the massacre.]

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Behind Cory Aquino's sweet words

40,000 Filipinos suffer on Aquino family plantation

Cory Aquino. Darling of the capitalist establishment. Time magazine made her "Woman of the Year." The TV and press speak of her in the most exalted of tones. Ms. magazine has put her on its cover. She's been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize. And surely, one of these days someone will put her name up for sainthood.

But what is the stuff out of which such capitalist heroines are really made of? Elsewhere we have written a good deal about the policies of her government. Here we want to take a look at another side of the Filipino president.

In the Filipino countryside, a small number of fabulously wealthy landowners control huge estates. They live off the labor of millions of starving peasants and farm laborers. Cory Aquino herself comes from one of these families, the Cojuangcos. She has always waffled on the question of land reform. But while claiming that a nationwide solution could come only slowly, she's promised that she would make things different on her own family's plantation. That was to be a "model effort." Well, what has happened to this promise?

On February 22, the Detroit News carried an account by one of its special writers, Kathleen Barnes, who visited Aquino's family plantation. She presented quite a grim picture. While she didn't draw any conclusions about the meaning of the gulf between Aquino's promises and the reality of life on her plantation, the details she did bring out provide quite a damning indictment of the Filipino president. We reprint some excerpts from her article.

A Place of Hunger and Death

Barnes' article begins, "Life has never been easy for Filipino sugar workers, but for 40,000 people who live on Hacienda Luisita, a huge plantation owned by President Corazon Aquino and her family, life is especially hard.

"There's hunger there. Real grinding hunger. Children die. They die without benefit of a physician, although there's a hospital on the plantation. The parents say they can't afford the fare to take the children to the hospital. There's no medicine at the hospital anyway.

"So they die. Of measles, diarrhea, scabies, pneumonia. They die because they are weak from basic malnutrition."

Little Work and Starvation Wages

"Hacienda Luisita covers 15,945 acres of prime sugar land, with a refinery and distillery, in Tarlac province -- a two-hour drive north of Manila.

"There are about 40,000 residents in 11 barrios comprising one of the Philippines' largest plantations.

"Only about 35 percent of the residents actually work on the plantation -- by edict of the management. There is a strict regulation of one job per family on a rotation basis by which the jobs are spread out. Each worker gets three days work a week.

"On Hacienda Luisita, workers earn 114 pesos a week ($5.70) -- when there is work. That is far below the government's figure of 100 pesos per day ($5) for subsistence for a family of six.

"During the growing season, when there is1 little work, the hacienda gives workers loans of 30 pesos per week ($1.50), repayable from future wages.

"The crashing world sugar market has made Hacienda Luisita a hopeless place.... Like many of the other elite sugar plantation owners, the Cojuangco family has resisted switching to corn or rice."

How Those at the Top Live

"Hacienda Luisita is a remnant of the old elegance of the sugar barons. It was bought by President Aquino's father, Jose Cojuangco, with old family money in the 1950's. After his death in 1976, the hacienda fell to the hands of the six surviving Cojuangco children.

"The family business, in which Corazon Aquino served as treasurer before her assumption of the presidency of the Philippines, is called Jose Cojuangco & Sons Inc.

"The family compound is on an artificial mountain where each Cojuangco family member has a house connected to a common gathering place. A platoon of servants keeps things in order.

"There is a private airstrip and a country club with two championship golf courses on the property.

"In 1958, long before the Marcos era, the Cojuangco family negotiated a government loan to buy the property with the promise that it would be subdivided and sold at cost to tenants. The family backed out of the deal later, family lawyers arguing that there were no tenants on the hacienda, that the workers were well represented by a company labor union and that there had been no agrarian unrest there."

This Misery Must End!

The conditions on the Cojuangco plantation are of course not unique. This is what life in the Filipino countryside is generally like. And this is why over the decades, a powerful agrarian ferment has been building. This is why there is a peasant guerrilla army of tens of thousands. This is why there are strikes and demonstrations by peasants and farm laborers.

