The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 20, No 7


25ยข July 1, 1990

[Front page:

Apartheid NO! Revolution YES!;

No more tribute for the S&L bailout! Why should we pay?;

Joint statement by Marxist-Leninists of Nicaragua and the U.S.--May 1990]


Strikes and Workplace News

L.A. janitors; N.Y. transit; Strike law; Auto; Postal; Hospitals........................ 2
20,000 hospital workers march for health care................................................ 3

AIDS Conference -- a week of angry protest in S.F....................................... 4

Down With Racism!

N.Y., New Orleans, Detroit, D.C., MSU.......................................................... 4

S&L Bailout: Why Should We Pay?

Why no 'war on crime' against bankers; Ford Motor getting rich; Banking crisis in the making........................................................................................... 5

Step Up the Defense of Women's Rights!

Pro-choice actions in N.Y., Detroit, Chicago................................................... 6
Parental notification; N.Y. Cardinal; Louisiana ban........................................ 7

Apartheid, No! Revolution, Yes!

Why is Mandela wooing the ultra-racists in S. A.?.......................................... 8
CIA's apartheid role; Tour and fighting U.S. racism........................................ 8

Defend the Immigrant Workers

Job discrimination -- part & parcel of immigration law; AFL-CIO anti-immigrant leaders; INS threatens strikers; Protest at detention centers........... 9

The Struggle of the Homeless

No to demolishing projects; Evictions............................................................. 9

For Workers' Socialism, Not Revisionist State-Capitalism!

Castro's Cuba not communist alternative to Gorbachev; East Germany; Loss of abortion rights; Youth fight neo-nazis; Barriers against gypsies................. 10

The World in Struggle

New tasks confront Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists.......................................... 11
African working people on the move; Strikes in Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone; Haitian death squads; Bush no friend of Palestine.. 12

Apartheid NO! Revolution YES!

No more tribute for the S&L bailout!

Why should we pay?

Joint statement by Marxist-Leninists of Nicaragua and the U.S.--May 1990

Strikes and workplace news


20,000 hospital workers march for health care

6th International AIDS Conference

A week of angry protest in San Francisco

Down with racism!

S&L bailout: Why should we pay?

Step up the defense of women's rights!

Why is Mandela wooing the ultra-racists in S. Africa?

The CIA helped put Mandela in jail,

Don't let Bush off the hook!

Mandela's visit disappoints fighters against U.S. racism

Job discrimination -- part and parcel of the immigration law

More anti-immigrant noise from AFL-CIO leaders

INS threatens striking nurses with deportation

Protests against INS detention centers

The struggle of the homeless

Cuba under Castro

East German women face loss of abortion rights

Germany puts up barriers against Gypsies

Youth fight neo-nazis in East Germany

New tasks confront Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists

The World in Struggle


Bush - no friend of the Palestinian people

Chicago demonstrations support Palestinians

Apartheid NO! Revolution YES!

[Photo: MLP banner greets crowd streaming int Detroit's Tiger Stadium for Mandela rally, June 28.]

Mandela has made his triumphant tour of the U.S. He was greeted with enthusiasm from black people, and opponents of apartheid and injustice, in city after city.

The release of Mandela and other political prisoners from jail was a victory for the people's struggle. And for many, Mandela's new status meant that victory was at hand. They believe that the long years of struggle in South Africa are coming to a close. They think that the fruit of the demonstrations, the strikes, the school boycotts, and the underground organizing is close at hand.

But Mandela had some strange things to say.

The U.S. government has been one of the diehard backers of apartheid. And Bush and Reagan advocated the policy of "constructive engagement" with the South African racists for over a decade. Yet Mandela declared in Detroit that the "rainbow anti-apartheid coalition includes... we are very happy to tell you, President Bush and Secretary of State Baker as well."

The masses looked to Mandela to say something about what should be done about racism in the U.S. They rejoiced that now they had a figure of world stature to speak to their movement. But Mandela said that racism was an internal affair of the U.S.

South African President De Klerk is doing his best to preserve the privileges of the white racists. Faced with a storm of struggle, and with the country in crisis, he is desperately trying to convince the regime to carry out some reforms. His aim is to preserve the overall system of exploitation, and overcome the mass upsurge. Yet Mandela praised De Klerk as a man who is sincere and courageous, and even spoke of the African National Congress trying to win over the white ultra-racists to supporting De Klerk.

Why did Mandela speak this way?

The masses who swarmed out to hear Mandela looked to him as the leader of what they took to be the most radical wing of the movement in South Africa. But Mandela doesn't believe in revolution.

Mandela believes in a deal with De Klerk. And he thinks that the ANC can have the U.S. government on its side to force De Klerk into this deal, or to force the dominant white elite to honor De Klerk's maneuvers. So nothing should be said or done to upset the American government and overturn the applecart. Mandela talked to the people, but he sought to curry favor with the American establishment.

In fact, only the mass struggle and heroism of the oppressed people forced apartheid into crisis. And while apartheid is tottering, it still exists, along with a system of white domination that existed for decades on end prior to the enactment of the especially notorious and brutal apartheid laws. Even a slice of "power-sharing" for the black elite would still leave the mass of the black and other oppressed people in South Africa destitute and suffering at the bottom.

When the euphoria of the moment passes, it will be seen that a difficult struggle still remains. The South African masses will have to wring political freedoms out of the racists. And when they get any freedoms, they will want to use them to strike down the heavy chains of economic enslavement.

As to American imperialism, it seeks only to avoid revolution in South Africa. It has no love for freedom. One could see this even in its reception for Mandela. Underneath the honors it showered on him, it still complained that he had the gall to praise Castro, or to insist on an actual deal with De Klerk before renouncing "violence." For Bush and Congress, freedom means parroting Voice of America. No one else even deserves the right to vote.

Inside we have more articles on what Mandela, speaking for the African National Congress, said on his tour. During Mandela's visit, our Party went among masses at the public events, supported anti-apartheid solidarity, and called for continued struggle for black liberation here and in South Africa. We supported the heroic fighters of South Africa, and we discussed the question of what is needed for the success of their cause: the revolutionary sweeping away of the racist system or a deal with De Klerk?

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No more tribute for the S&L bailout!

Why should we pay?

As homelessness mounts, as health care vanishes, as more plants close, as layoffs grow and unemployment spreads like a plague through many big cities, what is the government doing? Bailing out the bankers of course.

In June, the Democratic Party's Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, told a conference of big-city mayors, "The peace dividend, and quite a bit more, has already been invested in our savings and loans. We need to slash spending and raise taxes merely to get to ground zero."

Virtually every month, the cost estimates for bailing out the savings and loan banks (S&L's) grow higher. Last fall, it was claimed that over the next 40 years the bailout would cost about $100 billion, maybe more. In April we were told the bill would run up to $325 billion, maybe more. In June, it was declared that the cost would probably grow to $500 billion, and perhaps more.

And who is to pay for the wild financial speculation and outright looting of the S&L's by the rich? The working masses of course. When Rostenkowski says "slash spending" he doesn't mean to cut the spending for the S&L's. Oh no, it is cuts for Medicaid and Medicare, for welfare and food stamps, for jobs and so forth. And now that Bush has agreed to raise taxes, you can be sure the tax burden will continue to fall mainly on the working masses.

But why should the working masses pay? Well, the government says the bailout is necessary to save the small investments of ordinary people. Hog- wash! In fact, the bailout has been organized in such a way as to benefit the corporate billionaires. Collapsed S&L's are being turned over to financial profiteers like Ford Motor and Revlon for a song, and often with guarantees they won't lose money if the S&L's continue to hemorrhage. And billions more are being paid the banks and other wealthy investors in interest payments on loans to finance the virtual giveaways of these S&L's. It's the capitalist billionaires, not the working masses, who are profiting from the bailout.

But then we are told that the masses must sacrifice to save the financial system, elsewise the entire country will go into crisis. But this bailout is hardly solving the growing financial crisis. It is like putting band-aids on someone who's bleeding to death.

Since 1981 over 870 S&L's have gone under. Another 500 are presently insolvent. And it is estimated that in the long run 1,700 of the present S&L's, 60% of those in existence today, may have to be liquidated. At the same time, it has been reported that the S&L crisis has spread to the commercial banks. The crisis in bad real estate loans, coupled with the crisis in third world loans and bad loans for leveraged buyouts and other speculation, has led to talk of the commercial banks being the next to need being bailed out. Meanwhile, these crises have brought on a "credit crunch" that is helping to undermine home construction, basic industries, and other sectors of the economy.

The bailout is not solving the underlying problems -- problems tied to the system where nothing is built or developed unless it means profits for the capitalists. They are just postponing an economic collapse, at the expense of preparing the ground for an even deeper crisis in the future.

The S&L crisis was caused by capitalists. And the bailout is being organized to profit capitalists. The workers should not pay for it. Instead, the workers must organize to defend their immediate interests -- to fight for jobs, health care, housing, and so forth. And in this fight they must defend their broad class interests and build up a revolutionary working class movement aimed at overthrowing this system of legalized looting and free the economy to meet the needs of the masses. This is a fight for workers' socialism. Not the state capitalism and shortages in Russia and Eastern Europe. Nor the crisis-ridden "free market" of the West. But a system run by the working class for their own benefit.

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Joint statement by Marxist-Leninists of Nicaragua and the U.S.--May 1990

In May, a delegation of the MLP,USA went to Nicaragua for another visit with the comrades of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua. The following statement was issued at the end of this visit.

In the uprising against the old Somoza dictatorship and its aftermath, the Nicaraguan working class and exploited masses showed the power of revolution. With their action they inspired the working people of the whole region, of the United States, and of the world. When they rose in struggle, the working people set out to create a new society, a society in their own image. This, however, was cut short. The Nicaraguan capitalists and landlords, inspired and armed by U.S. imperialism, carried out every type of sabotage and resistance. As well, the FSLN [Sandinista Front for National Liberation], which had come to power with the overthrow of the old regime, saddled the working masses with a reformist, petty-bourgeois policy aimed at forming an agreement with the big bourgeoisie.

Throughout, the working class showed heroism and energy in the face of the CIA's dirty war and the threats and blackmail of the counterrevolution. But the bureaucratic and reformist policy of the FSLN drained, disorganized and demobilized the masses. The revolutionary wave went into ebb as the government rebuilt the bureaucratic and oppressive structures of capitalist rule.

The coming to power of the Chamorro government

On April 25, in the wake of its defeat in the elections, the FSLN transferred power to the capitalist government of Violeta Chamorro. The coming to power of Violeta is the coming to power of the counter-revolution that the Nicaraguan capitalists and U.S. imperialists have unleashed over the last decade. It is the coming to power of all the old forces of super-exploitation.

It is also the product of the FSLN's search for a social pact with the bourgeoisie. This search goes back to the Puntarenas agreement and the first ruling junta after the overthrow [of Somoza] in 1979. Now things have gone full circle with a new social pact with bourgeois hegemony. This marks the evolution of Sandinism from a radical petty-bourgeois force into a junior partner of the new capitalist regime, a social-democratic and reformist partner in counterrevolution.

Of course, this pact is not stable. The different factions of the bourgeoisie and the FSLN are still negotiating the quotas of power between themselves. The contras remain armed as a lever in these negotiations and as a paramilitary force against the workers and peasants.

Support the struggle of the workers and exploited of Nicaragua!


