The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 17, No. 5


25ยข May 1, 1987

[Front page:

South Africa: Black workers take on racist regime;

The Kennedy bill is not half enough--Workers making minimum wage need a living wage;

Employer sanctions are racist and oppressive--Fight for the rights of all immigrant workers!]


Pentagon prepares World War 3 and 4; Peace talks......... 2
What's behind the U.S.-Japan computer chip war?......... 3
At the U of C Berkeley: 'Military Off Campus'.............. 3
Takebacks pay for million-dollar bonuses....................... 4

Strikes and Workplace News

Cudahy; Douglas Furniture; NY transit; SF ports............ 5
SF shipyards; Todd Seattle; Jefferson Assembly; GM and Ford split workers; UAW convention................ 7

A glimpse of right-wing terrorism................................... 8
New INS regulations against the immigrants.................. 8
Texas: Protests stay execution of racist court.................. 9
Chattanooga & N. Carolina: Anti-racist marches........... 9
Columbia students vs. racism........................................... 9

Apartheid No! Revolution Yes!

Avenge massacre of black railway workers!.................... 10
Black workers prepare countrywide struggle................... 10
More campus protests against racist S. Africa................. 10
Nothing done about Israeli arms to apartheid.................. 11
Whites-only election shows racist rulers panic................ 11

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

Salvadoran guerrilla victory............................................. 12
'Humanitarian aid' delivers weapons to contras.............. 12
Honduran masses say "U.S. troops out!"......................... 13
100,000 protest U.S. role in Central America.................. 13
Another protest against ClA-contra airline...................... 13

How Reagan teaches morality.......................................... 14
CIA in bed with drug traffickers..................................... 14

Iranian communists on 'Iran-gate'................................... 15
Portuguese communists: On Iran-contra scandal............. 15
News from Iran................................................................ 15
Letter from Communist Party of Iran............................... 15

The World in Struggle

Spanish strikes; Lebanese general strike ........................ 16
Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupiers........................ 16
Philippines: Aquino encourages death squads................. 16
Chile & Argentina: Pope reconciles generals................... 17

Turn in Spanish Civil War: Barcelona, May 1937........... 20

South Africa: Black workers take on racist regime

The Kennedy bill is not half enough

Workers making minimum wage need a living wage

Employer sanctions are racist and oppressive

Fight for the rights of all immigrant workers!

Behind the arms control talks, nuclear war preparations continue

Pentagon is spending billions to prepare World War 3... and 4

What's behind the US.-Japan computer chip war?

Imperialists scrap to redivide world markets

At the University of California --Berkeley

'Military Off Campus!'

Takebacks pay for million-dollar bonuses

"We demand a raise!" -- a song

"Who are they?"

Strikes and workplace news

A glimpse of right-wing terrorism

New INS regulations against the immigrants

Clarence Brandley on Texas death row for crime he didn't commit

Protests stay execution of victim of racist justice

March in Chattanooga condemns police killings

A protest 1,000 strong against police murder of Lumbee Indian

Columbia students vs. racism

[Graphic: Apartheid no! REVOLUTION yes!]

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

How Reaganism teaches 'morality'

CIA in bed with drug traffickers

Iranian communists on 'Irangate'

News from Iran

Letter from the Communist Party of Iran

From the Portuguese Communist Organization/Workers' Policy

The dirty role of the Portuguese government in the Iran-contra scandal

The World in Struggle

Revolution and civil war in Spain -- Part 4

The turning point: Barcelona - May 1937

South Africa: Black workers take on racist regime

The struggle has flared up again in South Africa. No amount of press bans could hide it; no amount of repression has stopped it. They have no rights under racist law, but 16,000 black transit workers are waging a bitter strike near Johannesburg. At the same time 700,000 black workers in the COSATU trade union federation are preparing a national campaign. And the struggle against the police continues to grow in intensity.

Meanwhile South African elections will take place in early May. Reagan regards South Africa as a "democracy," and here indeed is South African democracy in action: the overwhelming majority can't vote at all. Only the white minority can vote or be elected. To win votes, the government has been stepping up its utter ruthless repression against the black people. And it has been sending the military to conduct murderous raids on neighboring black-ruled countries.

The racist government has complained that things really aren't so bad. Why, the repression and arrests are alleged inventions of a biased opposition. But now senior police officials in South Africa have given figures for the number of detainees under the present "state of emergency." And guess what. It turns out that it was the opponents of apartheid who were right all along. The racist regime now itself admits over 1,400 children and teenagers presently in jail and a total of 19,000 people detained without charges in the last ten months. This doesn't count the people murdered or driven out of their homes or deprived of their jobs.

The solidarity movement in the U.S. with the struggle in South Africa also continues. Presently there is a wave of racism at U.S. campuses. So many solidarity actions at universities have also issued demands against racism in the U.S. This is a correct instinct on the part of the activists, for it is not just the black and oppressed masses in South Africa that face the task of revolution. Here too we must build a revolutionary movement to fight exploitation, racism, and militarism. And it is the same

American capitalists who oppress the working masses at home who support the South African racists abroad.

For more coverage on the struggle in South Africa and the solidarity movement in the U.S., see pages 10 and 11.

[Photo: Striking railway workers fight back against racist police in Johannesburg.]

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The Kennedy bill is not half enough

Workers making minimum wage need a living wage

The Reagan government has ravaged the minimum-wage workers. For the last six years Reagan, with the help of the Democrats, has kept the minimum wage frozen at a minuscule $3.35 an hour. This was not enough to feed a family back in 1981. But with rising inflation since that time, their real buying power has been cut by 27%. The minimum-wage workers are being driven to the wall.

Recently the liberal Democrats introduced a bill into Congress to raise the minimum wage. Any rise in the minimum wage would be a welcomed event by tens of millions of poor workers. But the Democrats' bill, while slightly raising the minimum wage gradually over three years, will not even restore the Reagan cuts.

So why are the Democrats proposing this bill? With all the monstrous attacks on the working people, strikes, protests by the homeless, rallies of the unemployed and other struggles are on the rise. And some Democrats have begun to worry out loud that, if something isn't done, today's small struggles could turn into an explosion. What is more, next year is the presidential elections. And some Democrats are worried that their "pro-labor" image has worn too thin. Even while they continue to help Reagan's budget cutting against the working people, the Democrats have been looking for a cheap way to appear as champions of the workers and downtrodden. Their minimum wage legislation seems to be such a facelift. It aims to continue to drive the minimum- wage workers to the wall, but not quite as fast as the Reagan government desires.

The Reaganite Offensive Against the Minimum Wage

Attacking the minimum wage has been a major goal of the capitalist offensive under Reagan. Shortly after Reagan was elected he announced his mindless theory that the very existence of a federal minimum wage standard "has caused more misery and unemployment than anything since the Great Depression." Under this banner, Reagan has worked to freeze the minimum wage and to even cut it. For example, he campaigned for a subminimum wage for teenagers, claiming that this would create more jobs. But contrary to Reagan's upside-down world, lowering wages does not create jobs. It only fattens the profits for the capitalists and impoverishes the workers.

Just look at the fate of the minimum- wage workers over the last six years. In the 1970's, the pay of a full-time minimum-wage job hovered around the government's official poverty line for a family of three. Today the earnings of a minimum-wage worker equal only 77% of the poverty level for a family of three and 60% for a family of four.

Moreover, the number of jobs at or near the minimum wage is rapidly growing. Today over 12.5 million workers make under $4.00 an hour. And the majority of new jobs are at minimum wages. The capitalists claim that the minimum-wage workers don't need raises because they are allegedly just teenagers and housewives earning "pin money." Of course this is just an excuse to prey on the young workers and women workers. But, in fact, nearly 70% of minimum-wage jobs are held by adults. Twenty-eight percent of minimum-wage workers are heads of households. And many others must take minimum-wage jobs for their own or their families' survival.

Clearly the freezing of the minimum wage is forcing millions and millions of workers toward destitution. But even now, some Reaganite Republicans in Congress are talking of trying to scuttle a raise in the minimum wage by amending the Democrats' bill with a provision for a subminimum wage for teenagers.

Millions Still Not Covered by Minimum-Wage Laws

The Democrats' bill has been introduced by the liberal Democrats Teddy Kennedy, in the Senate, and Augustus Hawkins, in the House. The bill, entitled the "Minimum Wage Restoration Act of 1987," has been praised by the AFL^IO honchos as if it rescues the poor workers from their plight. But, unfortunately, this bill is not nearly as good as its advertisements.

In the first place, the Kennedy bill does nothing to extend the minimum wage law to millions of workers who are not covered by it. These include agricultural workers, many restaurant workers, handicapped workers, students in college jobs, and others. These workers will continue to suffer at wage levels below the minimum.

With Kennedy's Bill the Minimum-Wage Workers Would Never Catch Up

For workers covered by the minimum- wage law, there would be no raise through the rest of 1987. Next year it would rise to only $3.85, then $4.25 in 1989 and $4.65 in 1990. Thereafter the minimum wage would equal 50% of the average wage in the private sector (excluding agricultural workers and supervisors).

These increases are better than nothing. But they don't make up for the last six years of falling wages. Indeed, it will take another three years for the buying power of the minimum wage to approximate its level of six years ago and then only if inflation stays around three percent a year. But already the rate of inflation is on the rise, and bourgeois economists are predicting that inflation will soar in the future. It is almost certain that even after three years, the buying power of the minimum wage will remain well behind 1981 levels. And the 1981 levels themselves would still put a family of three below the official poverty line.

You would think that anyone claiming to oppose Reagan would at least want to immediately restore the minimum-wage buying power to its previous levels. But Kennedy has opposed immediate restoration. He admits that he wants only a small, gradual rise to "minimize hardship on any firm." What an outrage! Kennedy expects the poorest workers to continue to suffer subpoverty wages so the wealthy money-grubbers don't have "hardship"!

You would think, as well, that a "restoration" bill would at least index the minimum wage to the cost of living so that inflation wouldn't erode away the buying power as it has done the last six years. But, instead, after three years, the Democrats' bill sets the minimum wage at half of the average wage level in the private sector. And this at a time when the capitalists' offensive has slashed the purchasing power of production workers' wages by 10% since 1978.

Union Bureaucrats Hype Kennedy's Bill

The AFL-CIO leaders are in the front lines of the legislative tussle to pass the Kennedy bill. Indeed, to listen to them you'd think this bill is the sweetest creation since ice cream. But their promotion of this bill only goes to show the union sellouts' lack of concern for the poorest workers. Over the last several years the AFL-CIO big shots have not only helped the monopolies saddle workers with takebacks, they've shown particular disdain for the minimum wage workers. They generally do not even organize among them. And when they do, they often leave the workers stuck in slave labor conditions.

Rank-And-File Action Is Needed

Last year, the union bureaucrats and the Democratic Party politicians promised the workers heaven and earth if they would only vote Democrat. Congress would fall to their control, the Reaganite offensive would be smashed, and the workers' interests would be defended. But what are the fruits of that campaign? The Kennedy minimum-wage bill is the farthest the Democrats will go.

The fight for a new minimum-wage law must go beyond the piddling proposals of the liberals and union hacks. A decent minimum-wage law must index the pay to the cost of living and extend coverage to the millions left without protection. But more, it must also immediately raise the minimum wage to a level where the hard-pressed workers could pay for food, shelter, transportation and day care and include benefits such as a national health care program.

The Kennedy bill shows once again that the workers cannot rely on the Democratic Party or the AFL-CIO labor traitors to improve their conditions. To defend themselves, the workers must organize rank-and-file action independent of the bureaucrats and liberals. Strikes and other mass actions are needed not only to push forward the organized workers' wage demands but also to help the poorest workers who are often unorganized.

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Employer sanctions are racist and oppressive

Fight for the rights of all immigrant workers!

The next time you apply for a job you are probably going to be asked for two good pieces of I.D. (such as a driver's license and a social security card, or a U.S. passport, or valid working papers). The interviewer may take special note of your accent, your complexion, or your last name. And there's a good chance the door will be shut in your face if they don't like your papers or just if you are "foreign looking."

This is because on June 1 employer sanctions are coming into force against hiring undocumented immigrant workers. Under the new Immigration Reform and Control Act (Simpson-Rodino Bill), it will now be a federal crime, subject to civil and criminal penalties, to hire workers who can't show proof that they are who they claim to be and that they have legal permission to work in this country.

Discrimination and Super-Exploitation

The Simpson-Rodino Bill is advertised as a humanitarian gesture towards the immigrant workers. We are told that its purpose is to bring the "illegals" out from the shadows by giving them amnesty and legal status.

Never mind that this amnesty is so oppressive that some who do get amnesty will wish they hadn't. Family members who don't qualify may face deportation. Amnestied workers will be deprived of rights and barred from social services. Never mind that it only gives amnesty to those who have lived in the U.S. since before January 1,1982 (on top of a heap of other restrictions). This means that only a fraction of the undocumented will qualify for this amnesty.

What about the millions who don't make the amnesty? That's where employer sanctions come in. The undocumented are going to be hounded and persecuted as never before. The Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol are going to be beefed up to carry out more raids and deportations. And now, for the first time, the undocumented worker will be barred by law from earning a living.

Many of these workers have family and ties here and no place to go. They have little choice but to stay and try to get by. But now they will be driven even deeper under the shadows of illegality. Employer sanctions will only drive them deeper into the underground economy of 12-hour days and subminimum wages. And they will strengthen the grip of the unscrupulous contractors and sweatshop owners over the undocumented.

No working person should think that these sanctions won't affect them. Any "foreign looking'' worker can become the victim of discrimination and firings. Even before the law has gone into effect, there have been reports from all over the country of fully legal workers (including citizens) being fired from their jobs.

What's more, employers will now be required to keep records of the papers of every new employee. Along with this goes the new, unforgeable social security cards. And quick steps are being taken to provide employers with a national document verification system. In the name of controlling immigrants, the machinery is being put in place to spy on and blacklist militant and progressive workers.

Two-Faced Union Chieftains

The immigrant workers are under sharp attack. The capitalist rulers and their mouthpieces are blaming the immigrants for unemployment, low wages, and all the other evils of capitalist society. This is the old trick of "divide and rule." In this case it's to set the native born against the foreign born, and set the legal resident against the so- called "illegals."

To their everlasting shame, the top chiefs of the AFL-CIO have been in the forefront of this racist, scapegoating campaign against the immigrant workers. Their lobbyists pushed for the passage of Simpson-Rodino. But they are still not happy. The AFL-CIO just filed "a strong protest with the INS" for allegedly permitting "a flood of foreigners into the professional job market." (AFL-CIO News, April 4, 1987)

At the same time, to the surprise of many, these same racist bureaucrats are now posing as the champions of immigrant rights. The same page of the AFL-CIO News reports on a campaign of AFL-CIO unions to "prevent discrimination against undocumented workers" under Simpson-Rodino.

But read the fine print. You will find that the AFL-CIO bureaucrats only talk about rights for legal residents, or those about to become legalized. Meanwhile, for the rest of the immigrants they won't raise a finger. Or worse. They support employer sanctions and other anti-immigrant measures under Simpson-Rodino. They only request that these measures be applied without discrimination or abuse.

What dirty hypocrites! Surely, every case of discrimination and abuse against legal workers under the new immigration law must be fought tooth and nail. But it's two-faced nonsense to talk about enforcing Simpson-Rodino without discrimination and abuses. The heart of this law is racist and discriminatory. What else can you call a law that tries to deprive millions of immigrant workers of the right to earn a living? And only a short-sighted bureaucrat can fail to see that the sledge hammer of oppression coming down on the undocumented worker will be a blow to the rights of all.

Full Rights for All the Immigrant Workers!

This two-faced stand of the AFL-CIO bosses is shared by a section of Democratic Party politicians and Latino community leaders. Reformist forces are also bringing these views into the struggles for immigrant rights.

But we must not narrow down this struggle to satisfy the union chieftains, the capitalist politicians or anyone else. Our demand must be full and equal rights for all workers in this country -- no matter where they were born, no matter their present legal status.

May 5 will be an international day of protest against the attacks on the immigrant workers in the U.S. Protests will be held in El Paso/Jaurez, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities in the U.S. and Mexico.

Join these protests. Break the government campaign of terror and intimidation. Native and foreign-born, legal and undocumented, come out with one voice to say...

No to the racist Simpson-Rodino Bill!

Stop the firings!

No more raids and deportations!

Full rights to all the immigrant workers!

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Behind the arms control talks, nuclear war preparations continue

The press is full of a big fuss about arms control. Will Reagan and Gorbachev sign an agreement? How many missiles will go where?

But the Pentagon war drive goes on anyway. In an accompanying article we discuss the Reagan administration's preparations for not one, but two nuclear wars. These plans are based on the idea of a "winnable nuclear war." Billions are being spent on them. And neither Reagan nor any other official has suggested that these plans will stop, no matter what the outcome of the arms negotiations.

Behind the facade of concern for peace, the war preparations continue.

The Democratic Party liberals say that the important thing is to convince Reagan to utter words about peace. But this means to show him how to hide the truth about war preparations from the people. And this is what the Democrats are doing. They are voting for record military budgets while trying to persuade the people that the only problem is to get more value for the buck, more effective killing power for slightly less money.

What is needed is not more fake words about peace. And certainly not perfecting more efficient killing machines for the Pentagon. What is needed is real struggle against militarism and imperialism. The very aim and purpose of the Pentagon and of imperialism must be challenged. The task is not to teach Reagan to sound better, but to overthrow the whole system of Reaganite capitalism. This will also be the greatest encouragement to the Russian working class to overthrow their own revisionist rulers and embark again on the road of true communist revolution.

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Pentagon is spending billions to prepare World War 3... and 4

While planning for war, the White House liar Reagan pretends he is a man of peace. Why, he is oh so busy with arms negotiations. He pretends that the arms race in space is for the purpose of eliminating missiles and nuclear weapons. But behind the scenes Reagan is not only planning for a ''winnable nuclear war," he is spending billions of dollars to make it a reality.

Earlier this year Tim Weiner, a reporter for the Philadelphia Enquirer, provided a few glimpses of how the Reagan administration has already begun to secretly construct a computer and satellite system for nuclear war. It has the express purpose of waging a protracted, six-month nuclear war while preserving the ability to launch yet another nuclear war afterward. Six months of World War III wouldn't be enough for Reagan. He is already planning for World War IV.

Reagan Stumps for Nuclear War

Already back in 1981 Reagan approved a document called the ''National Security Directive 13." It maps out the new U.S. nuclear doctrine. It holds that the idea of waging a single nuclear war with one big exchange was outdated and old-hat. Instead it demanded preparations for a protracted nuclear war waged over many months.

The text of Directive 13 remains a secret. And no wonder! It not only plans for a nuclear war lasting half a year, but for a second nuclear war afterward. Just think how big a liar Reagan is. He serenades the world about eliminating nuclear weapons while he is planning for a series of nuclear wars. His ''star wars" idea of a shield against missiles over the U.S. wasn't for the purpose of rendering war obsolete, but for allowing the U.S. to carry out protracted nuclear war against others.

But don't worry. According to the Reaganites, nuclear war is really no big deal. Life the radioactive way is just fine. They claim that "only" 20 million Americans would die in one such war (and of course they care nothing for the tens of millions of corpses of heretics and unbelievers in the Soviet Union and the rest of the world).

Hooray! What a wonderful victory! The fact that the survivors will envy the dead after such wars doesn't bother Reagan. Last year the administration revealed that although nuclear war may kill much of the population, provisions will be made to save the president, government bureaucrats and the legal documents that show what capitalist owns what. Thus the capitalist system can allegedly resume operations. The ordinary people still alive will have the "privilege" of once again toiling to enrich the exploiters. In Reagan's thinking, sacrificing the populace is OK as long as we can save the profit motive.

The Secret Preparations for World War IV

The plans for World War IV may sound insane, but the Reagan administration is dead serious about them. It is already spending billions of dollars from the government's secret funds (the so-called "black budget") on these plans. It has been leaked to the press that at least $35 billion of the total defense budget is set aside for secret Pentagon projects.