And while there has not yet been a big revolt on the Aquino family plantation, Barnes observes that here too, "The agrarian unrest is building, but not at fever pitch. The workers think they would benefit from representation by a more militant union rather than the comparatively docile in-house union now in place."

As a bourgeois journalist, Barnes may be satisfied with just showing the conditions on Aquino's plantation. But for those who have real sympathy with the Filipino toilers, certain conclusions are evident. As this story suggests, Corazon Aquino is not where the solution to the problem of the rural poor will come from. Not on her farm, nor anywhere else. Real change in the conditions of the masses will come not from the generosity of the "enlightened" gentry like Cory Aquino, but through a social revolution. And that revolution will be made by the hard work, sacrifices and arduous struggle of the workers, farm laborers, and poor peasants of the Philippines.

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The Filipino left a year after the fall of Marcos

Truce collapses, but illusions in the liberal regime remain

Last month, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its allies rejected the Aquino government's call for an extension of the 60-day cease-fire between the military and the guerrilla movement. The GPP had withdrawn from negotiations after the regime's January 22 massacre of protesting farmers in Manila.

Clashes between troops and guerrillas have resumed. And major military atrocities against villagers are again being reported. Meanwhile, the government is trying to split the rebel movement, first by appealing to regional sections of the guerrillas for separate agreements and now with another offer of amnesty to those who surrender.

The leadership of the guerrilla movement has called for resistance to the government's offensive. This is a welcome step. But unfortunately it doesn't appear that the CPP leadership has drawn the firmest conclusions from the collapse of the peace talks.

Truce Collapse Should Dispel Illusions in Aquino, But CPP Still Holds Out Hope

The CPP leadership says that it may return to the negotiations. It still holds out the hope that the government can demonstrate real interest in carrying out serious changes in Filipino society.

However the truth of the matter is that the collapse of the truce -- and the actual policies of the Aquino government -- offer a sharp refutation of the illusion that a just and peaceful reconciliation is possible between the revolutionary movement and the liberal capitalist government.

What Was at Stake in the Talks

The issue is not that an armed popular movement should never take part in cease-fires or negotiations with the government. In the contemporary Filipino situation, confusion among the masses about the Aquino government may have necessitated the guerrilla movement to take part in the recent talks.

The real question is what one seeks from such talks. In negotiations you can only expect to win recognition of what you've won on the real battlefield of struggle. Any idea that you can go beyond this is an illusion.

The leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines went to these talks not with a spirit of struggle but with a spirit of reconciliation. They took part in the talks by promoting incredible illusions that the talks could bring about radical changes. Instead of going into the talks with a healthy dose of vigilance, and using the talks to expose the real nature of the regime to the masses, the CPP leaders spread the mood that great things were at hand.

The CPP leadership now complains that one of the reasons that the truce talks collapsed was because the regime tried to undermine and split the guerrilla movement. But this was never a secret. It was always clear that the Aquino regime sought to use its popular support, which it gained by replacing the hated Marcos dictatorship, to club the guerrilla movement with demagogy of peace and justice and to undermine its ranks.

The government was always clear on what it wanted out of the talks. Aquino herself repeatedly declared that she wanted to win over a section and isolate the hard core. And she promised to crush those who proved to be intransigent.

A Longstanding Problem of Conciliation with Liberalism

The weak stand of the CPP is the result of a longstanding political problem that the CPP has suffered from, namely an attitude of conciliation with the liberal bourgeoisie.

In the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, the CPP blurred the distinctions between the revolutionary opposition and the liberal opposition. It painted the liberals in near-revolutionary colors.

And after the fall of Marcos, this stand led the CPP to give "critical support" to the Aquino regime. While criticizing the military and the right wing of the regime, the CPP has kept up praise for Aquino and other liberal and reformist forces in the regime.

What this stand has meant in practice is dulling the ability of the toilers to fight against the exploiters and against the outrages of the regime itself.