The Nicaraguan masses are facing a hard struggle. They are already feeling the weight of the economic offensive of the new regime against their standard of living, which is at a desperate level. The social pact between the FSLN and the regime is no guarantee of the social peace that the bourgeoisie seeks. The offensive of capitalism is paving the way, sooner or later, for a new wave of revolutionary struggle.

The working masses have unleashed a strike wave to defend themselves in the face of the devaluations and job cuts. The workers need to unite their ranks in struggle. They also need to link up with the other struggles confronting the masses: the struggle of the poor peasants to defend their land; the struggle of the squatters against evictions; the demand for the disarming of the contras; and the other issues pressing on the working people.

The working class needs to fight for its class independence so that it will not be trapped by the maneuvers between the government, the reformist FSLN opposition, and the extreme right as they negotiate and renegotiate the division of power.

The workers need to build up their Marxist-Leninist Party (MAP-ML), their Workers' Front trade unions, their CLP's [Committees of Popular Struggle], their own press, their own revolutionary class trend.

Whether the new revolutionary wave comes sooner or later, the fundamental thing is that the working class prepares itself for this new struggle. The sooner the workers gain the organization of their own class trend, the closer the next revolutionary wave and the better the prospects that the outcome will favor the workers' cause.

The crisis of world revisionism


What has taken place in Nicaragua cannot be separated from the rapid changes taking place in the world.

The trajectory of the FSLN from petty-bourgeois revolutionism into reformist partnership with counterrevolution is similar to that taken by other petty-bourgeois revolutionary and nationalist trends in recent years. One of the factors in this has been the disintegration of international revisionism.

The crisis confronting the regimes of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc. is not a crisis of socialism. To the contrary, the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists have always pointed out that these are false socialist and revisionist models. The masses in East Germany, Rumania and elsewhere have risen up against bureaucracy, privilege and state-capitalist exploitation.

The class conscious worker does not lament the demise of Honecker, Ceausescu or the others. Nor do they have illusions that the working masses will find relief in the "free market" alternative that is being pushed on them by Western capitalism. The important thing is that the door is being opened for the class struggle, for the workers to again feel their strength as a class.

In the short run, the crisis of revisionism is adding fuel to the fire of the anti-communist campaign that the world bourgeoisie directs against the workers. However, in the long run, the collapse of revisionist state capitalism is paving the way for a more open struggle against capitalist exploitation in all its forms.

On a world scale, the modern working class is rapidly growing in numbers and importance. From the shipyards of South Korea, to the gold mines of South Africa, to the coal fields of the Soviet Union, its strength is felt. The problem is that the proletariat has been disorganized by revisionism and other reformist and non-working class trends.

The decisive thing is that the working class becomes organized. The workers need to fight for their own revolutionary current, standing up against the politics and ideology of the old world: against the liberal ideas of bourgeois democracy, against revisionist state capitalism, against petty-bourgeois nationalism -- against such trends which have done so much harm to the workers' cause. The workers need to build up their own revolutionary trend of workers' socialism.

Not bureaucracy, corruption and the high-handed power of the elite; but the mass initiative and the revolutionary power of the workers and exploited.

Not cringing before the profit interests of the capitalists, or reformist partnerships with the exploiters; but the class struggle carried through to the overthrow of all exploitation of person by person.

Let the communist workers everywhere link arms for this struggle!

Delegation of the CC of the MLP,USA

Delegation of the CC of the MLP of Nicaragua

May 1990 -- Managua

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Strikes and workplace news

Los Angeles janitors strike

Over 120 janitors employed by the world's largest cleaning company walked out on strike May 29. The janitors work at the exclusive Century City commercial building complex on the west side of Los Angeles. They struck against International Service Systems (ISS), a billion-dollar Danish-based cleaning company. The largely immigrant workers are fighting against starvation wages ($4.50 per hour no matter one's seniority), lack of health benefits and sick leave, and for union rights.

On June 1, over 400 marchers stormed Century City office buildings and trooped through the shopping mall in support of the striking janitors. The demonstrators -- many wearing red T-shirts declaring "Justice for Janitors"--barged into office lobbies and blocked traffic to the beat of conga and snare drums. They tossed bags of garbage into the revolving doors of one office building and plastered orange stickers reading "Who will clean your office?" on walls, doors and windows along the march route. The marchers ignored the command to disperse made by 15 police officers equipped with riot helmets and batons. The officers were outnumbered and unable to stop the two-hour demonstration.

[Photo: Los Angeles strikers demand 'Justice for Janitors.']

New York transit workers fight concessions

The bosses of the New York Transit Authority (TA) have not only been grabbing concessions at contract time. They have also used the annual track pick -- where workers who carry out maintenance and construction on the tracks bid for job preferences -- to impose additional takebacks. Jobs have been cut and various job classifications eliminated. A new "provisional" job status has been added, which creates an underclass of track workers with virtually no rights. As well, hundreds of workers have had their days off switched from the weekend to weekdays and have been forced into worse working hours. All this has worsened safety conditions leading to increased injuries and even deaths. In the face of these attacks the leaders of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) have folded their arms, and even tried to justify management's cutbacks.

But theNew York Workers' Voicereports that workers are fighting back. A petition, directed at both the TA and the TWU leaders, is circulating among track workers. It demands, "Roll back these weekdays off and overburdening shifts! No more divide and rule: make the provisional permanent now! Put our dignity and safety before productivity!" So far 90% of the track workers asked have signed the petition, and the bosses are upset. On June 17, four of the workers organizing the fight were ordered out of the yards with no charges and no explanation. The next day they were put up for suspension on the complaint that they had earlier opposed management's attempt to evict them from their work quarters while they were writing up safety complaints. These workers have circulated a defiant statement which concludes that the TA "hopes to isolate us and scare everyone with these charges. But we have found great support and anger from our fellow track workers. Because our fight is not isolated. It reflects the sense of injustice running deep among track workers and all transit workers.

Whose side are you on?

Owen Bieber, the president of the United Auto Workers, has been campaigning for a new law to prohibit the use of permanent "replacement workers" (better known as scabs) in strikes. But, in testimony before the U.S. Senate subcommittee for this bill, Bieber seemed to be arguing for the capitalists, not the workers.

"There is simply no factual or economic justification," declared Bieber, "which would support the notion that employers need to offer permanent status to strikebreakers in order to be able to continue operations during a strike." What? Did we hear that right? Yes, indeed, Bieber is arguing that the use of strikebreakers is just fine as long as they are "temporary" instead of "permanent" replacements. "The use of temporary employees is an accepted and expanding method of doing business." So says Owen Bieber.

But we always thought the point of a strike was to shut down the company and win the workers' demands. Obviously, Bieber and his fellow union bureaucrats have forgotten the ABC's of the workers' struggle. Of course banning the use of permanent scabs is useful. But the cardinal issue is to organize mass pickets and other mass actions to stop the scabbing and start winning the workers' strikes.

Bieber and co. are so bound up in legal tangles, and wanting to look respectable to the capitalists, that they have forgotten which side they are supposed to be on.

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Auto workers against plant closing

Over 200 workers held a spirited rally at General Motor's Van Nuys, California plant May 17. The workers are outraged at GM's announcement that production currently done at the Van Nuys plant will be sent elsewhere next year. GM has promised that the Van Nuys plant would be outfitted to produce a "J" model car. But this is not very promising. GM has recently shut down two "J" car plants due to poor car sales. Who can believe they will spend millions of dollars to retool the Van Nuys plant to make a car that doesn't sell? The Van Nuys protesters chanted, "No more Flints!" and "Keep GM Van Nuys open!"

Kaiser nurses strike

900 registered nurses struck Kaiser Permanente's Sunset Boulevard medical center in Hollywood in mid-May. Although Kaiser offered a wage increase, this is offset by its demand to roll back overtime premiums. Kaiser management is using slimy tactics against the nurses. It has threatened to end the health care benefits of any striking nurse. And it is sending threatening letters to the Filipino nurses stating that their immigration status would be seriously affected by their participation in the strike. (See article on deportation threats elsewhere in this paper.) But the nurses have stood fast. It is Kaiser management that is sweating -- not the nurses.

Hospital workers strike for health care

On June 19, the striking nurses and hospital workers at Riverside Osteopathic Hospital in Trenton, Michigan rejected the company's latest contract offer and continued their four-week strike.

The newest offer continued the bosses' demands for high deductibles on employees health insurance, for eliminating two sick days, and for making Christmas and New Year's into floating holidays. The only change from the previous offer was a bribe of $100 over three years if the workers would accept the concessions. The strikers denounced the deal as an insult.

Detroit postal workers protest overtime

This spring workers at the Detroit Bulk Mail Center have faced frequent ten-hour days and six-day weeks. Union bureaucrats claim the workers have to accept the long hours since their contracts allow 60-hour plus work weeks. But the workers have had enough. They are circulating a collective resolution demanding an end to mandatory overtime. Nearly 200 workers have signed it. They are also passing around the June 6 issue of the Detroit Workers' Voice that points out that the productivity drive and job elimination is what's behind the long hours of work.

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20,000 hospital workers march for health care

We must have universal health care, that was the cry of more than 20,000 workers who rallied at the New York Capitol in Albany on June 13.

The protest was headed up by huge contingents of hospital and nursing home workers from New York City. These workers -- faced with understaffing and overwork, hospital closures, and cutbacks in their own health insurance -- know all too well the health care crisis that has hit this country. Their protest is another indication of the growing struggle for adequate health care.

Bitter strikes to defend health care

Workers throughout the U.S. have faced a barrage of attacks on their health care. There are some 37 million people who have no health care insurance. Another 20 million have such poor coverage they are essentially outside of the medical care system. And more and more people are being forced to go without medical treatment.

The profit-hungry medical industry -- the insurance companies, medicine and technology firms, and big-time health care providers -- is forcing prices up to the skies. At the same time, in the name of "cost containment," they cut back or outright eliminate "unprofitable" services and research needed by the masses, understaff facilities, and force unbearable overwork on the health care employees.

Meanwhile, the Reaganites and Democrats have joined hands to cut back Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care funding. While some health care capitalists have been getting rich, the cutbacks and loss of patients have forced the closing of many hospitals and clinics, especially public facilities that serve workers and poor people in the inner cities.

As well, the big capitalist corporations are on a drive to cut health care coverage for their workers through higher deductibles, co-payments, higher worker-paid premiums, eliminating various services, and so forth.

Last year, bitter strikes were waged to defend health care by telephone workers, Pittston coal miners, San Francisco hospital workers, and others. According to a study by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), health care was the key factor for the strikes involving 78% of all striking workers in 1989. And this year, the defense of health care is a major issue in contracts coming up for auto workers, for 42,000 garment workers, and others.

Make the capitalists pay for decent health care

The fight for decent health care is heating up. And the workers must stamp this struggle with the aims of the whole class.

In the first place, the workers have to fight that health Care be made available to all. This means that the organized workers must not only wage strikes and other mass struggles to defend their employer-paid health care, they must also fight to help the unorganized and poor who are not in as good a position to defend themselves. This is the significance of the call for universal health care given at the Albany rally.

But simply spreading the present meager health care to those who don't have it is not enough. The whole health care system must be overhauled. Because health care in this country is based on the profit system, everything is distorted away from actually meeting the needs of the working people. Preventative care, accessible clinics, long-term and chronic care, essential research and so forth are limited or non-existent for working people because the medical industry can't make enough profits there. What is more, costs are rising out of control as each capitalist -- the insurance, or medical research, or provider firms -- must first get his cut before any actual health care is provided. Costs must be held down not by more attacks on health care workers but, rather, by eliminating parasitic middle-men and the useless extravagance they foster and reorganizing the health care industry to serve the health needs of the people.