"The Most Urgently Needed Element"

For example, the Pentagon is developing a computerized communications network for coordinating nuclear forces during and after a full-scale nuclear exchange. The name of the communications network is "C3I." This is pronounced "c"-cubed-"i" and stands for "command, control, communications and intelligence." The "C3I" network is a high priority item. Secretary of Defense Weinberger has called it "perhaps the most urgently needed element" in the entire Pentagon budget.

Militarizing Space With Milstar

One part of the "C3I" system currently being built is a satellite system called Milstar. The satellites communicate with mobile command posts housed in lead-lined tractor-trailers. (The Reaganites downplay the effects of pollution and radioactivity on people, but they want to be certain that the military computers are kept free from them.) The Milstar satellites alone are estimated to cost around $20 billion when completed.

The Milstar satellites are supposed to receive the order to launch nuclear weapons from the generals and relay them to the missile silos, submarines, etc. Along with Milstar, the Pentagon has planned for a new chain of succession for who would give the commands if the president, vice-president and secretary of defense were killed. In that case, the ordinary civilian succession to the presidency would be shortcut and a general would assume command.

One Death Star Is Not Enough -- There Is Navstar too

Milstar is only part of the plan. In 1982 the Reaganites also revived the plan for Navstar, also known as the Global Positioning System. It is to consist of 18 satellites. Their sensors are to guide the nuclear missiles and report on the damage they inflict.

War Is Peace

Milstar and Navstar both violate international treaties forbidding the military use of space. But capitalist treaties are meant only to deceive. Asked whether these war satellites violated the treaties, the Pentagon blandly replied that the U.S. government interprets "the right to use space for peaceful purposes to include military uses of space to promote peace in the world." Indeed, what could be more peaceful than a world ravaged by months of nuclear war?

Keeping the Militarists Alive

The Pentagon may not care if tens of millions of workers die, but the generals who command this slaughter must survive in order to keep the war going. So the plan includes tractor-trailers that are supposed to race around the highways to allow generals to survive after ordinary command posts have been destroyed. As well, the generals are also to conduct the war in converted 747's and from an underground command center near Rock Raven, Pennsylvania. The president too is to have his own 747 command center. And a conventional communications network of some 500 unmanned radio towers, called GWEN (Ground Wave Emergency Network), is now being built.

Robot Soldiers

The Pentagon is also working to develop robot soldiers. When nuclear war has made the battlefields uninhabitable by humans, these robots will enable the carnage to continue. And the generals especially like the robots because a robot "does not generate discourse." This is Pentagonese for "does not question orders." The robot is the perfect soldier for U.S. imperialism, a mindless killing machine.

The Madness of Capitalism

All this is not simply the product of the diseased mind of a single individual, Ronald Reagan. It is the worked-out plan of the wealthy rulers of this country and of their military-industrial complex. In pursuit of profit, the capitalists have spread their tentacles throughout the world in the quest for "cheap labor," markets and natural resources. And they plan to protect this empire of exploitation at all costs. They are fighting for world domination, and they regard the equally imperialist Soviet Union as a rival to be blown away through nuclear murder. So they are planning on nuclear war in an attempt to ensure that Reagan's "dollar empire" rules unchallenged over the "evil empire" of any opponents.

The militarists coldly calculate the millions of lives lost in a nuclear war as another business expense, a necessary "investment" in future profits. They underestimate the effects of this war just as they underestimate the harm to working people from dangerous work places and polluted neighborhoods. It is no accident that the mini-series "Amerika" portrayed the effects of war as hardly noticeable.

Fight the Reaganite War Plans

These war plans are known to both liberal and conservative politicians, to both phrase mongering congressmen and Reagan's appointed officials. While they fill the air with haggling over minor details about this or that weapon system or arms control plan, they both conceal from the working class the truth about the plans for mass slaughter that they provide the funds for. The struggle against nuclear war plans must penetrate below the lies of the capitalist spokesmen. It must strike at the real roots of the nuclear madness. It must be a struggle to organize the working people against all the capitalist parties and politicians.

Every roadblock must be put in the way of war preparations today. But we must never forget that the threat of nuclear war can only end with the replacement of the capitalist system with socialism. Under socialism the rule of the capitalists will be replaced by the rule of the workers. Production will no longer be for profit of a few but for satisfying the needs of the people. In this way socialist society will abolish the cause of war, the drive for profits by a handful of parasites.

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What's behind the US.-Japan computer chip war?

Imperialists scrap to redivide world markets

In April, Reagan upped the ante in the trade battle with Japan ordering 100% tariffs on a series of Japanese electronic goods.

Reagan, pushed by the liberal Democrats and union bureaucrats, likes to dress up the trade war as a high-minded battle to save workers' jobs and combat the "unfair trade" practices by unscrupulous "foreigners." But there is nothing honorable in this fight. The current skirmish with Japan over electronic chips reveals that behind the trade war is a scramble by money-grubbing imperialists to redivide world markets in the face of a worldwide capitalist overproduction crisis.

A Battle for Foreign Markets

What stands out in the current dispute is the U.S. government is not even charging Japan with unfairly dumping their semiconductors in the U.S. Everyone agrees that Japan is not doing that. Rather, the complaint against Japan is that it is seizing a larger market share of electronic chip sales in third countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. As well, the U.S. complains that it has been able to capture only 10% of the Japanese semiconductor market. In other words, the U.S. imperialists are complaining that they are losing their domination in foreign countries to the upstart Japanese imperialists.

Today the U.S. and Japanese imperialists completely monopolize the vastly expanded world chip market. Together they account for close to 90% of the semiconductors sold globally, with each country controlling about 45% of the market. But a decade ago, the U.S. monopolies controlled some 60% of the world market. The Japanese monopolies are forcing a redivision of the world market, and the U.S. government is turning to bullying and tariffs to try to restore its previous dominance.

Overproduction Crisis Sets Off Dispute

The current battle over the semiconductor market has been touched off by a major overproduction crisis in that industry.

At the beginning of the decade there was a big boom in the semiconductor industry with the rise in, among other things, computer sales. Between 1982 and 1984 semiconductor sales soared from $15 billion to $29 billion a year. The chip monopolies both in the U.S. and Japan jumped to greatly expand their production facilities. Production capacity grew by a third in 1984 alone.

But the monopolies overestimated how far the market would grow. And, driven by the capitalist laws of competition for private profit, each monopoly expanded as if it alone would capture the bigger market. Soon they, together, were producing far more than could be sold. The law of capitalist anarchy of production again revealed itself. Under the capitalist profit drive, the workers had produced too much and would now suffer the loss of their livelihood for it.

To deal with the overproduction crisis the monopolies cut back production and laid off the workers. The equipment-use rate (cited by the March 9 issue of the Wall Street Journal) fell from 100% in 1984 to only 60% in 1985. Today it is about 70%. Sixty thousand chip workers are laid off in the U.S. And the Japanese government has just ordered another cut in chip production which will result in more layoffs for the Japanese chip workers.

U.S. Monopolies Launch "Unfair Trade"

At the same time, the monopolies scrambled to unload the overproduced chips at the expense of their competitors. The U.S. monopolies cut prices in foreign countries, trying to drive the Japanese out of those markets. But the Japanese monopolies undercut them, lowering prices further than the U.S. monopolies thought sufficiently profitable.

As the Japanese increased their share of the markets in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even in the U.S., the American monopolies began to scream about Japanese "dumping." Now normally "dumping" means a monopoly temporarily sells its goods below the cost of production -- and therefore at a big loss -- in order to drive other monopolies under. But the U.S. monopolies charged Japan with dumping when it simply lowered prices below what the U.S. monopolies defined as a "fair market price" -- that is at a price they considered to be high enough to maintain the big profits they were used to.

Last year, the Reagan government bullied the Japanese to agree to a trade deal on semiconductors. The Japanese monopolies agreed to sell chips at the "fair market price" set by the U.S. monopolies in the U.S. and third countries. And the Japanese government also agreed to help the U.S. monopolies gradually increase their share of the Japanese chip market from its 10% level.

Chip War Heats Up

But the agreement to hold up monopoly prices did not deal with the huge glut of chips on the world market. The pressure to get rid of the chips at lower prices in the battle over which country's monopolies will control the foreign markets could not be solved so easily.

While all agree that Japan is, indeed, selling chips inside the U.S. at the prices agreed to, it appears that some of the Japanese monopolies have continued to undercut the U.S. businesses in Japan and third countries.

Meanwhile the U.S. monopolies, backed by the Reagan government, are working to combine in a giant joint venture for research and to set up model efficient plants with the aim of further monopolizing the U.S. market and making themselves strong enough to take on the Japanese monopolies overseas. The Defense Department, claiming that the semiconductor industry is vital to the U.S. war machine, has called for $1.6 billion in aid to help the U.S. companies. And Reagan imposed the tariffs on Japanese goods in the hopes of forcing the Japanese to retreat temporarily to give the U.S. monopolies time to carry out their plans.

Workers, Unite Against the Monopolies

None of this is any help to the U.S. workers or to their class brothers and sisters in Japan. Both will continue to suffer from layoffs and the monopolies' "cost-cutting" measures. International competition over which country's workers will sink the lowest through concessions and job loss may help the monopolies. But for the workers it means an endless downward spiral. Workers will not get relief from joining with their "own" country's corporations in the imperialist trade war.

Rather, the workers have to stand up independently, in their own class interests. U.S. workers must unite with the Japanese workers for a common struggle against the monopolies. It is up to the U.S. workers to organize for class struggle against our "own" exploiters and to support every struggle of the Japanese workers against the Japanese exploiters. This is the road to defending jobs and winning a decent livelihood for the workers both here and in Japan.

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At the University of California --Berkeley

'Military Off Campus!'


On April 8, at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, 300 students and activists joined in a "Military Off Campus" demonstration. The action was organized to oppose the active role the UC administration plays in U.S. war preparations.

The protesters called for an end to UC's Star Wars research and to all funding from the Pentagon. They demanded the ROTC get off of campus and called for the shutdown of the university's nuclear reactor.

Speakers denounced the close ties the UC administration has with the military and with defense contractors. They graphically described how students are railroaded into working on war research through lack of available jobs in other areas. One speaker raised the question: "Is the military here to defend us?" "NO," he went on to explain, "the military is here to defend the interests of those who rule the oppressed, to guard the interests of the selfish multinationals who go to third world countries to exploit labor and resources."

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Takebacks pay for million-dollar bonuses

There's some pretty obscene stuff on the magazine racks these days. But this surely has to take the prize for filth. Check out the May 4 issue of Business Week and its cover story "Executive Pay."

Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca led the list with over $20 million in salary and bonuses last year. Paul Fireman of Reebok shoes came in second with over $13 million.

The Business Week survey shows that the pay and bonuses for chief executive officers are soaring. Of 634 executives surveyed in 1981, only four made over a million dollars that year. By 1986, yearly compensation for these executives averaged $1,019,226. And the average annual increase has now hit a whopping 26% a year.

Even if they are losers, "golden parachutes" provide big bucks. Standard Oil Chairman John Miller got $5.6 million after being forced out under pressure. And Thomas Wyman got $11.4 million for being fired as chairman of CBS.

Where is all this fabulous wealth coming from?

Right out of the hide of the workers. It's simple arithmetic.

Over the last six years, the concessions offensive has driven down the average worker's real wages. The minimum wage has been frozen at $3.35 an hour. Unemployment remains high and the poverty rate soars. All this adds up to millions upon millions for a handful of car and shoe executives and financial wheeler-dealers.

What a wonderful place capitalist America is! Iacocca, the humble son of immigrants, is now richer than a king because tens of thousands of Chrysler workers were thrown out of work, while the rest took pay cuts and are being worked like dogs.

Reagan can point to the Business Week survey to boast how rich the rich became under his presidency. And the Democrats may beg all the harder for Iacocca to be their presidential candidate.

But for the workers it can only provoke anger and disgust. There is something totally wrong with a society that creates such extremes of poverty and wealth.

Why not overthrow these modern-day lords of finance and industry? Why carry these parasites on our backs? Because under the socialist rule of the working class we will surely find much more useful purposes for the wealth we produce than multimillion dollar bonuses and golden parachutes.

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"We demand a raise!" -- a song

By Redwing (tune of Goober Peas)

Down at many a company

The bosses rant and rave,

Demanding cuts across the board

Their profits for to save.

We've gotta get ready to answer the

Demands that they have made;

A militant picket line that thunders



Raise, raise, we demand a raise!

To hell with their concessions,

We demand a raise!

Raise, raise, we demand a raise!

To hell with their concessions!

We demand a raise!

Chrysler cried in buckets, 'aginst

The Japanese they raved,

But if we'd work for peanuts

Our jobs they'd surely save.

But thousands they have laid off

Closed many a factory

And with the stolen money

They're buying AMC!

In Watsonville the cannery

Went bankrupt yesterday.

Their creditors the growers

Took over right away.

They couldn't crush the workers,

So now they've changed their name.

They hope to force their wage cuts with

Their tricky legal games.

These billionaires are saying

That times are getting-tough.

They can't afford the upkeep on

Their mansions and their yachts.

They think that we will pity them

And sacrifice our pay.

But they can cry in buckets we

Will still demand a raise!

We sweat and bleed for peanuts while

The bosses count their gold,

And that's the way they claim that it

Will be forever more.

But we're the ones who built the world

And we can count as well, so

Let's build the worker's movement

And send them straight to hell!

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"Who are they?"

Who are they

To live so good

While workers lose

Their livelihood?

Who are they

To roll in wealth

While workers lose

Their jobs and health?

Who are they

To lounge and shirk

And never do

A lick of work

While workers slave

The whole day through,

Doing all

There is to do?

What conceit

These bosses show,

Blind to their coming


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Strikes and workplace news

3,000 rally in support of Cudahy meatpacking strike

[Photo: April 12 solidarity rally with striking Cudahy meatpackers.]

On April 12, over 3,000 workers and their families marched through Cudahy, Wisconsin in support of 850 striking meatpackers. The Cudahy meatpackers have been on strike since January after refusing to accept a substantial wage cut and changes in work rules.

Patrick Cudahy, Inc. is taking advantage of high unemployment in the Milwaukee area in its attempt to break the strike. Most of the 700 scab "replacement workers" have been forced into these jobs by the state unemployment office. It threatened to cut off their benefits if they did not become scabs.

As well, many of these impoverished "replacements" are black, and the capitalists have tried to use this fact to incite racism and to split up the workers in the area on racial lines. But the strikers, who are both black and white workers, have denounced the attempts to spread racism. They used the April 12 rally as a show of unity between black and white workers of the area.

Milwaukee workers -- from the auto, steel, cemetery, transit and iron industries along with teachers -- were joined by fellow workers from Chicago and former Hormel strikers from Austin, Minnesota. The boisterous marchers filled the residential streets with shouts of "Scabs Out! Labor In!" and "Hey, Hey, What do you say? Put the scabs out today!"

At the rally site in the local high school, the marchers were addressed by none other than Jesse Jackson, would-be Democratic presidential candidate. He proceeded to give a sermon comparing the struggle of the working class to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ: "No matter how painful or long the struggle, do not surrender; the morning will come." Perhaps this sounds like a call for building the strike movement. But don't count on it. Jackson went on to his standard sermon that the workers should put all their efforts into electing Democrats as the way to supposedly obtain full employment and end poverty, homelessness and union busting.

But the workers are not the passive victims of crucifixion by the bloodthirsty capitalists, as Jackson would like to portray them. Nor will it help to pray to the Democratic Party to end the exploitation. Capitalists are capitalists whether their party is Democrat or Republican. The answer for the workers lies in organization and mass struggle. The Cudahy workers are fighting. They need the support of other fighters, not the hosannas of capitalist politicians out campaigning for votes.

Douglas Furniture workers stand firm

The workers on strike against Douglas Furniture in Chicago are still standing firm in their strike. The 500 mostly Latino workers have been on strike since February 2. They rejected the company's demand for a pay cut of 50 cents per hour and other substantial givebacks.

On March 2, there was a spirited picket of 200 strikers and supporters to confront the scabs. Workers pounded their fists on the scab's cars as they entered and denounced the scabs for strikebreaking. On March 20, the strikers formed a very slowly moving picket line with their cars in the morning when the scabs were coming to work. This enraged the Bedford Park police whose job it is to protect the interests of the capitalist moneybags who own Douglas Furniture. They arrested three strikers -- throwing one out of his van onto the ground and beating him.

Since then the police have stepped up their harassment of the strikers, trying to stop them from maintaining a moving picket line across the plant entrance. They even gave a striker a ticket for jaywalking across the road in front of the plant while the scabs cross as they please. Meanwhile the state employment agency has been helping the company by sending unemployed workers to scab on the strike.

However, the strikers are maintaining their morale at a high level. They intend to see this struggle through. They are also actively working to get support from other workers and the community. A contingent of the strikers participated in the protest organized by the Committee In Defense of the Immigrants on February 28 in front of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office in the loop. The strikers denounced the racist anti-immigrant Simpson-Rodino Law and the INS, and they asked for support for their strike.

(From the March 12 and April 10 issues of ''Chicago Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-Chicago.)

Transit Authority negligence killed motorman

Last February 1986, Motorman Robert Dueffert was electrocuted at the 38th St. subway yard in Brooklyn. Now, one long year later, Brooklyn DA Elizabeth Holtzman's office has ruled that Dueffert was a victim of criminally negligent homicide at the hands of the [Transit Authority] TA.

Dueffert, it may be recalled, was electrocuted when he was put to work surrounded by live third rails submerged in water as deep as 14 inches. It is well documented that this was not just some freak accident. The TA was aware that there was inadequate drainage in the constantly flooded yard. As well, workers had lodged regular complaints about this and the existence of live third rails under the water. But the TA had done nothing to remedy the problem and protect workers' lives.

It took the geniuses at Holtzman's office a whole year to figure this as criminally negligent homicide. But don't expect justice for a 24-year veteran worker like Dueffert. Holtzman's staff also found a minor technicality in the law. No charges will be filed, you see, since the TA is a "sovereign authority" immune from criminal penalty!

In other words, crime -- even murder -- by the TA bosses is protected by law. But notice what happens when workers (like the Long Island Railroad workers) exercise their supposedly legal right to strike: the ever resourceful capitalist politicians promptly write a new law (which Reagan signs) making their legal struggle illegal, and threatening them with fines and the hoosegow!

Law is for the workers to obey, not the capitalists, their bureaucratic agencies or the politicians. Even laws against dangerous work are of little use -- unless we organize and fight for our rights. Faced with unhealthy and hazardous working conditions, transit workers must band together and refuse such work.

CMAs Refuse Unsafe Work at 207th Street

Last week at the 207th Street shop, a dozen CMAs did just that. Since the beginning of the year, A-men at the 207th Street shop had been experiencing irritations from fumes while heating and removing old tile floors. Suspecting that something was up, the A-men protested. They asked for toxicity information and equipment and were given the runaround.

This dangerous farce continued for two months until workers stumbled on an old box of the tiles clearly stamped ASBESTOS. Without waiting to consult the union bureaucrats about the "proper" response, the CMAs went directly to management and told them no more burning would be done until proper safety equipment was provided. Within two days, management came up with several full-face masks previously unavailable in the shop.

While these masks provide a measure of relief, it is still unknown whether these masks provide adequate protection against asbestos poisoning. And poisonous fumes are still being vented into the shop. It is highly questionable whether any burning of asbestos tiles should be allowed. True, burning gets the job done faster. But it gets us done faster too. There should be no burning that endangers a single worker.

Routinely, the TA violates OSHA and EPA regulations, secure that there are no consequences when, for example, 400 workers are exposed to mercury poisoning at a power substation or when Robert Dueffert is electrocuted. In light of the TA's homicidal attitude towards our safety, our very lives may depend on staging more actions like the CMAs' refusal to work.

(Reprinted from a April 1, 1987 leaflet by the MLP, NY Metro Branch.)

Strike solidarity closes down ports in S.F. Bay

[Photo: Militant picket of the dockworkers at the Redwood City port chases off scabs, March 20.]

The Inland Boatmen have been on strike against Crowley Maritime tug operations in San Francisco and Seattle since February 6. Crowley Maritime is one of the largest private maritime employers in the world. It owns tugs and barges on San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and elsewhere. It's demanding wage concessions and the elimination of the union hiring hall.