Going Beyond Illusions to Reformist Utopias

In the recent negotiations with the government, the CPP leadership didn't just stop at illusions in Aquino. It actually pursued a perspective that would gut the heart out of the revolutionary struggle.

For one thing, the CPP promoted the reformist idea that through the talks, the government would accede to some form of "power sharing." They wanted Aquino to allow the left into a coalition government. This is a reformist utopia, that all classes have the same interests and can rule together for the good of society. The big landlords and capitalists are not going to become friends and collaborators of the workers and peasants they exploit.

In addition, they even urged the perspective of eventually merging 4he Filipino military with the guerrilla forces. This is incredible, despite the talk of prior "democratization" of the military. The idea of humanizing the bloodstained Filipino military of the exploiting classes is a pipedream. And if it ever came to pass that the government would allow the guerrilla soldiers into its armed forces, it would only be a tragic setup for massacre. The Filipino militarists have made it amply clear that they are hellbent on revenge against the rebels who've been fighting them all these years.

Slapped in the Face by the Aquino Regime

But the government would not concede any of the demands of the CPP. It didn't even make minor concessions that were worth anything. It may be recalled that as the course of events proceeded, Aquino was consolidating her alliance with the military establishment which helped bring her to power. Far from providing a place for the CPP in her government, she was even dropping reformist ministers who had earned the wrath of the right and the capitalists.

And what's been the Aquino regime's real stand towards the left? In November, death squads connected to the military brutally murdered two activists of the May First trade union center. And this January, an unarmed march of peasant demonstrators was savagely fired upon, killing 19 people and injuring nearly a hundred more. Meanwhile, no real concessions have been made to the economic and social demands of the toilers.

Since the collapse of the truce, the government has kept up its ferocity against the left. Just 42 hours after the expiration of the truce, 17 villagers near Lupao, 90 miles north of Manila, were gunned down in cold blood by the military in revenge against the guerrilla forces of the area.

And just a few days ago, the government's "commission of inquiry" on the January 22 massacre released its report, blaming both the soldiers and demonstrators! Imagine that. Twenty-two protesters were killed, mostly shot in the back and head. Not a single casualty among the troops. Yet both sides are blamed. And what's more, the government is pressing charges against leaders of the peasant movement who organized the march. How's that for liberal justice!

But Illusions Are Still Fostered

These latest acts should help to dispel illusions in the government. And no doubt, among the toilers there is increasing dissatisfaction with the regime. After all, it has proved to be a regime of empty promises and real bullets. Unfortunately, however, the leadership of the Filipino left still remains strongly attached to reformist tendencies to conciliate with the Aquino regime.

Take the January 22 massacre. Right after that massacre, the leaders of left mass organizations which are connected to the CPP came out with strong denunciations of the government. Bay an, a coalition of leftist mass organizations, declared: "In less than one year, the Aquino regime has outdone its fascist predecessor in the scale of violence against the people... The Aquino government cannot wash its hands of its responsibility for this bloody incident." (S.F. Examiner, Jan. 23) Peasant Movement leader Jaime Tadeo told the press, "Nothing like this has ever happened before, not even during the 20 repressive years of the former Marcos regime." (Malaya, Jan. 24)

Even in some of the initial statements, one could see equivocation. One statement condemned the massacre and then went on to say that Aquino was just "tending towards" reaction. Moreover, in just a few more days, the leaders of the left were giving up their criticism of Aquino. Lean Alejandro, secretary- general of Bayan, said that Bayan did not hold Mrs. Aquino personally responsible for the killing. He said, "We're handling her with kid gloves.., because we presume she's not directly responsible for the killing. In Marcos' case, we knew he was responsible for the killings. " (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 26)

And the January 26 "march of indignation" organized by the left was organized in a conciliatory spirit towards the government. The organizers closely coordinated the march with the regime. A lot of restrictions were placed on the masses -- no firecrackers, no big sticks, etc. The regime's ministers even joined in. And at the palace there was almost a love-in with Aquino and her cabinet. Bayan leader Alejandro gushed, "It goes to show that Ms. Aquino is close to the people." (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 27)

