The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 17, No. 9


25ยข September 1, 1987

[Front page:

No illusions in the regional peace pact! Keep up the fight against the CIA war on Nicaragua!;

Down with GM and Ford's divide-and-conquer schemes;

What the Korean strikes mean for U.S. workers]


Huge profits for GM & Ford,more cuts for workers.............................................................................................. 2
UAW chiefs embrace company unionism............................................................... 2
Elyria, Ohio: 1,000 protest GM plant closing......................................................... 2

Strikes and Workplace News

International Paper; Postal; Coal miners................................................................. 3

Reagan robbing poor women of right to abortion................................................... 4

Chicago's "finest" shoot down Latinos.................................................................. 4
Rally in San Jose against racist terror..................................................................... 4
INS covers for death squads in LA......................................................................... 4
Congress moves against bilingual education.......................................................... 5
Immigrant workers and CPUSA's "jingo-socialism".............................................. 5
Latino immigrants strike Arizona ranch.................................................................. 5

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

Salvadoran guerrilla actions; Protest at Illinois army base; Forum on Nicaraguan revolution................................................................................................................ 6
Help build roof for workers' meeting hall; From Prensa Proletaria: Unpopular work rules; Experiences from combat; Co-ops and workers.................................. 7
Opportunists know better, but laud peace pact....................................................... 9

Why is Aquino so soft on the right-wing military................................................... 10
Philippine general strike against price rise.............................................................. 10

News from Iran: Growing hatred for war; Strike of 5,000 shoe workers; Road workers win demands.............................................................................................. 10

On strikes in South Korea....................................................................................... 11
South African miners' strike.................................................................................... 12

No illusions in the regional peace pact!

Keep up the fight against the CIA war on Nicaragua!

Down with GM and Ford's divide-and-conquer schemes

What the Korean strikes mean for U.S. workers

Huge profits for GM and Ford -- More cuts for the workers

UAW chiefs embrace company unionism and 'Japanese-style' management

Elyria, Ohio: 1,000 protest GM plant closing

Strikes and workplace news

Reagan's gag order on clinics... An attempt to rob poor women of the right to abortion

INS boss covers for death squads in L.A.

Chicago's 'finest' shoot down Latinos

Rally in San Jose against racist terror

Congress moves against bilingual education

The revisionist CPUSA's attitude towards Mexican farm laborers

Immigrant workers and 'jingo-socialism'

Mexican and Guatemalan workers strike Arizona ranch

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

Why is Aquino so soft on the right-wing military?

General strike against Aquino's price hikes

News from Iran:

On strike in South Korea

South African miners' strike

No illusions in the regional peace pact!

Keep up the fight against the CIA war on Nicaragua!

The Iran-contra hearings are over. But the C.I.A. war on Nicaragua continues. The farms and granaries continue to be burned and bombed; the American-directed thugs continue to shoot and kill.

This war is being waged to force Nicaragua to obey Reagan and Congress. This is called protecting "U.S. interests"-- by which the politicians mean the interests of the big corporations and the Pentagon. All over the world people are outraged by this dirty war and want to see it end.

But now everyone is being told that peace can be restored while protecting these same "U.S. interests." The people will be happy that peace is restored and Reagan will be happy that he had his way. This is to be accomplished through the Central American regional pact which was signed August 7 by Nicaragua and four nearby pro-U.S. regimes. It is called the "Procedure for the Establishment of a Strong and Lasting Peace in Central America," and it is based on the plan set forth by President Arias of Costa Rica. It is advertised that it will not only stop the war in Nicaragua but end all other conflicts in Central America and ensure that all the present regimes exist forever. Oppressed and oppressor, leftist worker and rightist death squad, Nicaraguan revolutionist and CIA-paid contra, will embrace and live happily ever after.


Reagan Accepts the Agreement -- And Keeps the Contras

The Reaganite attempt to strangle the Nicaraguan people is continuing anyway. It uses both military means and diplomacy. The Reagan administration has stated over and over that it will keep the contras going despite having "accepted" the Central American agreement. And if the Reaganites continued for years to finance the contras despite the passage every year of the famous "Boland amendment," what will prevent Reagan from violating a Central American agreement which the U.S. government hasn't even signed?

Reagan and company make no secret that they are going through the motions of talking about peace for the sake of arguing in a few months that the agreement has broken down and so more money and arms must be voted for the contras. Reagan swears up and down that the contras must be maintained even though a central point of the regional peace pact is supposed to be ending the contra war.

The Democrats on the Relation of Peace Pacts to the Bayonet

And the Democratic Congress disagrees only on details.

Take Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Iran-contra committee and one of the Democratic Party "heroes" of contragate. He has seen the contras go through a devastating series of defeats in the last year. He doesn't denounce the contras for being reactionary dregs, but for being ineffective. Take his article in support of the Arias plan (the basis of the present regional agreement).

He holds that "The not have the manpower or firepower to oust the regime" and that a policy based on them is "too full of uncertainty to be a prudent basis for American policy." Mind you, if they were killing more Nicaraguans, burning more farms, and being more effective, they would be OK with him. But no one likes a loser. He concludes that either U.S. military force must be directly used in Nicaragua or the Nicaraguans must be coerced through a negotiated agreement. And he is willing to support an agreement that "implies suspension" (!! not ending, just suspending) of contra aid.

But does a negotiated agreement rule out the use of U.S. military force? Not in this Democrat Hamilton's opinion! He states that "...a signed treaty endorsed in Latin America and Western Europe would provide a clear moral and legal foundation for the use of United States force." ("A Strategy for Handling Nicaragua" by Lee Hamilton and Viron Vaky, former Carter administration official, in the New York Times for July 31.)

The Regional Agreement Demands Nicaragua Dismantle the Revolution

And look at the regional agreement itself! The agreement itself is posed in big words about "peace" and "freedom." But, underneath all the fine words, it demands that Nicaragua give up the path of revolution. It demands that the Nicaraguan government be run according to what seems reasonable to such tyrants as the heads of the death- squad regimes of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. It holds that Nicaragua must allow the CIA to fund political activities in Nicaragua and hold out the welcome mat to the CIA mercenaries. No wonder Republican Reagan and Democrat Lee Hamilton talk about using either the contras or the U.S. military to enforce it.

In return for all this, it is claimed that nearby pro-U.S. regimes are supposed to stop serving as a base for the CIA war on Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan government argues on the basis of some of the fine words and high-flown generalities in the agreements; it forgets that it is Reagan and the pro-U.S. regimes that will have the final word in interpreting them. The "verification commission" set up by this agreement consists mainly of the pro-U.S., capitalist regimes from elsewhere in Central and Latin America. Already Arias himself has demanded that Nicaragua implement heavy concessions by November 7 while holding that it is a matter to be "discussed" whether the contras will continue to "receive food and supplies" -- even if a cease-fire is arranged. (New York Times, Aug. 12)

Why the Sandinistas Signed

The Sandinista government has always vacillated in the face of the pressure from Reagan and the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie. The regional agreement it has signed has aroused opposition inside Nicaragua from the class-conscious workers and perhaps even among the rank-and-file Sandinistas themselves. The Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua has given the call that no agreement must be regarded as ratified until the Nicaraguan workers and peasants have their say.

And what would the Nicaraguan people get out of this agreement? Elections? They already had elections, but the U.S. only recognizes elections in which Reagan's friends win. An end to the contra war? But Reagan has sworn up and down that he will support the contras no matter what any agreement says. And the Democrats have only quibbled that they can defend "U.S. interests" better than Reagan.

Defend the Nicaraguan Revolution!

It is the task of the American workers and activists to defend the Nicaraguan revolution. The Reagan government has no right to dictate terms to the Nicaraguan working people. The pro-U.S. regimes surrounding Nicaragua, which oppress their own people, have no right to oppress the Nicaraguans. The bloodstained followers of the late overthrown Nicaraguan dictator Somoza have no right to dictate over the workers and peasants, the majority of the Nicaraguan population.

We must rise up against the U.S. aggression against Nicaragua. We must not wait for Congress to deny funds to the contras. Even if they do so, it will be no more effective than the "Boland Amendment" which allegedly cut off the war on Nicaragua years ago. All they disagree with Reagan on is how to strangle Nicaragua.

There must be no illusions in the reactionary regimes surrounding Nicaragua. They have signed an agreement with fancy words in order to convince their own people that they are against the hated contras, who are despised everywhere as murderers, thugs, drug dealers and U.S. puppets. They signed the agreement because it demands the ending of revolutionary struggle in their own countries. They signed the agreement because it doesn't bind them at all: other pro-U.S. regimes will rubber-stamp their "sincerity" in the "International Commission of Verification and Follow-Up."

There must be no illusions in Congress. Both Democrat and Republican talk of preventing Nicaragua from threatening "U.S. interests," by which they mean anything that interests the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. corporations. Both Democrat and Republican already argue that an agreement is a fine thing, for if the Sandinistas don't do what Congress wants the agreement can serve as a good pretext to step up the pressure on Nicaragua.

No, we must not believe in Rube Goldberg schemes to help Nicaragua by supporting its enemies. Instead we must directly demand:

Down with the CIA war on Nicaragua!

Down with the reactionary pressure of the neighboring pro-U.S. regimes on Nicaragua!

Long live the revolutionary struggle in Nicaragua, El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America!

Solidarity with the Nicaraguan workers and peasants!

See page 6 thru 9 for:

* The reformists and the peace plan.

* Guerrilla actions hit pro-U.S. tyranny in El Salvador.

* News from Nicaraguan workers' press.

* Help build a roof for Nicaraguan workers' meeting hall.

* Sandinista and M-L views on revolution debated.

* U.S. war in Central America denounced at Illinois army base.

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Down with GM and Ford's divide-and-conquer schemes

Auto workers watch out! The GM and Ford contracts expire September 14, and these billionaires are out for more "cost-cutting" concessions and still more job elimination.

Both companies want to maintain a freeze on base wages, a concession given up in the last contract. Any increased pay would be in the form of lump-sum bonuses tied to profits and productivity. Even though GM made. $8.8 billion in profits since the last contract, it has suggested paying a bonus of only 2% a year, averaging less than 34 cents an hour.

But the key aim of both the auto giants is to split up the workers so they can cut jobs and force more concessions down the workers' throats plant by plant.

The parts workers are the first to be hit. Both companies want to worsen their conditions. And GM has even demanded eliminating their COLA payments and giving them lower lump-sum bonuses. But the attack doesn't stop here.

Both companies also want to divide up the other workers plant by plant and force them to "compete" with each other (and foreign workers) over which will give up the most concessions. Ford wants the national contract to "require" each plant to negotiate speedup and job eliminating systems such as team work, cuts in job classifications, and gutting protective work rules. It maintains the right to eliminate jobs and to transfer work out to nonunion shops. And any "job security" would be tied to local plants enhancing "competitiveness" and "flexibility." Meanwhile, GM demands the right to not only eliminate jobs and speed up work at "noncompetitive" plants but also to cut the pay. With such requirements a national contract becomes all but meaningless.

The last contract opened the door to throwing the workers into competition against each other from plant to plant. And the workers have suffered too much from this already. We must stand against these divide-and-conquer schemes. We must unite for a common battle against the auto giants. Fight for a wage increase, not bonuses tied to profits and/or productivity! Fight for protections against speedup and overwork! Fight for guaranteed jobs or, if there are plant closings and layoffs, for full pay and benefits for all those thrown out of their jobs!

On August 31, the UAW honchos are meeting to decide whether to target a strike at either Ford or GM. They are also discussing using a "selective" strike where only some plants walk out while plants continue to work and keep the company running. These plans are just another side of splitting up the workers and weakening their struggle. They too must be rejected in favor of common struggle. And the rank and file must organize itself independently of the union bureaucrats to carry forward a united struggle.

There are some 480,000 workers at GM and Ford. That is a potentially powerful force, a force which could bring these arrogant auto billionaires to their knees. Let the auto workers walk out together in a common strike for our common demands. Target both GM and Ford! Put a stop to the divide-and-conquer concessions railroad!