The Inland Boatmen's Union is the Marine division of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), and the longshoremen have gone into action to support the strike. Since March 12, barges containing $5 million worth of canned pineapple owned by Hawaiian Marine, a subsidiary of Crowley Marine, have been tied up at an Oakland Pier. The longshoremen have refused to unload it in a direct show of solidarity with the strikers.

By monitoring radio messages, the longshoremen learned that Hawaiian Marine planned to "sneak" the barges to Redwood City after midnight on March 20 to unload them with nonunion labor. By 6:30 a.m. that day, longshoremen and supporters began gathering at the port. The crowd grew to 1,000. At least 300 of the workers marched onto the pier and chased the scabs off the docks. Some of the scabs became so frantic that they loaded into a van and drove right through a closed gate!

As well, over 1,500 longshoremen walked off their jobs at the ports of San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, Richmond and Benicia, stopping work on at least seven cargo ships. Every port on San Francisco Bay was shut down for five and a half hours. The brief strike was the most widespread waterfront action in the Bay Area in several years.

The bourgeoisie called out 55 police, some in riot gear. As well, the courts came down with an injunction against picketing at the Redwood City site. But the struggle is not over yet. The canned pineapple has still not been unloaded.

This fight has invigorated the movement against concessions. Many workers are saying that this is just the type of action needed to fight the capitalists and protect the workers' livelihoods.

(Based on a March leaflet of the MLP-San Francisco Bay Area.)

Strikes at six S.F. Bay Area shipyards

On March 30, pipefitters at the Todd shipyards in the San Francisco Bay Area set up picket lines to protest wage cuts. They were quickly supported by shipyard workers from nine other unions. The strike spread to five other shipyards and ship repair facilities.

The workers' contract expired last June. On March 2, Todd unilaterally imposed its contract demands on the workers -- cutting pay and benefits by some 30% and extracting other concessions. The workers were outraged. But the officials of the Pacific Coast Metal Trades District Council (PCMTDC), which coordinates bargaining for all the shipyard unions, ordered the workers to stay on the job.

But the one-day strike of longshoremen, in support of the tugboat workers' strike, inspired the shipyard workers to action. They defied the top sellouts of the PCMTDC and walked out.

The PCMTDC hacks immediately denounced the strike as being "illegal." And carrying an American flag, Rick Anderson, the Metal Trades spokesman, actually tried to lead a handful of hacks across the Todd workers' picket line. They were quickly turned back by the picketers, and their strikebreaking tactics failed. Faced with the overwhelming sentiment to strike, the hacks were forced to "authorize" the strike on April 7.

Seattle shipyard workers protest ballot stuffing in concessions vote

In Seattle, Todd has also been trying to foist similar concessions on the workers in a new contract. Todd has tried to pick off the workers at one yard at a time. And the union hacks have helped by claiming that workers at other yards are going along with concessions.

At Todd's Seattle yard, the MLP has carried out a major campaign to organize a ''no ' ' vote on the contract, and has called on the workers to join the San Francisco shipyard workers in a united strike against concessions. Suspicious that the union hacks are stuffing the ballot box, workers around the yards have been putting up and wearing stickers produced by the MLP which say, "I VOTED NO CONCESSIONS TO THE TODD BILLIONAIRES! COUNT MY VOTE!" Below we carry an excerpt from an April 3 leaflet of the MLP, Seattle Branch.

Workers at Todd have shown their disgust for the rotten concessions by plastering anti-concessions stickers all over the bulkheads and wearing buttons which say "Vote No!'' The majority oppose this contract, but they face a difficult situation. When it became known that the union officials were going to recommend acceptance of this contract, the workers became suspicious that the hacks might try to stuff the ballot box, something that is quite easy with a mail vote. Leaflets were posted inside the yard advocating a parking lot meeting where the workers would fill out their "no" votes together in order to prevent a fraudulent count. It is quite revealing that the union bureaucrats have gone into an absolute frenzy over this idea.

In the cover letter mailed out with the ballots, the Pacific Coast Metal Trades District Council (PCMTDC) and the Seattle Metal Trades Council (SMTC) rail against the idea of the workers counting their own ballots on the spot. According to the hacks, this is some unexplained sinister plot "to interfere with you and your families' right to vote in privacy and secrecy." The workers supposedly have nothing to fear from the labor traitors because "the Federal Mediation Service supervises the ballot count...." We think hacks doth protest too much! The bureaucrats are afraid of the obvious -- they wouldn't be able to cheat on the count. They are also afraid of any mass meetings that they don't control because they can serve to strengthen the workers' unity and militancy.

The issue for the workers at Todd is to organize mass protests against this contract or in other ways demonstrate the sentiment of the majority. This is the way to ensure a big "no" vote and block ballot fraud. This is the way to prepare for a work stoppage or other mass actions to choke off Todd's production. A militant struggle against Todd at this time could rekindle the struggle of workers at other shipyards. While the workers from Lockheed have been dispersed and dispirited, the anger is still there and a focus of real struggle could quickly draw many back to the fight. As well, the workers in the small boatyards remain burning mad at the concessions and the railroad job by the union hacks. Now is the time for the 1,000 workers at Todd to end the stalling game and take action against concessions.

Chassis workers shut down the line at Jefferson Assembly

A group of workers on the chassis line walked off the job at Jefferson Assembly Friday night, April 10. Other workers in chassis supported them. Chrysler bosses and union hacks came scurrying. They begged, pleaded and ordered the workers back to the job..But the workers refused. After a while Chrysler gave up hope of running the plant that night and sent the workers home.

The workers shut down the line to protest the unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Over a year ago a second floor bathroom began to leak down on a section of chassis. After protests the leak was patched up but not really fixed. A while back the leak started up again and by April 10 was pouring. Everyone knows that Chrysler craps on the heads of the workers. But this is too much!

For Chrysler the almighty dollar is sacred. While the corporation rakes in billions and the executives lie in the lap of luxury, Chrysler won't spend a penny for the safety and health of the workers. And conditions get worse every day. Jobs are combined. Whole classifications are cut. There is a constant battle against foremen speeding up the lines. And why? So Chrysler can eliminate more jobs and squeeze still more billions out of the sweat and overwork of those still on the job.

The chassis line workers are right. Mass action is what's needed to resist every step in Chrysler's job-eliminating productivity drive.

(From the April 15 issue of "Detroit Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-Detroit.)

UAW Collective Bargaining Convention

Bieber's 'militant' demand: 'Orderly job elimination'

The United Auto Workers union (UAW) held its Special Collective Bargaining Convention in Chicago from April 12 to 15. With all of UAW president Owen Bieber's hype about waging "war" on the greedy monopolies and demanding "guaranteed employment," one might think this convention set out a militant program for fighting Ford and GM in the upcoming contract struggle. Don't bet on it. Beneath all the hype, the UAW leaders adopted a program of "orderly job elimination" and collaboration with the capitalists' concessions drive. The hacks are still groveling in the gutter of company unionism.

A War, But Against Foreign Competition

Bieber opened up his keynote address to the convention with a call for "war" alright, a trade war against foreign competition.

While decrying the "greed and arrogance" of "upper crust America," Bieber reserved his main wrath for the Japanese, the Koreans, the Mexicans. While declaring that if GM and Ford want "war, the UAW will be ready for it," he actually called for "bargaining peace" and collaboration with the auto giants for trade war against the foreign peril. While chastising the U.S. auto billionaires, Bieber reduced this criticism to the complaint that the American auto corporations are being soft on imports and are mismanaging the struggle against foreign competition.

For all of his harsh words, Bieber simply cannot bring himself to oppose the American monopolies. Rather, he wants to advise them, he wants to help them become "competitive," even though that means plant closings, layoffs, job combinations and other concessions taken out of the hides of the workers.

A Fight for "Orderly Job Elimination"

Bieber repeatedly said that job security is the main issue in this year's bargaining. But under his heavy hand the convention took no decision to fight (in fact it did not even discuss fighting) against the plant closings and job elimination that will take place before contracts expire on September 14. GM will wipe out. some 20,000 jobs by that time. And many others will have been lost at Ford. But the auto workers are supposed to just lie down and accept this.

In fact, Bieber declared that job loss is "inevitable" and that the only issue is that ' 'The contraction of the work force has got to be done in a rational and orderly manner." (Detroit Free Press, April 13, 1987)

Now just a few months ago GM Chairman Roger Smith declared that by shutting down over a dozen plants and laying off tens of thousands of workers he was providing more "job security" for GM workers. This is the Reagan era where war is called "peace" and job elimination is dubbed "job security." Bieber, the militant, demands that Smith go a step further -- "job security" must mean "orderly job elimination."

To cut their jobs and wages

GM and Ford are out to split up the workers

Fortune magazine's list of the 500 largest industrial corporations has just come out. And once again General Motors stands in the number one spot. Meanwhile, Ford has moved up into the number three position. These huge monopolies are reaping billions in profits, but they're still demanding more concessions from the workers. In the April 27 issue of Business Week the auto giants revealed some of their demands for the upcoming contract talks.

Alfred S. Warren, GM's chief negotiator, stressed that he wants to split GM's parts workers away from the other auto workers and cut their pay and benefits. According to Business Week "he wants to pay the 47% of GM's 360,000 hourly employees who work in the components plants on a lower scale than applies in assembly plants." Warren is also demanding "a two-tier system of lower wages for newly hired employees."

Both GM and Ford stress they will be out for increased job-eliminating concessions on a plant by plant basis. "Warren's goal is to hold down increases in wages and benefits and offset them with productivity gains that he hopes to win in separate negotiations with UAW locals." This includes eliminating job classifications, combining jobs, gutting protective work rules, setting up "team work" systems, etc.

Business Week stressed that the auto giants want to insure that the national contract pushes the locals to accept more concessions. It points out, "Since 1982, the companies have had a club: If GM, for instance, finds an outside supplier that can provide a component more cheaply than domestic workers can make it, the company can give the union local 30 days either to match the competitor's production costs or give up the work. Both Ford and GM want to continue this, with an added wrinkle. In place of the rather general contract statement...the companies want [UAW chiefs] Bieber and Ephlin to be bolder. "We want a commitment at the national level that these things are what we should be doing at the local level,' says Stanley J. Surma, Ford's top labor negotiator."

While cruelly eliminating jobs, the auto billionaires "will staunchly resist" job protections for workers who lose their jobs from plant closings or layoffs.

Splitting up the workers to carry out job elimination and wage-cutting, here is the program of the auto monopolies. The auto workers at Ford and GM must unite and prepare for a stern strike if they are to defend themselves.

Protest at UAW convention

[Photo: Demonstration against plant closings on the floor of the UAW Bargaining Convention.]

As the UAW bargaining convention opened on April 12, hundreds of auto workers marched outside calling for struggle against the auto monopolies. The demonstrators carried placards and banners denouncing plant closings.and layoffs, whipsawing, Saturnization, and concessions. Militant slogans rang out from the marchers like, "Hey, hey, what do you say; Get rid of Roger Smith today!" and "No plant closings!"

The rank-and-file demonstrators were not only protesting against the GM and Ford billionaires, they were also fed up with the top UAW officials who have been collaborating with the auto giants' job-eliminating concessions offensive. One worker after another bitterly denounced the sellout officials to our comrades as they marched in the action and distributed hundreds of copies of the April issue of The Workers' Advocate among the protesters.

After marching around for about three hours, the demonstrators took their protest right into the convention. Despite attempts by the top union hacks to stop this action, the workers noisily pushed by the bigshot bureaucrats and burst into the convention hall shouting slogans against concessions and plant closings.

This demonstration was the one breath of fresh air at an otherwise putrid convention. It reflected the anger that is boiling up among the rank-and-file auto workers against the monopolies and the UAW officials who are collaborating with them. It was a manifestation of the desire of the rank and file to smash the attempts to split them and to wage a united, militant strike against the auto monopolies to stop plant closings, layoffs, and the concessions offensive.

Loyal Opposition Collapses Again

Unfortunately, the local union officials who called this action do not have the same fighting spirit as the rank and file. Caught between the growing anger of the rank-and-file workers and the treachery of the top union bureaucrats, these local hacks have formed a "loyal opposition." They will talk militantly and call some actions, but will do nothing to actually break with the top bureaucrats or organize the rank and file as an independent force. They refuse to say a harsh word against the top bureaucrats. And they even echo the chauvinism of Bieber and co., bringing into the action placards and slogans against Mexico and for trade war.

On the floor of the convention the "opposition" of these hacks collapsed without protest against the Bieber railroad. When Joe Wilson, president of Local 15 and head of its Stop Plant Closings Committee, addressed the convention he did not even mention the fight against plant closings and layoffs. Apparently he believed Bieber had shifted positions and was now supporting a moratorium on plant closings. But the moratorium endorsed by Bieber, and passed by the convention, was the same as those put in contracts in 1982 and 1984 that were so full of loopholes they failed to prevent a single plant closing. Wilson is acting as a bridge between the discontented workers and the top sellout union leaders, so he takes every empty posture by Bieber to be a sign of new-found militance.

Meanwhile, other "opposition" union officials did no better. Ex-Vice President Victor Reuther, former Assistant Director of Region 5 Jerry Tucker, President of Local 594 in Pontiac Don Douglas, President of Local 160 Pete Kelly, and others called for a floor fight against "whipsawing" (the pitting of workers at one plant against those at another over which will take the most concessions). But they never uttered a peep against Bieber, even after he bureaucratically shoved their resolutions aside. Indeed, Douglas and other of the "opposition" promoted such faith in the high-handed international hacks that they said "they expect the UAW's GM and Ford councils to include stronger language against whipsawing when they draw up detailed bargaining proposals in early June." (Detroit Free Press, April 16, 1987) Ridiculous.

Bieber and co. have not just conceded to whipsawing. They have been on the front lines helping auto monopolies to split up and pit worker against worker from plant to plant, and company to company, and the American workers against the auto workers overseas.

The antics of these local and regional hacks at the bargaining convention shows that the workers can put no faith in them. The militants need to get organized independently of the entire bureaucracy to be in a position to unite the rank and file, overcome the sabotage of the union bureaucrats, and mount a real fight against the auto billionaires for the jobs and livelihood of the workers.

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A glimpse of right-wing terrorism

The Reagan administration has been crying up and down about left-wing terrorism and Libyan hit men. But the overwhelming majority of terrorism in the U.S. is right-wing terrorism. Even the U.S. government, so anxious to find terrorists under every bed, has failed to find any significant left-wing terrorist acts in the U.S. Instead, to protect itself, it finally had to indict 15 white racists for acts of terrorism.

On April 24 fifteen people were indicted for conspiring to commit robberies and to counterfeit money, to murder officials and Jews, to poison water supplies, to carry out bombings and to train for warfare. These people were white racists who aimed to replace the present U.S. government with an open Ku Klux Klan style regime. They had the Nazi-style ideal of white racial purity, and they hated minorities, leftists, Jews, etc. Their groups had already. committed murders (such as that of Denver radio show host Alan Berg, of an Arkansas state trooper, and of a Texarkana, Texas pawn shop operator), robbed banks, and plotted the murder of an FBI agent and of a judge who presided over a trial where several members of a white supremacist group ("The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord") had been convicted.

The defendants include Robert Miles, who is a former grand dragon of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan and founder of the white supremacist Mountain Church of Jesus Christ in Cohoctah; Richard Butler, the founder of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations Church of Jesus Christ; and various members of the Order, a terrorist offshoot of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.

The U.S. government has been fostering similar gangs of racist murderers and thugs. Who can forget the government's involvement with organizing Nazis and Klansmen to carry out the massacre of anti-Klan demonstrators at Greensboro, North Carolina in November 1979? And the government's failure to convict them.

But the present defendants went a bit too far. They didn't restrict their murders to leftists and blacks. In their deluded minds, full of racist fantasies, they decided that the U.S. government was controlled by Jews -- and they declared war on it. Instead of working arm in arm with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (as in Greensboro), and local police, they financed their movement through bank robberies and other crimes. They also decided to murder government officials and to carry out economic sabotage to create disorder.

This was too much for the government to allow. It could not let itself be murdered by a bunch of gun-wielding right-wing loonies. It had to teach the right-wing underworld to act a bit more properly.

If these loonies and thugs had wished to burn down cooperatives, poison water supplies, and kill officials in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration would have patted them on the back as "freedom fighters'' and made them honorary members of the Oliver North brigade. But they wanted to do these things in the U.S. If these loonies and thugs had wanted to bomb Khadaffy's headquarters in Libya, slaughter Palestinians in Beirut, or torture prisoners in El Salvador, the Reagan administration would have praised them as shining democrats and moral equivalents of the founding fathers. But they wanted to murder Reaganite officials. If these right-wing monsters had restricted themselves to killing black children, like certain Klansmen in Atlanta, the capitalist gentlemen might have looked the other way or even framed some black man, like Wayne Williams, for their crimes. If these right-wing monsters had simply bombed abortion clinics, their supporters might have been invited to White House receptions. But these loonies didn't recognize the U.S. government as their friend and protector and instead wanted to overthrow it.

This is why the right-wing Reagan government had to take some action against these right-wing terrorists. It indicted them for attempting to overthrow the government of the U.S. It had nothing against the methods of these madmen -- only against their choice of targets.

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New INS regulations against the immigrants

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has released another set of draft regulations for the implementation of the Simpson-Rodino Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Amnesty provisions of the law go into effect May 5. Employer sanctions will take force June 1. When this anti-immigrant law was passed by Congress last November, the INS was given the power to write its own regulations for the law's interpretation and enforcement.

The latest draft of these regulations in no way "improve" the anti-immigrant law. The INS (La Migra) is still the same INS that has swept through neighborhoods and factories harassing everybody in sight and detaining for hours anybody suspected of being "illegal." This is the same INS which has held school children hostage hoping to "flush out" undocumented parents, and which has beaten up and threatened immigrants to convince them to sign "voluntary" deportation orders.

There is no way one could believe that this INS would come up with anything but regulations which are in line with the anti-immigrant intentions of the law. Among other things, the regulations narrow down even more the limited chance for legalization for the undocumented.

The "legalization" or "amnesty" conditions of Simpson-Rodino, trumpeted as showing how humane and big-hearted this rotten law is, were tough enough to comply with as written in the law. The new regulations make them tougher:

* Continuous presence. To be eligible for "legalization" a person must have been in the U.S. from January 1, 1982 to November 6, 1986 without any single absence of more than 45 days, and without being out of the country for more than 180 days total. Since November 6, a person can have only 30 days total "authorized" absence. Attorney General Edwin Meese decreed, and a circuit court upheld, that the only authorized absence was a trip taken with written permission from the INS. A lot of people have tried to obtain this permission and got nowhere with the INS.

* Criminal record. The INS rules say no one who has a felony conviction in any country or three misdemeanors in the U.S. will be eligible for "legalization." Not only does this cut against any worker or political activist who may have been arrested for progressive activity back home, but even against people who have gotten traffic tickets. In Texas, moving violations are misdemeanors.

* Fees. The fee merely to file an application is $185 for an adult, $50 for a child, and $420 maximum for a family. This does not include the charges for mandatory physical exams, legal fees, and other expenses. Plus, "go-between" agencies authorized by the INS to work with applicants can charge up to $75 for each applicant and $160 for extra services such as translation. It will be hard for many of the undocumented to afford to be legalized.

The anti-immigrant intentions of the new law are being felt even before it officially goes into effect. Reports of firings are coming in from different cities around the country. In Chicago, Mexican and even Puerto Rican workers have been asked to present immigration documents when they apply for jobs. Some employers have started asking workers to bring some documentation or lose their jobs (for example, the Hilton Hotel, Forest Hospital and Cook County).

Documented or undocumented, applying for "amnesty" or not applying, U.S. citizen or not, we need to stand together and give the INS and the racist capitalist government our answer to the anti-immigrant offensive: Down with the Simpson-Rodino law! Migra no! Full rights to the immigrant workers!

(Based on articles in "Voz Obrero de Chicago," paper of MLP-Chicago, April 4.)

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Clarence Brandley on Texas death row for crime he didn't commit

Protests stay execution of victim of racist justice

Marches and protests in rural Conroe, Texas have so far succeeded in blocking the execution of a black maintenance worker, Clarence Brandley, for a murder he didn't commit.