In the meantime, Bayan had agreed with the government that there should be "no escalation" of the turbulence that rocked the country. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 26)

It is this spirit -- of defense of Aquino and constant appeals to her to be enlightened and progressive on one hand and of restraint upon the masses on the other -- that is the worst disease for the revolutionary movement. It is what blunts the ability of the toilers to stand up to the exploiters and their regime. It is what allows the liberals to make bigger and bigger inroads in influencing the masses.

The sooner this orientation is overcome, the stronger the movement can be.

[Photo: New People's Army guerrillas in a demonstration of their fighting spirit.]

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Israel kidnaps 50 Palestinians

The other hostages

When it comes to dealing with the Middle East, capitalist America has two standards. One for Washington and its allies. Another for the masses of Palestinian and other Arab peoples.

Last month, three more Americans were taken hostage in Beirut. Promptly, the Reagan administration and the capitalist news media swung into action. Warships went steaming towards Lebanon. Threats of military retaliation filled the air. Patriotic fervor was again whipped up -- against Arabs, Muslims and "foreigners" generally.

In early February, another incident took place in the same region. However it barely got a mention on one of the evening TV broadcasts, and 'most newspapers didn't even bother to carry it. Israel -- "our closest ally" and "the beacon of democracy in the Middle East" -- forcibly stopped a cargo ship near the Lebanese coast and kidnapped all fifty of its passengers. They were taken away to prison camps.

The passengers were Palestinian. That was all Israel needed as a pretext. The Israeli government announced that the 50 were all members of Fatah, one of the major Palestinian organizations. Thus they were "terrorists." The Israeli naval chief declared, "They were not armed but such a large number of people raises several questions and makes you wonder." That, apparently, is reason enough for seizing and imprisoning fifty people from a ship off another country's coast.

This is of course not the first such incident. Israeli acts of piracy like this are routine in the eastern Mediterranean. Ships are regularly halted, searched, and prisoners taken. The same goes on within Lebanon itself. Israeli prison camps are full of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

But the U.S. capitalist media does not consider any of this to be newsworthy. And you won't find the media or politicians crying out in protest. When has the U.S. government raised one little peep about these hostages? Never.

But it is another story when some desperate and poorly-oriented groups in Beirut retaliate by seizing American or other foreign hostages. That becomes reason for U.S. imperialism to raise war cries for military intervention.

The lesson from this event? The next time you read a newspaper article about the latest hostage crisis in Beirut, remember the case of the 50 Palestinians seized by Israel's navy, as well as the thousands more languishing in the prison camps of Israel. Remember what "our government" and its allies have done to the people of the Middle East. It is Israel and its backers in Washington who are in fact the biggest terrorists in the Middle East.

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Revolution and civil war in Spain - Part 3

The defense of Madrid by the armed people

November 1936

The Spanish ruling class hoped to check the rising tide of revolution with its bloody suppression of the uprising of Asturian miners of October 1934^ Filling the prisons with 30,000 militants was supposed to put the struggling workers, farm laborers and peasants in their place. (See the January 1 Workers' Advocate for discussion of the Asturias revolt.) It didn't work. The working masses quickly recovered and hurled themselves into struggle with renewed strength.

The revolution, however, did not develop in a straight line. The working people soon found themselves in a ferocious civil war unleashed by the fascist military officers. This created a complex and difficult situation. Among other things, a coalition was formed between the working class and the capitalist liberals who did not join the fascist coup. Much has been said about this "Popular Front" coalition. The prejudice has been fostered that this alliance with the bourgeoisie was central to the strength of the Spanish peoples' resistance to fascism. And this prejudice has been used to say that the Marxist-Leninist ideas about the class struggle and its criticism of the bourgeois liberals don't apply in the fight against fascism.