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What the Korean strikes mean for U.S. workers


Corporate management and the union officialdom have been pushing outlandish lies about Korean and other Asian workers. They have been trying to create a racist stereotype of the allegedly "different mentality" of these workers. Their aim is simple. They want to pit the American workers against their brothers and sisters on the other side of the Pacific in a "competition" to see which workers can be most exploited.

But today the firestorm of strikes sweeping South Korea is scorching their lies, laying bare the myths about the Korean worker.

Korean Workers In Struggle Against Poverty and Overwork

The first myth about the Korean worker is that he is allegedly eager to work harder for less. From U.S. Steel to General Motors, the workers are told that they have no choice but to knuckle down and accept pay cuts and speedup in the face of competition with workers supposedly willing to work 60-hour weeks for a bowl of rice.

However, this diet of poverty and overwork is not the choice of the Korean worker. It has been enforced by the jackboot of military dictatorship, by police bludgeons and strike bans, and by ruthless anti-communist blacklisting of militant workers.

Today the Korean workers are bravely defying the police state to fight against their miserable plight. They are showing that they are not bowed slaves; they are proud men and women of labor struggling for a better life.

It's not for the American workers to try to compete with the Koreans in misery, but to join them in a common struggle against the capitalist conglomerates.

Challenging Company Unionism

A second myth is that the Korean worker is allegedly a devoted employee eager to cooperate with management for the common good. This is a favorite lie of the labor relations offices of U.S. companies, as well as of the United Autoworkers Union leaders and other union chiefs. Supposedly to compete, the U.S. workers are to accept the labor-management schemes that are step by step turning the unions into company unions at the beck and call of management.

But the Korean system isn't one big happy corporate family; it's one big corporate tyranny. The big companies are run like medieval fiefdoms. Up till now the unions have been simply tools of management for exploiting the workers to the bone. And any challenge to this "labor-management cooperation" has been put down by the police regime.

The strike wave is challenging this system of class collaboration. The company unions are being broken up. And the Korean workers are showing the truth about their alleged devotion to their employers.

On August 19th, 40,000 angry Hyundai workers marched through Ulsan crying "Down with Chung Ju Yung!" Chung is the founder of Hyundai and Korea's leading "corporate civic leader." This fighting spirit of the class struggle being shown by the Koreans is essential for the workers of any country to wage a serious struggle to defend their interests.

An "Economic Miracle" Built on the Workers' Backs

A third myth is that the Korean worker has been pacified by Korea's "economic miracle." The students might take to the streets. The politicians may squabble about electoral reform. But the workers happily keep the economy going because Korean business is doing well.

This is how things are seen from the viewpoint that what's good for the capitalist exploiter must be good for the worker too. Just as we are told every day that the well-being of the U.S. worker lies with the U.S. companies doing well on world markets.

But the growth of capitalism in South Korea has been on the backs of the workers. The number of Korean billionaires keeps rising at the expense of starvation wages and murderous overwork. With their powerful strike wave, the workers are taking the first steps to combat the misery of this capitalist hell through the workers' own struggle.

U.S. Imperialism - Pillar of Slavery

Oh yes, in their "Asian bashing'' appeals the AFL-CIO leaders will from time to time concede that it is a problem that the Korean workers don't have rights and live under a dictatorship. But a fourth myth is that Korean workers can count on the U.S. government to bring them freedom.

For the past four decades the U.S. government has been forging the chains of their slavery. In 1950-53 the U.S. perpetrated the terrible slaughter in Korea, which it politely dubbed a "police action.''The Korean war wasn't for "freedom.'' It was an imperialist war to put Korea under the thumb of the Pentagon and the U.S. corporations.

Since that time, South Korea has been ruled by one corrupt, brutal military dictator after the next. Under the banner of a ferocious anti-communism, the Korean working people have been subjected to a monstrous police state of spying, torture, blacklisting, and strike breaking.

The 50,000 U.S. troops in Korea, the CIA and other tools of U.S. imperialism are an inseparable part of this apparatus of tyranny. And all this has made South Korea "safe'' for General Motors and other U.S. multinationals to make high profits.

One feature of the Korean workers' present upsurge is that the workers are joining the protests against the dictatorship and its U.S. imperialist sponsors.

If we are going to talk about solidarity with the Korean workers, we must take a stand against "our" government. We must join with the Korean workers and students to demand: "Down with the dictatorship! U.S. troops oat of Korea! Down with U.S. imperialism!"

[Photo: South African miners' strike--See back page]

[Back to Top]

Huge profits for GM and Ford -- More cuts for the workers

The newspapers keep whining about how poorly General Motors is doing. But don't believe it. This is just hype to set up the workers for more concessions in this fall's contract bargaining.

GM made $1.9 billion in profits for the first six months of this year and a total of $8.8.billion since 1985, after the last contract was signed. GM was able to afford to pay $169.1 million in executive bonuses last year. And its chairman alone was given $1,346,000 in salary and bonuses. Indeed, GM had enough to throw away $450,000 just to improve the golf game of its former vice-president of engineering. This company is hardly hurting.

Meanwhile Ford has been hauling in record profits. It made $3 billion in the first half of this year, almost as much as it made all of last year. And it has some $9 billion in cash on hand. Ford equaled GM's profits since 1985 and paid out similarly astronomical executive bonuses last year. Ford's chairman,Donald Peterson, outdid GM's Roger Smith, receiving $1,961,000 in salary and bonuses in 1986.

Ford and GM's enormous riches have been made out of the hides of the workers -- through concessions, speedup, and job elimination. But still they want more.

On August 14, Ford's top negotiator Stanley Surma claimed it cost them $800 more to build a car than Honda spends at its Marysville, Ohio plant. The Honda workers make about $1 an hour less than Ford workers and suffer even harsher overwork. Surma cried that Ford "has to be cost-competitive" and demanded that Ford workers give up more to "improve our total labor costs and our productivity."

GM is singing a similar song. Elmer Johnson, GM's new executive vice- president, declared that GM will not negotiate any agreement with the workers that harms its drive to cut $10 billion a year from its costs by 1990. But GM wouldn't think of harming an executive's golf game, oh no! They demand more cuts from the workers. And Alfred Warren Jr., GM vice-president of industrial relations, threatened the workers with more plant shutdowns and layoffs if they don't cough up greater concessions. "Lots of plants are striving to get competitive [i.e. giving concessions], others are not interested.... [Those not interested] are not going to get any new business."

Enough is enough! Let the auto billionaires worry about becoming "competitive." The workers have to protect their jobs and livelihood. GM and Ford can well afford to pay for wage increases and to guarantee the workers' jobs (or pay full wages and benefits to the laid- off until comparable jobs are found). But they won't give up their profits and golf lessons willingly. The workers will have to take what they want through mass struggle.

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UAW chiefs embrace company unionism and 'Japanese-style' management

The UAW leaders are going further down the road of company-unionism. They delayed the opening of contract talks this year to take a Joint tour of Japanese plants with GM executives. The expressed aim of the trip was to see how the UAW leaders and GM officials could better collaborate to beat out the "competition.'' And what was their conclusion? To force the U.S. workers to compete with the Japanese workers over more speedup and job elimination.

NUMMI-Style Speedup

Donald Ephlin, UAW vice-president in charge of GM negotiations, was ecstatic. "There is no reason we can't be competitive with the Japanese if we properly apply ourselves," he declared.

"This agreement is critical." And what did Ephlin propose? The speedup and job elimination typical of the "Japanese-style management" at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), the GM-Toyota joint venture in California. Ephlin declared, "NUMMI is a dramatic example of what management style can do. The only thing that changed is the management system."

Is that the only thing? What about speedup, job overloading, and harassment of the workers. With the "team system" in place, NUMMI produces the same number of cars per hour with half the workers it used when it was just a GM plant. Most analysts agree that NUMMI is 20-40% more efficient than most GM plants. And this efficiency comes from straightforward speedup and job overloading.

Although the "team system" is supposed to give workers a say in production, decisions on line speed and job overloading are strictly made by the company. Workers get to discuss only how to achieve speeding up the operation. NUMMI has become notorious for pushing the workers in many areas at a faster speed than is even stipulated in the company's operating manual. Last fall, workers' outrage at the speedup became so sharp that even the local UAW leaders issued a leaflet exposing some of the conditions and agreeing, if timidly, that workers had been right to stop the lines when they became overloaded or needed repairs.

Work Even If You're Sick

NUMMI also cuts the number of workers and overworks those remaining by providing no replacement workers. If a worker is absent, the other workers on his five-man "team" have to do his job as well as their own. As a result of this pressure, workers come to the job sick or not.

This is what GM wants for all of its plants. Elmer Johnson, a GM executive vice president, gloated that reducing the national absenteeism rate at GM to the 2.5% rate enjoyed by the GM/Toyota joint venture could save the company $600 million a year.

Eliminating A Third of GM's Jobs

With this kind of speedup and oppression of the workers at all of its plants, GM hopes to eliminate a third of the present jobs. GM vice-president George* Eads boasted at a business conference on June 7 that "If GM were producing its current level of output at the NUMMI level of efficiency, we would be a company with the same volume of output and have two-thirds the number of people."

And this is the Japanese "management-style" that UAW's Ephlin is so hot for. It is the style of company unionism. In the 1950's the Japanese auto workers' union was broken in a strike. It was replaced with a company union which has since helped the Japanese monopolies establish their systems to savagely exploit the workers. GM and Ford are now establishing similar systems. And the UAW leaders have said "uncle" even before the fight has begun.

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Elyria, Ohio: 1,000 protest GM plant closing

On August 22, about 1,000 workers rallied to protest GM's plans to close the Fisher Guide plant in Elyria, Ohio next year. For nine months, the 2,100 workers at the plant have been resisting concessions demands and threats of a shutdown.

Last year, the UAW leaders shamelessly offered GM some $72 million in concessions at the plant. But GM turned them down and, in December, announced plans to sell the plant. This spring the Johnson Controls Co., a Milwaukee-based parts supplier, declared it would buy. But only if the workers negotiated a new contract first. Johnson demanded a pay cut of $4 an hour and other concessions.

The workers were outraged, and the UAW hacks were forced to refuse talks. Johnson came back with an ultimatum: bargain a new concessions contract by August 16 or forget it. At a union meeting, 800 workers voted to open negotiations with Johnson, but rejected the company's ultimatum. Seeing no hope to rip off huge concessions, Johnson pulled out of the deal. And now GM has announced plans to close the plant.

Concessions don't save jobs. They never have and they won't at Fisher Guide. It takes mass struggle by the workers to defend themselves. The rally in Elyria is a good sign. The same day, 200 workers from the Fleetwood plant and the surrounding community in Detroit rallied to protest plans to shut that plant. They called for further jobs protests on Labor Day. The movement against plant closings continues to develop.

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Strikes and workplace news


Drawing the line at International Paper

In Jay, Maine, 8,700 strikers and supporters rallied August 1, shouting, "Scabs out, union in!" The march went for miles through town to the gates of International Paper's (IP) big Androscoggin mill. It was the largest labor rally in Maine's history.

The 1,200 workers striking IP here are getting strong support. At the rally were paper mill workers from throughout the state. This included many from the Rumford Boise-Cascade mill, about 20 miles to the west, who just last year fought a bitter 11-week strike. As well, there were workers from the Bath shipyards, teamsters, nurses, newspaper workers, merchant sailors, electrical workers, postal workers, and IP strikers from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, among others. One striker at the rally explained: "It was the Rumford strike that did it. The Boise-Cascade company broke that strike and then Champion forced through a rotten contract at Bucksport. After that, it just seemed obvious to everybody that we had to draw the line, and I guess Jay is the place we're going to do it."