As well, we must fight to make the capitalists pay for the health care of the working people. Workers have long fought for employer-paid health care since, among other things, it is the slaving for the capitalists that breaks down the workers' health. The fight to' defend employer-paid health care must be continued and spread to cover the laid off and to the work places where workers are not covered. As for the unemployed and poor who can find no work, we must fight that the corporations and wealthy pay the brunt of care for them through a progressive tax.

Of course, as long as capitalism holds sway, what the working people will get in the name of "universal care" isn't likely to even come close to this. Mass struggle will be needed to ensure that the masses get some adequate care and not just universal fees and a universal bureaucracy.

This emphasizes the need to build the fight for decent health care into a class-wide struggle. Today we must fight to make the capitalist pay for a nationalized health care system. And tomorrow, we can use the organization and power generated through that struggle to get rid of the capitalist parasite once and for all.

Denounce the corporations' campaign

The fear that the present struggle may grow into a class battle, and the hope they may save themselves some money, has driven a number of major corporations to come out for some form of government health care program. In the last year Chrysler, Ford, GE, AT&T and other big industrialists have begun to talk about "universal health care."

But this talk is not aimed at meeting the health care needs of the working people. Rather, they are discussing "universal health care" as another way to shift the rising cost of employer-paid health care onto the workers.

They fear continuing to demand direct cutbacks because this is provoking a determined resistance from the workers. So, instead, they want to sock it to the workers by setting up a government health care system primarily paid for by higher taxes on the working people.

Unfortunately, the union bureaucrats are all too eager to help out these corporations. The AFL-CIO leaders have launched a campaign for universal health care filled with nice words about "public accountability, accessibility, comprehensiveness and quality, cost containment and fairness." But underneath the nice words, their plan is really only to help the big corporations.

Recently Lane Kirkland, the President of the AFL-CIO, complained that "The current health insurance system places a heavy burden on employers that do provide health insurance...." It's the heavy burden on the bosses, not the workers, that he's crying about.

And further, Kirkland announced a campaign for universal health care which, instead of fighting against the capitalists, "will seek to involve employers, providers, insurers and government agencies...." (AFL-CIO News, May 28) This means they don't aim to overhaul the health care system, but simply to include the present health care capitalists, together with the government and labor bureaucrats, in a more refined system to exploit the workers.

The workers can't accept the campaign of the corporations and the union bureaucrats. We must build an independent working class struggle for decent health care.


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6th International AIDS Conference

A week of angry protest in San Francisco

Several thousand AIDS activists converged on the Bay Area during the week of June 18-24, coinciding with the 6th International AIDS conference held in San Francisco.

The international conferences have become something of an opportunity for researchers, doctors, service and care providers, and activists to exchange new research and information. But science and medicine do not exist in a social vacuum, and inevitably the politics of AIDS and capitalist health care surrounded the conference. For all the value of such exchanges, events at the conference demonstrated how science is held hostage to the capitalist economic and political system.

There to counter all the weight of the prescription-drug monopolies and the foot-dragging government agencies, were activists on the issue of AIDS. Coming from around the country, they held protests every day of the gathering.

Activists declare, No to the INS ban

Before the conference started, there was an outcry over the U.S. government's immigration policy towards people with AIDS. The conference was boycotted by several international delegations in protest of INS policies restricting or barring entry of people who test positive for HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. Immigration policies mandate blood tests for many immigrant categories. People testing HIV positive or sick with AIDS may be deported or detained.

With the prospect of an international boycott of attendees at the recent conference, the Bush administration opted for appearing kinder and gentler by changing the INS regulation. But this was ONLY for the duration of the conference, ONLY for attendees of the conference, and only by way of exception. It was no change at all.

On the day before the conference opened, a protest at the INS Office on Sansome Street drew over 1,000 people and stopped traffic in the financial district at rush hour. Police arrested eight. Throughout the conference, people who opposed the INS regulation wore red armbands to demonstrate solidarity.

Other protests

Outside the conference on the first day, over 100 people from the People with Immune System Disorders caucus of ACT-UP were arrested in an action staged by 500 of its members. They protested the lack of substantial input to the conference by people with AIDS/ARC, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or other immune disorders. The cost to attend the conference kept out many who may have attended, people who could benefit from the information released at such conferences. Lack of a person's input into their own treatment is a major problem in how capitalist health care treats patients. AIDS activists have quite justly challenged this.

On Thursday, about 500 demonstrators blocked parts of Van Ness Avenue for over two hours in a roving demonstration past the Department of Health, City Hall and the state Department of Insurance. Demonstrators marched into the insurance department to protest Insurance Commissioner Roxanne Gillespie's refusal to stop health insurers in California from canceling policies of people who have the AIDS virus or are sick with AIDS/ARC. When the demonstration came back outside, it was met by the cops and about 49 demonstrators and one photographer were arrested.

Friday saw an action by the ACT-UP women's caucus, which targeted the lack of resources available to women and oppressed nationality people with AIDS. Activists blocked traffic on Market Street for over one and a half hours, and police arrested about 150 people.

On Saturday, nearly 15,000 people, including a sizable number of conference attendees, marched through downtown against HIV and AIDS.

On Sunday, Bush's Health Secretary Louis Sullivan was the keynote speaker to close the convention. The week before, Sullivan had made many remarks condemning activists who have "politicized the disease," referring to those who've chosen to fight back when confronted with discrimination, insurance cancellations, and denial of access to drugs.

At the conference itself, Sullivan tried to smooth over any criticism with words about "unity" and "working together." But activists were not about to have any of this. People shouted him down with cries of "shame, shame," blasted noise-makers, and turned their backs on Sullivan at the podium. Sullivan was unable to deliver his speech so that anyone could hear him. Activists were not about to be polite to this weak-kneed health secretary who utters not a word to his boss about the administration's neglect of AIDS needs and health care concerns generally.

[Photo: 15,000 people march through San Francisco demanding action on AIDS, June 23.]

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Down with racism!

Masses confront police in New York

There are signs of growing resentment and open defiance to police harassment in New York City. On June 2, for example, the police harassed and threatened to arrest six black men in Greenwich Village. A crowd of black and white youth gathered to defend them. They surrounded the police chanting "Yusuf, Yusuf." The police were only able to grab one man before the crowd began pelting them with bottles. One cop was hit with a flying trash can. As police cars swarmed into the area, the police waded into the crowd and beat several onlookers.

A week later a crowd again formed in Greenwich Village to defend someone who was standing up to police harassment. In the course of the confrontation a cop was hit with a brick. Later that night, a crowd of 30 people in Brooklyn confronted police who had arrested and handcuffed a man. The masses were able to help him escape. Elsewhere in Brooklyn, one police car was fire bombed and another one had its windows smashed.

March against police brutality in Peekskill, New York

Over 100 people marched through downtown Peekskill in mid-June. They demanded the firing of two police officers who last year beat a young truck driver while he was in police custody and handcuffed. As well, they demanded the dismissal of the chief of police and the district attorney who have refused to press charges against the cops. The protesters also denounced a rash of racist and anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place in Peekskill recently.

New Orleans marchers hit brutal murder by police


For weeks people have been demonstrating in New Orleans against the murder of Adolph Archie by police. The mass outrage recently forced authorities to admit something might be wrong. They have ordered a grand jury investigation of the murder.

Students protest racism

More than 850 people demonstrated across from the White House June 17. They denounced racism and demanded better educational opportunities for minorities. The daylong rally opened a week of activities: "teach-ins" at Howard University, lobbying on Capitol Hill, and a protest march in front of the Supreme Court. The students are calling for more federal funding for education, housing, jobs and treatment programs for drug abuse.

Michigan students defend protest shanties

The first protest-related arrests at Michigan State University (MSU) in 20 years took place on June 12. Five students were arrested at protest shanties on the campus. The first of five shanties had been erected in mid-April to protest against racism, homelessness, U.S. aid to the death squad regime in El Salvador, and to support the Palestinian intifada. While the university hypocritically praised the students "spirit of protest," they said the shanties violated MSU's anti-camping ordinance and would be torn down. You see, in Tiananmen Square student protests are suppressed for political reasons, but here the officials are just enforcing "camping regulations!" Nothing political about that!

Realizing that the shanties had widespread support among the masses of students, the administration waited to act until school had recessed for the summer and most students were gone. Campus police raided and demolished the shelters, arresting five students who vigorously defended their protest site.


Violence after Detroit Pistons' victory?

The national news was filled with screams against the "violence" of black Detroit during celebrations of the Detroit Pistons basketball NBA victory. Meanwhile, Mayor Young and Detroit's black establishment shouted that press reports were "wildly inflated," "distorted," and "heavy-handed." But neither side were willing to tell what really happened. By and large this was not some wanton black-on-black violence but, rather, resistance to police harassment and racism.

It seems Mayor Young wanted to keep the masses off the streets that night. He had the police out in force, threatening the masses and ordering them to "move on" as they came into the streets to celebrate. In downtown Detroit some racist skinheads picked fights with black youth. When the black people fought back, cops moved in to arrest them while ushering the racists to safety. Little wonder that the masses lit into the cops. In other sections of the city and nearby suburbs, the masses denounced the cops and resisted their attacks. Bricks, bottles and rocks were thrown at the police. At least a dozen cop cars and a news reporters' car were smashed up. And some nine policemen were injured. In one extremely impoverished neighborhood, people broke into a supermarket and stole food. Throughout the city, the cops arrested over 150 people.

Although the Young administration has recruited many black cops and limited the most blatant racist attacks by the cops, the city's police force remains the power to hold down the impoverished black masses in the service of the rich businessmen. And the masses are getting fed up with the constant police abuse.

As far as the reports of eight deaths, half were accidents or unrelated to the celebrations. But four youthful celebrators were killed in suspicious circumstances. According to witnesses, an apparently sober white man slowed his car, crossed two lanes, and then sped into a crowd of about 50 mostly black youth that had flowed into a parking lane. He then sped away. Four youth died and another was badly injured. The man has been arrested but, in an apparent effort to calm the situation, neither the police nor news media has even speculated on why he ran down the youth.

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S&L bailout: Why should we pay?

Why no 'war on crime' against the bankers?

President Bush put on a big show June 23 against the S&L criminals. "We will not rest," he vowed, "until the cheats and chiselers and charlatans have spent a large chunk of their lives behind the bars of a federal prison."

But then what about his own son, Neil Bush, who was caught in the swindle of the Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan Association? It seems the President's son will go scot free.

Neil Bush was put on Silverado's board in 1985 when George was vice- president, an obvious move for influence- peddling in the government. When Silverado went into crisis, government investigations were put off for two years. When regulators recommended that Silverado be shut down in 1988, they were ordered to wait two months -- until after election day.

The eventual takeover cost the government a billion dollars. Much of the losses were due to looting by Silverado heads. And Neil Bush took an active part in the swindles. For example, he pushed for loans to his business partners in the JNB company, Kenneth Good and William Walters. Of course he did not mention that they were his business partners. When they couldn't pay back some $11.5 million in loans, Bush voted for a deal in which Silverado accepted a mere $3 million payment and wrote off the rest. Apparently in payment for these services, Neil Bush received a $100,000 loan from Good, which he was not required to pay back. As well, Good and Walters raised his JNB salary to $120,000 and gave him a $22,000 bonus.