Below we take a look at the beginnings of the civil war. These months revealed the cowardice of the bourgeois liberals. They were far from the "anti-fascist" heroes that they have been made out to be. From the first shots of the generals' coup the republican bourgeois were hip deep in treachery to the peoples' resistance. Their deep-seated hostility to the revolution of the working class and toilers is what motivated their treachery. And, as we shall see, it was the revolution which provided the powerful engine of the anti-fascist struggle.

The Popular Front Government

The February 1936 elections were a reflection of the breadth of the mass movement. The Popular Front ticket beat the National Front bloc of fascists, monarchists and other rightists. The Popular Front coalition was made up of the liberal bourgeois parties, part of the Catalan and Basque nationalist parties, the social-democratic Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), and the Communist Party (CPS). It gained broad support among the poor with its promise to free the workers imprisoned in the wake of the Asturias revolt. Even the anarchist workers voted for the Popular Front, although as a rule they rejected voting in elections.

The triumph of the Popular Front over the fascist bloc and the release of the political prisoners filled the working masses with confidence in their own strength. The workers and poor peasants went into action against the capitalists and landlords, spurred with renewed hope in escaping hunger and gaining a better life.

For the masses, the new Popular Front government brought a small degree of relief from the cruel conservative government that it replaced. That is about all that can be said for it. Otherwise it was a pretty pathetic creature. Left Republicans and other bourgeois liberals made up the first Popular Front cabinets. The PSOE and the CPS supported this liberal government from the outside. The Popular Front government only begrudged the most timid reforms. And far from being a government of struggle, it tried to smother the fires of strikes and land seizures that swept the country.

Furthermore, despite its "anti-fascist" and "popular" labels, it was a government of liberal cowardice. It was afraid to lift a finger against the military officers, fascists and monarchists who were aggressively plotting to overthrow the government and rig up a new dictatorship.

The Workers Confront the Generals' Coup

A fascist coup was in the works and everyone knew it. The military officers finally made their move on July 17 from Spanish Morocco. The Generals Franco, Mola, Goded and their fellow plotters had laid careful plans. There was to be a simultaneous assault by the military, the police, and the fascist and monarchist militias across Spain. The business was to be done with in a matter of days.

Upon hearing the news of the coup, workers poured into the streets to confront the fascist onslaught. Poorly armed, and sometimes without even rifles, crowds of workers stormed military garrisons and broke up fascist militias. After the first three or four days of fighting, such mass actions had foiled the generals' plan in Madrid, Barcelona, and other critical cities and towns across Spain.

What's more, within sections of the armed forces the rank and file also rose against the coup attempt. Mutinous sailors rose against their officers and seized most of the ships of the navy. (Seventy percent of the navy's officers were reportedly killed by their own sailors.) This mutiny created a critical bottleneck for the generals' coup, temporarily stranding their Army of Africa in Morocco. They had to wait for the German Nazis to run an airlift to the Spanish mainland. (The Army of Africa was the Spanish colonial army battle-hardened in the suppression of Morocco. It was made up of both Spaniards and native Moroccans. In the first stages of the war they were the most effective Nationalist troops.)

The Liberals Refuse to Arm the People

Meanwhile, the Popular Front government proved its total spinelessness. It was paralyzed with fear. But it wasn't half as frightened by the fascist generals as by the throngs of workers in the plazas across Spain crying "Arms! Arms! Arms!"

In the first hours of the generals' coup, the Left Republican Prime Minister Casares Quiroga announced "in the most emphatic terms" that anyone who gave arms to the workers would be shot. The Popular Front government refused to arm the masses. It failed to support the mutinous sailors and troops. It proved too cowardly to take any serious measure against the fascist attack. (According to the historian Hugh Thomas, the government did take the one "aggressive" measure of ordering the bombing of Tetuan and Ceuta in Morocco. Naturally, this only helped to push the Moroccan chiefs further into the hands of the fascist officers. See The Spanish Civil War, p. 141.)