Three weeks later 5,000- working people rallied in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to give support to workers there who are striking IP. The 720 Lock Haven strikers were joined by steel workers, teachers, miners, auto workers, electrical workers, and AFSCME members from nearby. As well, the rally was joined by 150 strikers from Jay and paper workers from IP's other striking or locked out plants in DePere, Wisconsin and Mobile, Alabama.

These two strong outpourings of support have given new strength to the IP strikers. Another solidarity rally will be held September 5 at the DePere IP mill for the 375 workers on strike there.

The workers at the three striking and one locked out mills are hoping they'll be joined by IP workers in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and at IP's 1,200-man Hudson River mill in Corinth, New York on September 1 when their contracts expire. The Maine strikers have sent delegations to talk with workers at both these mills.

At each mill, workers are fighting concessions that would eliminate premium pay for Sundays and holiday work, which would mean cutting 14% of their yearly pay. IP also wants subcontracting and work rule changes that would wipe out hundreds of jobs, and for the workers to work on Christmas day. IP is demanding these concessions despite having earned record profits of $305 million last year, and having raised its 14 top executives' pay by 38%!

The strikers feel a serious weakness in their fight against this biggest paper maker in the U.S. As each mill goes out, more pressure builds against the paper maker. But, unfortunately, the strikes are not for a unified, industry wide contract. So IP is banking on getting concessions through at one mill and turning the pressure around against the others who want to hold out.

Under the strong impulse for unity from the rank and file, the union leaders -- while still negotiating separately -- have set out,a four-point national program. It includes maintaining premium pay for Sunday and holiday work, preventing contracting out of existing jobs, keeping the terms of the existing contracts similar in length, and providing for the return of all striking and locked out members to their jobs at the end of the dispute. As well, IP workers from 70 different locals are sending in $10 per month, per worker to bolster the strikers' pay.

The strike is speeding the class education of the workers from rural Maine to southern Alabama.

[Photo: Picket line of International Paper workers in Jay, Maine.]

Postal workers outraged at sellout contract

Following the announcement July 21 of a tentative contract for the postal workers, the top postal union bureaucrats unleashed a tidal wave of propaganda in favor of the agreement. Moe Biller, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and Vince Sombrotto, head of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), gushed that this fantastic contract had beaten back all the concessions demands of the Postal Service, plus it gave the clerks and carriers a "whopping" 2% (can you believe it!) wage increase, amounting to about 25 cents an hour.

But many postal workers -- from old-timers well experienced with the treachery of the union bureaucrats, to new hires outraged at the continued two-tier wages -- were not taken in. A trend of disgust, resentment, and deep opposition to the sellout welled to the surface in cities across the country.

Workers denounced the measly wage increase and the continued use of the "casual" system (where temporary workers are paid one-half to one-third the wages of regular workers, with no benefits or rights). They railed against new hires having to work 13 years just to catch up and receive equal pay for equal work because of the lower starting wage (continued from the last contract). The union bureaucrats, who from the very beginning of negotiations had rejected the idea of a strike, got quite upset at this opposition. While carrying on about how militant they had been in the wildcat postal strike of 1970, they utterly rejected the idea of a strike today. "Impossible!" they pronounced. "Look how Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers of PATCO in their 1981 strike. Reagan is so-o-o strong. We'd all be out the door, replaced by $5-an-hour employees."

Moe Biller, posing as the big "militant" from 1970, put a different twist on the anti-strike propaganda: "We don't think that this is the time for it [a strike], with what's going on in this country -- the Presidency under siege, Congress involved, the American people concerned. We touch every home and every business in this country." In other words, no strike because Reagan is so-o-o weak! Don't fight back against the union-busting Reaganites when they're down! Every line these misleaders could think of was trotted out to block mass action by the postal workers. Because militant mass action by the over 600,000 postal employees is the one effective force to win the workers' demands.

The Marxist-Leninist Party has been carrying out extensive work against the contract among postal workers in a number of cities. In The Workers' Advocate, in the thousands of leaflets distributed by the MLP, and in other agitation, the Party exposed the sellout contract and denounced the union bureaucrats. The MLP underlined the need for the postal workers to get organized independent of the hacks and to build their own rank-and-file mass action to resist the attacks of the Postal Service.

This vigorous agitation has struck a chord among the workers. For example, at a union meeting in the Detroit area, the local president, who likes to pose as a militant, opened the discussion on the contract by foaming at the mouth against the MLP leaflet as "communist propaganda." Workers shouted out: "It tells the truth! The contract stinks!" Among the postal workers there is deep resentment and bitterness against the brutal working conditions -- the speedup, overwork, constant petty harassment by management -- and against the union bureaucrats who are attempting to saddle the workers with a rotten contract and to tie their hands so they can't fight back. This resentment welled up as a strong current of opposition to the contract. Now it must be further channeled into a tide of resistance and mass action.

West Virginia coal miners wildcat

Miners at the Fairdale Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia staged a two-day wildcat the first week of August. The miners were protesting the firing of a fellow worker and mis-scheduling of vacation time. Maple Meadow Mining Co. -- which owns the Fairdale Mine -- fired seven of the strikers.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 miners,steel workers and their families rallied in Avonmore, Pennsylvania to support the striking Canterbury Coal miners. The miners have been on strike against concessions since August 5, 1985. They continue to face vicious strikebreaking. The company is running its two mines with scabs, backed up by the police and courts.

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Reagan's gag order on clinics... An attempt to rob poor women of the right to abortion

The Reagan administration is launching a new attack on the right of poor and working women to receive an abortion. On July 30 Reagan proposed a new set of regulations that would ban family planning clinics that receive federal funds from counseling their clients about abortion. It would also reverse the requirement that family planning clinics provide referrals to privately funded abortion facilities on request. As well, the new rules would require these clinics to be physically separated from facilities that perform abortions.

Putting Abortion Out of Reach for Poor Women

The proposed regulations would affect about 4,000 clinics serving 4.3 million clients nationwide. Eighty-five percent of the clients of these clinics are low-income women, and about a third are teenagers. These are the women who most need the clinics' services because they do not have access to other health care.

In other words, for poor women, desperate teenagers and others, health care workers will be barred from providing essential medical information. (Reagan talks of "getting government off our backs,'' but isn't this a crude and heavy-handed form of government intrusion into what someone can and can't talk about?!) Meanwhile, information about abortion and abortion itself remains accessible to those who can afford it.

Reagan's "Family Values"

In the name of upholding "family values" Reagan wants to deprive poor and working women of the democratic right to an abortion. He wants to return to the "good ole days" when women, especially but not exclusively poor women, were slaughtered at the hands of back-alley abortionists.

In announcing his anti-abortion order, it is reported that Reagan's principal aim was to breathe new life into the anti-abortion movement. This is a right- wing movement that continues to spawn right-wing terrorists, such as the man from the Bible Missionary Fellowship who was caught July 27 placing a pipe bomb under the stairs of the Alvarado Family Planning Clinic in San Diego. Two other members of this organization were picketing outside the clinic, but they stopped and left the scene right before the bomb was planted.

Congress Won't Defend Women's Rights

The Democrats in Congress parade as heroic fighters for women's rights. But in the face of Reagan's anti-abortion crusade they are as tame as mice. Remember, the Democrats had a hand in passing Title X of the Public Health Service Act in 1970, which barred clinics from using federal funds to perform abortions. As well, in 1977, under the Carter administration, they helped pass the Hyde Amendment to Title X, which banned the use of medicaid funds for abortions. Congress has reaffirmed the Hyde Amendment every year for 10 years.

The anti-abortionists get the media attention. They get plenty of money and all kinds of support from the White House and Capitol Hill. Even so, the majority of the working people are strongly opposed to the outlawing of abortion. That is why abortion rights are being eroded bit by bit, through the federal bureaucracy and add-ons to spending bills. And it is interesting to note that the fine ladies and gentlemen of the bourgeoisie are targeting the poor women as the first to be robbed of their rights.

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INS boss covers for death squads in L.A.

On July 27, three hundred people demonstrated at the Los Angeles City Hall to protest the recent threats and attacks on Central American activists by elements linked to the death squads from El Salvador.

Throughout July, these right-wing thugs have sought out Salvadoran and Guatemalan residents of Los Angeles. The victims have been active against the blood-soaked regimes and the U.S. intervention in their homelands. So far, over 20 activists have been attacked or menaced by the death squads.

* On July 7, a Salvadoran woman, Yanira, was kidnapped after leaving a political meeting; then tortured, raped, and interrogated about her political associates by two Salvadoran men.

* On July 10, Marta Alicia Rivera, former general secretary of the Salvadoran Teachers Union (ANDES), received a letter threatening 19 refugees and activists. The letter ended with the quotation, "Flowers do not live in the desert," which Rivera said resembled the letters she had received in El Salvador a month before she was captured by the National Guard. These letters had been signed something like "a dead flower."

* On July 15, Father Luis Olivares, associated with the "La Placita" church which gives sanctuary to Central American refugees, received a letter which said only "E.M." These are the initials of the Escuadron de la Muerte (Death Squad), one of the names used by the right-wing terrorists in El Salvador. Olivares also received a threatening phone call on July 26.

* On July 15, a man staying with Salvadoran activists was shot in the leg. The apartment where he had been staying had been broken into July 11.

* On July 17, Guatemalan activist Ana Maria Lopez was kidnapped en route to a political meeting. She was driven around Los Angeles by two armed, masked men with Salvadoran accents, who questioned her about various Central Americans and some U.S. activists, then warned her to stop associating with Salvadorans.

* Leslie Mishaan Rosell, Consul General of Guatemala in Los Angeles, received a letter saying in Spanish, "Don't get involved in Salvadoran affairs," also signed "E.M."

* Other incidents include desecration of a church which houses several Central American organizations. Activists and refugees also report cases of being trailed and of their homes and cars being vandalized.

The Central American community, the solidarity movement and progressive masses in Los Angeles have raised an outcry over these crimes. To cool out the situation, even the Los Angeles city council, the Los Angeles Times, and liberal congressmen have condemned the incidents.

Meanwhile the U.S. government's stand on the issue has been shamelessly blurted out by an official of the INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service). Harold Ezell, Western Director of the INS, is covering for the crimes of these death-squad elements.

Ezell is claiming that the recent attacks are nonpolitical cases of common crime, having nothing to do with the death squads. "There is no question that two people were kidnapped and that one woman was raped," said Ezell, "but that happens every day."

Who does Ezell think he's kidding? Surely your everyday crime victims are not grilled on their political contacts and threatened with death if they continue their political activity. And your common thug isn't known to use the M.O. of Central American death squads. A doctor who examined Yanira, after her captors dumped her under a bridge, even confirmed that the pattern of her injuries was similar to other victims of torture from El Salvador and Guatemala.

According to Ezell, the victims have simply fabricated the "outlandish" notion of death-squad activity in the U.S. They have allegedly done so for their own aims of "lawbreaking" by giving shelter to Central American refugees.

The stand of Harold Ezell and the INS towards the Central American refugees is a mirror of the U.S. policy in Central America. It's a policy of persecution and arrest for the ordinary working people fleeing the terror of the U.S.-backed regimes. Meanwhile, the U.S. government welcomes with open arms every cutthroat dreg and mercenary. The contras are allowed to train with heavy weapons in camps from Florida to California. Other death-squad elements are given a free rein to do business here. And when this business includes rape, torture and death threats, Ezell and the other government officials are all too quick to hide the death squads' hand.

[Photo: Demonstration against death-squad activity in Los Angeles.]

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Chicago's 'finest' shoot down Latinos

It seems that the Chicago cops pull their guns and prepare to shoot first and then ask questions later when they come into Pilsen -- the list of people wounded or killed by police in the Mexican neighborhood is growing.

On July 22, Eddie Metoxin was shot and seriously wounded by Chicago cops. The police were supposed to be responding to a phone call complaint that someone was trying to enter a house in Pilsen and had fired a gun, towards the house. In fact, Eddie was one of the people who had called the police to ask for help, but when he opened the door of the house to tell the police that someone had run into the alley, one of the cops shot him in the abdomen! The police department says this shooting was just an "accident" but the only thing "accidental" about this shooting is that the victim "accidentally" survived.