Neil Bush ripped off a bundle, yet there are no criminal charges against him. In fact, regulators even dropped their original proposal to ban him for life from serving as an S&L executive, as was done to other Silverado executives. Instead, they are now suggesting that he only be barred from future conflict-of- interest infractions. But wasn't he barred from that all along? At any event, this is sure a far cry from spending "a large chunk of their lives behind the bars of a federal prison" that President Bush promised.

And if Neil Bush gets off, who else will? The Democrats can't really make much noise about this since a number of their top senators and congressmen have been caught in similar scandals. Little wonder that few of the S&L robbers have been, or will be, prosecuted. While poor people are being tried every day for supposedly stealing pennies from welfare, the billionaire looters tied to the Republicans and Democrats are being politely asked to be good boys.


Ford Motor getting rich off the S&L bailout

After capitalist looting put the S&L's in crisis, the government is helping other capitalists loot the S&L bailout. Take the Ford Motor Co. deal, for example.

The government allowed Ford to take over and merge the Silverado, Columbia, and Cardinal S&L's for a mere $96 million in recapitalization. And they made this deal even though other capitalists had offered to pay up to $200 million. The government also sold Ford Silverado's $600 million mortgage residual portfolio at a $180 million loss. As well, the government provided Ford a series of tax incentives to sweeten the arrangement.

After this deal, the merged company recorded in 1989 a profit equal to 52% of Ford's investment. And it is reported that after adding the tax benefits that the government gave Ford, it will probably realize a first-year return on investment "in excess of 100%." (Detroit Free Press, June 20)

Not a bad bargain for Ford. But for the masses who have to pay for this bailout, it's another giant swindle.

Banking crisis in the making

The July 2 issue of the U.S. News World Report suggests that the latest bailout of Donald Trump's $2 billion debt "signals the potential acceleration of a banking crisis brewing for two years that now threatens to break out on a national scale."

The Report states that "Since the early 1980's, lenders have struggled with the Third World debt hemorrhage, the oil bust, a farm recession, a spate of over-leveraged corporate buyouts and the savings and loan debacle." The current crisis in bad loans to the real estate capitalists "adds to that stack of IOU's."

And as banks collapse from the crisis the FDIC, which insures bank deposits, is going into crisis. The Report indicates that the FDIC is way underfunded. Its reserves are only $13.2 billion, down from $18 billion two years ago -- "a meager $1 million to cover all depositors at each of the 13,000 FDIC-insured banks." And Budget Director Richard Darman projects that the FDIC will lose at least another $2 billion this year. With further problems, the Report declares "the federal government would have to replenish the till to prevent the system from crumbling."

So we are threatened with a banking bailout on the heels of the S&L bailout. Obviously this system is terminally ill. Let's get rid of it and build a system which feeds the masses instead of the financial speculation and profit-grabbing of the rich.

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Step up the defense of women's rights!

Anti-abortion 'goliaths' foiled in NYC suburb

On June 16 about 100 religious fanatics of Operation Goliath (another name for Operation Rescue) hit a women's health clinic 20 miles north of New York City. The anti-abortion fanatics are reluctant to risk actions in New York City, where the masses will be able to get at them, so they went off to suburban Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County, New York. Nevertheless, they were met by a vigorous response from about the same number of pro-choice activists, who militantly denounced them, confronted them, and ridiculed them. Some activists escorted patients into the clinic, while the rest made sure that the clinic was kept open for its scheduled appointments.

The holly bullies of Operation Goliath had announced they would only hold a prayer vigil. But they were also hell-bent on harassing the women going into the clinic. At first, they sent just a few of their people to the clinic entrance, but slowly the number increased to about 50.

Police do nothing until the pro-choice forces act

The police, of course, stood quietly by without interfering in any way with this plan to close off the clinic. The pro-choice activists, however, were not about to let this pass. They responded by surrounding the anti's, vigorously denouncing them, and shouting pro-choice slogans such as "Operation Rescue, your name is a lie, you don't care if women die!"

Only when the pro-choice forces acted, did the police go into action. They began by arresting two pro-choice activists who allegedly ripped up an Operation Goliath poster. Then the police dispersed everybody, both pro-choice and anti.

Later on, as the anti's tried again to approach the clinic, they were stopped by pro-choice activists, two layers deep, with linked arms.

Dismayed by their own success

This action was mobilized by WHAM!, the Women's Health Action and Mobilization of New York. The success on June 16 put WHAM! into a good position to continue to confront Operation Goliath, which had announced it was going to hit the same clinic time and again.

Instead, at the next WHAM! meeting, the action on June 16 was declared to have been "very confusing" for the patients being escorted into the clinic. It was noted that a reporter from the bourgeois media had objected that there was too much hatred in the community. It was declared that WHAM! cannot take care of all clinics, and should concentrate on local ones. So instead of continuing the vigorous and militant defense at Dobbs Ferry, WHAM! voted to only organize escorts.

Bowing before NOW

This dismay at their own success stems from WHAM!'s policy of trying to please NOW and other bourgeois women's organizations. WHAM! has carried out various militant actions -- but when it comes to clinic defense, they have put forward NOW-style guidelines. In fact, they developed their own guidelines through collaboration with NOW. The militant defense at Dobbs Ferry went against these guidelines. If it were to continue, it might bring them into conflict with the bourgeois trend around NOW.

NOW represents the viewpoint of better-off women who want to win a place in the establishment. This is why it puts defense of law and order and cooperation with the police ahead of clinic defense. This is why it denounces confrontation with the anti-abortion fanatics (some of its sections have issued statements demanding that there shouldn't even be hostile "eye contact" with them) and instead relies on courts, lawyers, police, and repressive anti-demonstration regulations. The consistent development of militant confrontation with anti-abortion forces, and the drawing of the working masses into this struggle, requires the willingness to go against the stands of the establishment women's organizations.

Activists protest ban on abortion counseling for the poor

On Thursday, May 31, about 150 people marched in New York City against federal restrictions on abortion counseling for the poor. Under Title X of the Public Health Services Act of 1970, the federal government provides a total of $200 million for about 4,000 private health clinics in low-income areas. Before 1988, these clinics were required to tell pregnant women about all the options available to them, including prenatal care, adoption, and abortion. In 1988, under the Reagan-Bush administration, all abortion counseling was banned at clinics receiving Title X funds. The clinics are not just forbidden to carry out abortions, but also to tell women the medical truth about abortion or to answer questions on this subject. Since these clinics are the only health care available to many poverty-stricken women, they are in practice denied abortion rights.

The Supreme Court is soon to review these anti-abortion restrictions on Title X. So various pro-choice organizations in New York City decided it was a good time for a demonstration. The march went from Union Square in Manhattan to Federal Plaza where the federal Health and Human Services offices are located. It was spirited, with a lot of slogan-shouting, including "Abortion is health care, health care is a right! Reverse the cuts in Title X, we will not go back again!" and "Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!"

There was a heavy police presence from the beginning, and they were not friendly. During the march, when the demonstrators tried to move a bit beyond the sidewalk into the street, the police reacted viciously, arresting demonstrators along the route of the march. As the march arrived at the rally site at Federal Plaza, they found that the police had barricaded off a small area for the rally. One woman took down part of the barricade, and the police attacked the demonstrators, chasing a number of them.

The Marxist-Leninist Party distributed 500 copies of a special issue of New York Workers' Voice to the demonstrators and also to bystanders. The march and rally was well-received by the bystanders, many of whom expressed their support for it.

The restrictions on Title X are another example where the anti-abortion crusaders aim the brunt of their attack on working and poor women. Whether it is legal or illegal, abortion will always be available to the upper class who can afford private doctors and trips abroad. But the anti-abortion fanatics are friends of the rich, while insisting on their right to make life hell for the masses.

Clinic defense in metro Detroit

In Detroit on June 2 pro-choice forces confronted Operation Rescue (OR) and foiled its plans at two clinics in the Detroit area.

In Livonia

At Womancare in Livonia, 150 antiabortion fanatics were confronted with about half the number of pro-choice activists. The anti's harassed patients driving into the clinic. They tried to put themselves in the way of the cars to block them, and they shouted frenzied slogans like "You're doing Satan's work" and "You're killing your baby." The pro-choice forces protected the patients and shouted down the religious fanatics. They also had a militant picket line.

After one OR bully was arrested for shoving a young woman, OR tried to give an interview on the spot. The OR spokesman maintained that they had a right to push the pro-choice woman out of the way, for she was blocking their right of way. A pro-choice activist came over and denounced OR for hypocrisy, pointing out that the whole reason OR was there was for the purpose of blockading the clinic and harassing patients.

Off to Detroit

As the action wound down, the activists learned that the Scotsdale clinic in Detroit had asked for assistance. Off they went, so that eventually the 75 OR were confronted by 50 defenders of women's rights. The OR had a picket close to the front of the clinic door, not quite blockading it but making life miserable for those entering. The pro-choice activists formed their own line and pushed OR back, breaking up the OR picket and pushing them off the sidewalk. But an OR person had run off to fetch the police, who came to rescue the antiabortion fanatics. The police insisted that the pro-choice line keep moving, which allowed OR to re-form their picket in front of the clinic. The pro-choice picket, however, continued to defend the clinic door.

Arguments broke out between OR and the pro-choice forces. When OR sought to do a video of a local leader, Lynn Mills, activists came over to shout slogans at her and hold picket signs in front of her face. The OR forces protested that their freedom of speech was being violated, neglecting the fact that they themselves recognize no rights for women patients, pro-choice activists, or other alleged servants of Satan.

Whenever things got hot for OR, however, the police would come over to push people further apart and stop the denunciation.

A number of people from the community looked on, criticized OR and joined in during one of the arguments with OR. Comrades of the MLP, who had been taking part in the picket and other confrontation of OR, also distributed literature among the bystanders, encouraged them to join the clinic action, and did a bit of door-to-door work in the community.

Slogans offend NOW

It was a good day for the pro-choice forces, who were in fine spirits. There were however some differences among them. For example, at Womancare in Livonia, the clinic director, a member of NOW, came out and loudly demanded that there should be no slogans but only quiet escorting of patients. After this, some Detroit Committee in Defense of Abortion Rights leaders from RWL (the trotskyist Revolutionary Workers League) refrained from shouting slogans. The RWL is willing to criticize NOW a bit in their press or on various occasions, but they have hopes in winning over whole sections of NOW. They don't want to go directly against NOW, and so these leaders waited until the Scotsdale clinic to get back into the slogan-shouting.

NOW arrived late at the clinic actions, but was there. NOW forces refrained from the confrontations with OR and restricted themselves to holding signs or escorting patients.

Chicago activists defend clinic

On Saturday June 16, pro-choice activists defended the clinic at Diversey and Western against anti-abortion fanatics. The pro-choice forces eventually concentrated at this clinic, and numbered up to 40 or 50 over the five-hour action, which was twice or so what the antiabortion bullies mustered. The activists held the most visible positions, drowned out the anti's with slogans, infiltrated their picket and covered over anti-abortion signs with pro-choice ones.

Activists had organized pickets regularly at the clinic to oppose the regular harassment of the patients by the anti's in the name of "counseling." This time NOW was also at this clinic, and most of the NOW escorts were friendly to the more militant activists or even participated in confrontations with the anti's. The NOW escort leader was however hostile and tried in vain to get the health clinic's director of security to oppose the militants for allegedly blocking the sidewalk.

Anti-abortion unity meeting denounced

The religious fanatics of the "right-to-life" forces are so sectarian that they engage in religious warfare among themselves. For years the Catholic antiabortion warriors and the Protestant fundamentalist warriors have squabbled over their individual version of universal truth and eternal damnation. They tried again to patch things up at "Unity '90" in Chicago, where Cardinal O'Connor and Reverend Falwell tried to paper over their differences, with the Protestant "right-to-lifers" expressing regret that they didn't have the Catholic church's weapon of excommunication.