The Popular Front ministers got on the phone to the fascist military men to make polite appeals for reconciliation. With this aim, Left Republican President Manuel Azana had his comrade Quiroga resign to set up a new cabinet that would be more agreeable to the generals. This self-styled "government of conciliation" was led by Martinez Barrio of the Union Republicana, the most right-wing party within the Popular Front. It also included a conservative party outside the Popular Front, the National Republican Party. Barrio called up to plead with General Mola: "At this very moment the Socialists are ready to arm the people. This will mean the end of the Republic and democracy. We should think of Spain. We must avoid civil war at all costs. I am willing to offer you, the military, the portfolios you want, on the terms you want." (Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Revolution, p. 44.)

The generals refused the offer. Barrio resigned, and the new Left Republican government had no choice but to accept the arming of the people. By this time the people themselves were seizing arms from the military garrisons. The damage, however, had already been done. The first critical days of vacillation had allowed the generals to grab up a large part of western and northern Spain from which they launched their drive on Madrid.

"But had the liberal Government of Casares Quiroga distributed arms, and ordered the Civil Governors to do so too, thus using the working class to defend the Republic at the earliest opportunity," Hugh Thomas sums up, "it is possible that the rising would have been crushed." (The Spanish Civil War, p. 135) This is the harsh verdict that even a thoroughly bourgeois historian has to make about the refusal of the liberal Popular Front government to arm the people.

The Revolution Shows Its Power

The combined blows of the fascist coup and the counteraction of the working masses shattered the machinery of the capitalist state. Military officers and police, judges and bureaucrats -- in their great majority all these tools of capitalist rule went over to the side of the fascists. Most of those institutions of bourgeois authority that remained were either dispersed or made powerless by the revolutionary movement of the workers and toilers.

Indeed, the revolutionary explosion that the liberals had so feared broke out in force. While the liberal government ministers cowered in their offices, the working masses effectively took matters into their own hands. In most of the cities and villages of Republican Spain real authority resided in the armed people. The workers and peasants exercised their power through anti-fascist militia committees, vigilance committees, revolutionary tribunals and other organs of the revolution that were mainly set up by the trade unions. Workers committees took control over much of industry, particularly in the proletarian center of Barcelona. The peasant revolution also swept the countryside. Landless laborers and hungry peasants unleashed their vengeance on landlordism and exploitation, seizing land and setting up forms of cooperative labor.

Within this mass upheaval there was much confusion and lack of cohesion. There were also plenty of examples of downright foolishness: from grave blunders caused by undeserved trust in the bourgeoisie, to unworkable petty-bourgeois projects in the name of "libertarian communism." These things were connected to the social-democratic and anarchist influences on the masses.

Nonetheless, it was this revolutionary movement of the masses which lit the fires of the resistance. This is what brought the masses into the militias and into the streets where they hurled themselves with utmost bravery into the anti-fascist fight. And this is what finally broke the advance of Franco's troops on the outskirts of Madrid.

The Defense of Madrid -- A Heroic Action of the People

By October, half of Spanish territory had fallen under the advancing Nationalist forces. The fascist troops carried out systematic "pacification" through wholesale executions of leftists, trade unionists, Republican officials and anyone suspected of lack of loyalty to the fascists. By the end of that month the Army of Africa was perched in the suburbs of Madrid. It readied a death blow to deliver all of Spain to the new fascist order.

Then something happened which neither the Nationalist nor the Republican chieftains thought possible: the crack divisions of fascism, with their overwhelming superiority in arms and training, were stopped cold by the shabbily armed and ill-prepared population of Madrid.

Before the attack was launched, the neighborhoods of Madrid came under artillery bombardment. The German "Condor Legion" also began the systematic bombing of civilian targets. The Nazi officers hoped to spread panic with this early experiment in the use of bombers against a city. Instead, the firebombs spread the determination to resist. Thousands made homeless did not flee; they slept in the streets and prepared to fight back. Men, women and children worked feverishly to build barricades and meet the impending attack. Their now-famous watchword was "No Pasaran!" (They Shall Not Pass!)