Other people haven't been so lucky. Eddie was the third person in recent months to be shot by police in Pilsen. In April, Maurilio Rodriguez was shot to death by the police as he ran away from them, and in June, another Mexican man was killed by police who said he was armed with a pellet gun that "looked like a.357 Magnum." And these are just the shootings in Pilsen that have come to the public's attention. The police carry out these racist attacks in the black and Latino communities all over Chicago.

These shootings are an outrage! The Chicago police are on a racist terror campaign against the Latino community. Any young man on the street (or coming out of a house) is fair game for the trigger-happy cops who consider everybody in Pilsen to be a "crime suspect" or a "possible crime suspect." And of course these arrogant fascists think that gives them a right to execute on the spot.

The whole history of capitalism in the U.S. is a history of racist oppression and terror against the blacks, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other minorities. The job of the police is to "serve and protect" the interests of the rich capitalists whether that means beating up workers on a picket line, or carrying out racist murders in the Hispanic and black communities.

But we don't have to, and we should not accept the excuses and justifications that the police offer when they get caught in their racist attacks. The workers and youth of all nationalities "say NO!" to racist police attacks and murders. "SAY NO!" to all police harassment of the poor and working class youth.

(Reprinted from Aug. 20 "Chicago Workers Voice," paper of MLP-Chicago.)

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Rally in San Jose against racist terror

On August 3, over 250 people rallied against racism at a neighborhood park in San Jose, California.

Earlier, a 54-year-old black woman had been threatened by a gang calling themselves the "white aryan resistance." As she was crossing a bridge leading out of the park, the woman was surrounded by four racists. They shouted racist filth and threatened to hurt her. A young man came running to denounce the racists and thwarted their attack on the woman.

When people in the neighborhood heard what happened they united with others in the community for a spirited demonstration. They raised anti-racist banners and slogans.

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Congress moves against bilingual education

The U.S. capitalist ruling class is continuing to trample on the language rights of immigrants and non-English- speaking workers.

This campaign gained ground last fall with the passage of the "English Only" Proposition 63 in California. This law makes English the "official language" of the state. It has raised the prospect of the wholesale elimination of the use of Spanish and other languages in public life: in the schools, elections, courts, offices and government agencies of all types. (See WA, Jan. 1, 1987.) Most ominous, it has opened the way for the gutting of California's bilingual education programs. The organization which pushed Proposition 63 is part of a slick and well-funded lobbying outfit called "U.S. English," whose honorary chairman is former Senator S.I. Hayakawa. "U.S. English" is pushing similar laws in states across the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has picked up the baton of language bigotry. Coming up on the Senate agenda there is a bill to chop away at federal funding of bilingual programs. A new education bill includes a provision to raise from 4% to 25% the amount of money that can be taken from bilingual education grants and used for instruction of non-English-speaking students in exclusively English classes. It would also cut funds for bilingual teacher training. The bill with this provision passed the House by a vote of 401-1 in May. The Senate is expected to support this measure wholeheartedly.

The education of millions of Latino and other youth is under attack here. It is another step backwards to the days when in many states nothing but English was allowed in the schools. This had the effect of robbing non-English-speaking students of an education. They were often treated as simply unintelligent and often driven out of the schools.

This is because for students to learn they must be taught in a language that they understand. The present bilingual programs are inadequate and underfunded. Even so they are a small step. And they have shown their value for many students to do well in any subject, including learning English.

The moves in Congress against bilingual education show that the ruling class is dead serious about stripping the language rights of the Latino and other nationalities. Every step in this direction of a government-imposed "official language" tramples on the rights of those who do not speak that language.

The working class as a whole must defend the language rights of all workers as part of the struggle against the government's oppression of immigrants and minority nationalities. This can only strengthen the workers' struggle and cut against the capitalists' attempts to divide the workers based on language or place of birth.

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The revisionist CPUSA's attitude towards Mexican farm laborers

Immigrant workers and 'jingo-socialism'

"In our struggle for true internationalism and against 'jingo-socialism' we always quote in our press the example of the opportunist leaders of the S.P. in America, who are in favor of restrictions of the immigration of Chinese and Japanese workers....We think that one can not be internationalist and be at the same time in favor of such restrictions. And we assert that Socialists in America...who are not against any restrictions of immigration...that such Socialists are in reality jingoes." -- from V.I. Lenin's letter to the American Socialist Propaganda League, 1915.

These are the stern words that Lenin the revolutionary Marxist had for the opportunists, for the "jingo-socialists" who sided with the racist union chiefs of the AFL against Asian, Mexican and other immigrant workers.

Inspired by Leninism, the revolutionary workers of those days rose against their traitorous leaders. After the First World War they forged the Communist Party -- a party true to the fighting slogan "Workers of all countries, unite!"

But this party, the CPUSA -- along with the other communist parties that followed in the wake of Soviet revisionism -- has long since abandoned communism for the gutter of opportunism. One of the many signals that they have completely betrayed to the ruling class is that today they too are taking the side of the union bureaucrats against immigrant workers. Just look, for example, at the CPUSA's attitude towards Mexican farm workers and the new Simpson-Rodino immigration law.

Taking the Side of the Union Chieftains Against the Undocumented

The reactionary AFL-CIO chieftains were in the forefront of the lobbying efforts for the new immigration bill for cracking down on undocumented immigrants. They are among the biggest boosters of the racist and repressive system of employer sanctions barring the hiring of "illegals."

As noted in our August 1 issue, even the leaders of the United Farm Workers union are in favor of this anti-immigrant crackdown. Presently they are protesting the efforts of the growers to loosen regulations on Mexican farm workers coming into the U.S.

So where does the CPUSA stand? Does it cry out against this chauvinist and reactionary stand of the union chieftains?

Quite the opposite. It has done its best to cover up for the crimes of the AFL-CIO bureaucrats. Moreover, it is shamelessly praising the rotten stand of the UFW leaders. In the July 1 issue of their People's Daily World newspaper, the CPUSA writers even had the nerve to approvingly quote Cesar Chavez threatening to launch lawsuits and demonstrations against growers who hire the new Mexican immigrants.

Isn't this just like the old Socialist Party leaders who supported the actions of the AFL against employers who hired Asians and Mexicans? Aren't these the same sort of opportunists that Lenin branded as "jingo-socialists"?

It may be said we are being unfair. After all, unlike the filthy SP leaders of old who spouted the lies about the "yellow peril" and the "brown menace," the CPUS A talks about immigrant rights and is known to do work in the Mexican immigrant communities. All this means is that their stand on this question is more subtle, more refined. In essence, however, they are taking the side of the labor aristocracy and bureaucracy against a most oppressed section of the working class. They are demanding that one section of the working class (undocumented farm workers) should be persecuted by the government and denied the rights of the majority (the native-born and documented workers). Just as with the "yellow peril" socialists of the past, the CPUS A writers sanction this oppression and persecution in the name of defending the American worker from "cheap labor."

Supporting Repression in the Guise of Opposing a Bracero Program

To cover themselves, the CPUSA writers perform a sleight of hand. They try to portray that the UFW's protest is against "a return to the old bracero program that civil rights advocates shut down in 1964." And they correctly describe the infamous bracero program as "a form of peonage under which Mexican nationals were given an H-2A visa and brought into the U.S. temporarily to work in the fields."

The only problem is that the CPUSA is not supporting a protest against such a contract labor or temporary guest worker scheme. The AFL-CIO and the UFW leaders are quite explicit. They are protesting against undocumented workers gaining legal working status in the U.S. They are decrying the efforts of the growers to bring in more field workers under the special amnesty clause for agricultural labor that was written into the Simpson-Rodino bill. The growers want the INS to lift various restrictions and bureaucratic obstacles to make it easier for undocumented farm workers to apply for amnesty. (Recently the INS has taken some small steps in this direction.)

True, this amnesty has many objectionable features. True, the growers are using this amnesty to recruit cheap labor. They are out to make high profits off workers with restricted rights under a restricted amnesty. However, Cesar Chavez and company don't protest these restrictions and call for full rights for the immigrants. Nor do they call for the undocumented to join the struggle against cheap pay and exploitation. Instead, they spurn these immigrants with their demand that the INS make the amnesty even more restricted.

Meanwhile, besides the special farm labor amnesty, Simpson-Rodino also provides for an expanded H-2A "guest worker" program. But the AFL-CIO and UFW leaders aren't protesting this bracero-type program. At a recent INS- sponsored conference, UFW Vice-President Dolores Huerta appealed to INS Western Director Harold Ezell to "not succumb" to growers demands and stick to his guns against allowing in the undocumented. And what's central to immigrant-hunter Ezell's stand is that before the doors are opened to legalize the "illegals," growers should first be compelled to make use of H-2A contract labor. The July 4 issue of the AFL-CIO News reports on the UFW's protest against "permitting illegal immigrants to pick crops" and it approvingly quotes Harold Ezell saying that the H-2A contract labor program is the "cure" to hiring undocumented workers. (Apparently, the AFL-CIO chiefs are now happy with the contract labor H-2A program, dropping earlier objections.)

All this makes the CPUSA's talk against "a return to the old bracero program" ring hollow. It's simply a cover for supporting more repression and more contract labor schemes against Mexican farm workers.

Full Rights for the Immigrant Farm Workers!

Yes, the efforts of the growers to recruit Mexican field hands poses a challenge to farm workers and all workers in this country.

This is the challenge of defeating the "divide and conquer" trap of lining up the American workers in support of restrictive laws against their Mexican brothers and sisters.

This is the challenge of struggling against the Simpson-Rodino law. The fight against Simpson-Rodino is essential, not to oppose allegedly opening the door of amnesty to too many undocumented workers. Quite the opposite. It's because it denies these farm workers their full rights. It divides their families. It robs them of unemployment benefits and other essential services. And it keeps the threat of deportation hanging over their heads like a whip to enforce back-breaking work, lousy conditions, and low pay.

This is the challenge of organization and struggle for the rights of the immigrant workers. And organization and struggle to unite all farm workers -- without distinction of when they came to this country or their legal status -- for a common struggle against exploitation at the hands of agribusiness.

This is the only principled and internationalist stand.

Meanwhile, to take the side of AFL-CIO bureaucrats and the INS against the Mexican farm workers is downright treachery to the cause of the workers. It's a lesson in the "jingo-socialism" of our modern-day opportunists.

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Mexican and Guatemalan workers strike Arizona ranch

About 200 farm workers went on strike August 2 against the Martori Brothers Ranch in Aquila, Arizona, just northwest of Phoenix. The workers are fighting against the abominable living conditions, a new wage cut, and for union rights. The ranch owners unilaterally cut pay by 90 cents an hour, down from the already paltry $4.25 an hour the workers had been making. The owners claim this is not a wage cut, but merely a change to piece rates in the harvesting of melons with a guarantee of only minimum wage.

Most of the strikers are undocumented workers from Mexico and Guatemala. They have defied the threat of immigration raids and deportation to organize into a union and to strike. At a secret meeting held August 2 they joined the Arizona Farm Workers Union en masse. They then boldly walked off their jobs and have been fighting vigorously. In one incident, they surrounded a packing shed and blocked produce trucks. Police were called in and 15 strikers were arrested.

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


U.S. war in Central America denounced at Illinois army base

[Photo: Protest at U.S. Army Reserve Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Aug. 22.]

On Saturday August 22nd, 500 people denounced U.S. intervention in Central America at Arlington Heights Army Reserve Base, northwest of Chicago. This base is the home of the 12th special forces group and of the 305th psychological operations battalion. The Pentagon gives a special role to "civil affairs" and psychological operations specialists. They are supposed to take control of communication facilities and carry out pro-American propaganda, including putting up graffiti and signs as if they were from the local population. They were used extensively in Grenada. They are presumably implementing Reagan's idea of a free press and free TV.