Meanwhile over 100 activists denounced the conference on Thursday, when Falwell was the featured speaker. They began their demonstration at the Holiday Inn where the event was being held, but the police forced them out by the street. The pro-choice forces were spirited, and anti-abortion chief Scheidler got roundly denounced when he ventured to come over to the demonstration.

Parental notification--

Supreme Court backs new restrictions on abortion

On June 26, the Supreme Court upheld "parental notification" laws in Ohio and Minnesota which restrict the right of unmarried women under the age of 18 to legal abortions. The Ohio law requires that at least one parent be notified before the abortion is performed. Under the Minnesota law, both biological parents must be notified. If both parents cannot be notified, a court ruling is required before an abortion is permitted.

Behind the facade

At first glance, the idea of a parental notification law may seem reasonable. After all, caring parents want to be able to look after their children's welfare. And the support of loving parents can help a pregnant teen through a difficult situation.

But good relations between parents and children can not be created by government decree. Moreover, not all families are supportive, and some are unfeeling or abusive on these issues. In most cases, this law will make the plight of a pregnant girl even more difficult to bear, or even result in tragedy.

In truth, the main sponsors of such bills aren't interested in strengthening family life, but simply in finding another way to restrict abortions. They do not want girls to have abortions, even if their parents agree, but regard such girls as murderers and such parents as accomplices. They don't think that the parents have the right to agree with abortion, any more than the girl does, but that the church and the state may dictate to both.

These laws may not legally require parents to agree to their daughter's abortion as "parental consent" legislation does. But just look at some of the practical problems that will face teenage women wanting to terminate their unwanted pregnancies.

More burdens on young women

--Minnesota-type laws require notification of both biological parents. This means that a girl might be faced with tracking down a parent who lives far away, or who had little or nothing to do with raising her, or even had refused to pay child support. The scope of this problem can be seen by the very example of Minnesota where only half of all children live with both biological parents.

--The idea that getting a judge's ruling is a reasonable alternative to notifying parents is a fraud. It subjects young women to the arbitrary whims of a judge. A few judges may be sympathetic, but most will take the occasion to get on their high horse and dictate to the young women according to their own particular beliefs. And a large number of judges have been appointed by Reagan and Bush according to the "litmus test" of opposing abortion.

--Even at best, a court procedure is not only cold and frightening and a punishment in itself, but it makes it hard for a woman who wants to keep her abortion private. It also requires the young woman to bring out in court the most private concerns of the family in order to justify the request to bypass parental notification.

--The very notion of going to court and dealing with the accompanying bureaucratic "red tape" will be intimidating and humiliating for most girls, and especially harsh on poor women who have less education, less access to a network of assistance, and are frowned upon by judges and the court system. And how are the young women supposed to get the money for lawyers, court costs, and legal advisors?

--Since not all parents are loving and understanding, notifying some parents may bring physical and psychological abuse down on the girl. The mere threat of it will weigh on the young woman. Moreover, most teens are financially dependent on their families. Hostile parents could use economic leverage (legitimized as "tough love") to pressure the pregnant woman.

--The bringing of abusive pressure on the girl is, in fact, the real idea behind such laws, as the requirement of notifying both parents in the Minnesota law clearly shows. The girl not only has to notify a parent, and do it prior to the abortion, but she is to be prevented from simply dealing with a sympathetic parent. Thus the very law that restricts the girl's right to decide in the name of preserving family solidarity, takes it for granted that the two parents are hostile to each other on this issue.

They are not "pro-family" bills but anti-woman bills

These problems mean that these laws will in practice deny abortion rights to many girls, or force them to the desperation of back alley procedures.

Far from creating an atmosphere of loving support, this law creates a potential nightmare for the young woman at a very trying time. What sort of "pro-family" measure is it that would, in some cases, subject the pregnant girl to the will of a parent who has abandoned the family? What sort of "pro-family stand" is it that actually subjects the young woman to the hostile scrutiny of courts and the police rather than providing health clinics and support networks? What sort of "pro-family" stand is it that doesn't care if the pregnant woman feels she is in no condition financially or otherwise to take on the job of child rearing? And is it "pro-family" to ignore the reality that restricting abortion rights will not end abortion, but cause a rise in dangerous and life-threatening attempts at illegal back alley abortions?

At best, some young women may find out that their parents really are supportive and their fears were groundless. But many other girls would be subjected to horrifying experiences, and to the growth of family discord, including between parents who may oppose each other on the abortion issue.

Evidently, any measure, no matter how harmful to young women, is dressed up as an aid to good family life by the "right-to-life" movement provided it might force a woman to bear a child against her will.

Neither the government nor religious bigots should be allowed to interfere with the decision of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to birth. The woman concerned should be free to decide this without coercion. After all, she is the one who will bear the consequences and responsibilities of having a child.

The assault on women's rights

These laws are part of an ongoing assault on abortion rights. While Bush and Quayle call directly for a ban on abortion, the Supreme Court has given the green light to the states to use their ingenuity to find one restriction after another.

The June 26 rulings are bound to lead to yet more such legislation. The anti- -abortion fanatics, in particular, hope that this decision indicates that any restriction on abortion rights can be legislated, just so long as there is judicial bypass.

The Supreme Court hasn't yet directly overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling. Four judges are anxious to do so and rule that there is no legal right for abortion whatsoever, four are apparently opposed, and Sandra Day O'Connor still prefers to whittle away the abortion rights of the working masses on a piecemeal basis. But already today the Court is restricting abortion rights, finding ways to declare the harassment of women constitutional, and it is paving the way for an outright ban on abortion in the future. It is not the Supreme Court, but a mass movement for the rights of working women, that will defend abortion rights.

[Photo: San Francisco pro-choice activists denounce Supreme Court ruling on parental notification.]

New York Cardinal declares: oppose abortion or else

On June 14, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal O'Connor, threatened to excommunicate those Catholic politicians who vote for abortion rights. According to O'Connor, politicians who "are perceived not only as treating church teaching on abortion with contempt, but helping to multiply abortions by advocating legislation supporting abortion or making public funds available for abortion" are "at risk of excommunication." If they don't relent and toe the line, "bishops may consider excommunication the only option." (New York Times, June 15)

Pity the poor cardinal. Today, the Catholic Church has lost support for its stand on abortion (not to mention divorce and contraception) from its own flock. And O'Connor has become so desperate that threats (and help from Madison Avenue advertising agencies) are the only way he feels he can make people believe.

The church already automatically excommunicates all women who have an abortion, if it finds out about it, although it may immediately rescind the excommunication at confession. These excommunications haven't prevented large numbers of Catholic women from doing what they feel is necessary and right, but the archbishop was counting on the well-known lack of backbone in politicians. A series of lesser church sanctions, like refusing communion, have already been carried out against various Catholic politicians. Meanwhile, a candidate for the Michigan senate, Jo McLaughlan, this month faced excommunication threats from local church leaders. But so far, on this issue, threats from the church hierarchy often seems to help politicians more than it hurts.

Louisiana bans abortion

In late June, the Louisiana state legislature bared its fangs. Republican and Democratic politicians united to pass a bill which imposes a maximum penalty of ten years of hard labor and a $100,000 fine for performing an abortion. The only exception would be aborting to save the woman's life. The politicians want this bill to end up challenged before the Supreme Court, because they hope that the court will reverse its Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 which guaranteed some abortion rights.

The law threatens anyone performing abortions. Thus not only doctors, but any woman who attempts to induce abortion on herself could also be prosecuted. Send all such women and doctors to jail and throw away the key. Such is the anti-woman hatred of the so-called "pro-life" movement.

The Louisiana bill was sponsored by a Democrat and supported by many others. But maybe Democratic Governor Buddy Roemer has a heart because he says he may veto the bill? Not a chance. Roemer's only complaint is that there are no exceptions for rape or incest victims. He too is willing to set the police on women and any sympathetic doctors, and to challenge Roe v. Wade.

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Why is Mandela wooing the ultra-racists in S. Africa?

During his foreign tour, Nelson Mandela revealed that he has met with leaders of the ultra-right in South Africa.

And who is this ultra-right? These are the diehard champions of racism, the whites who refuse to consider any changes in the apartheid system. These are the forces who are threatening to take up arms to defend racist supremacy. In short, they are the South African equivalent of the KKK.

So why is Mandela reaching out to these dregs? He says, it's to win support from them for South African President De Klerk! Yes, it's true -- Mandela campaigns for De Klerk, the President of Apartheid, among the nazi-lovers in the white establishment.

It's bad enough that Mandela showers De Klerk with constant praise as an "honest," "honorable," and "courageous" man. De Klerk isn't for liberating the black masses, and Mandela himself says that. But De Klerk at least is giving up some of the surface features of apartheid. The ultra-racists do no such thing. They do not bend at all on the question of white supremacy.

On the surface, Mandela's talks with the ultra-right would appear to defy all logic. But the fact that he reaches out to ultra-right exposes the harmfulness of the whole strategy of a negotiated compromise as the way out of racist apartheid.

To meet the ultra-racists and convince them that they should support De Klerk's policy of reform is to concede that the racists have legitimate concerns that the black people must kneel down to. It is to concede that the black people must give in to the demands for the continuation of many white privileges. In short, it is to curtail the just demands of the black people for a complete elimination of all racist laws and institutions.

But that is indeed what the whole dialogue with De Klerk is about. De Klerk has never said he's willing to give up all white privilege. He's never agreed to full equality for the blacks. He refuses to support one person, one vote. He has simply said that there should be some sort of power-sharing with a black elite, an arrangement that must at the same time ensure that white "fears" of black domination (read: full equality) must be taken heed of.

To believe in De Klerk is to cut short the black liberation struggle. And to reach out to the ultra-right is to trim your sails even more.

Struggle in South Africa


The ANC's policy of seeking a power-sharing deal is throwing a wet blanket over the movement in South Africa. Nonetheless some struggles continue to break out. Even among those who believe in Mandela, there are those who want to take things into their own hands.

In late June some 9,000 municipal workers of Cape Town went out on strike, protesting the government's plan to eliminate jobs through privatization. Meanwhile, blacks in the townships are discussing the need to obtain arms to oppose the rise of white vigilante groups. Right-wing terrorists have already begun murdering blacks, and ultra-right political groups vow to fight against any end to apartheid.

In addition, there are also South African activists who do not agree with the idea of dialogue with De Klerk as the path forward. A few among them may simply be upset because they fear they will be cut out of a deal, but there are others who justly refuse to believe in compromise with the racists. They are keeping alive among the masses the idea of continued struggle.

Regardless of what happens in the ANC/De Klerk negotiations, it is important for the black working people to build up independent revolutionary organizations and push forward the mass struggle.

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The CIA helped put Mandela in jail,

Don't let Bush off the hook!

Just before Nelson Mandela arrived in the U.S., news reports revealed that it was the CIA which was responsible for turning him in to the South African authorities three decades ago.

Was Mandela angry at the U.S. government when these reports came out? Did he raise this issue to George Bush, who is one of the former heads of the CIA? No, his reply was, "Let bygones be bygones." Mandela even paid a special visit to the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. Probably buried among JFK's papers are the CIA reports that brag about their great "coup" in arranging the arrest of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela's stand is being hailed in the capitalist media as a sign of his greatness. Not bearing rancor against those who did him wrong is supposed to be a sign of his immense generosity of spirit.