Seven years ago, in the summer of 1980, a young white woman, Cheryl Dee Ferguson, was found raped and murdered. Her body was found in a school auditorium. In the true spirit of American racist justice, a Conroe policeman commented to Clarence and another maintenance worker at the school: "One of the two of you is going to hang for this, and since you are the nigger, I guess you are elected.''

There was never a shred of evidence against Clarence. He was not able to verify his whereabouts but that's a far cry from being guilty of murder and rape. His first trial resulted in a hung jury. Then evidence which would have cleared Brandley was "lost" and he was convicted in the next trial.

Recently, two of Brandley's white coworkers recanted their original testimony and have now publicly admitted that it was two other white maintenance men who were guilty.

For seven years Clarence Brandley has been locked behind bars and was due to be executed on March 28.

But in February a contingent of 1,000 Brandley supporters marched in a Black History Parade in Conroe, demanding justice. And on March 20th, 300 rallied at the state capital, marched right into the building and protested first at the governor's office and then at the state attorney general's office. Their slogans for justice echoed through the rotunda and shook the halls of racist injustice. The demonstrators were then informed that a stay of execution had just been granted.

The movement is demanding that Brandley be freed immediately. On April 5th, 400 demonstrated at the Montgomery County Court House. A mock trial was held of the government officials involved in this racist railroad and they were all found guilty as sin by the people.

The local racists are now stepping up their activities to intimidate the movement. A black minister active in the movement has had his car twice run off the road. One of the white maintenance workers who plans to testify in Brandley's defense was also forced off the road and has been beaten by racist thugs who threatened him against testifying. And threats have been received by the center which houses protest meetings. But this harassment will not stop the movement from demanding justice.

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March in Chattanooga condemns police killings

[Photo: Demonstration against racist police murders in Chattanooga, April 4.]

"Chattanooga, Chattanooga, have you heard, this is not Johannesburg!" Loudly declaring that sentiment, hundreds of anti-racist demonstrators marched on the county courthouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 4 to protest police murders.

Since 1978, twenty-two people, mostly black, have been shot to death by the police, and eight others have died in custody or in jail. There is great anger among the masses over these outrages. This was the second march protesting racist police murders in recent months in Chattanooga. Five hundred people demonstrated February 7 following a week in which three blacks, including a woman, were murdered while in police custody.

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A protest 1,000 strong against police murder of Lumbee Indian

There was an anti-racist demonstration by a thousand people on April 20 in Lumberton, North Carolina. The protesters, black, white and Native American, came out to demand justice for Jimmy Earl Cummings, a Lumbee Indian shot by the sheriff's deputy last November. They were also angry about the unsolved killings of several blacks and Indians in recent years.

Lumberton is in Robeson County, about 120 miles east of Charlotte. It is one of the poorest communities in the state. It has 100,000 residents, about equally divided among whites, blacks and Native Americans.

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Columbia students vs. racism

[Photo: Students at Columbia University denounce racist attacks.]

During April, students at Columbia University, New York continued their struggle against racism. This movement was provoked on March 22 by an assault on a black student and his friends who stood up against the abuse of white racist thugs. That incident had been immediately followed by anti-racist demonstrations and meetings of hundreds of Columbia and Barnard students and staff.

Marching on April 4

On April 4, five hundred students rallied at Low Plaza and marched in a downpour to the 26th police precinct to demand the arrest of the racists who launched the assault. The students shouted "PBA [Police Benevolent Association], KKK, ain't no justice in the USA!" and "We've got to beat back the racist attack!" The demonstrators condemned the police and Mayor Koch for shielding the racists and refusing to give them the punishment they deserve. Three hundred police were bused in to control the demonstration, but not a single cop was assigned to haul in the racist thugs who launched the attack on March 22.

The students also protested at the Sigma Chi fraternity house where at least two of those racists reside. At the beginning of the march the students found the fraternity house well protected by police. At the end of the march, the anti-racists swung by again to shout their opposition to racist attacks and caught the police drinking beer and socializing with the racist thugs.

Protest at Commissioner Ward's

Tuesday, April 7 anti-racist students protested at One Police Plaza to demand that Police Commissioner Ward answer their demand for the arrest of the racists. Ward showed his attitude about the students' concerns by going to a Mets game. Two hundred of his men were sent to confront the protest. Twenty-three students were arrested after a brief sit-in.

Several black elected officials were invited to participate in the confrontation with Ward. These included Congressman Charles Rangel, Assembly Member Blake, State Senator David Paterson and Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins. Not one of the officials showed up to help press the demand for punishment of the racists.

Griffin Garfield, Chief of Staff for State Senator David Paterson, said later that "We came by to see that everything [the arrest of the students] was handled in the proper manner." The only interest of the black liberals was in upholding the law -- making sure that the anti-racist students were arrested according to the letter of bourgeois law.

Students Demand Confederate Flag Must Come Down

Later that night, 60 anti-racist students entered Carman Hall, a student residence, to demand that a Confederate flag which was hanging in the window be removed. The student responsible was persuaded to remove it.

After the protest ended the anti-racist students left, except for one who stayed to talk to other students in the building. But as the lone protester was leaving, campus security, which had been beefed up for the occasion, trapped the protester in the stairwell and put him in a choke hold. The security guard let loose only after another protester came back into the building and interfered with the assault.

Fifty Arrested on April 21

On the morning of April 21, about 70 demonstrators locked seven doors with chains at Hamilton Hall, an administrative building. During the day-long action, fifty protesters were arrested. The demonstration demanded university action against the racists involved in the original attack.

The university at first considered the original incident to just have been a "pushing and shoving fight among students." However, it launched a deans' disciplinary investigation, which is due to release a report in a few days.

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[Graphic: Apartheid no! REVOLUTION yes!]

The massacre of black railway workers will be avenged!

The racist regime may talk of reform but all it delivers is repression and death. On April 22, the apartheid police opened fire on two different groups of striking railway workers near Johannesburg. At least six workers were murdered in cold blood and several more wounded.

The Railway Workers' Militant Strike

The police massacre was aimed at crushing a militant six-week strike by 16,000 railway workers against the government-run South African Transport System (SATS). The strike broke out following the firing of a worker.

The struggle forged ahead despite particularly difficult conditions. The racist regime considers the SATS a "strategic corporation," and as such, strikes against it are illegal. This helped free the corporation's hands in breaking the strike. For example, the SATS threatened mass firings of strikers if the workers didn't capitulate. Moreover, the SATS refused to recognize the workers' union and tried to deal only with a company union. Thus the workers' struggle was also a fight to force the employers to recognize the workers' union.

The Racists Gun Down Strikers

But these obstacles failed to stop the workers. As the strike continued, it became a sharp pain in the side of the racist rulers. The government then resorted to naked force. A deadline was set at 8:00 a.m. on April 22 for the workers to return to work or be fired. The workers defied this ultimatum and on the 22nd went about their strike activities for the day.

One thousand workers held a mass meeting that morning in Germiston, east of Johannesburg. The killer police raided the meeting with guns blazing. Three workers were shot to death and many others beaten with whips.

When news of the bloodbath spread, other railway workers tried to make their way to Germiston. A group of about 60 workers marched from the headquarters of the COSATU trade union federation in downtown Johannesburg to a nearby train station to catch the train for Germiston. They were confronted at the station by police who fired tear gas into the strikers. A battle broke out as the workers heroically fought with ax handles, sticks and stones against the heavily armed cops. When the dust had settled, three more workers lay dead. The workers managed to inflict several serious wounds on the racist police.

But the bloodlust of the Botha regime was not yet satisfied. Hundreds of police surrounded the COSATU headquarters, trapping 500 people inside. After waiting five hours, the police hordes ransacked the building. Workers were beaten with nightsticks, mass arrests were made, and literature seized.

That night the SATS announced that all 16,000 workers had been fired.

The Workers of Soweto Answer

The rampage of the racist storm troopers has failed to bring the black workers to their knees. The railway workers have vowed to continue their struggle. Meanwhile in the black township of Soweto, adjacent to Johannesburg, workers launched a massive sympathy strike. Businesses in Johannesburg reported absentee rates as high as 70%. Schools and offices have been forced to close down. Bus service in and out of Soweto has been brought to a halt.

Against Evictions

The sympathy strike also aimed at supporting the struggle of rent strikers in Soweto which has heated up. This strike has gone on for 11 months and the government has begun evicting the rent strikers. On the day of the massacre, a mass march was held to protest the evictions. The protesters clashed with the police after the police fired tear gas at them.

Grenade Attack on Police Parade

These actions in Soweto came only a couple of days after an anti-apartheid militant hurled a grenade into a police parade in the black township. The apartheid regime has been flooding the townships with large numbers of new, hastily trained police. Adding insult to injury, at the same time as it bans mass funerals and other meetings, it stages parades of these uniformed thugs. This bold attack on the police was a just response to the terror unleashed every day by the police who occupy the township to enforce the dictates of apartheid. Two cops were killed and many more injured.

More hand grenade attacks were reported on April 23 in a mixed-race township near Cape Town. A policeman's house was a target.

Students Protest Massacre

Students have also been demonstrating in solidarity with the railway workers. At the University of Cape Town, for instance, a protest condemned the April 22 massacre. The demonstrators braved a tear gas attack by the police thugs.

The Massacre Will Be Avenged

The militant stand of the railway workers, the working people of Soweto, and the anti-apartheid masses across South Africa is an inspiration. The Botha regime has banned the struggle again and again; it has killed many activists and locked others up by the thousands. But it is unable to make the oppressed cave in.

The countless atrocities of the racist rulers have only steeled the resolve of the black people. Already the protests have begun in response to the April 22 massacre. The martyrs of April 22 will be avenged. The struggle will continue till the racist system is burned to ashes. The black workers and other oppressed people will obtain their freedom through revolution, and they will use this freedom to organize themselves against all capitalist exploitation and for economic as well as political liberation.

[Photo: Police attack workers inside the COSATU trade union offices, April 22.]

Black workers prepare countrywide struggle

The black workers of South Africa are preparing a major campaign against the racist rulers. The 700,000 members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are demanding a national "living wage" and better standard working conditions. As well the workers' struggle is targeting the apartheid system.

One of the main demands is "no taxation without representation." The workers object to paying taxes when they go to finance the racist government which deprives blacks of the most minimal rights and brutally suppresses them.

Other demands include reducing the work week to 44 hours with no loss in pay, a ban on mandatory overtime, abolition of the present migrant labor system, a minimum of six months maternity leave for women workers, and improvements in the educational system for blacks. As well the workers want May Day and the anniversaries of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the Soweto uprising of 1976 to be official holidays.

The campaign shows the growing strength of the South African workers. Their struggles are not confined to skirmishes at individual work places, but also include class-wide demands.

The national campaign is bound to meet fierce resistance from the bloodthirsty Botha regime. Already the initial organizing rallies for the campaign were banned. As well, the workers face obstacles from the top leadership of COSATU. The COSATU leadership, for all its militant and revolutionary declarations, seeks a reformist compromise with the racist ruling class. Hence it tends to pull in the reins on the workers movement.

But the potential power of the workers is vast. With their huge numbers and the growth of organization and revolutionary consciousness, they cannot be held in check for long. The working class is bound to unleash militant battles for their immediate demands. And these struggles will prepare the workers for a revolutionary onslaught that will destroy the racist system.

More campus protests against racist South Africa

Over the last month and a half numerous anti-apartheid actions were held on the college campuses and elsewhere across the U.S. A growing trend in the campus protests has been the combining of the anti-apartheid movement with the struggle against racism at the universities. The movement also continued to focus on demands for the banks, corporations and universities to divest their holdings in South Africa.

Actions Target Apartheid and Domestic Racism

Five hundred students at Columbia University in New York City protested racist attacks on black students at the campus on April 4. The demonstrators also denounced Columbia's refusal to get rid of all its stocks linked to South Africa.

On the same day, 250 students marched from the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to the town's black community. The students are pressing for full university divestment. The march also rang out with militant slogans against racism.

At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 400 students rallied to demand divestment by all campuses of the university. As well, the school's racist enrollment practices were hit.

The combining of the struggle against apartheid and the fight against domestic racism has been a very positive development. It has strengthened both struggles. And it plays a role in helping dramatize that the racist attacks at home and support for apartheid are not some isolated bad policies but have common roots in the imperialist system.

The Divestment Fight Continues

As the above examples show, the activists are continuing to press for divestment. The giant Citicorp bank, which has loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to racist South Africa, was the target of protests in Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City, as well as in Syracuse, Baltimore, Chicago and elsewhere.

At Penn State, 300 students marched through the administration building demanding the school fully divest and denouncing the university president's ties with the Carnegie Mellon Bank, an investor in apartheid. Many other actions were held from Sacramento, California and the University of Texas at Austin to Washington, D.C.

Fake Divestment Won't Stop the Movement

The recent anti-apartheid actions have come on the heels of a series of fake divestments by the U.S. multinationals such as GM, IBM and Coca-Cola. The capitalist firms claim to divest in order to escape the heat of the anti-apartheid protests. Meanwhile they continue to do business in South Africa through setting up new companies directly tied to them and by other means. Meanwhile Congress has also sought to cool out the movement with some token sanctions that leave the racist Botha regime unscathed.

Undoubtedly the sham divestment has caused some confusion. But as the continuing protests show, the anti-apartheid movement has not been stopped.

Congress does nothing about Israeli arms shipments to apartheid

[Photo: Anti-apartheid demonstration in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 4.]

The Democratic Party liberals love to portray themselves as firm opponents of apartheid. Why only last year they passed a sanctions bill against South Africa. Of course the sanctions were designed to give the racists only a light tap on the wrist. After all, as the Democratic liberal Solarz explained, the "sanctions are not designed to bring the government of South Africa to its knees but to bring the government to its senses.'' God bless the liberals. They are "against'' apartheid, but they can't bear to see the Botha regime fall!

The sanctions bill also called on the Reagan administration to issue a report on what countries are violating the UN embargo on sending arms to South Africa. The liberals said that this would allow them to take action against the violating countries. In early April, the State Department released its report. And guess what? The Democratic Party liberals refused to lift a finger against the countries arming apartheid.

U.S. Allies Arm the Racists

The State Department report confirmed that the Israeli zionists have provided massive military aid to South Africa. As well it admitted that other U.S. allies including West Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Italy have given military assistance to the racists. These countries are supposedly the models of democracy in the "free world.'' But they clearly stand on the side pf the white slaveholders in South Africa.

The worst offender by far is Israel. Last year alone it is estimated that the Israeli war industries earned as much as $800 million from arming South Africa. The zionist rulers provide South Africa with everything from armored personnel carriers to jet fighters and nuclear weapons technology.

The Liberals Stab the Oppressed in the Back

Despite the Israeli government's huge aid to the racists, the "anti-apartheid" liberals failed to do a thing against the zionists. The Congressional Black Caucus toyed with the idea of cutting a few dollars of U.S. imperialism's annual $3 billion aid package to Israel. But even this token measure was rejected as too radical. As CBC member Mickey Leland (D-TX) put it, cutting aid to Israel "just wasn't a realistic proposal." (New York Times, April 3)

Indeed several CBC members held a news conference with some white liberal supporters of Israel to praise Israel's fraudulent decision to allegedly halt any new (but not current) military agreements with South Africa.

Our wonderful liberals say they find apartheid morally repugnant. But when it comes to doing something against the arms suppliers of apartheid, they find this not "realistic." Such are the morals of the bourgeois politicians.

The Democrats Support U.S. Imperialism, Not the Oppressed in South Africa

Actually the issuing of the State Department report was a complete sham. Israeli support for South Africa has been documented for many years. If the Democrats had wanted to do something about it they didn't have to wait for a report from the Reagan administration.

But the Democrats love the Israeli zionists. This is considered "realistic." After all, Israel is a watchdog of U.S. imperialism's interests in the Middle East. It doesn't bother the liberals if this requires Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people, the trampling of Lebanon, and countless other atrocities against the Arab peoples. Indeed, it is well known that the U.S. government aids and arms Israel with the behind-the-scenes understanding that the Israeli zionists will pass on arms and money to the South African racists, to the contras in Nicaragua, to the Khomeini regime in Iran, and to other reactionaries. Clearly the Democratic Party politicians are more worried about protecting U.S. imperialism's world interests than they are in supporting the black and other oppressed people of South Africa.

Whites-only election reveals the panic of the racist rulers

On May 6 the elections for the all- white chamber of parliament take place in South Africa. It is a travesty of democracy. Only a small minority of the population, the whites, can vote or run for office. The black people, the vast majority, are completely excluded and are denied all political rights. Even the mixed-race "coloreds" and the Indian population can't vote, since this election is for the real parliament while they are only allowed to vote for some powerless, separate chambers of parliament.

But all is not well among the racist ruling parties. The struggle against white minority rule has thrown them into a quandary. While the Reaganites in the U.S. huff and puff that the black workers and other progressive masses cannot overthrow the apartheid system, the white racists themselves are not so sure. Some Afrikaner racists are fearfully advocating that the National Party is too soft on the blacks -- after all, it only surrounds the black townships with troops, declares one state of emergency after another, and sprays demonstrations with bullets. Meanwhile another section of the racists is demanding that the National Party make a bigger show of concessions to the black masses.

In this situation, the National Party has suffered another split. A number of politicians, known as the "New Nats," have resigned from the ruling National Party or openly criticized it. And some are running against it in the elections. The New Nats are longtime supporters of white minority rule, but they are quarreling with the ruling Botha government over how to divert the black masses from revolution.

What Are the New Nats?

Who are the New Nats? In fact they come from the bosom of the ruling National Party; this is the party that reinforced white minority rule with the genocidal apartheid system. While there are some differences in the stands of individual New Nats, in general they support the Botha regime's "state of emergency." They are also opposed to "one-man, one-vote." Hence they not only stand for the preservation of white racist rule, but they see the need for the big stick to beat back the black masses who disagree with them.

But while the New Nats want to save racist rule, they disagree with Botha over how to do this. They agree with repression -- but they want this coupled with more promises of reform to help quiet the oppressed. For instance, the New Nats have toyed with the idea of abolishing the Group Areas Act, which mandates that all living areas be separated by race, for more subtle methods of segregation. (Bear in mind that white racist rule existed for decades prior to the Group Areas Act.) And the New Nats are pushing ideas similar to those recently put forward by the Broederbond, which is a secret society of leading figures of the Afrikaner bourgeoisie and of the Botha government. The Broederbond believes that it may become necessary to make better use of black sellouts and even include them in the government. (See "The Broederbond Document and the Tambo-Shultz Meeting" in the March 20 issue of The Workers' Advocate Supplement.)

This quarrel within the ruling party of the white slaveholders is of interest to the oppressed. It is another sign of the power of the anti-apartheid struggle, which has even caused a crisis among the racists. The masses can conclude that intensifying their struggle will cause further crisis and lead to completely smashing the racist system.

Tutu Puts Hope in the New Nats

Bishop Tutu, however, had another idea. He is put forward in the U.S. press as the alleged voice of the black masses of South Africa. But he is looking everywhere for some alternative to what he would regard as the catastrophe of revolution, the supposed catastrophe of a complete smashup of the old system. But there is nowhere else to look but to the racists themselves. And so Tutu has taken encouragement from the New Nats for his perennial hope the racist rulers will reform themselves.

Commenting on the resignation of two leading New Nats from the National Party, Tutu stated: "Two weeks ago, I would have is a racist election and it is for us a non-event" but the resignations "seem to change the nature of the ball game." (Detroit Free Press, April 1) In other words, according to Tutu, the split in the National Party has changed his attitude toward the elections. They were previously a "non-event" for blacks, but the emergence of the New Nats has changed everything. Tutu even hints that the New Nats, who want to preserve white rule through more subtle means than Botha, might bring an anti-racist element to the elections!

It doesn't take much for Tutu to find something good in the racists. For example, time and again he has even met with racist leader P. W. Botha himself to beg for a few reforms.

And What of the Botha Government?

The Botha government, for its part, also plays the game of combining repression with promises of reform. But the Botha government is in power, and so one can see that in practice the. talk of reform is the sugarcoating on the police baton.