The protesters confronted over 200 police. Some activists scaled the barbed-wire topped fence around the base. Others cut the rope holding the main gate shut. 67 people were arrested. At one point some youth called out to the many police on rooftops of nearby buildings: "Jump, jump."

Slogans rang out: "Torture, rape, murder, lies, that's what contra money buys," "Stop the bombing, stop the war, U.S. out of El Salvador," and "USA, CIA, Out of Nicaragua."

The demonstration was called by the Pledge of Resistance. Our Party supported the action and organized an anti-imperialist contingent. The contingent had a particular role in keeping up the enthusiasm and militancy of the demonstration during the lulls between particular actions. It kept the slogan shouting going and, despite opposition from reformist forces in the movement, also gave its own slogans against both the Democratic and Republican parties, the parties of imperialism and war.

Guerrilla actions hit in El Salvador

The armed guerrillas in El Salvador continue to launch bold actions against the pro-U.S. death-squad regime led by "Christian Democrat" Duarte.

Ambush at San Isidro

On August 17, guerrillas ambushed a government military convoy near the town of San Isidro, 40 miles east of the capital city, San Salvador. At least nine soldiers were killed and 21 wounded when a mine planted by the anti-government fighters blew up the lead truck in the convoy. The armed militants then engaged the government patrol in combat.

This attack was a costly defeat for Duarte's troops. But while the U.S.-armed and trained troops suffered heavy losses, the resistance fighters came out virtually unscathed. The official military press reports state that only two guerrillas were killed. And these reports always exaggerate guerrilla casualties, just like the false U.S. casualty reports during the Viet Nam war.

Police Wiped Out in San Salvador

The San Isidro ambush came only three days after another successful guerrilla action in the city of San Salvador. Three police were shot dead in a quick hit-and-run attack.

Duarte Fails to Subdue the Armed Resistance

The recent actions show that the Duarte regime remains unable to contain the armed militants. U.S. imperialism has given Duarte hundreds of military advisors and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to crush the guerrillas. Duarte's army and the death squads have carried out savage terror against the workers, peasants and students to try and force them to give up their support for the armed fighters.

Nevertheless the guerrillas remain able to deliver sharp blows to the regime. Indeed today the guerrillas not only maintain control of big areas of the countryside, but have been increasing their activity in the heart of government power, San Salvador.

The Toilers Support the Armed Struggle

The strength of the guerrilla movement lies in its support among the toilers. The workers and peasants live in dire poverty, slaving away for the benefit of the rich capitalists and landowners and U.S. multinationals. And Duarte's reign of terror protects this system. The oppressed want to get rid of this system and thus they have filled the ranks of the anti-government forces and give support to the rebels.

The power of the guerrilla movement reflects the revolutionary sentiments of the masses. Along with armed actions, strikes and demonstrations are also breaking out with regularity. On August 20, workers and students demonstrated again in the capital against Duarte's anti-worker policies. And just last month San Salvador was rocked by a series of demonstrations and street battles revolving around a strike by social welfare workers.

[Photo: Workers demonstrate against Duarte regime, August 20.]

Forum marks the 8th anniversary of Nicaraguan revolution

Sandinista and Marxist-Leninist views on revolution debated

On July 19, 1979 the Nicaraguan workers and peasants ousted one of the most hated Central American dictatorships from power. The anti-Somoza insurrection turned the tables on the dictatorship and its U.S. imperialist backers. Eight years later, U.S. imperialism is still hell-bent on revenge.

On July 25 a meeting was held in the San Francisco Bay area by the Nicaragua Forum Committee. Sixty-five people met to discuss the different stands of the proletariat and the petty-bourgeoisie on defense against the contras and how to continue the revolution. The central point of the meeting was the presentation by the comrade of the Marxist-Leninist Party.

How to Fight a CIA Putsch

The comrade stressed the importance of the revolutionary mobilization of the masses for the defense of the revolution. Drawing a lesson from history, she pointed out:

"In the 1950's the CIA trained a small band of reactionaries and used them in '54 to overthrow the Arbenz government in Guatemala. It took little more than a push. But things are not so simple in Nicaragua.

"Arbenz had not come to power in a revolution, while in Nicaragua we know that the overthrow of Somoza was accomplished through an enormous revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and working masses. The masses in their thousands came out into the streets, fought on the barricades and emerged victorious.

"It is the masses mobilized for revolutionary struggle who continue to hold back the onslaught of the U.S....

"Our Party's entire approach is to safeguard and support that which protects and supports this mobilization of the masses. And to oppose that which has a demobilizing effect on them. It is on this basis that we have concluded that the defense of the revolution, the fight against the contras and U.S. aggression, is being undermined and severely weakened by the policies of the Sandinistas. These policies are sapping the revolutionary energy of the masses and serving to demobilize them, and they must be opposed."

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua

She then outlined the history of the revolution and the facts about the situation in Nicaragua which our Party has seen firsthand through the trips of our delegations. She spoke of the struggle of our fraternal comrades, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua, to mobilize the masses and to prevent the developing discontent with the Sandinistas from being used by the Nicaraguan right wing. She outlined their struggle to develop the class organization and struggle of the proletariat and working peasants.

She concluded: "Surely one of our tasks in building up a powerful anti-interventionist movement here is to orient it towards open support for the revolution of the workers and peasants in Nicaragua. This requires bringing out into the open, clearly and widely, what is in the interests of the revolution and what is not.

"This means that, along with building the mass struggle against Reagan's dirty war, and exposing the imperialist reality behind the maneuvers of the Republicans and Democrats, we must work to align the movement on the side of the workers and peasants of Nicaragua in their struggle to defend and deepen the revolution."

The Trotskyite Indirect Defense of the Sandinistas

There was much discussion on her speech. Some Trotskyites said they also had their criticism of the Sandinistas. But their main target was the MLP of Nicaragua which they attacked for not accomplishing superhuman feats of revolution. For example, some held that the MLPN should have been able to transcend differences of political party to have already built soviets. But underneath this type of "leftism" was denigration of MLPN's persistent and protracted work to build up proletarian class organization and to unite the workers and peasants around various struggles. Instead the Trotskyites preferred to stay within the Sandinista orbit. They could not conceive of the proletariat standing independently against the vacillating petty-bourgeois Sandinistas.

What Explains the Failures of Sandinista Policy?

A number of activists found the discussion expanded their ideas about the situation in Nicaragua. A certain amount of criticism of the Sandinistas is developing among activists, and the meeting showed how the Marxist- Leninist criticism of the Sandinistas is from the standpoint of deepening the revolution. One person spoke about the interesting surprise of hearing that the problems in the Nicaraguan revolution were coming from too much capitalism and not the other way around.

The Pro-Sandinista Reply

Meanwhile the pro-Sandinistas at the meeting could not mount a political defense of the Sandinista policies. One pro-Sandinista berated the meeting for dwelling the whole night on the shortcomings of the Sandinistas when the real thing to talk about was going to different states to lobby those congressmen who are still on the fence. The Trotskyites also tended to denigrate the importance of a revolutionary stand on the class struggle in Nicaragua by suggesting that we have an action to build, etc.

The meeting helped open up a serious discussion of the situation in Nicaragua among activist circles. And it helped reveal to the activists the stands of the various political forces: the pro-Sandinista reformists, the left wing of Trotskyism whose criticism of the Sandinistas was more like an apology for them, and the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists.

Help build a roof for the workers' meeting hall!

While Reagan talks "peace" and escalates the war, let us support the Nicaraguan workers and peasants!

Everyone has a plan for peace in Central America these days.

Even Reagan has one. Written jointly with Jim Wright, Democratic Speaker of the House.

Reagan and Wright promise peace just so long as Nicaragua surrenders. They promise peace just so long as the contra murderers are allowed to keep their guns trained on the backs of the Nicaraguan people. Just so long as these mercenaries from the old Somoza tyranny are given the "freedom" to make a grab at rigging up a new dictatorship.

Then there are the more liberal and "thoughtful" Democrats. They like the Reagan-Wright plan OK. But they are worried that not enough is being done for the "democratic opposition" inside Nicaragua. These Democrats say they want more efforts for a political offensive of the big capitalists and landlords, the Catholic church leaders, and the right-wing political forces inside Nicaragua. And only in combination with such a political offensive will they vote for more aid for another contra military offensive.

This internal counterrevolution is presently getting a boost from the so- called Central America peace plan. This plan rests on Central America's pro-U.S. and right-wing governments. It's been endorsed by both the Democrats and Reagan. The contras swear to it too.

Unfortunately, the Sandinista government also supports this plan. To escape the fire of the armed counterrevolution, the Sandinista government is playing with the fire of the internal counterrevolution. It is willing to open its doors to the reactionary capitalist forces responsible for the war on the Nicaraguan people. It's even willing to negotiate this with the death-squad regimes of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

But there's another option. Nicaragua has another way out. This is the option of the masses. This is the path of the revolutionary movement of the working class, the poor peasants and toilers. With the support of the working people throughout the Americas and the world, this is the best hope for defeating the dirty U.S.-backed war and raising Nicaragua out of its present agony.

The revolutionary Nicaraguan workers are rallying the people for struggle to defeat the U.S. imperialist aggression. They are confronting the big exploiters and the right-wing forces. They are challenging the bureaucratic and vacillating policy of the Sandinista government. They are fighting to defend the interests of the workers and poor and to carry the revolution forward to socialism.

From the sugar plantations to the steel plants, these workers are organizing. They are building their Marxist- Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML), their Frente Obrero (Workers Front) trade union center, and rank-and-file committees of struggle.

As part of this organizing, Frente Obrero has set up a workers' meeting hall in an industrial zone of Managua. The Frente Obrero wants to complete the roof over the building to create a larger hall for workers to hold mass meetings. But they face a shortage of materials and funds for this roof because of Reagan's blockade and economic dislocation in the country.

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

Concrete steps of solidarity are a good way to assist the workers and poor of Nicaragua and Central America. And it's their revolutionary movement that can best settle accounts with Reagan's mercenaries, the death-squad regimes, and all the reactionaries that are bleeding the people of this region.

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


[Prensa Proletaria masthead.]

Unpopular work rules

(In the days of Somoza, the heavily exploited laborers of the construction industry were one of the most militant sections of the working class in the struggle against the U.S.-backed dictator. Since the revolution, these toilers on Nicaragua's roads and construction projects have continued to be active in defense of the workers' interests. The following is a report from the July issue of "Prensa Proletaria" about their struggle against work rule changes and overwork. Translation by "Workers' Advocate.")

It is not yet clear what will be the fate of the new work rules in the Catalogue of Consolidated Norms which has been applied like a bolt from the blue in the construction sector.

Through a redefinition of activities, operations, movements, skills, gang work, etc., the Catalogue has tried to establish new operations through the combination of old ones. It has applied a monetary incentive for this. These operations cover a total of 233 tasks performed by construction workers.

"The new work rules benefit management and harm us," we were told by carpenter Trinidad Corea.

The new work rules provoked a general rejection among the militant construction workers. At the end of May, about 2,000 workers gathered in Managua, overwhelmingly rejecting the new rules. In the construction enterprise of the mayoralty of Managua (ECONAC), workers at 13 out of a total of 23 work projects energetically protested against their application. This caused serious problems for the progress of these construction projects. The protests extended to San Isidro, Esteli, and to the basic grains project in Tipitapa, all run by the SO and IPE Company. In this enterprise -- which is privately owned -- over 100 workers were fired in reprisals against their protests.

The construction sector includes some 11,000 workers countrywide. There are over 300 vertical construction projects (dwellings, industrial infrastructure) and horizontal construction projects (runways, roads). In Managua there are over 100 small and medium construction projects employing thousands of workers. The majority are affiliated to the SC A AS construction workers' union.