The fascists launched their assault on November 7. For the first day, the attack was beat back by the sheer bravery and determination of the men and women of the militias. The workers manned the barricades with their meager weapons, and some came to the front with no weapons waiting to take up the rifles of their fallen comrades. They simply refused to retreat in the face of the heavy artillery and machine guns of the fascists. Miners equipped with dynamite hurled themselves against advancing tanks. Cab drivers used their taxis for the same purpose.

The next day, the militias were reinforced by the. arrival of several battalions of the International Brigades. They had a considerable impact although they only numbered a few thousand fighters. The presence of working class militants from Germany, Italy, France, Poland and other countries was a big inspiration to the workers of Madrid. The International Brigades also showed extreme courage in battle and brought with them useful military training and experience in street fighting.

The Nationalist attack became bogged down in a ferocious battle for the University City on the western edge of Madrid. Militiamen and International Brigaders fought to the death for every lecture hall and classroom. The fascist attack was forced to a standstill after nearly two weeks of nonstop fighting.

Both sides dug in. And over the next two years the fascists were kept at bay, clinging to their trenches in the University City. The fearless mass action of the working people of Madrid had knocked the wind out of the generals' assault. It also kept the revolution alive and inspired the resistance of the masses across Republican Spain.

The Communists Show Their Mettle

The successful defense of Madrid was not a spontaneous action. Such a stubborn and complex struggle would have been impossible without organization and leadership. No small part of this was contributed by the communists.

It was the communists who had faith that the population could defend the capital. Communist organizers mobilized the mass defense efforts, as well as the suppression of the "fifth column." (The Nationalists approached Madrid with four army columns. When the commanding general was asked which column would take the city he is supposed to have replied "the fifth column," meaning the pro-fascist forces within. This is how the term "fifth column" was born.)

The communists also showed their mettle in the fighting itself. Those militias where the communists were strong tended to be the most stubborn, disciplined and effective. The CPS-led fifth regiment showed in the defense of Madrid why it was to become legendary for its courage and fighting ability. And the heroic International Brigades were also organized, by the communists.

True, the defense of Madrid was a united front effort of the workers of different political trends and trade unions. The communists, however, stood out as particularly self-sacrificing and determined. In part, this was because the CPS was the party most committed to the fight and most determined to rally the masses to the resistance. Meanwhile, the liberal republican, social- democratic, and- anarchist leaders were filled with gloom and despair. The main concern for most of them was to get themselves out of town.

By the time of the siege of Madrid, Largo Caballero and his radical phrasemongering wing of the social- democrats led the government. However, when it came to mobilizing the mass resistance they proved little better than the liberal bourgeois ministers who preceded them. As they fled Madrid for Valencia, Caballero and his ministers were delayed by anarchist militiamen who threatened to shoot them for their cowardice. Later, in the midst of the battle for the capital, an urgent request was made to Caballero's office for more munitions. This was answered by the counter-request to send to Valencia the prime minister's silverware which had been left behind in the Capital.

The anarchist leaders, despite their revolutionary bravado, were also despondent and incapable of decisive action. Even where the anarchists committed themselves to the fight, their organizational system, with its autonomous "affinity groups" and glorification of individualism, got in the way of forging a disciplined fighting force. The anarchists sent several thousand fighters to the defense of Madrid led by their famous leader Durruti. The anarchist column, however, did poorly, breaching discipline and abandoning its positions.

Losing the Revolutionary Perspective

The defense of Madrid was another demonstration that it was the communists who best understood the urgency of the resistance to the fascists. They also had the necessary courage and organizational ability. No wonder their prestige and influence soared among the people. The tragedy is, in the midst of these years of bloody struggle and sacrifice, the leadership of the CPS had lost its bearings.