Only Revolution Will Bring Real Change

Tutu may find some good in these whites-only elections. But for the disenfranchised black people they are an insult; a painful reminder of their slavery. Salvation will not come from any of the parties of slavery. Only the utter sweeping away of the system of oppression can bring real change.

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


Big victory shows Salvadoran guerrilla movement is alive and well

The Salvadoran guerrillas launched a new military campaign with their remarkable March 31 assault on the strategic El Paraiso Army base, 36 miles north of San Salvador.

In a lightning pre-dawn attack, a band of about 100 guerrillas hit the main building in the compound with mortar and rocket fire. A team of sappers then cut through the base fence and raced inside, blowing up more buildings with satchel charges, while other fighters opened fire on the government soldiers defending the base. In two and one-half hours the base was largely destroyed. Government casualties numbered close to 200, and a military trainer from the U.S. Army Special Forces, Sgt. Gregory A. Fronius, was killed. The guerrillas retreated before the army could counterattack with helicopter gunships.

This is the second time in four years that the Salvadoran revolutionary forces have destroyed the El Paraiso base, a highly fortified base on the edge of a major battle zone. It was designed by American advisers to be "impregnable." In 1985 the guerrillas also destroyed the army's national training school, and last year, the main eastern base in San Miguel.

Simultaneously with the El Paraiso assault, other guerrilla units destroyed two sections of the #5 Army detachment in Cerro La Campana in Cuscatlan and, in the east, attacked a company of the "September 15" National Guard Battalion.

What Happened to Reagan's Rambos?

Even senior Salvadoran military analysts of the pro-U.S. regime called the El Paraiso attack a "perfect operation." They said it showed that the guerrillas had thoroughly infiltrated the base without arousing the suspicion of the CIA-guided army intelligence service. For example, the base normally had a garrison of 1,000 men, but only 250 were present at the time of the attack because the rest were away on other operations. As well, the guerrillas had precisely measured distances and angles of fire so that they scored direct hits with their mortars. They succeeded in burning every key office and the officer barracks.

Infiltration is now a serious problem facing the Salvadoran Army, whose rank and file is heavily made up of forcibly recruited teenagers and unemployed. Although the army has received years of training by U.S. elite forces, almost $1 billion in U.S. military aid and tons of the latest military equipment, it has no popular support and cannot defeat the liberation forces.

Government soldiers even complained that during the attack on El Paraiso, there was no coordinated defense of the base for at least the first hour. The U.S.-trained officers reportedly took refuge in an underground. bunker until the fight was over; out of the 60-80 dead, none were officers. "We want to ask Ronald Reagan today," said the guerrilla radio broadcast of April 1, "what happened to the invincibility of your Rambos?"

In the days following the raid, the guerrillas visited towns in the mountains of Chalatenango, near the base, to talk to villagers about the purpose of the raid and the civil war. Because of their precise monitoring of government troop movements, the guerrillas were not disturbed by the thousands of soldiers scouring the surrounding hills who were searching for them.

The liberation forces are also stepping up their political work in the western half of the country. Recently they fined a corrupt ex-Mayor $1,000 and gave the money to the El Carrizal village school. A U.S. official recently told the New York Times, "The guerrillas are more active than I ever believed they could be." (April 7, 1987) After all, the U.S. imperialists had figured the brutal air war and military repression had smashed the revolutionary movement in the country.

What's more, besides the guerrilla struggle, the U.S.-backed regime has also been hit hard by increased workers' strikes and student activism.

The recent successes of the revolutionary movement show the Salvadoran people's determination to overcome the U.S. imperialist intervention and the Salvadoran regime of the local exploiters.

[Photo: The townspeople of Santa Rita attend a meeting called by the liberation forces soon after their successful raid on the El Paraiso military base. The strength of the guerrilla fighters lies in their support among the toilers.]

Vets protest war in Central America at western White House


As Reagan spent his Easter holiday at Rancho del Cielo north of Santa Barbara, California, hundreds of veterans rallied nearby to protest U.S. intervention in Central America.

The veterans from the Viet Nam war, Korean war, World War II and the Lincoln Brigade which fought in the Spanish Civil War demonstrated outside the gates of the western White House on Sunday, April 20. They denounced the U.S. support for the contras, the massive military exercises coming up in Honduras, and military support for the U.S.-backed regime in El Salvador.

'Humanitarian aid' program delivers weapons to the contras

Another recent exposure has revealed what opponents of the CIA-organized contra war have suspected all along -- the Congress-initiated "humanitarian aid" program for the contras has in fact been a conduit for secret weapons shipments by the U.S. government. This has been verified from several State Department records and interviews with people involved in this project.

In 1985, Congress officially banned government-sponsored military aid to the contras (with certain loopholes that Oliver North went on to drive a truck through), but approved a $27 million package of "humanitarian aid." This was always a cruel joke. How can anyone consider food and equipment deliveries to a murderous military force as a "humanitarian" project? After all, this wasn't food for some civilian refugees; it was material to help keep an army going.

But even this, it turns out, was actually used to ferry weapons to the contras.

Weapons Are Piggybacked Onto "Humanitarian Aid" Deliveries

In December 1985 the State Department hired retired Air Force Colonel Richard Gadd to deliver most of the humanitarian aid. Isn't it an amazing coincidence that, at the very same time, Gadd was setting up a secret contra weapons supply network?

Gadd used the State Department contracts for "humanitarian aid" in two ways.

* Parachutes bought with the aid money were used to drop weapons to the contras. Contra supplier Ian Crawford revealed that he sold parachutes to Gadd for $11,751 and later used them to drop crates of weapons out of cargo planes. The State Department confirmed covering the cost of the parachutes.

Gadd sent his weapons on the same flights that were delivering humanitarian aid, thus eliminating the cost of shipping the weapons. For example, the State Department paid Gadd's company, Airmach, Inc., to deliver "non-lethal" supplies from New Orleans to El Salvador on April 9, 1986. According to crew members, after the supplies were unloaded in El Salvador, the plane was reloaded with seven tons of weapons which were then parachuted to the contras. The "humanitarian assistance program" paid the $26,900 cost of flying the cargo plane to Central America.

State Department records show that between January 17 and April 11, 1986, Airmach made 15 flights to Central America, authorized^and paid for by the State Department, to deliver aid to the contras. In other words, the contras were probably getting weekly weapons shipments on the State Department flights.

State Department Steered Business to Its Weapons-Supply Operative

It's not as if the State Department was ignorant of what Gadd was up to. The piggybacking of weapons shipments was more than simply a matter of convenience for Gadd. The evidence strongly suggests that the State Department deliberately steered the "humanitarian assistance program" to Gadd to facilitate the CIA's weapons deliveries to the contras.

* For one thing, the planes for the Airmach deliveries were provided by Southern Air Transport. This is the Miami-based airline, once directly owned by the CIA, which was implicated in the CIA secret contra supply network that employed Eugene Hasenfus, the mercenary shot down over Nicaragua on October 5, 1986. Airmach is merely a front organization which has no planes of its own; in early 1986 it reported net assets of minus $56.18.

* As well, weapons supply crew member Crawford reported that when Gadd hired him, Gadd said, "We're going to work for a spinoff of Project Hope." As part of the humanitarian assistance program, the State Department had given Project Hope $3.75 million to provide medical supplies to the contras. Airmach was hired to deliver most of these supplies.

* Crawford also said he was convinced that Gadd, who was heavily involved in the weapons supply network, was working for retired Air Force Major General Richard Secord. Gadd has longstanding military and business ties with Secord. Secord collaborated with former White House aide and National Security Council member, Lt. Col. Oliver North, to organize the secret arming of the contras during the Congressional ban.

* Gadd himself also has a long history of clandestine work for the CIA. According to two business associates, Gadd held classified defense contracts to provide unmarked civilian planes and civilian crews with high-security clearances anywhere in the world on 12- hour notice. He usually operated through Southern Air Transport. The State Department paid Gadd $487,000 to run the Airmach flights to the contras.

Congress Provided the Loopholes for Gadd to Fly Through

The Airmach shipments cannot be said to have taken place against the will of Congress, either. Congress repeatedly winked at this type of an operation.

In 1984, for example, soon after Congress first banned official military aid to the contras, it authorized "private" donations to the contras to be transported on government flights to Central America. As well, in 1985, Congressional oversight committees approved the spending of Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office funds on "any kind of delivery system."

Thus Congress provided for exactly the type of piggy-backing that Gadd was involved in. The capitalist politicians in Congress have had their hands in the bloody war against Nicaragua no less than Reagan, the CIA, Pentagon and State Department.

Another protest against ClA-contra airline in Oakland


On April 12, nearly 300 people turned out to demonstrate against the presence of Southern Air Transport at the Oakland Airport. This is the CIA airline which ships weapons to the contras waging war against Nicaragua.

This was the second demonstration at the airport. On February 28, five hundred demonstrators had also come out to demand The CIA Airline Must Go!

Like the earlier one, the April 12 action was a militant protest against Reagan, the CIA and all the contragate criminals. Spirited slogans rang out continuously against the CIA. Unlike the previous protest, however, this time the police blocked the activists from going up to the doors of the terminal building.

The Marxist-Leninist Party had a speaker at the action. She urged the activists to participate in a militant contingent at the upcoming April 25 demonstration. She asked protesters to go there and, together with the MLP, to raise the banner of struggle against U.S. imperialism in contrast to the politics of support for the Democrats which is the official platform of the April 25 coalition. She pointed out, "Progress against Reaganism will not come by looking for favors from the Democrats and trade union bosses. It requires action by workers and activists themselves."

Honduran masses say 'U.S. troops out!'

Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere, next to Haiti. While a handful of businessmen and landowners live high on the hog, 70% of the people are hungry, sick, or without proper shelter.

As a result of the CIA war on Nicaragua, large camps of contra terrorists have been stationed in Honduras. And the U.S. military has set up a huge presence, as it builds up preparations for an invasion of Nicaragua. Six years of occupation have further devastated the lives of the masses. Seizing land for military uses, pillaging, murdering and dominating the entire country through a climate of terror, the contras and U.S. troops have turned Honduras into a miserable base camp for the American aggression against Nicaragua.

Because of severe repression, until recently, only guerrilla organizations based in the mountains have been able to carry out actions and agitation against the occupation and contra war. In the last year, however, the widespread anger at the suffering brought by the occupation has boiled over into open mass protests.

In recent months, peasants displaced by contras have begun to organize against the contras.

On May 1, 1986, one hundred thousand workers and peasants marched in the capital. Shouts rang out "U.S. troops out!" Some chanted "Workers and peasants to power!" The demonstration was guarded by guerrilla units and the government did not attack it.

Earlier, on March 5, 1986 thousands of people marched through the capital, Tegucigalpa, demanding the expulsion of the contras. Student, labor and professional organizations were involved in the action.

The U.S.-contra occupation is creating difficulties for the pro-U.S. government of Jose Azcona. The regime is becoming increasingly isolated for its continuing cooperation with the U.S. intervention.

Contras Ravage Peasant Lands

Honduran peasants report that since 1985, when Nicaragua effectively beat back the contras, the contras have become deeply entrenched inside Honduras. They have taken over 500 square kilometers of territory and 50 villages in the El Paraiso department bordering on Nicaragua. The contras arrogantly call this region "New Nicaragua."

The contras begin by camping out in the coffee fields and demanding food, lodging and supplies from the nearby inhabitants. Noncooperation by the inhabitants results in reprisals such as the murder or rape of themselves or their family members. After gaining a foothold in this way, the contras seize whole villages by force, burning and looting as they go.

The contras have driven 40,000 Hondurans off the land, depriving them of their homes and livelihood. These people have become a mass of starving refugees who call themselves "desplazados" (the displaced).

The contras' reign of terror has caused over $10 million in damage to the last three coffee crops, leaving the region in economic ruin.

The contras have also been implicated in murdering opposition political and trade union activists in the country.

U.S. Troops Leave a Trail of Destruction

Besides an ongoing U.S. military presence, Honduras has repeatedly been the scene of huge military exercises by the Pentagon. In a few days from now, the largest ever military maneuvers are being organized by the Pentagon.

Tens of thousands of troops have been stationed in Honduras on a rotating basis since 1982, complemented by Green Beret units and U.S. advisers and trainers. Like the contras, the American troops have displaced the population in various parts of the country for road-building, airstrip construction, opening command posts, and troop movements. The U.S. military has destroyed crops with its training exercises, bombs and chemical weapons.

And U.S. forces are also implicated in abuses against ordinary Hondurans. Indeed, the city of Tegucigalpa is turning into a likeness of Saigon during the days of the U.S. aggression in Viet Nam, a city marked by corruption, prostitution, brutality, etc.

Desplazados Organize

The 40,000 peasants displaced by the contras have fled to the towns, mainly to Tegucigalpa or to Danli, the capital of El Paraiso department, where they have set up the Committee of Desplazados to fight for their demands.

A peasant leader said in a recent interview, "We Honduran campesinos have been struggling endlessly for the government to give us some land, but they always say there is no available land, while the contras are occupying some of the best areas in the country."

The Committee of Desplazados are also demanding emergency aid to the desplazados, the expulsion of the contras, and damages from the U.S. government. The desplazados have the support of three Honduran labor federations, representing over 225,000 organized workers, who are also calling for the expulsion of the contras.

Last November the Honduran authorities promised $25,000 in emergency food assistance. But instead of allowing it to be distributed through the desplazados' organizations, it was given to the municipal bureaucracy which squandered it through corruption.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) promised $300,000 in assistance. But in February the peasants were told the funds would be used fox a "public works" program which would employ them at $1 per day. This is not enough to feed the worker himself, let alone his family. The desplazados have denounced this program.

Government Unleashes Repression

The Honduran government has responded to the desplazados' demands with persecution, calling them "Sandinistas" and accusing them of weakening Honduras before the imaginary "Nicaraguan threat." In February, two members of the Desplazados Committee in Danli were detained on arriving in Tegucigalpa. They were not released until the intervention of a human rights group.

The Honduran police and the CIA collaborate in putting down all types of resistance to the contras and the U.S. occupation. The CIA provides intelligence expertise and training for ferreting out opposition leaders. The police then selectively assassinate the leaders. According to one report, since 1982 there have been 300 political assassinations and over 130 "disappearances" from police custody.

Honduran Bourgeoisie Fears Revolution

While the U.S.-contra occupation has provoked the hatred of the Honduran masses, certain bourgeois sectors have also begun to grumble. But their worries have a different origin.

The contras' disruptive activities has hurt profits for some of the exploiters. The contras, who are exempt from Honduran law, are running rampant, engaging in corruption, shady deals, and armed robbery of banks and businesses wherever they go. So, while the contras have traditionally been a source of payoffs to the Honduran ruling class, they are increasingly seen as a bad investment.

As well, hopes for a counterrevolutionary victory by the contras in Nicaragua have now dimmed considerably. In the face of this, sections of the Honduran military are resentful at having to remain indefinitely in third place for rights and privileges, behind the U.S. Army and the contras.

Moreover, all of these right-wing forces are worried that the working masses' anger at the contras will give way to revolutionary developments which threaten the Honduran establishment.

U.S. imperialism has long kept the Honduran military and business community happy through aid and bribery. Now, the CIA is stepping up bribery of Honduran officials. Meanwhile, Reagan and Congress want to increase aid to Honduras, to help the Honduran bourgeoisie oppose the revolutionary movements at home, in Nicaragua, and throughout Central America.

Solidarity With the Honduran Toilers

The emergence of open struggle in Honduras against the U.S.-contra occupation is good news. It shows that a period of stagnation in the political movement may be ending.

However, there are major pitfalls that the Honduran masses need to be vigilant against. A sector of right-wing bourgeois politicians themselves are posturing, and liberal and reformist forces are painting a glowing picture of all Hondurans marching in one file, in a common fight for national sovereignty. In the struggle, the Honduran workers and peasants must reject this trap, and build up an independent movement of the toilers.

Over 100,000 march against apartheid and U.S. intervention in Central America

Across the U.S., there is a deep, smoldering anger among workers and young people against Reagan's policies in Central America and South Africa. This mass outrage was reflected on Saturday, April 25, when over 75,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. and another 30,000 rallied in San Francisco.

As we go to press, the first reports from these demonstrations are coming in. They indicate that the turnout was large and diverse. Demonstrators included workers marching in a number of union contingents as well as students from the campuses. They included activists who took part in the mass movements of the 1960's as well as people just beginning to take part in mass protests.

In the demonstrations, strong feelings of sympathy and friendship were shown for the fighting black people of South Africa and for the toilers of Central America. The Reaganite alliance with racism in Pretoria and with the Somocista contras was resoundingly condemned.

The protesters not only braved bad weather in Washington, but also rebuffed a major boycott which had been pressed by the headquarters of the AFL-CIO. Lane Kirkland, head of the AFL-CIO, denounced the demonstrations. And A1 Shanker of the American Federation of Teachers took out ads in newspapers cursing the protest. These top labor hacks took such a stand because they support Reagan's warmongering policies abroad.

The demonstrators who came out on April 25 want a fight against Reaganism. Unfortunately those who dominated the coalitions sponsoring the protests do not stand for a real fight.

The political forces who stood on the April 25 platforms belong to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. They include a section of trade union bureaucrats, black bourgeois politicians, and other reformists.

These forces claim to be against Reaganism, but their message spells a complete dead end for anyone who wants change. This message is a simple, but rotten one. At the Washington, D.C. rally, it was put succinctly by Jesse Jackson, the featured speaker. He called out: "We march today, we vote next year."

Voting for the Democrats is not the way forward. The Democrats in fact are collaborators with the Reagan agenda. To fool the masses, they pretend to be critical of Reagan, but then they turn around and vote for his proposals, or at best for proposals that are only microscopically different than Reagan's. And then the helpers of the Democrats cry out, Hurrah! What a great victory!

Although we have not yet received reports from our own comrades who attended the April 25 actions, we do know that the apologists for the Democrats did not go unchallenged.

The Marxist-Leninist Party had militant contingents at both the protests. And along with other anti-imperialist activists, the party of the class conscious workers marched, shouted slogans, distributed literature, and talked to other protesters pointing to a quite different road than the one promoted by the reformists -- the path of the independent mobilization of workers and youth against Reagan, against both the capitalist parties, and against the whole bloodstained imperialist system.


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How Reaganism teaches 'morality'

In the adjoining article, we cover the recent disclosures about the CIA working hand-in-hand with big-time drug smugglers to prop up the contra war against Nicaragua.

That is one more filthy example of Reaganite hypocrisy in action. Remember the "war on drugs" so strongly preached by Ron, Nancy, and virtually all the capitalist politicians in Washington? As with other social problems, the capitalists had their answer to drug abuse -- the big stick of police repression. Mandatory drug tests in the work places. Firings. Stiff jail terms for even minimal drug users.

In the meantime, it turns out, the Reagan administration has been in bed with the drug smugglers. You help us ship arms to the contras in Central America. We'll help you fly drugs back to the States. That is the real, sordid story.

Contragate, the Boesky affair, Preachergate. Scandal in the high places of bourgeois America. In the last six months, the institutions that are symbols of U.S. capitalism in the Reagan era have been wracked by scandal. And in case after case, Reaganism and capitalism have been shown to be synonymous with gross hypocrisy.


The Reagan presidency had been virtually built up through frothing at the mouth against Iran and "international terrorism." The exposures of the Iran-contra affair brought out that, behind everyone's back, the White House was shipping arms to Tehran. Caught in the act, Reagan came up with a real good one: he was only sending weapons to bring peace to the Iran-Iraq war. Then it turned out, the U.S. has been giving aid to both sides in the bloody reactionary war in the Persian Gulf.

Reagan painted the Nicaraguan contras as shining knights of democracy and freedom. But Reagan could not overcome one big problem: these "freedom fighters" never seemed to get any support from the Nicaraguan people. To keep these "democrats" in business, contragate brought out, Reagan had to send his minions to solicit help from tyrants and dictators the world over.

War is Peace. Tyranny is Freedom. Those are the slogans of Reaganism.

The Boesky Affair

A booming Wall Street. After the trillion-dollar Pentagon budget, this was the proudest achievement of Reaganism. The Reaganites boasted of the miracles of "free enterprise." They said, now it was all right to be rich again in America. And Reagan and Congress worked hard to provide tax breaks, loosen governmental regulations, and so forth.