The SCAAS union is affiliated to the CGTI. [The CGTI is the union center of the revisionist pseudo-communist Socialist Party.] Leonel Huete, one of the pro-CGTI leaders of this union from Region I, declared in Barricada that his 507 regional affiliates were willing to "submit to the new work rules." "We must get rid of the vice of wanting more pay and less work," said Huete. These declarations were not supported by other sections of the base of SCAAS.

Given the level of the protests and the angry reaction from the workers' movement in construction, by the beginning of June the production chief at ECONAC, Mario Bovers, agreed to suspend the application of the Catalogue, after having discussed the matter with SCAAS....

"An immediate effect of the application of this type of work rules is that they mean an increase in production quotas and a wage cut. As well, they will cause a displacement of the older workers," declared Fernando Malespin, the General Secretary of Frente Obrero [Workers' Front--the trade union center of MLPN].

Malespin called on the workers' movement in general, and the construction sector in particular, to participate in the discussion of this highly important issue of work rules. "It is not enough to rely on the leadership of SCAAS in this battle. They have already shown weakness at crucial moments for the workers' movement," he added. The workers must organize themselves, appoint delegates to take part in these discussions, to demand information, and to control the leadership of SCAAS.

Experiences from combat training

(This account of the experience of a Marxist-Leninist worker in the military struggle against the CIA mercenaries' war was carried in the July issue of "Prensa Proletaria." Translation by "Workers' Advocate.")

During training in the military reserves (the SMR), the recruits from the Heroes of Cuapa Battalion clashed with some scattered contra forces which were operating in the region of Chontales last May.

The following was related to us by Ronald Tinoco Rivas, delegate of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua for Region 5. He was demobilized at the beginning of June, after his training as an engineer (sapper) during this military course.

On this occasion, barely 800 meters from the SMR school, the counterrevolution kidnapped two soldiers. This motivated the command to order that measures be taken to deal with the case, given the proximity and danger involved. The school sent out various exploration squads, one of which succeeded in making contact with the mercenaries: nine companeros of the reserve clashed with about 70-80 contras, holding them off and dispersing them until rapid response units (BLI) operating in the zone, and other forces of the Sandinista army (EPS), could find them, forcing them to flee. This activity against the contras invigorated the whole school, Ronald reported. He himself returned satisfied with the experience gained in the training.

"I integrated myself voluntarily into the mobilization for the training," said Ronald, "because my party, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua, leader of the MILPAS (Popular Anti-Somoza Militias) in the anti-Somoza struggle, has the line of putting its militants into the tasks of defense and military training. The working class and poor peasantry of our country have common enemies: Reagan's fighters in the mountains, and in the city the forces and parties of the right, which are tied by a thousand threads to the armed counterrevolution. These enemies are developing a war which requires preparation and military mobilization. For this reason, we must integrate ourselves into these military tasks. And we do this as our party guides us, not forgetting the political struggle which must be carried through to the end just as firmly as the battles against the mercenaries," emphasized comrade Tinoco.

Ronald also referred to the positive experience of living together collectively in the midst of the difficulties of training in the mountains. This teaches how to sort out problems, and to put aside weaknesses and disapproving attitudes.

This was not smooth going, Ronald clarified, as he had serious problems with the sectarianism of some of the commanders of the school, when they came to know his opinions and political activity with the MLPN.

The experience that Ronald was able to obtain as an engineer in the Second Company of the Battalion of Heroes of Cuapa will enhance the proletariat's participation in the tasks of military defense against imperialism and its internal agents.

"We must make the SMR (reserves) and the SMP (militias) into trenches of our class against the bourgeoisie and imperialism," concluded Ronald. He has now rejoined the party work in Region 5 (Boaco and Chontales).

The cooperatives and the workers movement

(From the July issue of "Prensa Proletaria," newspaper of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua. Translation by "Workers' Advocate.")

After the revolutionary triumph over Somozism, the number of registered cooperatives reached an unprecedented level. This has a direct relation to the agrarian reform, although there are also artisans' cooperatives and savings and loan cooperatives.

The UNAG [National Union of Farmers and Ranchers, an association led by the Sandinista Front that lumps together poor and working peasants with rural capitalists] controls a big fraction of the cooperatives, (especially the peasant cooperatives, which comprise the majority). But FUNDE and CUS [right-wing labor organizations] have also organized peasant cooperatives along their pro-imperialist political line, something which does not mean, however, that the cooperativists themselves are pro-imperialist.

What line of approach to the workers' movement do the Nicaraguan cooperatives have? What line of approach do the unions have to the cooperatives?

Speaking of the official organizations (UNAG, ATC -- the Sandinista-led association of rural laborers, and CST -- the Sandinista union center), it is obvious that there is no line for making this approach. This policy has already resulted in objectively weakening an important sector of the toilers. With respect to production, both Jaime Wheelock and Daniel Nunez (president of UNAG) have been complaining recently that the cooperatives have not been responding to the demands of the revolution. The grievance was extensive in the organizational realm.

The "line'' that has been given is for bringing peasants into the machete factories or the sack factories, or bringing the workers into the fields to see how to sow. These exchange visits also have a streak of tourism about them.

The nature of the cooperatives and unions as broad associations of the toilers has to be taken into account in a context conditioned in great part by the general crisis of capitalism, the imperialist aggression, and the program of mixed economy pushed by the FSLN. The first joint line of action of both organizations is the struggle against criminal imperialism, which has shown itself in the first place to the poor peasantry.

In the second place it is the struggle for better conditions of life for the affiliates and members of the cooperatives and unions. This includes wrenching away the bourgeoisie's profits in order to satisfy the demands of the workers, peasants, and artisans.

Another permanent task must be the constant mobilization of one in support of the other: the cooperatives supporting the wage demands of the workers; and the workers supporting the demands of the cooperatives for work implements, etc.

In the fourth place is mutual support in regard to freedom of organization. A fundamental aspect here is the fight against the bureaucratization of the unions, and against the capitalist development of the cooperatives.

The drawing together of the cooperatives and the workers' movement must be seen in light of forging a worker-peasant alliance, a weapon of the first order against the bourgeoisie and imperialism.

Opportunists know better, but laud the Central American pact anyway

On August 7 the plan of Costa Rican President Arias took shape in the form of the signing of the Central American regional agreement. (This is sometimes called the Guatemala plan because it was signed there.)

This agreement trifles with the desire of the people for peace. Seeing that the contras have suffered one devastating defeat after another, it tries to extract from Nicaragua by diplomatic means what the contras have been unable to do by military means.

It puts this in high-flown words about peace and democracy and cooperation of all Central American states, with which it has induced the Sandinistas to sign. The Sandinistas believe they can insist on their interpretation of the words of the pact, forgetting that the whole point of the pact is to subject Nicaragua to the supervision of the U.S. government and the pro-U.S. Latin American regimes.

The agreement, being written in the broadest generalities, is deceptive. Someone who wasn't following closely what was going on might wonder what was wrong with all these nice-sounding phrases about peace and democracy. But those activists who have been following the situation in Central America for years know the truth that lies under the honeyed words.

More Enthusiastic Than the Plan's Sponsors

For this reason, it is outrageous that almost all the revisionist and reformist groups interested in Central America have come out as apologists for the regional agreement. The pro-Soviet revisionist "Line of March" grouping calls it a "breakthrough accord." (Frontline, Aug. 17, p. 1) The official pro-Soviet revisionists of the CPUSA call it "a realistic peace plan." (People's Daily World, Aug. 12, p. 8-A) The reformist Trotskyites of the SWP christen it "a huge blow to the U.S. rulers' war against Nicaragua" (Militant, Aug. 28, p. 4) The reformist WWP calls it "a victory over U.S. efforts to dominate the entire region and destablilize Nicaragua." (Workers World, Aug. 20)

They really know better. Some of them even write about how this plan really was developed hand in hand with American politicians, that the pro-U.S. Central American regimes that signed the agreement are really concerned with strengthening their own repressive rule, that the agreement itself has nothing but "moral" authority, etc.

But they twist and turn to end up making defense of the agreement the task of the moment. They know that the Central American tyrannies have not turned into apostles of brotherhood and peace, but the opportunists have become so corrupt that they will say anything. The only important thing to them is what is the Democratic Party doing and what are the international revisionist forces doing. Since both agree on the Arias plan, there is nothing to be done but fall right in behind.

Presenting the Central American Tyrannies as Opponents of U.S. Policy

It is natural that the promotion of the Arias plan is connected to promotion of the regimes which signed it as opponents of U.S. policy. But who did sign it? Besides revolutionary Nicaragua, there are the heads of three pro- U.S. death-squad regimes -- Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Honduras is the biggest base for the CIA's contras, and El Salvador is deeply involved in contra resupply flights and other contra support. And there is the "moderate" pro-U.S. regime in Costa Rica, which also allows contra activity on its soil. All four pro-U.S. regimes live on U.S. aid and coordinate their activities tightly with the U.S.

The opportunists imply these regimes are standing up to imperialism. Frontline talks of "a show of unity [by the five Central American heads of state] the [Reagan] administration has endeavored to prevent for years." (Aug. 17, p. 14) TheMilitant editorialized that the pact "reflects the deepening opposition throughout Central America to U.S. domination and military intervention...." (Aug. 28, p. 14) The Guardian presents that U.S. imperialist allies are standing up to assert themselves: "Washington's allies have for the first time effectively called for an end to U.S. aid to the contras and recognized the legitimacy of the revolutionary government in Nicaragua." (Sept. 2, front page) Why, the Guardian went on, "Even many conservative Central Americans took Washington's timing [in presenting the Reagan-Wright plan that was replaced by the Arias plan] an insult." (Ibid., p. 9)

And Frontline takes the cake with its argument that the pro-U.S. regimes are anti-contra precisely because they are pro-U.S.! It argues that "U.S. allies also know their strategic value would only rise once the U.S. is forced to abandon its contra war...." (Aug. 17, p. 4)

And the Revolutions in El Salvador and Guatemala?

Look how they deal with the people's revolt in Central America. The Arias plan calls for an end to the armed rebellions against the death-squad regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala and the unrest in Honduras. The LOM paper Frontline admits that the Central American regimes accepted the Arias plan because they "had judged that the stability of their own nations was best furthered" by it. (Aug. 17, p. 4) This paper also acknowledges that the plan refuses to prohibit the massive U.S. military aid and personnel in Central America so as not to offend "Christian Democrat" Duarte as he wages a bloody war of annihilation against the insurgents in El Salvador. (The agreement only "requests" that outside forces not be used for destabilizing the regimes, not that outside forces refrain from massacring the insurgent forces.)


Lauding the Dismantling of the Revolution in Nicaragua

And what about the plan's effect on Nicaragua?

Frontline dresses up the demand for Nicaragua to restore the political privileges of the reaction as a democratic step useful to the masses. The Frontline article uncritically reports that "the driving force behind the plan originally proposed by Arias was to force internal changes in Nicaragua...." And they add that "Nicaragua's need for peace was closely linked to Nicaragua's willingness to agree to meet a standard of democratization."

The reader may think we have substituted a Reagan speech for the opportunist article. But the truth is that Frontline is accepting the basic tenets of Reaganism. It accepts that Nicaragua should be forced to change its internal policies to satisfy the needs of U.S. imperialism and the pro-U.S. governments in Central America. It does not distinguish between the need to improve the revolutionary mobilization of the masses in Nicaragua and the demand of U.S. imperialism for restoring the power of the counterrevolution in the name of "democracy."

Do Arias and his U.S. imperialist friends want the Sandinista government to expand the rights of the workers and peasants, or the proletarian revolutionary opposition party, the MLPN? Of course not. They want an end to all measures that hinder the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie from organizing the counterrevolution. For instance, they want the various wartime emergency restrictions on the bourgeois political parties and press to be lifted. The Arias plan even envisions the contra leadership being welcomed back to Nicaragua. Giving free rein to the reactionaries poses a grave danger to the revolution and risks even the restoration of a Somoza-style dictatorship. This is the ugly reality that LOM is lending credibility under the banner of "democratization."