The CPS leadership lost perspective of what the fight was all about. They were blind to the most fundamental point that this was a war to defend the working class and the revolutionary movement of the toilers. They lapsed into the position that given the urgency of the war the revolution would have to wait for later. All classes and political trends would have to sink their differences for the sake of the war. In practice, this put the CPS on the side of the bourgeoisie. Indeed, the CPS set itself the task of rebuilding the shattered structures of the capitalist state and enforcing its authority on the masses. And it worked to chain the whole revolutionary upheaval, including the anti-fascist resistance, behind the alliance with the liberal bourgeois republicans.

All this went against the fundamental teachings of communism. For decades, the pro-Soviet revisionists and other renegades from communism have used the example of the struggle of the Spanish communists to justify their negation of Marxism-Leninism. A study of this history, however, proves the opposite. It proves that failure to stick to communist principles undermines even the most heroic and self-sacrificing struggle.

Their anti-Marxist attitude towards the bourgeois liberals was one of the CPS leadership's most critical failings. Jose Diaz, CPS general secretary, gave the following explanation of his party's thinking about the republican bourgeoisie:

"We maintain good relations with the Republicans. The Republicans have consciously participated in the great anti-fascist movement hand in hand with the proletariat. They [the Republicans] knew in advance that they were fighting not for an abstract republic but for a new type of republic. The Republicans, the petty bourgeoisie, have suffered as much as the proletariat from the semi-feudal oppression of the ruling sections -- landowners, bankers and the military clique. They fight nobly and bravely at the front, and are capably carrying out leading work in the economic and political life of our country. The recent speeches of Senor Asani and Senor Martinez Barrio are clear examples Which confirm our words. Their position proves that the alliance between the forces of the proletariat and those of the petty bourgeoisie has a firm political basis. It is the duty of our Party to see that this basis is never undermined." (Report to the March 5,1937 Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee, reprinted in The Communist International, May 1937.)

It should be clarified that the use by Diaz of "petty bourgeois" to describe the Republicans is intentionally misleading. The CPS came to describe all sections of the urban and rural capitalists who weren't directly of the "landowners, bankers and the military clique" as "petty bourgeois." Diaz is clearly talking about the liberal bourgeoisie (and even not so liberal as in the case of Martinez Barrio).

The most striking feature of this argument of the CPS leader is that it buries any class distinctions. It goes straight against any idea that the proletariat has its own independent interests (after all, the liberals "have suffered as much as the proletariat"!). It also blurs over the gulf between strata of the peasantry and other sections of the revolutionary petty-bourgeoisie and the cowardly bourgeois liberals.

Moreover, Jose Diaz' argument goes against a revolutionary perspective. It binds the struggle within the framework of a republican alliance with the liberal capitalists even into the future (an alliance which must "never be undermined").

To crown his argument Jose Diaz points to none other than the wretched bourgeois Martinez Barrio. This is the same Senor Barrio who only months before had so nobly led the "government of conciliation." This is the capitalist huckster who had so bravely offered the generals of the fascist coup the ministries of the government to save "the Republic and democracy" (that is, the capitalist Republic) from the armed people.

In short, although the communists themselves fought heroically and made a major contribution to the resistance, the new political orientation, of the CPS proved disastrous. Among other things, harnessing the struggle to the alliance with the treacherous bourgeois liberals undermined and demoralized the resistance, as we will examine more closely in future articles. The CPS leaders forgot that it was the revolution of the workers and toilers that made such acts of mass heroism as the defense of Madrid possible.

[Photo: The armed people confronted the generals' coup.]

[Photo: Rifles are seized and distributed among the people of Madrid, July 1936.]

[Photo: Demonstration in Madrid to celebrate the Popular Front victory in the February, 1936 elections. "Viva Russia!" was a popular slogan expressing the workers' solidarity with the Soviet Union, which in those days was still a socialist country.]

[Photo: Banner of workers' militia reads: "Group of Basque Dynamiters."]

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