U.S. capitalism was breeding a new generation of entrepreneurs, new Horatio Algers, we were told. America was on the threshold of a whole new frontier.

The insider trading scandal on Wall Street has punctured this balloon. Who are the new breed of millionaires? It turns out, they are the Ivan Boesky's, the ones who are making money off the merger mania that is the rage on Wall Street. These people produce nothing for the economy, they do nothing useful for society, they just speculate on the big merger deals. And where are their millions coming from -- out of the ruin of the rest of U.S. society, out of the takeback drive that has meant unemployment, wage cuts, and homelessness for the workers and poor.


The Church. Reagan claimed that a new morality was at work in the country. The Moral Majority stood behind his backward agenda, helping him crusade for bigger nuclear bombs, for more aid to fight revolution in Central America, for measures to push back women's rights, etc.

Now it turns out, with the scandal in the PTL (becoming known among the masses as "Pass the Loot" or "Pay the Lady") television ministry, the morality of the high priests of Reaganism leave a great deal hidden away from the eyes of the public. Every day, there are new revelations. And it isn't just sexual hijinks. It also turns out that, with at least one of the TV ministries which raised money in the name of "African famine relief," the money did not quite reach Africa.

The Working Class Has Contempt for Hypocrisy

These scandals are not bringing out some minor aberrations. No, they are exposing bits and pieces of what really goes on behind the spit and polish that American capitalism shows on the outside. The Marxist workers' movement has pointed out from way back that hypocrisy is essential for capitalist rule. It cannot be otherwise. Under capitalism, the wealthy exploiters rule in the name of all the people, but in reality it is the almighty dollar which reigns.

The cracks and scandals in the edifice of Reaganite capitalism are not cause for pessimism and despair for the workers. They are signs that the capitalist way is rotting alive and needs to be cast aside. They should serve as a call to workers to organize for a new world, a world of emancipation for all who labor, a world free of idle rich parasites, a world of solidarity with the downtrodden people around the globe. That is the world of the socialist rule of the working class.

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CIA in bed with drug traffickers

Over the last few years, there have been several revelations that the contras have been involved in drug smuggling to finance their bloody war against the Nicaraguan people. There were also hints that the CIA was involved in this.

Recently, in the flood of revelations emerging out of contragate, this scandal is getting more of a public exposure. And what it shows is that the CIA and the National Security Council have closely collaborated with big-time cocaine dealers for the contra cause.

These stories have briefly appeared in some daily newspapers. They have received more detailed coverage in the latest edition of Spin magazine and the April 6 newscast of the CBS-TV newsmagazine West 57th Street.

These stories describe the relationship between the drug dealers and the CIA. They show that between 1984 and '86, a quid-pro-quo arrangement existed between the drug dealers and the CIA. The drug smugglers supplied planes to fly weapons down to Central America; the CIA helped them smuggle drugs into the U.S.

The revelations are based on interviews with several drug traffickers who are currently in jail (on unrelated drug charges) and with people connected to Stephen Carr, an American mercenary who was involved in the contra effort but mysteriously died in southern California after beginning to talk about his experiences.

The CIA's Own Colombian Connection

In 1984 George Morales, a big Colombian drug dealer, made a deal with the CIA. He agreed to help the CIA to get around the Congressional ban on shipping weapons to the contras by making available his private fleets of planes and his pilots. In return, the CIA opened up hidden airstrips in Costa Rica as refueling stops for the drug traffickers, provided storage sites for their drugs, and taught them how to avoid the complex radar traps when bringing contraband into the U.S.

Morales says he arranged for as many as 20 weapons shipments to Costa Rica in 1984 and 1985. And, with the help of the CIA, he smuggled thousands of kilos of cocaine into the U.S. "I was supplying aircraft and pilots, and other financial support," Morales told Spin, "We were flying from Florida to Ilopango [Salvadoran air force base] and then to Costa Rica...The word came down from Washington about what had to be done."

The Hub in Costa Rica

Morales' planes would land on airstrips in northern Costa Rica owned by an American rancher named John Hull. There the planes would refuel and continue on to the U.S. It is here that the planes were loaded up with cocaine. Hull is said to have stored the cocaine on his property as well.

There had been earlier reports that Hull's airstrips were also used to transport cocaine from Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa, Colombia's two biggest drug lords. The source for that story had been a Nicaraguan contra named David, who, according to Costa Rican authorities, had been kidnapped on Hull's land and murdered for revealing the contra network to the press.

In fact, John Hull was a vital link of the contra network. He was reportedly in charge of the southern contra front. He boasted of receiving money from "a friend at the NSC" in the White House. Hull controls a large territory along the Nicaraguan border, dotted with airstrips and weapons caches, training camps and secret hospitals -- all linked with communications equipment. Oliver North's network routinely flew contra weapons and supplies from Miami and Ilopango to Hull.

Another Channel

Reporters from CBS' West 57th Street interviewed Michael Toliver, another drug smuggler currently in jail. Toliver was involved in an operation like Morales'. He met twice with Rafael Quintero, a veteran CIA operative, who helped coordinate the flights. He said, "We could bring back our own cargo, and they would arrange it. Or we could bring back their cargo without ever worrying about interception or arrest or anything like this."

Toliver reported that in March 1986, he flew 14 tons of weapons to Honduras for the contras and returned to Florida with 25,360 pounds of marijuana, which was provided by the secret arms operation. He says the pot was unloaded after he landed at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. He received $75,000 for the round-trip flight.

This Is Not the First Time for the CIA

The CIA denies all these charges. The U.S. officials say you can't trust drug dealers who are in jail.

But the CIA's denials are ridiculous. For one thing, the contragate revelations have brought out all sorts of heinous activities carried on by the Oliver North network as it tried to advance Reagan's contra cause. For another, the drug smugglers, in their testimonies, seem to know an awful lot that is true about the contra supply operations.

What's more, this isn't the first time the CIA has been involved in work with drug smugglers. There is a long history of this. For example, in the 1960's the CIA conducted a "secret war" in Laos against the liberation forces there. This war was based on an alliance with Hmong tribesmen who were a crucial component of the heroin trade in southeast Asia. The CIA's airline, Air America, helped transport the heroin, and some reports say that the CIA even helped process it.

Indeed, many of the CIA agents involved in the Laos operations are now key figures in the CIA-contra war against Nicaragua.

Laos is but one example. The same thing is going on today in Afghanistan. The Afghan people are caught between a brutal Russian imperialist occupation and a dirty CIA war. The CIA-backed right-wing opposition forces finance themselves partly though the drug trade.

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Iranian communists on 'Irangate'

How do the communist workers in Iran look at the exposures of the secret contacts and arms deals between Reagan and the Khomeini regime?

We publish below an article based on a commentary from the communist press in Iran. The commentary appeared in the December issue of "Komonist," the central organ of the Communist Party of Iran (CPI). The full English version of the article appears in the March 1987 issue of "Bolshevik Message," paper of the CPI-Committee Abroad.

The Iranian communists, organized in the CPI, are organizing the workers and other toilers of Iran to overthrow the Islamic regime and ensure that the next revolution in Iran proceeds forward to socialism.

It is well known that the news about Reagan's secret arms deals with Iran did not become public because the White House was forthright about this policy. Rather, it was a magazine in Lebanon that originally blew the lid on this affair. But how did this come about?

That has its origins in the severe infighting that has been gripping the Islamic government in Iran.

How the Exposures Originated

The rivalries within the Iranian government reached a climax last year with the kidnapping of the Syrian diplomat in Tehran, the arrest of Mehdi Hashemi and his band, the dissolution of the organization of "Fighters of the Islamic Revolution," etc.

Hashemi was the head of the bureau of "Islamic liberation movements." This outfit follows an extremist pan-Islamic line and is connected to the counterrevolutionary operations of the "Party of God" in Lebanon and other regions. Hashemi was arrested by the ruling wing of the Islamic Republic on charges of treason, murder and kidnapping.

This suppression had support from Khomeini himself. In reply to a letter from the Information Minister asking about how to deal with this group, Khomeini personally demanded that Hashemi and his "deviationist band" and whoever spreads "rumors" be harshly dealt with.

What "rumors" was Khomeini referring to?

It appears that Hashemi and his group were opposed to the policy of exchanging the American hostages for military equipment. They also opposed the recent policy on the war, namely, the procrastination of the Great Offensive in favor of trying to exploit the present situation and come to a deal based upon it. This had been the policy opted for by the dominant faction in the Iranian government and by Iran's ally, Syria.

Evidently Hashemi and his band were fully aware of the contacts with the U.S. government and the Israeli-American arms deliveries. It has now become clear that this group set out to expose the affair and strongly attacked the ruling faction for its "compromise with the USA." This is what Khomeini's accusation of ''spreading rumors" refers to.

The Lebanese newspaper Al Shara apparently received the information from the supporters of Hashemi's line in Lebanon, and it published the report about the arms deal affair and McFarlane's trip to Iran. Thus the matter went out of the framework of internal conflicts in Iran, and it made it very difficult for the Islamic Republic to keep its silence.

Washington's Main Aim Was Not Release of the Hostages, But Seeking Influence in Tehran

There has been a lot made about how the U.S, government sent arms to Iran to get the release of hostages in Lebanon. But from the very beginning it was apparent that the release of the hostages could not have been the main objective of this policy. It could only have been a cover for the main aim, its non-strategic aspect.

And as the wave of criticism over the policy of ''dealing with terrorism" heated up, Reagan denied more explicitly than before the direct link between the arms deal and the release of the hostages. Instead he attributed the matter to the general strategy of the U.S. towards Iran and to gaining the necessary influence to affect internal developments of the Islamic Republic.

It is notable that while the bourgeois-imperialist critics of Reagan's policy all complain that these measures have damaged the so-called anti-terrorist policy of the U.S. administration, they approve of the strategic aims of Reagan's policy towards Iran.

The aim of the U.S. secret diplomacy and its place in the strategy of U.S. imperialism towards Iran is clear. For a long time now, the imperialist policy makers began the work of shaping an ''Iran after Khomeini," an Iran which would be able to meet the long-term interests of imperialism in Iran and the region, i.e., confronting revolution and communism and also preventing Russian imperialist influence.

The wheeling and dealing between the Islamic Republic and the imperialist states stems from the class nature of this regime and the existence of common class interests between them.

This is not something new. The nature of the Islamic Republic and the bourgeois-imperialist character of its policies have not in the least bit differed from earlier. Secret dealings with the imperialists are not new things for the Islamic Republic. Its initial accession to power and its continued hold on power have been through such dealings.

But what has changed is the position of the Islamic Republic in the recent period.

Deepening Crisis for the Regime

Especially during the last year, the sharp fall in the price of oil in the world market and the reduction of Iran's ability to refine and export oil because of the bombing of oil installations have severely aggravated Iran's economic situation. It has been confronted by an unprecedented financial crisis, which has in turn produced far-reaching economic, social and political effects. It has led to the shutdown of a large sector of production.

All this, plus the deadlock in the war, the intense infighting within the regime and the probability of Khomeini's death, has placed the Islamic Republic in an infinitely grave and fragile position.

Imperialism Does Not Have a Realistic Alternative to the Regime

Furthermore, none of the factions of the bourgeois opposition that are trusted by the U.S. at the moment enjoy the necessary requirements to replace the Islamic Republic. The imperialists cannot afford to set off any severe measures shaking the foundations of the Islamic Republic. Besides the limitations involved in their execution, they could inflame a mass rising and the reemergence of a revolutionary situation. This is something which the imperialists are more afraid of than anything else.

In other words, the imperialists still do not possess a better alternative capable of realizing the smooth transfer of political power in Iran.

Imperialism Seeks to Influence Changes Within the Islamic Regime

Therefore the whole endeavor of the U.S. in the present period is directed at preventing the ''premature" collapse of the Islamic regime. It wants to influence the course of internal developments inside the regime, before time runs out.

The U.S. wants to build up links and leverage points for the transition to the future of the bourgeois government, in particular after Khomeini's death. The U.S. seeks to moderate or eliminate those features of the pan-Islamic policy which result in the destabilization of the present situation in the region. This destabilization is contrary to the interests of the U.S. and imperialism as a whole.

Thus the aim of the U.S. is to generally fit the Islamic regime of Iran into a framework that is acceptable to the needs and interests of imperialism.

The question as to how this process will proceed after the recent disclosures is something which depends on various factors and one cannot answer it at the present moment. But one thing is certain: the Islamic Republic is, in any case, in a far worse situation for adopting this policy.

The condition of the ''sick man" is too grave for it to be healed by Reagan's secret diplomacy and arms supplies. The Islamic Republic, with its grave crisis, with its exhausting infightings, and a war in deadlock, is on the edge of a cliff, and the oppressed and revengeful masses are only awaiting the emergence of a fissure to overthrow the whole of this hellish apparatus.

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News from Iran

(These items describing resistance in Iran against the Khomeini regime have been taken from "Report," (Number 29, March 15-30, 1987) biweekly newsletter of the Communist Party of Iran -- the Committee Abroad.)

Unity of the People Forces the Regime to Retreat

In early January, the people in the area of Hesarak in the town of Karaj (near Tehran) gathered in front of the distribution section of Botan Gas company and waited in a long queue in order to get their ration of gas cylinders. The authorities announced that only 400 people would be able to get gas and the rest would have to leave.

This had been happening every day, due to shortage of gas, and had led to a number of conflicts among the people who wanted to be one of those returning home with a capsule of gas. To prevent such conflict, this time a few of those waiting in the queue managed to convince the others that instead of fighting with each other, it would be better if they acted unanimously and put pressure on the authorities to distribute more gas.

The proposal was accepted by the people who had now waited for two hours (this is only one of the queues the people have to wait in every day in order to get their basic necessities). The crowd began to protest and announced that they would not leave unless everyone was given a capsule of gas. The authorities threatened that the Pasdars would be called in, but the people did not pay attention. The continuation of the protest forced the authorities to retreat and announce that no one would return empty handed. All the empty capsules were collected in front of the building in order to be replaced with new ones. The people did not disperse until they made sure that everyone had been given gas.

In Revolutionary Kurdistan

* In late January, a unit of Komala Peshmargas (armed militants of the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran -- Komala) confiscated a regime's warehouse in the main Sanandaj-Kermanshah road. The Peshmargas had to pass through tens of the regime's bases and centers during the operation. When the operation ended successfully, our comrades left the area unhurt.

* In late January, a number of the regime's men entered the village of Karjo in the area of Sanandaj and told the people that they must volunteer for going to the war fronts. The people remained impassive. The next day, the armed men entered the village again and read out the names of 40 people who were to be sent to the fronts. The armed men began searching the houses and by surrounding the village, managed to arrest a few people. The people protested and shouted the slogans, "This war is not ours" and "We will not provide you with men." They became involved in a conflict with the regime's men. The resistance of the people forced the regime's men to retreat and release those arrested.

* In early February, a few units of Komala Peshmargas attacked the regime's base in the village of Salook-Olya in the area of Baneh. The regime suffered casualties and damages and our Peshmargas left the scene of the operation unhurt.

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Letter from the Communist Party of Iran

Dear Comrades,

I am writing, though belatedly, to acknowledge the receipt of the message of the 3rd National Conference of your Party to the Communist Party of Iran.

We studied the resolutions of the Conference with great interest. To our mind, the resolution, "On Differences in the International Marxist-Leninist Movement,'' was particularly important. We welcome your criticism of the Party of Labor of Albania and wish you success in your efforts to elaborate your criticism further and draw the logical conclusions. We think that the extension of the present criticism to an open and comprehensive ideological struggle against the non-proletarian, non-Marxist, and non-Leninist theories, policies, and practice inside the international current around the PLA will help the genuinely revolutionary forces within this milieu to break away and adopt proletarian stands.

An important development is taking place inside the different radical currents of "communism/Marxism.'' Sincere revolutionary elements and forces, although scattered, have started, on an international level, to criticize radically not only the Russian revisionism but at the same time the time-honored flags and slogans of the trends they descend from. They are striving to revitalize the proletarian socialism of Marx, to merge with the workers' struggle, and to forge the unity of the working class in its continuous anti-capitalist struggle.

The reemergence of these attempts can only be a manifestation of the reawakening of the international working class. In the present world situation, in order to go forward in its anti-capitalist struggle, the working class has no way but to get rid of all the nationalist, reformist, and pseudo-socialist restraints. The whole question is whether the revolutionary Marxists will be prepared to play their crucial role in carrying this process through. We heartily support every effort of every revolutionary force in this direction.

We appreciate very much the fraternal message which your Party's Conference sent to our Party. We, too, look forward to further contacts between our two Parties and welcome any cooperation which strengthens the international solidarity of the working class in the USA and Iran.

With communist greetings,

Political Bureau of the CPI

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From the Portuguese Communist Organization/Workers' Policy

The dirty role of the Portuguese government in the Iran-contra scandal

Portugal was used by White House officials as an important transshipment point for sending arms to Iran and to the contras in Nicaragua. We excerpt below an article describing how the scandal is being smothered over by the Portuguese bourgeoisie. The full article appeared in the journal "Politico Operaria," (No. 8, January-February 1987) published by the Communist Organization -- Workers' Policy of Portugal.

All of a sudden, the scandal of Irangate in the United States has brought to the surface a flood of news about the involvement of Portugal in the sale of arms to Iran and to the contras of Nicaragua.

A Portuguese-American firm based in Lisbon, Hallet and William, has been implicated in negotiations for the sale of 8,300 "Tow" anti-tank missiles to Iran. Meanwhile, Southern Air Transport, the airline company in service of the CIA, loaded up in the Portela airport arms for the contras of Nicaragua and other forces in Latin America financed by the United States.

At the end of 1985, William Casey, the CIA boss, telephoned Lisbon to annul an order that was holding back an airplane with arms in the airport, preventing it from going on to its destination in Iran. And Oliver North, one of the brains of the operations, came down to make it clear to the government and military chiefs in Lisbon that this type of incident must not be repeated. To them, there was no reason why the U.S. should encounter difficulties in the use of Portuguese airspace and territory for its operations.

Brutality for the Nicaraguan People, Profits for Portuguese Capitalists

As long as the U.S. Congress won't release full-scale support for the Nicaraguan contras, Portugal will intensify the export of arms for the Somocista rebels. The result: in only two years it exported thousands of weapons which help the contras murder peasants, torture women and children, and burn schools and hospitals.

G-3 automatic rifles from INDEP, mortars and ammunition from the foundry of Oerias, gunpowder from Trafaria Explosives, etc., make up "part of the trade in which Portugal finds itself involved in the service of the Americans. Seventy-five percent of the exports of Portuguese arms goes to the Persian Gulf war.

This traffic of arms has brought fabulous profits to persons like Alpoim Galvao, one of the big traders of the military commissions, ex-president of Extra (Trafaria Explosives) and the one who recently reactivated the gunpowder factory of Barcarena.

The "New Portugal" Continues a Tradition from the Old Fascist Regime

All this involvement of Portugal in Irangate confirms that tradition remains: the "new Portugal of April" [the parliamentary system in Portugal since the April 1974 overthrow of the fascist dictatorship] carries out the same mission which fascism once played in the external policy of the U.S. The country which boasts of itself as "an example of democracy and of noble decolonization," shows again its true face: securely allied in NATO it makes itself available for the success of Reagan's crusade against "terrorism."

The new scandal continues in the tradition of Portuguese support for the genocide of the Palestinians in 1973 when the base of Lajes was the principal stage of the launching of the raids, or, more recently, when in the incursion against Libya, the U.S. bombers were allowed use of Portuguese airspace.

The Loyal Opposition Is Mute

Nevertheless, the government did not come under fire from the opposition. All gave in to the pragmatism of Cavaco Silva [prime minister of Portugal]. The justification is simple: with the termination of the colonial war, it is necessary to somehow dispose of the armaments which nowadays are filling up the warehouses.

As usual, there has hardly been a discordant voice in the parliamentary opposition. The PCP [the pro-Soviet revisionist party] discussed the topic in O diario. However, in the irrelevance of these criticisms, it reflected the irrelevance of its politics. It condemned the involvement in Irangate, but did not point to its source in Portugal's longstanding participation in NATO. It pretends to believe that Portugal, despite being retained in this pact, may sometime or other take an independent stand. The PCP respects the politics of blocs of which this country is a pawn, but shouts most about "sovereignty." All their arguments upon this problem are wholly lame. It was not so long ago that the PCP identified the call "Portugal out of NATO" as "a maneuver for destabilization inspired by agents of the CIA."