Promoting the Democrats as Opponents of U.S. Imperialism

Actually, when you come down to it, the opportunists end up promoting the Democrats and Congress as opponents of U.S. imperialism. Some of the opportunists themselves admit that Democratic Party politicians were instrumental in persuading (or dictating) to Arias how to modify his proposals. So if adopting the Arias plan is a sign of how the pro-U.S. regimes are allegedly standing up to U.S. imperialism, surely helping formulate the plan and push it through must be a sign of opposition to imperialism as well.

Only Reagan is supposed to be the enemy, the imperialist. The Democrats and Congress are the knights in shining armor. Thus Frontline editorializes about "congressional assertiveness." (Ibid.) Why, things are getting better and better all the time. They add that, "Although the more assertive mood now developing in the Democratic-controlled Congress was often absent in the [contragate] hearings is being demonstrated in a variety of other ways."

Indeed, it makes no sense to praise the plan unless one has faith in Congress. The plan itself does not stop the contra attacks on Nicaragua. It merely calls for its signatories to "request" certain unspecified outside powers to stop certain unspecified "destabilizing" actions. But supposedly the existence of this plan will tip the balance' of power and lead to Congress triumphing over Reagan and ending the contra program.

Does the Arias Plan Mean the End of U.S. Military Pressure on Nicaragua?

But the Democrats in Congress do not speak of the end of pressure on Nicaragua. Take Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Iran-contra committee and an advocate of the Arias plan. He speaks only of the "suspension" of the contra aid, implying that the contras will be maintained for future use if necessary. And his opposition to the contras are that they are losing: he is willing to use direct U.S. military force if necessary. He talks of the Arias plan providing "a clear moral and legal foundation for the use of United States force" if necessary. (New York Times, July 31, p. 19)

The Democrats aren't against the use of force or of covert operations. Hamilton also stresses that the Iran-contra investigation was not designed to expose or eliminate the use of the dirty CIA covert operations. On the contrary. In a statement published in the Wall Street Journal he holds that "For us in Congress, the question is. not whether the U.S. should conduct covert actions. Rather, it is how we can conduct them effectively and lawfully." (Aug. 24, p. 12)

And yet the opportunists are assuring one and all that "congressional assertiveness" will save Nicaragua from Reagan. The Democrats may differ from Reagan on the precise methods of strangling Nicaragua and the precise timing for this or that action. But they agree on the goal of trampling the revolution; they agree on the usefulness of covert operations; they want to combine military pressure and diplomatic pressure in dealing with Nicaragua; and they want to be more "effective" than Reagan. The Arias plan isn't even any better than the ill-fated Boland Amendment: the Boland Amendment pretended to directly cut off funding to the contras, while the Arias plan sets preconditions on Nicaragua.

The Arias plan is simply the other face of the U.S. war on the Nicaraguan revolution. And the opportunist political trends are the other face of the Democratic party of war and imperialism.

[Photo: Demonstrators in Los Angeles denounced Reagan and the contras on August 27 at the Century Plaza Hotel. Reagan was meeting contra leaders inside in order to plan him to keep up the war against Nicaragua under the terms of the Central American regional peace plan.]

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Why is Aquino so soft on the right-wing military?

On August 28, Philippines reactionaries staged their fifth and bloodiest coup attempt against the Aquino government. Some 40 people were killed, most of them civilians caught in the cross fire. And hundreds were wounded as the mutineers tried to storm the presidential palace in Manila, took over a number of military bases, and grabbed control of Cebu City, the second largest city in the country. Although the workers and peasants have become increasingly disenchanted with the Aquino government, they gave no support to the reactionaries and continue to oppose them. The coup attempt was put down within a couple of days.

Aquino has issued harsh words against the attempted coup and called for the arrest of its leaders, who are still at large at the end of August. Nevertheless, a good deal of leniency has so far been, afforded the mutineers. Four hundred soldiers and their commanders, who had seized a police garrison in San Fernando, were allowed to leave taking their weapons with them. Another 200 mutineers, who had taken over an airport in Legazpi with plans to fly to Manila to join the fighting there, were allowed to return to their units. The general who took over Cebu City was simply fired from his post. This leniency follows past practice in which Aquino has so far "punished" those attempting rightist coups with nothing harsher than temporary house arrest and extra pushups.

Why is Aquino so soft on the reactionaries who are trying to overthrow her? The fact is that the Aquino government is a coalition between liberal bourgeois politicians and the bulk of the reactionary military establishment originally grouped around Marcos' Defense Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile, and army general Fidel Ramos. The military remains the main edifice of the new regime.

Some of the military leaders have remained loyal to Marcos and never supported Aquino. Others joined her government. But they have all continually put pressure on her to step up the war on the leftist guerrilla movement, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, and to suppress the growing movements of the workers and peasants. In their eagerness for stepping up reaction, a number of coups have been tried.

Last November, Aquino was forced to fire Enrile from her cabinet for his part in an attempted coup. Nevertheless, she implemented much of what he had been demanding. She fired a number of her more liberal advisors. She broke off talks with the leftist guerillas and stepped up the war on them. And she has increased repression against the left in general, including giving government support for building up death squads and shooting down demonstrating peasants and striking workers. For fear of alienating the government's support in the military, Aquino has also refused to take strong measures against those who have attempted rightist coups.

But Enrile and his supporters are still not content. It was Enrile's former top aide, Col. Gregorio Honason, who led the latest coup attempt. Enrile, who has become a Senator, claims he took no part in the attempted coup. But he obviously supported it as he told colleagues that he thought the Aquino government would fall.

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General strike against Aquino's price hikes

Philippine president, Cory Aquino, has once again exposed the vicious capitalist rule behind her so-called "people power." On August 14, Aquino raised fuel prices some 18% which also drove up prices of other basic commodities. This was another hard blow to the already pressed workers, peasants and poor. And protests spread to a general strike on August 26, the biggest action yet against the Aquino regime.

Three days after Aquino announced the price rise, transport drivers in Manila walked off their jobs. The protests spread to other cities. On August 24, drivers also walked off their jobs in the two other largest cities, Davao and Cebu City.

The leftist KMU (the May First Movement) trade union center called a general strike for August 26. The strike call was also supported by the union center linked to the pro-capitalist AFL-CIO.

Aquino tried to head off the growing protests by rolling back some of the price increases on August 25. But they still remained higher than before. The pro-AFL-CIO union leaders hailed Aquino's move and pulled out of the strike. But the rank-and-file workers defied their leaders. They joined with the KMU-led workers in the biggest strike yet against the Aquino government.

On August 26, thousands upon thousands of transport drivers, telephone operators, teachers, factory workers and government employees joined the strike. Demonstrations rocked several cities. Six thousand demonstrated near the presidential palace in Manila chanting "Cory Aquino, puppet of Americans." Police attacked some of the demonstrations with riot sticks and water cannons. In Manila, the police opened fire wounding six and arresting over 100.

The next day the strike continued in some places. In Manila, transportation and some businesses were shut down. The police responded by arresting 71 strikers including a top union leader.

Aquino's liberal "people power" is proving to be no alternative to the bloody Marcos dictatorship. It is just another instrument for the capitalists to oppress and repress the workers and peasants. But Aquino's rule is becoming more and more exposed in the eyes of the working masses and they are increasingly turning to struggle against the regime.

[Photo: Protest in Manila against the fuel price increases announced by Aquino.]

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News from Iran:

Growing hatred for the war

(The following article is reprinted from "Report," No. 36, Aug. 1-15, 1987. "Report" is the biweekly newsletter of the Communist Party of Iran -- the Committee Abroad.)

Hatred for the war, refusal to go to the war fronts and attempts to escape from the fronts are increasing every day. The more the people resist and protest against the war, the stronger becomes the regime's pressure to forcibly dispatch youngsters to the fronts. The regime has recently distributed forms among school children for their parents to sign indicating that they agree to have their children sent to the war" fronts. Refusal to sign involves troubles for the families and everyday conflict with the regime's authorities.

Recently a youngster who was forcibly taken to the fronts returned to his family after being wounded. After treatment he decided not to go back and left his parents to hide. After a period of time, his parents received a letter informing them of the arrest of their son. The boy had been arrested while attempting to escape to Kurdistan and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

Strike of 5,000 shoe workers

(Reprinted from "Report" No. 36, Aug. 1-15, 1987.)

In mid-March a circular was issued by the board of directors in the Melli shoe company indicating that working hours were to be from 6:00 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. and four days a week, as of May 22 for four months; i.e., 42 hours weekly. The management's explanation was that previously working hours had been reduced to 34 hours weekly, or to even less, due to shortage of materials. Now the workers were to compensate by working two hours unpaid extra work daily.

From the beginning, the circular faced the workers' protest. On May 22, the workers began work as usual, but had decided amongst themselves to finish at 2:30 p.m. The management, together with the members of the Islamic Society and the Islamic Council (which have the function of exerting as much control as possible on the workers and of spying on them), warned the workers of the consequences. But nothing stopped the workers from stopping the machines at two o'clock and gathering in the factory yard. The dispute began from the Shahed factory (Melli shoe company consists of several factories situated near each other) and spread to other factories. At 3:45, 5,000 workers had gathered outside the company and began their march while shouting the slogan of "eight-hour day." The march lasted for two hours and then the workers dispersed.

The next day the workers attended work even more determined to carry on their strike. On the other side, the management tried to find a solution, by holding meetings behind closed doors. Once again, at 2:30 p.m. the workers gathered outside the company to begin their march. Ranks of a few thousand workers moved towards the main Tehran-Karaj road. Shortly after, the road was completely blocked and tires were put on fire in the middle of the road. The road was for one hour under the workers' control. Drivers showed their support by turning on their lights and blowing their horns. At 4:15 the workers were told that their demand would be accepted.

For one week, the workers worked from 6:00 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. Then the workers were asked to choose their representatives (approved by the Islamic Society) for talks with representatives from the Ministry of Labor and for the final decision. Following the meeting, working hours were announced to be from 5:45 a.m. till 3:00 p.m., four days weekly, including breakfast and lunch. Although the workers did not get their demands fully, their unified struggle had enormous effects on their morale.

Road workers win their demands

(Following is a reprint from "Report" No. 36, Aug. 1-15, 1987.)

Payman Company is a private company which has recently begun its work by repairing the Baneh-Doab road. The working hours are from 6:30 a.m. till 6:30 p.m. with a daily pay of 150 Tomans ($1=80 Tomans). On May 14 a section of the workers went on strike over the hard conditions of labor and demanded a raise of 20 Tomans, reduction in working hours, and rest periods. In the beginning, the employer paid no attention, but after the strike lasted for three days, he agreed to part of their demands. The workers managed to get a 10 Tomans raise and rest periods were recognized by the employer.

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On strike in South Korea

It's been two months since South Korean dictator Chun Doo Hwan struck a deal with the opposition politicians. He promised his bourgeois liberal critics constitutional reforms and a shot at direct elections. This promise was supposed to have turned the tide against the angry demonstrations of students and others against the dictatorship. Fat chance!

Now the workers are on the move. Their strike movement has sprung up and swept across the country like a cyclone.

Working Class in Struggle

Strikes in South Korea are strictly illegal. And the regime's agreement with the liberals made no change in its iron-fisted treatment of the workers' movement.

Nonetheless, the upheaval against the dictatorship has created cracks in the wall of repression. The workers have seized the moment to break through this police-state tyranny and fight for their urgent needs.

Isolated strikes began in early July. Week after week the wildcat strikes, workers' demonstrations, and factory sit-ins have been building from a stream to a flood. After a temporary truce at one firm, workers at two or three other firms go out.

According to the regime's own figures, as of last week over 1,900 companies have been shut down since the first of July. This is reported to have cost the capitalists almost $1 billion.

Workers in every major industry and sector have gone into action.