But is this really to be welcomed? We cannot agree. Nor should anyone else who really supports the anti-racist struggle. The U.S. role in helping the South African police get Mandela is not some small personal matter. It is a symbol of U.S. imperialism's shameful support for the racist system in South Africa.

Let's not forget, the U.S. supported apartheid


The exposure of the CIA role is a big embarrassment to the U.S. government, which is today decking itself out as a world leader in the struggle against apartheid. Mandela's wimpy "let bygones be bygones" takes Washington off the hook for its decades of support for apartheid.

Nothing is more ludicrous than the present American government's pose of support for the movement against apartheid.

At the time the CIA was infiltrating the ANC, the U.S. was replacing Britain as the main imperialist investor in South Africa. When other foreign investors were being scared off by the rising anti-apartheid movement, American bankers and industrialists, confident in the CIA and South African security apparatus, were rushing money in. IBM computerized South African police files and played a big role in creating this modern police state.

When the anti-apartheid movement came up in a big way in the 1980's, the Reagan-Bush government tried to shield the racists. George Bush spent eight years as the vice-president of Mr. Ronald "constructive engagement" Reagan -- they refused to take a stand against South Africa. When some sanctions were eventually legislated, Congressional leaders made sure that they were watered down to not have too much of an edge against South Africa.

This history makes a mockery of Mandela's gushing "thank-yous" in his speech to the U.S. Congress. In his speech Mandela painted a picture of the U.S. Congress and government as always striving, with the people of the U.S., for greater democracy and equality in the world. Mandela managed to forget about the crimes of imperialism. He ignored Viet Nam, Nicaragua, or Panama.

Mandela also dutifully bowed to bourgeois icons like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, claiming their ideas helped inspire the anti-apartheid struggle. Never mind that these heroes of bourgeois democracy did not take a stand against black slavery, and were slave owners themselves. Mandela did pay homage to the anti-slavery fighter John Brown, but this was met with stony silence from Congress. Which tells you something about Congress.

When all is said and done, can it really be true that Mandela does not care about the 27 years he spent in prison? Of course not. But Mandela is willing to turn his back on the record of U.S. imperialism in South Africa. Why? Because he wants imperialism's help in arranging a deal between the ANC and F.W. De Klerk.

U.S. government still an enemy of the black people


But U.S. imperialism has not become a friend of the oppressed black people. It still shares more in common with De Klerk's regime than with the black opposition. And if it is today willing to consider helping to bring about a deal, it is because it, like De Klerk, is afraid of revolution. Such a deal will not bring the complete victory over racist oppression that the black people have fought so hard for.

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Mandela's visit disappoints fighters against U.S. racism

Many people hoped that when Nelson Mandela visited the U.S. he would denounce the racism rampant throughout this country and give impetus to the anti-racist movement. Unfortunately, his tour was a disappointment on this count.

Undoubtedly Mandela's tour filled many with pride. That a black man, especially one with a reputation for being an unflinching fighter for the rights of black South Africans, could meet such official praise and adulation gave many the sense that a new day is opening for the black people everywhere. But for Mandela's part he did nothing to directly assist the fighters against U.S. racism.

He did not decry Bush's racist Willie Horton election propaganda, or the President's opposition to a new civil rights act, or the administration's "war on drugs'^ which is turning the black ghettos into apartheid-like police-state encampments. No, that's "internal affairs" that he would not "interfere" in. Instead, he declared that even Bush is part of the "united front" against apartheid.

In New York, he did not support the fight for justice for Yusuf Hawkins or denounce the racist police murders. No, he praised Mayor Dinkins' crusade for "harmony" and "quiet" instead of the anti-racist struggle of the masses.

In Boston, he did not decry Mayor Flynn's racist hysteria around the Stuart case or protest the racist campaign of top state and city officials against blacks supposedly taking housing from South Boston residents and allegedly bringing crime into the area. No, he spent his time praising Boston's Kennedy establishment for supposedly being anti-apartheid fighters.

And so it went around the country. At one stop, when directly asked by a reporter whether he would help combat racism in the U.S., Mandela responded only that, "We are prepared to be guided by the black leadership."

But what black leadership? It seems that Mandela's idea of leadership is not those on the front lines of mass anti-racist struggle but, instead, America's black establishment. This is the elite groomed by the U.S. capitalists especially since the black rebellions of the 1960's. The capitalists have conceded mayorships in a number of cities: Detroit, Atlanta, Oakland, L. A, New York City and elsewhere. The big corporations owned by the white capitalists continue to run the economy while the Coleman Youngs, the Jacksons, the Wilsons, the Bradleys, the Dinkins and their hangers-on have become rich. The black workers and unemployed remain crushed and impoverished. But now they are held down by black leaders in city hall and at the head of the police departments. It is these -- who could plunk down thousand-dollar-bills to talk business with the ANC entourage over dinner -- that Mandela praised in his speeches. It is these he made sure to dine with even if that meant missing events involving the masses. It is these who, far from leading the struggle against racism, are sitting like a dead weight on the anti-racist struggle.

Guided by this "respectable" black leadership it is little wonder that Mandela failed to protest U.S. racism or encourage the struggle of the masses. And if Mandela can't see beyond a system of tokenism for a black bourgeoisie in the U.S., what can we really expect him to fight for in his own South Africa?

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Job discrimination -- part and parcel of the immigration law

In March 1990, three years after Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) released a study showing enormous discrimination in employment against workers who appeared to be foreign. As well several states did their own studies and found similar discrimination.

Of course they found enormous discrimination. A big part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 is the "employer sanctions" which are penalties such as fines against employers who hire the undocumented. Thus the law demanded discrimination against the undocumented and encouraged the racist capitalists to discriminate against those who appeared to be foreign. These penalties along with a large increase in the budget and number of INS agents, particularly in the border area, formed the core of IRCA A limited amnesty and legalization program was the sugar coating on this bitter anti-immigrant legislation.

Widespread discrimination

Discrimination causes high rates of unemployment for immigrants and minorities. It forces them into sweatshops, low wage jobs, and day labor. And it prevents them from advancing to better jobs within companies.

The GAO study found that 461,000 employers (or 10% out of the 4.6 million) were discriminating. The bulk of this discrimination was against Hispanics, but it also affected people of Asian descent and other minorities. The black community has also complained about the effects of discrimination caused by IRCA.

The GAO figures are based on what companies admitted to in the survey. There is no doubt that the rate of discrimination is actually much higher. Proof of this is that when the GAO set up matched pairs of "Anglo" and "Latino" testers with similar resumes to apply for jobs in Chicago and California, the results were much worse. The whites were offered 40% -50% more jobs. They were given interviews much more frequently while those who appeared foreign or sounded foreign on the phone were only asked to fill out applications.

The survey in the New York City area found 20% of medium-sized companies have established policies denying jobs to people born outside the U.S. and to those with temporary work authorization. And then what about those who don't have a "policy" to discriminate, but simply have a practice of discriminating?

What is the solution to discrimination against the immigrants?

The GAO is proposing to solve the problem by the INS establishing some type of national ID system and by "educating employers."

First of all, none of this would help the undocumented who have every right to a job and a livelihood like the rest of the workers.

Secondly, a national ID card system would serve as a computerized means of control over all the workers -- a push of a few buttons and who knows what information could be at an employer's fingertips. The possibilities of a computerized blacklist are only too real.

As far as educating employers, the INS has already had more than three years to do that. Experience has shown that the INS has never been concerned with the rights of the immigrant workers, only with repressing and controlling them. Do leopards change their spots?

Some Democratic Party politicians, such as Edward Kennedy, have introduced bills to revoke the employer sanctions part of IRCA That's all well and good; however, it does not address the larger general question of widespread discrimination against minorities and immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Kennedy likes to promote himself as a big friend of the immigrants. He was and is one of the big wheels pushing immigration legislation. In fact, he sponsored the Kennedy-Rodino bill in the 70's. That bill was the grandfather of the present repressive IRCA law. It was the first bill to propose national ID cards and it had no amnesty program at all. Kennedy has also sponsored immigration bills which gave preference to white European immigrants and rich immigrants.

To advance the fight for equal rights for the immigrants, we must get organized. Read and circulate leaflets defending the immigrant workers. American and immigrant workers alike, should participate in demonstrations to denounce the policies of the government and to demand equal rights for the immigrant workers. Only a militant movement of the working class can improve the conditions of life for the immigrants.

(Exerpted from the June 12 "Chicago Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP-Chicago.)

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More anti-immigrant noise from AFL-CIO leaders

When job discrimination was found to be widespread under the immigration law, did the AFL-CIO leaders rally to the oppressed? Heavens no, they defended the law.

The Executive Council even issued a resolution opposing the repeal of the employer sanctions portion of the law. It declares, "The repeal of sanctions would be an open invitation to unscrupulous employers to hire undocumented workers.... The undocumented would be hired, not for humanitarian purposes, but to be exploited and denied many of the benefits of law." (AFL-CIO News, May 28)

Since when do employers hire anyone for "humanitarian" reasons? These labor traitors are just opposed to immigrants being hired, period.

The Executive Council not only favors employer sanctions and discrimination against immigrant workers, they also came out for Senator Edward Kennedy's proposal for a national I.D. card system, a system that would be used against all militant workers. Shame on these union hacks.


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INS threatens striking nurses with deportation

In Los Angeles, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has been threatening 100 immigrant nurses with deportation. Their crime? They are among the 900 RNs who have been striking against Kaiser Permanente since May 13. The nurses have been fighting Kaiser's attempts to take away their overtime pay, and are demanding relief from the overwork and improvements in their wages and pensions.

The deportation threat was based on a new ruling by the INS issued in January. It stated that immigrant workers who participate in a strike are failing to "maintain status" and can be deported and denied permanent status. The government is attempting to tie the hands and feet of immigrant workers. This rule would prevent immigrant workers from struggling to limit their exploitation by the profit-hungry capitalists.

The striking workers filed a lawsuit against the new rule. And, apparently to avoid going to court, the INS certified that the nurses are in compliance with immigration regulations.

But the rule itself has not been struck down, and could still be dragged out against other strikers. Keeping immigrants in "their place" -- to be super-exploited by the capitalists in the lowest paying jobs, at long hours, and in the most degrading conditions -- has always been the policy of the government and its INS.

But immigrant workers didn't come here to be hunted down and worked like slaves. They didn't risk their lives leaving one set of capitalists to be victimized by another. They have become an active part of the struggle of the hospital, clothing, cannery, meat packing, agricultural, and other workers. Their participation in the strike movement, in defiance of threats and intimidation by the INS, can only strengthen the solidarity of the working class of all nationalities against the capitalist parasites.

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Protests against INS detention centers

Demonstrations were held in several cities June 10 against INS detention centers. Haitian, Central American, Mexican and other immigrants are being held in these crowded, abominable concentration camps. And if they resist, they are often beaten by the guards and deported to prisons in their homeland.

The demonstration at the Krome Detention Center near Miami drew 300 people. Two weeks earlier, protesters had torn down the front gates to this compound.

In a rally in a Los Angeles park, protesters raised slogans denouncing the detention centers and rapes of female immigrants. An INS agent in southern California has recently been exposed by one of his victims for using the authority of his position to kidnap and rape Latina women. After the park rally, a section of the protesters marched on the Pico-Union Detention Center. They were met by police in riot gear who arrested 16 of the demonstrators.