The Whole Establishment Smothers the Scandal

Here in Portugal, the scandal won't shake official indifference. The government and the president of the republic won't even minimally justify their involvement, the opposition understands and winks, and the press does not dare demand explanations.

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The World in Struggle


Strike movement builds in Spain

The strike movement in Spain continues to grow. The first week of April workers in Madrid shut down the subway for eight hours. Striking miners and shipyard workers clashed with police. And steel workers protesting job cuts fought a battle with police that left 68 people injured.

The second week of April transport workers throughout Spain struck. A 24- hour strike by airline, train and subway workers shut down public transport on April 10. This was the largest single walkout since the social-democratic regime of Felipe Gonzalez came to power in 1982.

Public sector workers in Spain are protesting Gonzalez' austerity policies. The social-democrats who rule Spain are following a typically Reaganite capitalist program.


Three-day general strike in Lebanon

On April 23 the workers of Lebanon began a three-day general strike to protest the soaring cost of living. From day one the strike was very successful. The 250,000 Lebanese trade union members stayed away from work en masse. For the first time in years, both Christian and Moslem sectors of Beirut were shut down at the same time for the same event.

This strike follows some one-day strikes and protest demonstrations in the last year. The workers of Lebanon are being driven into utter destitution by rampaging inflation, and they are refusing to put up with it.

The united struggle of workers, successfully overcoming religious divisions, is an important happening in Lebanon. It is the working class of all communities which holds the potential for moving Lebanon forward, out of its present tragic situation.

Upsurge in Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupiers

Another round of struggle took place on the West Bank in occupied Palestine during April. As in previous struggles, crowds of brave Palestinian youths wielding nothing but rocks and bare hands confronted the zionist occupation troops. The Israeli troops opened fire, and at least one youth was killed.

This new round of struggle began on March 25, when 3,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike demanding improvements in prison conditions and an end to torture. These 3,000 Palestinians are political prisoners, but the zionists have taken away their separate status, abolished the previous practice of negotiating with representatives of the political prisoners, and merged them into the general prison population.

The prisoners' hunger strike evoked much sympathy from the civilian Palestinian population. On April 7 Palestinians marched through East Jerusalem supporting the strike.

Pogrom at Qalqilya

As the hunger strike continued, protests began to break out across the West Bank. To quell the resistance, *the Israelis began arresting Palestinian intellectuals -- university professors, newspaper editors, etc. -- and accusing them of "incitement." At the same time Israeli helicopter gunships were raiding Palestinian settlements in southern Lebanon, killing civilian residents of the refugee camps there.

On April 12 someone threw a firebomb from an orange grove into the path of a car driven by an Israeli woman near the West Bank Palestinian town of Qalqilya. The woman, who lived in a zionist settlement nearby, was killed.

The zionists used this as an excuse to launch a terrorist pogrom against the Arab residents of Qalqilya. First the Israeli army came and bulldozed the guilty orange grove. Then the civilians from the zionist settlement launched a full-scale attack on the village. Hundreds of Israelis rampaged through Qalqilya smashing car windows with guns and pipes, setting vehicles afire and lighting fires in the Palestinians' fields and orchards. Israeli military security was present in force, doing nothing to stop the pogrom.

Clash at Bir Zeit University

On April 13 students at Bir Zeit University organized a protest against the arrest of Palestinian intellectuals and in support of the ongoing prison hunger strike. The students blocked roads leading to the university and chanted slogans.

Israeli troops pulled up to the university in troop carriers and barely had time to climb down before they opened fire on the protesters. The soldiers killed one student and wounded three. They also arrested 400 of the demonstrators and ordered the university closed for four months.

Bir Zeit University is a regular target of the Israeli authorities. Virtually every time the students there stir, the regime uses it as a pretext to shut down the school.

Support the Struggle of the Palestinians!

This new round of struggle in the occupied territories is a welcome sign. It shows that the spirit of struggle against their oppressors continues to burn among the Palestinians. And it coincides with a renewal of the anti-zionist armed struggle organized by guerrilla groups in Lebanon. This is bringing gloom to the zionist chiefs, who thought they had squashed all resistance by their invasion of Lebanon. The resistance lives on, despite the pogroms and massacres of the zionist occupiers.

[Photo: Palestinians demonstrate on the West Bank.]

In the name of 'People Power' Aquino encourages death squads

The capitalists in the U.S. love to rave about Corazon Aquino and her "people power" regime in the Philippines. But reality does not add up to their pretty picture.

The Marcos dictatorship fell last year, the result of many years of struggle and sacrifice by the Filipino masses. Aquino came to power heading up a liberal capitalist government. But bourgeois liberalism does not mean freedom for the toilers. In fact, behind her reformist rhetoric, Aquino is building a regime of bloody suppression of the workers and peasants.

The new president has launched all-out war against the leftist guerrilla movement led by the CP of the Philippines. She has reneged on her promise to disband the local constabularies and private armies of the landlords. And her troops have carried out Marcos-style massacres, most notably the massacre of peasant demonstrators January 22 on the Mendiola Bridge in Manila.

Recently another feature of the Aquino regime has come to light. It has been fostering right-wing vigilante squads.

In the past few months a wave of vigilante squads has sprung up in many cities in the Philippines. Of course "salvagings" (killings by the right wing) have occurred for years. But what stands out about these new vigilantes is the openness with which they operate and the fact that they are openly fostered by a liberal regime.

Aquino herself has done propaganda for local right-wing groups. She endorses them as "a concrete manifestation of people power and an effective weapon against communism...." The formation of vigilante groups is also endorsed by Fidel Ramos, Aquino's loyal army commander. And Aquino's Secretary of Local Government, Jaime Ferrer, has now ordered all local officials throughout the country to form vigilante groups.

Of course Aquino, with her usual hypocrisy, says that these groups operate "without the use of firearms." Aquino says that these groups have been springing up spontaneously, and the role of her government is simply to encourage the setting up of these peaceful citizens groups.

But those familiar with the groups understand they are neither spontaneous nor unarmed. In fact the vigilante groups have close ties with right-wing groups in the armed forces, from whom they freely obtain arms. And the military openly pressures people to support the vigilantes. For example, a Col. Calida, military commander for the city of Davao, says, "Anybody who would not like to join Alsa Masa [a local vigilante squad] is a Communist." (New York Times, April 4)

And the vigilantes are not at all subtle about what they plan to do with those they consider "Communist." Some groups mark the dwellings of people who refuse to join or support the vigilantes. And one group has its own local radio show on which it declares to those who hang back, "We will exhibit your heads in the plaza. Just one order to our anti-communist forces, your head will be cut off. Damn you, your brains will be scattered in the streets." (Ibid.)

This sort of broadcast propaganda is not "spontaneous," either. It is written, produced and paid for by CAUSA, a political organization affiliated with the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, the ultra-right South Korean preacher. The Catholic church hierarchy does not want to get left behind either; a Msgr. Manuel Salvador, bishop in Cebu, endorses the vigilante groups, saying, "We really cannot blame these civilians who decide to arm themselves." (Ibid.)

The setting up of right-wing death squads that work in conjunction with the military, the saturation of the country with anti-communist propaganda, the killings sanctified by priests -- and all of this presided over by a "human rights" hypocrite. Haven't we heard this story before? It reminds one of the story behind the death-squad regime of Jose Napoleon Duarte in El Salvador. But it is also shaping up as the reality behind the "people power" regime of Corazon Aquino in the Philippines.

The Pope's prayers will not reconcile the Chilean people to fascism

In April, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to South America. As in his visits to other "hot spots" of the world, the Pope went to crusade against the mass struggle of the toilers. Everywhere he goes, the Pope promotes himself as the voice of the poor and downtrodden, but he carries a message which spells suicide for the working masses. In fact the Pope preaches to the poor that they should pay their "wages of sin" by submitting meekly to the dictates of the rich and powerful. This visit was no different.

The main showcase of this visit was the Pope's tour of Chile, where the U.S. media tried to promote him as the bastion of opposition to the dictator Pinochet. But the real heroes who took center stage during this tour were the Chilean workers and urban poor. They showed who the real force is against tyranny in Chile.

The masses took advantage of the Pope's visit to demonstrate their hatred for the fascist regime. The papal services were converted into oppositional demonstrations by crowds of youth who used the opportunity to denounce Pinochet's dictatorship. By the time the Pope's visit to Chile had ended, the fighting masses were coming into sharp contradiction with the church hierarchy itself.

The Church Calls for Reconciliation

The church prepared for the Pope's visit to Chile by eliminating any criticism they had of Pinochet. In mid- March one of the Chilean bishops made some comments against Pinochet, but immediately retracted them when he was reminded of the need for "peace" during the upcoming visit.

But it wasn't useful for the church to take a completely slavish attitude toward the fascist regime. In fact, the church had arranged the Pope's visit precisely to address the crisis facing Chile today -- in the last few years, a big movement has been growing in Chile to rid the country of Pinochet's dictatorship. But the church does not stand for advancing this movement; it seeks to tone it down in order to prevent it from growing into a revolution.

On the eve of his arrival in Chile, John Paul issued some comments calling the Chilean regime a "dictatorship" and comparing Pinochet to Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. He also claimed to support transition in Chile toward a democratic government.

But this wasn't a call for struggle against Pinochet. Rather the Pope came to bolster the liberal opposition leaders in Chile who are closely associated with the church hierarchy. Thus the Pope issued statements calling for "reconciliation" and "dialogue." This wasn't a call addressed to Pinochet to give in to the demands of the people. Rather it was a call to the masses to temper their demands and methods of struggle while they wait for the military to ease power into the hands of the bourgeois liberals. And the liberal politicians echoed the Pope, calling for "dialogue" and rejecting "violence" as a form of struggle for the opposition.

Pinochet, for the time being, is not interested in dialogue with the liberals, and not interested in any concessions. Upon the Pope's arrival in Santiago, Pinochet organized his own demonstration of right-wing supporters to come and cheer while Pinochet and John Paul appeared together on a balcony.

Then the Pope held a private prayer service for Pinochet and his wife in the chapel of the presidential palace. This was in the very same room where the former president Salvador Allende was killed during Pinochet's fascist coup of 1973. As if to bolster this insult to the Chilean masses, later in his visit John Paul would hold mass at the same Santiago stadium which Pinochet used in 1973 to round up and murder thousands of workers and activists.

The Masses Rise in Struggle

But, while the Pope prayed with Pinochet, the masses prepared for struggle. When John Paul went into a slum of Santiago on April 2 to hold a prayer service, the poor masses gathered there chanted for him to ' 'take the tyrant away." Pinochet's police didn't like this and tried to suppress it, but youth at the meeting repulsed them with stones. The police then opened up with tear gas and birdshot.

An even sharper clash occurred the next day, April 3, at a huge papal mass in Santiago. There the police attacked crowds of anti-government protesters with water cannon and tear gas. Young militants were not intimidated by the force of police and stood their ground, fighting off the police with rocks.

The Church Comes Out Against the Protests

Meanwhile, from the rostrum, the priest assisting the Pope called on the protesters to stop. When they didn't, John Paul himself shouted into the microphone, "The divisions cannot continue to sharpen! Now is the time for pardon and reconciliation!" Some of the priests in the crowd took it upon themselves to physically attack the young protesters.

That night the Chilean church hierarchy denounced the anti-Pinochet demonstrations as "senseless." And John Paul followed this up with a sermon the next day in which he fulminated, "You must eradicate all types of violence."

Then on April 5 the Pope traveled to Concepcion, a major industrial center, where he held a special mass supposedly dedicated to workers. This program featured the local archbishop crying out against terrorism. He shrieked out against what he called ' 'the terrorism of the opposition or of the state." What a calumny! Here were the armed minions of fascism, with armored cars, guns, tear gas and clubs coming down against demonstrators who were just chanting slogans against the dictatorship -- but the church leaders saw here terrorism by "both sides."

The Pope's message was not lost upon Pinochet himself. At the end of the Pope's trip, the dictator made a special trip down to Antofagasta, the Pope's last stop, to thank him for coming to Chile and preaching his doctrine of national reconciliation.

Liberals and Reformists On Their Knees

The Pope's denunciation of demonstrators threw the liberal and reformist leaders into a tizzy trying to blame one another for the actions. The Christian Democrats blamed the Communist Party, which in Chile is really only pro- Soviet revisionists. But the CP leaders denied they had anything to do with it. And even the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, a guerrilla group loosely associated with the CP, swore that they had declared a truce for the duration of the Pope's visit.

The liberal and reformist leaders then attended a special meeting with the Pope where he sermonized on the evils of violence. The CP leaders listened respectfully and pledged their support for a peaceful transition to democracy. Along with the liberal bourgeois politicians, the revisionists swore allegiance to "non-violence." What is more, this "reconciliation" meeting was also attended by top leaders of pro-Pinochet rightist parties.

The revisionists know no shame. They claim to be communists and Marxists, but they prostrated themselves before the Pope. Meanwhile the Pope not only lectured for class conciliation but reserved his harshest words to denounce Marxism, which he called an "inhuman ideology." But then, the revisionists are nothing but traitors to Marxism.

No Reconciliation With Tyranny!

As the protests during the Pope's visit showed, the Chilean masses cannot be reconciled to Pinochet. They do not forget the 30,000 martyrs who died in the '73 coup, and the many others since. They cannot ignore the daily realities of a ruthless tyranny. The Chilean workers cannot be reconciled to the multinational corporations and local capitalists, whose best friend is General Pinochet. They cannot be reconciled to capitalist austerity, unemployment and starvation, now running rampant in Chile.

The struggle of the Chilean masses will go forward!


[Photo: The poor of the slums of Santiago, Chile confront storm troopers of Pinochet's fascism.]

No wonder they don't like the Pope in Argentina

Following his trip to Chile, the Pope went to Argentina. Here too he urged national reconciliation. The workers were supposed to forgive the military leaders for their wholesale massacres during the years of military regime. Wasting no time, at his first public service in Buenos Aires the Pope called on the Argentine people to "forgive those who have offended you in the past." Who cares about the torture victims, the thousands of "disappeared" people, the overflowing, graveyards? All this was to be just water under the bridge.

But don't think the Pope is all sweetness and light. He can bring out the sword of vengeance too. And in Argentina he found his target: the right to divorce. A bill legalizing divorce is about to be passed in Argentina, with the overwhelming support of the Argentine people. This bill will ease the plight of large numbers of people: the lack of divorce didn't preserve Argentine families, but simply made the plight of broken families truly unbearable and absurd. People who had not been living together for years remained formally married, while actually existing families were illegitimate and illegal.

But the Pope was on his high horse and nothing could stop him. He thundered fire and brimstone about the evils that divorce would bring Argentina. Why, if divorce would be accepted, he thundered, capitalist law and order would fall apart, commercial contracts would dissolve, all morality would cease. If divorce were legalized, "how ... could one continue to require of a man loyalty to his fatherland, to labor agreements, to the fulfillment of laws and contracts. '' He stressed that "...the spread of divorce in a society is accompanied by a diminishing of public morality in all sectors." Indeed, allowing the dissolution of marriages in which there was no longer any love would allegedly "damage genuine matrimonial and familial love."

The church hierarchy had never spoken like this when it was a matter of workers and leftists dying under the savage military rule of 1977 to 1983. The church hierarchy hadn't spoken at all. Divorce might damage matrimonial and familial love, but apparently the torture of the husband, the rape of the wife, and the disappearance of the children, when carried out by the military, were acceptable. One should forgive the murderers and torturers, welcome them back to the fold, leave them with their high positions. Is it any wonder that Pope John Paul was met with hostility in Argentina?

In any case, the Pope's view that divorce is immoral but the military deserves the people's love would soon be put to the test. As soon as he left, Argentina was indeed subjected to the spread of crisis and calamity. But strangely enough, this crisis was not caused by the treachery of love-sick people who wanted divorces and thus couldn't be trusted to fulfill a contract. No, the treachery was caused by those very military men whom the Pope had recommended to the consideration and mercy of the Argentine people.

Soon after the Pope left, on April 16, the Argentine government ordered the arrest of Major Ernesto Barreiro, the man responsible for torture at the former regime's main prison camp during the years of military rule. Trying Barreiro in a court would be, of course, a violation of "national reconciliation." Who knows, perhaps Barreiro was inspired by the Pope. But in any case he refused to submit to trial and barricaded himself inside a military camp surrounded by sympathetic officers. And several other revolts followed the one by Barreiro.

Argentina stood near civil war for a time, as the main body of the army hesitated and the government had nothing to throw against the revolting officers.

Who knows, maybe these officers really had lusted for divorce in their hearts. They only thought they were defending the right to murder the Argentine working class, when really the key issue was their family life. Or then again, maybe the Pope is a pious hypocrite who calls for friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation with the most bloodstained and oppressive forces in the world while ruthlessly and brutally pilloring the ordinary man if he has marital problems, uses contraceptives, or uses his own brain rather than following church dogma.

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Revolution and civil war in Spain -- Part 4

The turning point: Barcelona - May 1937

In July, 1936 the workers threw up barricades on the streets of Barcelona and successfully routed the military men who had joined Franco's fascist uprising. In May of 1937, the barricades went up again. But this time the bloody street fighting was between the People's Front government and its supporters on one side, and mainly workers of the anarchist trade unions on the other.

This episode in Barcelona is one of the most controversial and heatedly debated chapters of the Spanish Civil War. In this article our aim is not to delve into the full complexities of these events. Our main interest here is to look at what these events showed about the united front tactics pursued by the leadership of the Communist Party of Spain. In particular, how did its policy of subservience to the bourgeois liberals affect its relations with the anarchist workers' movement?

The international communist movement had a wealth of experience in the struggle against anarchism. From the fight waged by Marx and Engels in the First International through to the work of Lenin and the Communist (Third) International, the revolutionary Marxists had been working to free the workers' movement of this petty-bourgeois ideology. They showed the workers the gulf between the revolutionary promises of anarchism and its conservative essence -- between its fiery rhetoric and its practical impotence that left the workers under the sway of the bourgeoisie. This is how Engels had criticized the role of the anarchists in Spain in the 1870's. This is also how Lenin worked to bring those revolutionary workers who remained under anarcho-syndicalist influence towards the Communist International. This was a particular issue in countries in southern Europe and North America.

Unfortunately, by the time of the Spanish Civil War, the CP of Spain had abandoned this communist approach on this and other questions. The Spanish Party had eagerly taken up the new general line set down at the 7th Congress of the Communist International held in the summer of 1935. This new line rejected Marxist-Leninist tactics and was a backwards step towards social-democracy and reformism. Following this new line, the CPS leaders forgot about revolution and preached subservience to bourgeois democracy.

As we have discussed in the earlier parts of this series, the communists made a major contribution to the anti-fascist resistance in Spain. Their heroism and determination in combat is legendary. At the same time, the orientation given for this struggle by the leadership of their party, the CPS, proved bankrupt.

A wrong and disastrous approach towards anarchist-led workers was one of the results of this wrong orientation. The CPS leaders gutted the Marxist criticism of anarchism, reducing it to cursing anarchism for being allegedly too revolutionary and too antagonistic to bourgeois society. As we shall see below, this made the relations of the CPS with revolutionary-minded anarchist workers much more difficult and undermined the efforts to rally them to the war against fascism.

But first, let us outline what led up to the May events in Barcelona and the events themselves.

Barcelona - A Center of the Revolution

Catalonia was one of the most modern regions of Spain. Its capital, Barcelona, was the industrial heart of the republic. It was also a key center of the revolutionary workers' movement.

When Franco and the generals launched their coup, the workers of Barcelona took a fighting stand and routed the military garrisons in the region. This unleashed a surge of revolutionary energy. Workers' militias patrolled the streets. The factories and other enterprises were taken over and put under workers' control. Most of the surrounding countryside came under the sway of committees of farm laborers and the rural poor.