The electronic giants Samsung and Lucky Gold-Star were shut down in mid-August. The entire Korean auto industry was shut down for more than a week. Taxi and bus drivers blocked streets in downtown Seoul. Miners have repeatedly taken over rail offices and piled logs on tracks to block coal shipments. Dock workers shut the largest port at Pusan. In Inchon 1,000 shipyard workers armed with cranes and forklifts clashed with police. The Daewoo and other huge shipyards have also been closed down.

The textile and footwear plants have also been struck. This has brought thousands of poorly-paid, heavily-exploited women workers into struggle.

The general demand of the movement is for higher wages and better conditions. The average industrial wage is $1.75 an hour, and in textile and other industries it is much less. The workers have little or no safety or other protections. And government figures put the average work week at 57 hours, one of the longest in the world.

The other key demand of the workers is to get rid of the workers' federations imposed by the companies and the regime. In their place the workers want new unions elected by the workers themselves.

The Battle at Hyundai

One of the bitterest confrontations took place against Hyundai, South Korea's largest conglomerate. Hyundai is controlled by the multi-billionaire Chung Ju Yong who rules his 24-company empire with an iron fist.

At the Hyundai Heavy Industries company, workers demanded recognition of their new elected union. Chung adamantly refused, leading to wildcat strikes, factory sit-ins and lockouts involving 70,000 workers throughout the Hyundai group.

The center of the struggle was in the southeastern city of Ulsan. On August 17, outside one of the Hyundai plants there was a ferocious clash of 30,000 workers with the police. The next day, 40,000 strikers, many with their helmets and masks for the tear gas, marched through Ulsan for12 hours, seizing the municipal stadium.

The government had seen enough. It rushed a negotiator to Chung Ju Yong to pressure him to yield and come to an agreement. An agreement was quickly struck. The new union was recognized at the Heavy Industries company and promises were made on wages.

Business spokesmen on both sides of the Pacific greeted this Hyundai agreement as the beginning of the end of the strike wave. After all, the most powerful and stubborn of Korean capitalists had bent and agreed to settle.

But the workers apparently drew their own conclusion: if this tough nut can be cracked it only shows that a lot more will crack under the blows of the struggle.

On August 19, the day of the Hyundai settlement, the Labor Ministry reported strikes underway at 439 companies. A week later it reported 620 struck companies.

Among these was the strike of 15,000 workers at Daewoo's Okpo shipyard on Koje Island. In a street demonstration 3,000 strong, a 21-year-old worker Lee Sok-kyu was killed by a police tear gas shell.

The murder of Lee emerged as a focus of the movement. A countrywide showdown was coming if the Daewoo management (General Motors owns 50% of Daewoo) didn't bend to the workers' wage demands and the rulers didn't apologize for Lee's death. The workers won most of both, something quite amazing given that this regime has never recognized any rights for the workers, let alone apologized for its police-state brutality.

The Workers Are a Force To Be Reckoned With

What's amazing is how much power the workers have shown. Overnight they have smashed down one barrier after the next to their progress.

The emergence of the new trade unions is an important step forward. Casting the old police-company federations off their backs opens the way to further organization and struggle. At the same time, there is still a long way to go. It is not clear how far the breaking up of the old company unions has gone. As well, there are already signs of problems with the new unions. At Hyundai, for example, it appears that the new leaders have already agreed to demands for the purging of "impure" (that is, radical) elements. And there are reports that the government and employers are concerned that the new leaders may not be able to convince the rank and file to accept settlements that fall far short of the workers' demands.

Up to this point, the workers' main demands have not been directly political. Nonetheless the rise of their movement has posed a major challenge to the regime and is a most important political development.

There is an attempt to portray the workers' movement as simply part of the liberal opposition and the "democratization" of the regime. What is being hidden is that at first the bourgeois liberals refused to touch the issue of workers' rights. There were no concessions to the workers in the agreement with the regime. On their own the workers smashed through the anti-communist terror and challenged the corporate-police tyranny. And the regime was put back on its heels by the workers' power.

Overnight the working class emerged as a force to be reckoned with. And the bourgeois forces are scrambling to adjust. The liberals want to catch this tiger by the tail. They want to recruit it behind their schemes for constitutional tinkering and for political cannon fodder in the promised elections.

Meanwhile, the dictator Chun Doo Hwan is playing a calculated game. Since the Hyundai settlement the regime has been intervening with the companies to bend on some of the workers' demands. It needs this in order to cool out the struggle. And, reportedly, it is working to groom its own base of support in the new unions.

It is combining this with a ferocious crackdown against "impure elements." Thousands of workers have been interrogated and hundreds are still jailed, suspected of being "agitators" and militants. Through this surgical repression the regime wants to decapitate the movement.

As well, it wants to purge the growing influence of the leftists among the workers and to keep the workers from the political movement against the dictatorship. Because the writing is on the wall: when the might of the workers' movement is unleashed against it the regime has had it.

But despite the frenzied anti-communist hysteria, the police spying and arrests, there are signs that the workers are being radicalized. There are repeated reports of contingents of workers marching jointly with radical students in demonstrations against the regime and for the workers' demands. And there are reports of workers taking up the slogans against the dictatorship as well as against U.S. and Japanese imperialism.

The working class in South Korea is beginning to stand up. The social force is emerging that can bring about the revolutionary overthrow of the military tyranny. The force that will eventually bring a just socialist society where the producers will no longer be held as slaves for the dictators, billionaires and U.S. corporations.

[Photo: Striking bus drivers hold sit-in rally in Seoul, Korea.]

[Photo: Striking textile workers hold mass demonstration in Taejon, South Korea on August 14.]

[Photo: 30,000 Hyundai workers rally in Ulsan. Readying for police charges they don helmets and masks.]

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South African miners' strike

For three weeks, more than 350,000 black miners waged a tenacious strike that spread to over 50 of South Africa's gold and coal mines.

The miners confronted attempts to force them to work at gunpoint. They also faced lockouts, mass firings, and evictions from the hostels where they are forced to live. They staged sit-ins at some mines and fought pitched battles with the racist police and the private thug squads of the mine owners.

At least seven striking miners were killed. Over 350 were injured. And another 300 were arrested. But, for a time, suppression led only to an extension of the struggle as additional miners came out on strike to support those who had been fired and arrested. Some 80,000 nonunion miners also joined the strike. It was only with the firing of tens of thousands, the racist government's threat to ban the strike, and the pressure from top union leaders to settle, that the strike was stopped short of achieving its full demands.

Firings and Threats After Miners Reject Proposed Contract

On August 26, the striking miners rejected the second contract offer of the Chamber of Mines, an employer association of the five biggest South African gold and coal companies.

The Chamber had caved in to a number of the miners' demands. For example, it agreed to increase holiday pay. This is important for the miners, who are forced to live in hostels separated from their families eleven months a year. The Chamber also agreed to double the death benefits from two to four years' pay for families of miners who have been killed in accidents. Hundreds of miners perish from accidents each year in the inhuman conditions of South Africa's mines.

But the Chamber arrogantly refused to grant other demands. It especially balked at the miners' central call for a 30% wage increase. The miners get only slave wages averaging less than $200 per month, compared to at least $750 for the whites, who are placed in the skilled positions. The black miners' demand was more than modest. But the Chamber would not budge from the 15- 23% wage increases which Anglo American, the largest of the companies, had unilaterally implemented earlier in August in an effort to head off the strike before it began.

The miners rejected this proposed contract almost unanimously. This set the stage for an even bigger confrontation. As gold stockpiles dwindled, the companies began desperately calling for an all-out attack on the strike.

Up until then, the racist government had said that the strike was legal and that it wouldn't interfere. Even so, police forces had repeatedly been sent to suppress strikers in the name of carrying out the normal "law enforcement process.'' Whipping, tear gassing, and shooting down black workers -- such is the norm in racist South Africa. But after the contract rejection, the government declared it was "losing patience.'' Claiming it must defend South Africa's "economic interests,'' the government threatened to ban the strike and to unleash full-scale repression.

Meanwhile, Anglo American stepped up its mass firings, made more attempts to force miners to work at gunpoint, and called out the police for more repression against the strikers. On August 27, the company fired 18,000 strikers at three gold mines and two coal mines. The next day thousands more were fired.

Sit-ins and Battles with Police

The miners took up the battle against these new attacks at a number of mines around the country.

At Anglo American's Western Deep Levels Mine, for example, about 3,000 miners staged a sit-in. On August 27 the company ordered the strikers back to work at gunpoint. And the workers returned to the mine. But once deep underground, in this the world's deepest gold mine, the miners sat in and refused to work. Only after six hours was the company able to dislodge them. It eventually brought them up, put them on buses, and shipped them out of the area. A week or so earlier, 700 strikers at this same mine had fought police with machetes and firebombs. Seventy-six of the miners had been wounded by the police.

In another incident about 200 strikers fought mine guards at the Kinross gold mine, owned by the General Mining Union Corporation. On August 28, at least 12 miners were wounded as the guards opened fire into the crowd and used tear gas to try to disperse them. The miners managed to injure four of the guards in the fighting.

Union Leaders Call It Off

But even while the struggle was advancing, the heads of the National Union of Mineworkers called it off. This was a setback.

The strike had reached a turning point and the gold capitalists were hurting. At least 52 of the 73 mines owned by the Chamber of Mines had been shut down. Anglo American saw all of its 13 gold mines and most of its 13 coal mines shut down. Gold is a key sector of apartheid's economic strength. Two-thirds of all the gold that is mined in the West comes from South Africa. And gold accounts for some 60% of South Africa's foreign earnings. The companies were crying that they were losing $10-15 million a day due to the strike.

Meanwhile, despite the repression, the strikers were still holding firm. As well, a general strike had been called for the coming week and there is every reason to believe it would have had wide support. The miners' strike had the potential to be the spark which would have brought on a major political crisis for the apartheid regime.

But for this potential to have been realized, the union leaders would have had to be prepared to sacrifice, to face savage repression including the banning of the strike or even measures against the union. And this they were not willing to do. Fearing the repression, and unwilling or unable to organize in any other than a "legal'' fashion, the heads of NUM rushed back to negotiations. On August 30, they announced they had agreed to the same contract that the miners had rejected only days before. The Chamber of Mines, for its part, agreed to rehire the miners who had been fired.

The NUM leaders are still claiming this settlement is a victory since some gains were made and the legal union structure was preserved. They have also declared that this strike was just the beginning of the fight for "a living wage'' which they, and their brother unions in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), will carry out in the future. This would be good. But things are not as rosy as these statements would make it seem. The NUM leaders backed down at the crucial moment in the miners' strike. And they can't be trusted in the future. These are not revolutionary leaders. While they speak quite militantly against apartheid at times, they tend to restrict the workers' struggle to reforming the racist system. They refuse to organize in such a way as to prepare workers for the threat of banning and illegality. And they are afraid to take the struggle beyond a certain point. Thus when they are faced with a major confrontation with the racist government they tend to waver and back down.

Support the Black Workers' Movement -- Death to the Racist System!

Despite the leaders' hasty retreat, the miners' strike was quite significant. It was the largest and most sustained economic strike in South Africa to date. It shows that the workers' movement in South Africa is growing stronger.

A wave of strikes has been pummeling the racist system this year. Besides the miners, another 30,000 black workers were on strike in August in such key sectors as steel, oil-from-coal, auto, chemical, and postal. In July 60,000 metal workers and 16,000 postal workers struck. And in May and June short, but much larger, political strikes rocked South Africa. In June, some 1.5 million black workers waged a one-day general strike to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the Soweto uprising. In May, a two-day general strike of some 85% of the urban workers protested against the whites-only elections.

The miners' strike was not a political strike to bring down the racist system. But it shows that apartheid, built up on super-exploitation of the black and colored workers, cannot long stand when the workers flex their muscles. Today, the workers are fighting to improve their conditions. One day, they will rise up at the head of all the insurgent people and smash the whole racist setup.

[Photo: South African mine workers on the march.]

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