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The struggle of the homeless

Tenants and homeless say no to demolishing of projects

Over 200 homeless people and tenants marched to the Jeffries project in Detroit on June 9. They demanded that the project be refurbished rather than destroyed.

The Detroit Housing Authority (DHA) is pressuring Jeffries tenants to relocate, promising that it will be refurbished. But nobody trusts this. The same promises were made at the 1,037 unit Brewster Douglas projects. But once the projects were emptied, the DHA boarded them up, fenced off the area, and is preparing to demolish them. Detroit Mayor Young and the City Council want to gentrify the area. Jeffries tenants fear that the same process is under way at their project. Many tenants have refused to relocate as long as thousands of people remain homeless.

Evictions in the name of a 'war on drugs'

Federal marshals were set to raid public housing in 22 cities on June 25. They planned to evict entire families without giving them any notice whatsoever.

This is part of Bush's "war on drugs." Housing and Urban Development (HUD) head Jack Kemp claims he can evict public housing tenants for merely being "suspected" of involvement with drugs -- even if they have never been convicted of a crime, and even without giving them any notice.

Such evictions already took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 27. People in four units were evicted with only 15 minutes notice. No drugs or weapons were found in the raids. Only one of the tenants had even been accused of dealing drugs. But there were no criminal charges brought against her. And a district court had earlier ruled in her favor when the Ann Arbor Housing Commission tried to evict her in the name of fighting drugs. But little matter to Kemp. He evicted her anyway, along with others. Clearly, the "war on drugs" is really a war on the poor.

Before the June raids could take place, a federal judge in Richmond, Virginia blocked evictions without a hearing. This has stopped the raids for the moment. But Kemp still claims such raids are legal and hopes to pursue them in the future.

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Cuba under Castro

Not the communist alternative to Gorbachev

The imperial lords in Washington will not tolerate any government in Latin America and the Caribbean which refuses to bow down to U.S. dictate. After taking Panama in a bloody invasion and buying a right-wing election victory in Nicaragua, Bush is now stepping up pressure against Cuba.

The U.S. smells blood because Cuba is in a tight spot today. Its allies in Eastern Europe have collapsed and its subsidies from the Soviet Union are in jeopardy.

The Workers' Advocate stands strongly opposed to U.S. pressure against Cuba. The Cuban people must be allowed to find their own destiny free of the Yankee big stick. A U.S.-dictated turn in Cuba would be a backward step. It would wipe out the gains made by the working people in the Cuban revolution. It would bring to Cuba the conditions typical of the rest of Latin America -- slums, miserable health care, poor education, and super-exploitation for the workers.

We shouldn't be cheerleaders for Castro


Defend Cuba against U.S. imperialism -- Yes. But we don't think that class conscious workers and progressive activists should therefore become apologists for the Fidel Castro regime.

That is what some forces in the U.S. left are demanding today. For example, on April 7 a demonstration was organized in New York City to oppose U.S. threats on Cuba. It was led by groups like the Socialist Workers' Party and the Workers' World Party. Because of their pro-Castro line, virtually every slogan at the protest was phrased such that if one wanted to oppose the U.S. pressure, one had to endorse the Castro regime. Slogans like TV Marti No, Fidel Yes.

Some of these groups support Castro as part of their policy of support for every revisionist (fake communist) regime. Thus Sam Marcy's WWP supports Castro just as it champions Li Peng and Deng Xiaoping in China or as it defended the late Ceausescu in Rumania. But other groups, like the SWP, are painting Castro's regime as the communist alternative to the revisionists who are collapsing elsewhere.

The facts refuse to bear out this claim. Neither the recent history of Cuba nor what is going on there today.

The Castro regime is not the model of a workers' state. And today's Cuba is not a socialist society. True enough, there are many differences between Cuba and the Warsaw Pact countries, but they are not fundamental. Castro may have more popular support than Honecker did in East Germany or Gorbachev has in the USSR, his regime may not be as corrupt or despotic as Ceausescu's, but at bottom, the Cuban government too is a revisionist state-capitalist regime. In Cuba too a class of privileged bureaucrats lords over the workers.

Today Castro and his supporters may be spouting all sorts of revolutionary and communist phrases, as they try to demarcate themselves from what's taking place in Eastern Europe. But we cannot forget what bound Cuba to revisionist Eastern Europe over the last several decades.

Castro championed Brezhnev's Soviet revisionism


Today, the Soviet Union is cutting back its subsidies to Cuba and the new Eastern European governments are adopting anti-Cuban economic policies. The Cuban economy, already strained because of its debts and the fall of world sugar prices, is facing trying times. The Castro regime demands that the workers tighten their belts more and more.

But what led to this? Wasn't it Castro's policy, over several decades, to turn Cuba into an economic satellite of the Soviet Union and its COMECON economic bloc? Wasn't it Castro's policy to tie Cuba into the Brezhnevite "international division of labor" by which Cuba supplied the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe with sugar, oranges and nickel, and got food products, machinery, oil, and weapons in return? Didn't Castro give up his attempts to diversify the Cuban economy from its unbalanced dependence on sugar, the cruel legacy of colonialism?

Indeed it was.

Moreover, the Cuban leadership felt proud to be part of the Brezhnev, Jaruzelski, Honecker world bloc. There wasn't a crime of the Soviet revisionists that they did not loyally support -- from the invasion of Czechoslovakia to martial law in Poland. Support for "tank socialism" did not embarrass them. Fidel and his cronies were ardent believers of the hot air that came from Moscow and Eastern Europe about the onward march of "real, existing socialism" in the Warsaw Pact bloc. They never stopped to think that it was rotting away within, leading to the ignominious fate that it has today.

Rigging up a state-capitalist system


And at home, Castro embraced the same basic economic and political model prevalent in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

After zigzagging in the 1960's between different paths, the Cuban leadership settled for the Soviet and Eastern European model of government and economy. They too created a system dominated by a bureaucratic elite; they too controlled the masses through an increasingly- ossified party and its related organizations; they too were distrustful of mass democracy and encouraging mass initiative; and they ran the economy with the same revisionist prescriptions of market-socialism.

At the same time, Cuba combined Soviet-style revisionism with Castroism's own non-Marxist concepts -- from a strong militarist tendency to the cult of the "maximum leader."

Of course, Cuba was not an exact copy of its Eastern European allies. The regime was born of a people's revolution and came to power on its own. And it has retained a sizable popular base. Partly this is due to the regime's ability to mobilize nationalist sentiment in the face of a hostile U.S. blockade. But partly this is also due to the regime believing in a certain degree of mass mobilization. And despite repeated crises, Cuba's economy didn't become a Poland-style basket case -- although this was largely helped by the subsidies from Moscow. As a result of all these factors, the corruption, arbitrariness, and police- state measures in Cuba did not reach Eastern European levels.

But things were clearly headed that way. This can be seen even from what the Cuban leadership today is willing to acknowledge.

"Rectification" in Cuba?


Castro claims to be carrying out a "rectification" process in Cuba since 1986. As part of this, the Cuban leaders are admitting what embracing the Eastern European model was leading to. The Cuban leadership now talks of such ills plaguing them as "blind belief in mechanisms" and "formalism" in the party and mass organizations -- read bureaucracy and commandism. They mention the problem of following "other models" of economic management, such as capitalist methods, -- read "market-socialism."

Last year Cuba had much-publicized trials of top military and Interior Ministry officials for corruption, including involvement in international drug dealing. During these trials, the Cubans acknowledged that a whole layer of officials were living very privileged lives. This included having access to exclusive recreation centers, restaurants, shops, clinics, etc. Isn't this exactly what's been exposed about the lifestyle of the rich and corrupt rulers in Eastern Europe?

Does the present rectification hold the promise of revolutionary change? No. This isn't a new, revolutionary regime based among the toilers that may have temporarily gone astray -- it's an established bureaucracy which wants to avoid the crisis staring it in the face. The tinkering it is doing will not substantially change Cuban state-capitalism from what it has been. It may make things boil over yet.

Look at what the Cuban leadership is doing.

From the masses, the leadership demands austerity measures, sacrifices, and participation in voluntary labor efforts. One can understand that Cuba's tight situation demands austerity measures today (although the fact remains that the masses are paying for Castro's policy of making Cuba dependent on the Soviet bloc). But one does not see signs from Cuba that the leadership is mobilizing the workers to do away with the privileges of the ruling elite. One does not see workers being organized to assault the bureaucracy. One does not see a mobilization of the workers to build up a radically different economic and political system from what Cuba has been.

Some of the worst excesses may be being curbed, as in.the case of those j tried last year, but pro-Soviet revisionism didn't just mean these excesses -- it institutionalized a certain kind of state and economic system. This isn't being challenged.

The flip side of austerity for the masses is a demand for tightening law and order, censorship, discipline, etc.

The Cuban leaders know that Gorba- chovian and other pro-Western capitalist viewpoints exist in Cuba. Castro hints of that in many of his speeches. And why wouldn't there be pro-Gorbachev ideas in Cuba, since the Cuban leaders have copied all sorts of zigzags from the Soviet Union over many years now? They have even refused to come out with clear-cut condemnations of the Gorbachev policies. Castro says that while Gorbachev's policies may be OK for the Soviet Union they aren't needed in Cuba. Thus the Cuban leaders refuse to refute the Gorbachovian ideas in open polemics and debates among the Cuban people; instead they clamp down with repressive measures. They censor certain Soviet literature and come down hard on potential pro-Gorbachev groupings. But dealing with such a problem with police measures will only drive it underground. The recent history of Eastern Europe doesn't bode well for the success of such a policy.

The Castroite elitist tradition


It's no accident that the Castro regime is taking this type of stand. A longstanding feature of Castroism is its distrust of the self-motion of the working masses. Castroism is in essence a kind of benevolent despotism; it has long derided democracy itself equating it with bourgeois democracy. Whether it was military-style methods of work in the 60's or the Soviet revisionist model of bureaucratic management in the 70's, whether it was negating trade unions and disparaging any notion of elections in the 60's or adopting the Eastern European model of elections and mass organizations in the 70's -- Castroism has always been skeptical of working class democracy.

Castroism does have its mass mobilizations -- and these may well register the regime's, or at least Castro's own, popular support -- but the Cuban regime does not believe in raising the masses to take charge, to participate in running the society, to debate all the key issues facing them.

The Castro regime is clearly not the communist alternative that some left-wing groups are portraying it as.

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East German women face loss of abortion rights

The two Germanies are headed towards unification. The capitalist media tell us every day that this will bring wider freedoms and rights to the people of East Germany. But this isn't true on many social and economic issues. In many areas, West Germany has had worse laws than the East. Take women's right to abortion, for instance.

West Germany has a very restrictive abortion law, considered to be one of the most backward in Europe. Abortions are allowed only in cases of medical necessity, rape or incest, and in dire social and economic hardship. And those who want to get an abortion on economic and social grounds have to pass through much red-tape, including the favorable opinion of two doctors.

Meanwhile, in East Germany abortions during the first three months of pregnancy have been performed free upon demand.

As the two German states now get ready to merge, the Christian-Democratic government of West Germany insists that the East Germans must give way to West Germany's restrictions. Needless to say, women in East Germany are none too happy with this. They already expect to face considerable hardship with huge layoffs and price increases on the horizon, along with the loss of inexpensive child care at the job and other social benefits. Forcing women to have unwanted children is a crime, but the German ruling class couldn't care less.

Life in a united capitalist Germany, dominated by the West German ruling class, is bringing new hardships for the hard-pressed people of the East. This isn't what the East German working people hoped for as they fought against the state-capitalist tyranny of the false communists.