The Catalan government was stripped of authority with the Central Anti-Fascist Militia Committee emerging as the real power in the region. (The "Catalan Generalitat'' was the autonomous government of the republic. It was led by the liberal bourgeois nationalists of the Catalan Esquera party.)

In many ways, the revolution went further and deeper in Barcelona than in the rest of Spain. Nonetheless, despite the revolutionary enthusiasm of the workers and their heroic efforts, the movement was crippled, as in the rest of the country, by the lack of a clear orientation.

The Anarchists Were Paralyzed

Barcelona was the historic stronghold of Spanish anarchism. The anarcho-syndicalist CNT (affiliated to the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation) was the strongest trade union center and it generally dominated the workers' committees. But the very success of the revolution left the anarchist leaders paralyzed.

Frederick Engels had described a similar crisis that gripped the Spanish anarchists in the upheaval of the 1870's. He pointed out how the anarchists' principles of abstention from all politics may appear oh so revolutionary during ordinary times. In times of civil war and revolution, however, these principles go totally bankrupt. In the 1870's, the workers of Barcelona and other cities had the potential to place their stamp on the revolution; but their anarchist leaders reduced their movement to a pathetic tail of the bourgeois republicans. (See Engels' The Bakuninists at Work) In essence, this was repeated by a later generation of Spanish anarchists in the 1930's.

The revolution in Catalonia had created for them one of the greatest dilemmas that an anarchist can face: it had brought them to the position of the virtual ruling power. They found themselves tied in knots by their anarchist allergy towards governments, even towards revolutionary governments. So when power fell in their collective lap they had no idea what to do with it. They were confused and disorganized; and the last thing they were prepared for was to be placed at the head of the revolution and the war against fascism. So they found themselves helping to rescue the bourgeois republican government.

"We could have been supreme, imposed an absolute dictatorship, declared the Generalitat government a thing of the past, and instituted in its place the real power of the people,'' Abad de Santillan, an FAI leader, wrote afterward. "But we did not believe in dictatorship when it was exercised against us, nor did we swish to exercise a dictatorship ourselves at the expense of others. [We decided that] the Generalitat government should remain at its post with President Companys at its head.'' (Quoted in The Spanish Revolution, by Burnett Bolloten, p. 372)

Meanwhile, the wily bourgeois Companys recognized that his government did not have the strength to directly challenge the power of the workers' committees -- at least not yet. Better to leave them be; take advantage of the anarchists' generous attitude; and step by step rebuild the structures of the bourgeois state.

The PSUC Opposes the Workers' Committees

In this work to regain its authority, the Generalitat had an important ally in the leaders of the PSUC (United Socialist Party of Catalonia).

The PSUC had been formed in the days after the outbreak of the war. It was the product of the merger of the Catalan branches of the CP and the social-democratic party (PSOE), along with some other social-democratic groups. The PSUC affiliated to the Communist International and in practice it became more or less the Catalan branch of the Spanish CP.

Although the PSUC started out quite small, it had strength well beyond its numbers. This was due to its dominance in the Catalan section of the UGT trade unions. And beyond that, it gained important positions in the Generalitat government. Many spots in the officialdom and police apparatus were filled by PSUC cadre.

The PSUC was a fervent backer of the Generalitat and the liberals. In its fervor, it went beyond what even the liberals themselves dared to do -- it came out openly against the power of the workers' committees. The PSUC became the government's battering ram to dismantle the militias and committees that had been created by the revolution.

This was a stepwise process. First, the Central Anti-Fascist Militia Committee was pressured to disband and the CNT and its allies were brought aboard the Generalitat government. After that the push was on to disband the militias themselves, along with the worker patrols, committees of transport and supply, and the rest of the committees outside of the government. The PSUC led the campaign to oust from the Generalitat and then silence all those who protested this push.

A particular target of the PSUC's wrath was the POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification). POUM was a social-democratic organization which covered itself with Marxist phrases. It had been formed out of groups that had split from the CP in Catalonia several years before. (Apparently they had broken with the CP on a rightist basis, objecting, for example, to the harshness of the CP's criticism of the social-democratic leaders, a criticism which the CP had abandoned by the time of the war.) Some of its leaders had previously been associated with Trotskyism; but these connections had been broken prior to POUM's formation. POUM itself was connected internationally with other social-democratic phrasemongers, such as the British Independent Labor Party. The POUM had no strength outside of Catalonia. But even there, it had little independent initiative or direction. In the main, it trailed behind the strongest trends in the trade unions, including the "left'' social-democrats of the UGT and especially the anarcho-syndicalist CNT in Barcelona.

So it may be asked, why was such a miserable creature as the POUM of such concern to the leaders of the PSUC and the CPS? Apparently POUM appeared as a threat because it was more cohesive and organized than the fragmented, chaotic jumble of the anarchist movement. Therefore it gave a somewhat more articulate voice to the workers' grumblings about the dismantling of their organizations and their misgivings about the republican government. Moreover, by cracking down on POUM, a muzzle was put on the left social-democratic and anarchist workers throughout Spain; there was to be no more criticism of the bourgeois liberals and the republic, much less talk of a toilers' government and socialism.

The May Events

By the spring of '37, frictions in Barcelona were coming to a head. The May Day demonstration in this great working class center had to be cancelled. The leaders of both the PSUC/UGT and the CNT were afraid that it would have led to fighting. But a showdown couldn't be avoided. It took place a few days later, sparked by a confrontation over the control of the telephone office.

Police led by the PSUC had a run-in with the CNT committee that controlled the regional telephone exchange. Apparently random shots rang out from the telephone building. The word spread that the telephone office was under attack. Angry workers threw up barricades and took control of most of the city. Four days of bitter street fighting raged between the mainly CNT militias and the PSUC-led police forces of the Generalitat and the republic.

There are multiple versions about what this fighting was all about. There is good reason to think, however, that neither side had wanted this clash to break out.

The CPS leaders tried to make the case that the events at the telephone office were deliberately aggravated and seized on by the anarchists and Trotskyists (the latter is what they called the POUMists). It was allegedly the first shot of an organized uprising with the aim of toppling the People's Front government and setting up an anarchist dictatorship across Spain. This account makes little sense. In fact, the main CNT/FAI leaders were horrified by the fighting. From the beginning they worked with the Generalitat to convince the workers to lay down their arms and return to their homes and jobs. True, there were some small anarchist factions like the ''Friends of Durruti" group that were crying for desperate acts against the government. These groups, though, were too isolated and tiny for one to believe that they had much impact on the situation.

As for the POUMists, they were neither prepared for or eager for such a showdown, because they knew that they would come out on the short end of it. Nevertheless, when the fighting broke out against the government forces, they went along with it and their militias took part. It is pretty clear that POUM had no idea what it was trying to accomplish in this fighting. Four days after the outbreak, the POUM newspaper reprinted a provocative appeal from the ''Friends of Durruti" group, which called for shooting those responsible for the conflict at the telephone office and for setting up a new revolutionary junta. By reprinting this appeal, POUM echoed the desperation gripping a section of the anarchist workers. But the fight, which had died down, was not going to flare up again.

(It should be noted that, by this time, POUM was frantically searching for some force to hitch itself to, no matter how irrelevant or desperate this force might be. The POUM had been spurned by the CNT, which had refused to protest the removal of POUM from the Generalitat and the steps towards its suppression. The Durruti group's appeal was the only voice that came out in support of POUM's rights, even demanding a place for it in the new junta.)

For their part, the anarchists and their sympathizers have argued that the incident at the telephone exchange was a deliberate provocation on the part of the PSUC and the government aimed at crushing the power of the CNT. However, this argument doesn't add up either. The PSUC and Generalitat men showed up at the telephone exchange to address the problem that the CNT workers were intercepting and interfering with communications with the rest of the republican zone. Here they had a quite understandable concern given the conditions of war. Moreover, it appears that the CPS leaders neither expected nor wanted the dispute over the telephones to provoke the response that it did.

The truth is, there was no need for plans for provocation or insurrection on either side for this clash to have broken out in Barcelona. Plenty of flammable material had been gathered and anything could have touched it off. The PSUC and government policy of disarming the workers and breaking up their committees inspired bitter resentment among broad sections of the masses. Neither the CNT nor the POUM could organize an alternative. This left a smoldering frustration and despair that burst into open flames in the May events.

The Repercussions

The central government dispatched police and troops to patrol Barcelona's streets. The power of the committees and patrols was broken. The POUM was suppressed. And the aftershocks were felt across republican Spain as the People's Front government took the final offensive to disarm the workers' militias and dismantle the committees that stood outside the government structure.

This involved a major shake-up of the People's Front government at the top. Only months before, the CPS newspapers referred to Prime Minister Largo Caballero, the head of the ''left"-phrasemongering wing of the social-democrats, as the ''Spanish Lenin." The CPS considered Caballero essential because of his prestige among the workers. Only with Caballero at the head of the government could the rank-and-file workers of the CNT and UGT be convinced to postpone their demands for some type of government of the toilers and agree to support the People's Front coalition with the bourgeoisie.

But now the structures of the republic were being restored and Caballero had outlived his usefulness. The CPS leaders were afraid that his talk about the class struggle and socialism would only frighten the bourgeois liberals and give the workers the wrong idea. So the CPS launched a campaign to dump Caballero, accusing him of being a dupe of the anarchists and Trotskyists for his failure to support the crackdown in Barcelona against the CNT and POUM. A new government was formed, dominated by the moderate social-democrats Negrin and Prieto and the bourgeois liberals.

Also in the wake of the Barcelona events the CPS leaders lashed out with even greater fury against the anarchist and other left trends critical of this reformist-liberal coalition.

Alienating the Left to Please the Liberals

The CPS leaders' whole approach to the anarchist movement was incredibly shortsighted and contradictory.

Towards the bourgeois republicans, the CPS was willing to make any concession, to close its eyes to the most blatant treachery, to go to any length to calm the fears of these gentlemen of the wealthy classes. And this was at a time when the republican parties had in the main been pushed aside by the revolution.

The other side of this was the implacable hostility of the CPS towards the leftist trends and sentiments among the workers and poor who had misgivings about this subservience to the bourgeois liberals.

In its official statements, the CPS was usually careful to throw in diplomatic words of comradeship towards those CNT leaders whom they convinced to give at least grudging support to the People's Front. But unconvinced CNT workers who did not swallow "the authority of the Republic" were labeled "uncontrollables." And the CPS propaganda attacked them as "enemies of the people." This despite the fact that revolutionary- minded anarchist workers were a major part (and in Barcelona the bulwark) of the proletarian movement. And despite that the attitude of these workers was ten times more important to the fate of the revolution than that of a handful of impotent liberals.

How did the CPS explain this contradiction? They simply dismissed the "uncontrollables" as "tools of fascism." The events in Barcelona were said to be just the evil doings of agents of Franco and the Gestapo. (At least this is what they fed public opinion abroad, because anyone acquainted with the Spanish workers' movement knew better.) To make its case, the CPS provided evidence of fascist infiltration of the anarchist movement. There is little question that the CNT and FAI, because as anarchists they were so disorganized and unclear, were special targets of infiltration. But pointing to this infiltration could not by itself solve the question of how to approach the mass anarchist movement.

The Aragon Front

For example, the CPS charged that proof of the anarchists' ties with fascism was their failure to engage Franco's forces on the Aragon front, which mainly the CNT and some POUM militias were responsible for. But this failure didn't require the work of any spies. In truth, the CNT/FAI was incapable of organizing any decisive action. Its organizational principles of autonomy and concensus, allowing each "affinity group" to go its own way, precluded any possibility of acting with a single will. Under this system there could be daring acts of bravery in spontaneous and uncoordinated street fighting. But it was totally worthless for waging a sustained class struggle, much less organizing a military offensive across a vast war zone.

This demanded of the communists that they do immense ideological work to convince the CNT workers of the superiority of Leninist organization. To show them the necessity of democratic centralism if the workers were to vanquish the fascists and exploiters. But the CPS leaders put little value on this type of work. Instead, it put emphasis on subjecting the anarchist workers to the police power of the republic: disband your militias, obey the laws and the military draft, or else. As CPS leader Dolores Ibarruri so eloquently put it: "We must remember that the history of our country provides splendid examples of how to behave toward those who violate the law, who do not subordinate themselves to the laws issued in the interest of the people." (The Communist International, November 1937) Of course, such speeches could repel any revolutionary-minded worker.

Nonetheless, it must be said that, despite Dolores Ibarruri's speeches, the communists' superiority in battle was a powerful attraction. Even CNT workers who could not accept the CPS orientation made their way to communist-led columns in considerable numbers. This was because everyone knew that the communists fought with a single will, were effective and determined. Of course, this process could have gone much further if the CPS had appealed to their revolutionary instincts rather than to the "splendid examples" of Spanish police law.

PSUC Champions the Small Exploiter

No, the events in Barcelona and the other contradictions between the anarchist workers and the People's Front cannot be explained simply by fascist infiltration. These things can only be explained by the fact that there was real mass sentiment involved. At the heart of this was an important section of the masses who did not want to retreat before the encroachments of the bourgeois republic and the liberals; they wanted to carry the revolution forward under the hegemony of the workers. Unfortunately, the orientation and topsy-turvy tactics of the CPS leaders led them to trample on these sentiments.

Take the economy for example. The CPS charged that the expropriations and workers' control movement of the CNT workers in Catalonia were alienating the small and medium capitalists and other "intermediate strata." Yes, like in any real revolution of the masses, there were excesses and extremes. These things were often made worse by the influence of anarchism, which could not provide a thoughtful orientation or plan for the struggle. In particular, it could not clarify for the workers and laborers who their enemies were, who could be neutralized, and who could be won over.

Without a conscious plan, the starving poor frequently lashed out at even very small proprietors. This unnecessarily^ alienated sections of the population. Moreover, it introduced some economic changes that could not be sustained. Some steps were taken that showed a healthy proletarian instinct and probably strengthened the economic foundation of the revolution -- for example, the workers would merge several very small workshops into larger, more efficient shops. It appears, however, that there were also cases of expropriations and extreme economic steps that carried the seeds of economic collapse, particularly in the villages.

The CPS leaders had an all too simplistic answer to this very complicated problem: the democratic republic must safeguard private property. In January of 1937, CPS General Secretary Jose Diaz came to Barcelona to promise that even in the future "the small industrialist and trader will get not only respect but also support from the new society." (Speech to the Central Committee of PSUC, Communist International, March-April 1937) Here it should be noted that, from the lips of the CPS leaders, "small" was generally intended to mean any size exploiter who had not thrown in his lot with the fascist uprising. At the same time, as a foundation for its alliance with the capitalist liberals, the PSUC actually became the organizer of the small exploiters. It is one thing to not attack such strata; but it is something else again to organize them as a counterweight to the proletarians. That, however, is just what the PSUC did. For example, the PSUC organized the Catalan Federation of Small Businessmen and Manufacturers. Then, over the bitter protests of the CNT workers, it brought these 18,000 businessmen into the UGT trade union center.

A PSUC manifesto declared: "We demand an economy freed from naive experiments... We demand an economy freed from the influence or pressure of so many committees that have sprung up everywhere...[and] that sap the magnificent vitality of Catalonia." (Quoted in Bolloten, p. 376) True enough, these committees wrought plenty of foolishness. In some villages, there were attempts at utopian communist schemes that abolished currency and virtually all trade. There were also cases of forced collectivization of the peasants (even sometimes the small peasants). But despite such abuses and harmful nonsense, these committees generally reflected a profound movement against hunger and exploitation. This could not be ignored. The communists should have become the champions of this movement. They should have devoted their energies towards giving it clarity and solid organization, and to link it closely with the war against fascism. Instead, the PSUC came head-on against the movement, demanding that the exploiters be free of the pressure of the committees. They did so looking over their shoulder for approval from the liberal bourgeois, caring little about what the rank-and-file workers would think.

Tarring Criticism from the Left as "Trotskyite-Fascism"

Especially after the Barcelona events, the CPS leaders resorted to the crudest methods against those who criticized their policy from the left. Any such criticism was declared to be from the "Trotskyist agents of fascism."

"...It is essential that we destroy Trotskyism with a firm hand," Dolores Ibarruri proclaimed, "for Trotskyism is no longer a political trend in the working class, but a weapon of the counterrevolution." (Communist International, November 1937) It was repeated in a thousand and one ways that Trotskyism was not a trend or party, but "a gang of hired spies."

Now, it is true enough that the actual Spanish Trotskyites could be called a worthless gang. The followers of Trotsky in Spain were at best a tiny crew of phrasemongers and adventurers. But if Dolores Ibarruri was only referring to this irrelevant grouplet of Trotskyites, her appeal to crush them as one of the most dangerous enemies of Spain would make no sense. In reality, the "Trotskyite-fascist" charges made by the CPS leaders were a very wide brush that was used to paint what were important trends in the Spanish (or at least the Catalan) workers' movement. This included a large section of anarchism, POUM's radical-sounding social-democracy, and even Largo Caballero's group on the left wing of the PSOE and UGT. In place of political criticism of these trends to win the workers to a revolutionary stand, the CPS unleashed a police witch hunt against the alleged "Trotskyite fifth column."

To do this the criticism of Trotskyism was made absurd. The CPS leaders forgot about the Leninist denunciation of Trotskyism as essentially social-democratic and right opportunist, despite its sometimes radical veneer. This was turned upside down in the literature of the CPS, and Trotskyism was denounced as anything that smacked of working class militancy. Criticism of bourgeois democracy, misgivings about the bourgeois liberals, advocacy of the need for the proletariat to safeguard its class independence, talk of socialism -- all such things were branded as expressions of alleged "Trotskyite-fascism."

"No matter what pseudo-revolutionary slogans the Trotskyites use to camouflage themselves, their fascist ears stick out everywhere," Jose Diaz explained to the Central Committee of the CPS. "Who wanted to disperse parliament with bayonets? Franco, and with him the local and foreign fascists who organized the uprising. The Spanish Trotskyites demand the same thing, as is shown by the newspaper Batalla which, on January 30, 1936, published a resolution of the Central Committee of POUM on the need for destroying the parliaments of Madrid and Barcelona because they are 'absolutely unnecessary.' Here is complete unanimity with the fascists." (Report to the enlarged C.C., March 5, 1937, reprinted in The Communist International, May 1937)

According to this logic, even the works of Marx and Lenin showed the "fascist ears" of Trotskyism. After all, they too were hostile to bourgeois parliaments. But take note. Jose Diaz is referring to a paper from January '36. This is when the Spanish parliament was controlled by stooges of the bloodstained right-wing Lerroux government. There is little question that at that time there was enormous sentiment among the Spanish workers to sweep aside this reactionary parliament and set up a revolutionary government of the toilers.

Unfortunately, the CPS leaders were so bogged down in bourgeois democracy that they lost contact with such revolutionary strivings of the masses. Their united front policy was so "broad" and so "sensitive" -- to the bourgeois liberals and right-wing social-democrats. But in so doing they cut themselves off from the sentiments of millions of revolutionary workers and toilers.

A Turning Point in the Civil War

The Barcelona events and their aftermath marked a turning point in the Civil War. The tide was now turned against the revolutionary upheaval that had been unleashed by the workers' initial resistance to the fascist coup. Much of what the revolution had created was Being undone. Along with this went much of the initiative and energy for struggle shown by the masses in the first months of the war against fascism. One of the biggest setbacks was the demoralization that set in among the revolutionary-minded workers of the CNT and UGT.

But the CPS leaders were unwavering. For them what was important was that President Azana and the bourgeois liberals no longer had such cause to fear the workers' movement. As well, they boasted that the republic was returning to "normalcy." In other words, it was heading towards a normal bourgeois regime led by normal liberals and reformists. Unfortunately, such a regime was honeycombed with wealthy men who wanted to capitulate to Franco and proved a major barrier to rallying the working masses for the anti-fascist resistance. The CPS had doggedly carried into practice the new general line of the mid-30's. The "normalization" of the Spanish republic was greeted as the highest achievement of this line. But what the CPS leaders had accomplished did not have the solid backing of the workers or the firm foundation of a communist, Marxist-Leninist policy. It was soon to collapse on their heads.

[Photo: Workers on the barricades of Barcelona during the July, 1936 fighting against the fascists.]

[Photo: Anti-fascist militia.]

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