But they should not cave in and let the German capitalists have their way. Not on this question. And not in many other areas where they face pressure to go backwards.

Already the threats of big job losses are bringing sections of the masses into struggle. At the end of June, many workers and employees launched strikes and demonstrations.

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Germany puts up barriers against Gypsies

Hundreds of poor refugees have streamed into East Germany from other parts of Eastern Europe. Most of the migrants are people of the Roma nationality (gypsies), coming from Romania. They are trying to find a way out of the poverty in which they've been living. And life's also getting difficult in Romania, as bigots rear their heads spewing hatred against minorities.

But the East German government, which celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall, is putting up bans against the Gypsy migrants. And right-wing gangs are targeting the Gypsies for attack, alongside other immigrant groups, such as Turks and Vietnamese laborers.

This comes at a time when the Gypsies are also facing persecution in West Germany. Last year the government there detained Gypsies in several areas for deportation. When the Gypsies protested, police were called in to assault them.

Shame on the German governments for persecuting the Gypsies! The capitalist rulers of Germany have a long history of laws and acts against the Gypsies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Gypsies were whipped, branded, deported and hanged. Hitler sterilized Gypsy women and put the Gypsy people in concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands of Gypsies were killed by the fascists.

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Youth fight neo-nazis in East Germany


A wave of neo-nazi gangsterism has been launched in East Germany. Attacks against foreigners, gays, and progressive youth are on the rise. The squatter communities of leftist youth have come under especially violent attack.


But the youth are not taking these assaults quietly. They have fought back in many pitched battles. The clashes were especially fierce on April 20 when neo-nazis and fascist skinheads celebrated Hitler's birthday with a march that assaulted gays and immigrant workers.


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New tasks confront Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists


The situation facing the workers and peasants of Nicaragua has dramatically changed. The advent of the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution to power under Violeta Chamorro has put a close to the decade of struggles since the overthrow of the tyrant Somoza. The path of compromise with the bourgeoisie and Congress followed by the Sandinistas has led to disaster.

What next for the people?

The Sandinistas say wait six years for the next election, help President Chamorro get foreign aid, and try to work with her. But this is the path of bowing down to the bourgeoisie and begging hat in hand in front of imperialism. This is the path of converting Nicaragua into another Central America banana republic.

This is not the only path in Nicaragua. In May our Party sent a delegation for another visit to the comrades of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (MLPN). MLPN had run an election campaign pointing out the efforts of the Sandinistas and the bourgeoisie to come to a new social pact. After the election, they showed that this social pact was still in the making, only now the Sandinistas would be junior partners. After the election, when the Nicaraguan papers were full of talk of imminent civil war, they kept their head. They kept aloof from empty schemes and revolutionary boasting and instead threw themselves into the strikes and immediate struggles of the working masses. They continued work to organize the working class as a political force in its own right. For the Nicaraguan revolution can only come back as a class struggle -- the old Sandinista radicalism is bankrupt.

The joint communique between the Marxist-Leninist parties of Nicaragua and the U.S. expresses the path of continued struggle for revolution in Nicaragua. It expresses defiance of the bourgeoisie, of the collapsing revisionist world, and of the victory chants of Western imperialism.

The last ten years have been a major test for all Nicaraguan forces. And the outcome has brought crisis and reconsideration to the Nicaraguan left. The Sandinista leadership wants the FSLN to be just another reformist party. The Socialist and Communist Parties, even further to the right, have been associated with the right-wing opposition to the Sandinistas, and they are splitting up into numerous pieces. The Sandinistas have also given rise to some small splinters, to the right and left. But left Sandinism has proved incapable of dealing with the situation, as it has lamented the fiasco of Sandinism but adhered to the old Sandinista policies, failing to see that they have paved the way to the present disaster. MLPN's policy of relying on the working class has proved the only path showing what to do in the new situation.

At the same time, the present time calls for the MLPN and its friends to also consider the experience of the last years and to consider how to deal with the new pressures of work in the current period. What methods of work have been verified over the last period, and what has proved weak and insufficient? What are the strong points of MLPN's struggle and where must it change and improve?

Previously in Nicaragua, there was a revolution being whittled away by the Sandinista line of muzzling the masses in favor of a deal with the bourgeoisie. Today there is a bourgeois regime in Nicaragua. While some basic features of the struggle remain the same -- to organize the working class as an independent class force striving for a socialist rule of the working masses -- the methods of carrying the struggle forward will differ, often dramatically. The work for a new revolution differs in a number of ways from that calling for a continuation of the revolution of '79.

As well, today we live in the period of the collapse of the pretensions, and of the old-style regimes, of revisionism. This calls for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the anti-revisionist struggle. It calls for judging what methods have been used in the past to encourage the confidence of the masses in their power to create a new socialist society, and to show them that they are part of a world proletarian struggle, and to consider what methods have to be used in the present. It calls for considering what work has been done to create in the masses the burning hatred for revisionism as an enemy of revolutionary Leninism. It calls for bringing to the masses the lessons of the collapse of revisionism, and throwing aside empty sentimentalism.

In future articles, we will consider the balance sheet of MLPN's struggle, where it is going, what problems it faces, and what old traditions it must overcome.


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The World in Struggle




AFRICA - working people on the move

The spring of 1990 is seeing the masses in a number of countries taking to the streets, especially in West and Central Africa. The masses aren't willing to put up with local despots who have stayed in power for years and years. The toilers aren't willing to tolerate grinding poverty, as the local bourgeois class lives high off their labor.

The people of black Africa succeeded in throwing off the shackles of European colonialism, but the fruits of that struggle were largely stolen by local bourgeois elites. And imperialism maintained many privileges in Africa through neo-colonial methods.

The 1980's hit Africa especially hard. Plummeting oil prices brought the capitalist boom in Nigeria and other oil producing countries to a screeching halt. The fall of other commodity prices brought depression elsewhere. Add to that the growing debt burdens and the insistence of the IMF for more and more, austerity measures on the masses.

The economic collapse across Africa is feeding the fires of revolt. And the class struggle, between the workers and the local rich, is being increasingly brought to the surface.

For months now, the people of Ivory Coast have braved police attacks to press their demand for the removal of President Houphouet-Boigny. Workers have launched strikes to resist cutbacks.

Today, a number of other governments are also feeling the heat from their people.

Students riot in Zambia

Riots broke out in Zambia against food price increases June 25. President Kaunda recently doubled the price of cornmeal, the Zambian food staple, in order to appease imperialist financial institutions.

The rebellion began with a march of several thousand university students in Lusaka, who tried to bring their grievances to the office of President Kenneth Kaunda. Police and troops attacked the students with clubs and tear gas, and then opened fire with rifles. The students fought back by throwing rocks.

In the next couple days the protests spread to smaller cities throughout the country. Kaunda responded with vicious repression. Soldiers patrolled streets with automatic weapons, and many people were rounded up and held inside a stadium in Lusaka.

The latest report from Zambia suggests that the military has taken power in a coup d'etat.

Government massacres students in Zaire

In Zaire, the savage tyranny of the U.S.-backed dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, is being confronted by popular struggle.

The country has recently been reported alive with strikes and demonstrations following a government massacre in May. In April, President Mobutu announced he would make some political reforms and allow a multiparty system. But when demonstrations broke out, fierce repression followed. In the city of Lubumbashi, a number of student activists were "disappeared."

Student organizations then pinpointed government agents responsible for the disappearances, and carried out punishment of the agents.

Mobutu then sent special elite army units, trained by Israeli advisers, into Lubumbashi. On May 11, masked commando units from these forces attacked the university campus. The raid was carefully planned by local government authorities. The troops killed somewhere between 50 and 150 students.

Following the massacre, strikes broke out around Zaire. Students boycotted classes, while copper miners and doctors refused to work.

Upheaval in Gabon

Meanwhile, in neighboring Gabon, strikes and demonstrations swept through the country in early June after the murder of the leader of the main opposition party. Protesters accused the president of engineering the murder. Demonstrations centered in Port Gentil, an important oil-exporting harbor. France sent in army paratroopers to defend its oil installations and prop up the despotic regime.

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Workers fight to defend jobs in Brazil

Workers in Brazil are fighting President Fernando De Collor's austerity plan, which mandates the firing of 360,000 state-sector employees.

Dock workers shut down the country's ports the first week of June in a protest strike. Tens of thousands of petroleum workers partially closed some of Brazil's huge state-owned refineries with strikes in mid-June. And municipal electrical workers struck in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, causing widespread shortages of electricity.

Altogether some two million workers were reported to be on strike during the month.

Meanwhile, Brazilian land barons stepped up their death-squad activity against union leaders in the Amazon region. So far this year 11 leaders of an agricultural workers' union have been murdered.

General strike in Bolivia

Trade unions shut down Bolivia in a two-day strike June 20-21, called to protest higher gasoline prices. The latest price hikes add to the heavy burden already on the shoulders of the working class.

Strike against austerity in Uruguay

Uruguay was shut down on June 27 by workers protesting against President Luis Lacalle's austerity measures. Thousands of workers marched through the streets of Montevideo.

Teachers strike in Zimbabwe

Teachers in Zimbabwe waged a national strike for two weeks in early June, demanding a 33% raise. President Robert Mugabe responded by demanding that the teachers give up their demands and return to work. Those that refused were fired.

Teachers in Sierra Leone rebel against union hacks

20,000 teachers in the West African country of Sierra Leone are staying out on strike until all members of their union executive resign. The strike began May 24. Four days later, troops opened fire on strikers and killed four.

Death squads murder unionists in Haiti

Tontons Macoute death squads killed some trade union leaders at a political rally in Haiti on June 21. The murders show once again that the Tontons Macoute have yet to be rooted out since the overthrow of dictator Baby Doc Duvalier in 1987. And as long as the Macoute roam free, backed up by the ruling elite and military, will the rights of the working people remain threadbare.

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Bush - no friend of the Palestinian people

The Bush administration has just cut off talks with the PLO. These talks were never intended to gain freedom for the Palestinians; they were meant to cool down the Palestinian uprising by giving the appearance of U.S. concern for the Palestinian plight. U.S. policy has always been, and remains, fervent support for the Israeli state which exists on the back of the Palestinian people. Bush's suspension of talks with the PLO once again bears out this truth about U.S. imperialist policy.

No end to U.S. hypocrisy

Bush cut off the talks in retaliation for an attempted raid by Palestinian guerrillas against Israel on May 30. Never mind that the raid had been spectacularly unsuccessful -- the guerrillas were captured or killed by Israeli security forces. Never mind that the PLO itself condemned such raids in a general way. None of that was enough for the U.S. government; they wanted the PLO to grovel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli rulers get away with murder. Every day the Israelis are building settlements in the territories they seized and occupied in 1967. They seize Palestinians' land and force the Palestinians out of their own country. The Bush administration hypocritically says a few words against this, while at the same time making sure that the billions in dollars of annual aid to Israel keeps flowing through the pipeline.

The Israelis back up their settlement policy with vicious force. Any protest is attacked. An army colonel testified in court on June 21 that breaking the arms and legs of youthful protesters was official policy dictated to senior army officers by former Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin (of the Labor Party). And this is the "humane" treatment; the alternative is simply shooting down protesters. The army has killed hundreds of youths in the last two years. Israel has been suppressing demonstrations with such policies for years, while U.S. aid continued to flow. And the new Israeli cabinet is more right wing, more rabidly pro-settlement, than ever.

The list of Israeli outrages continues to grow during the Palestinian intifada (rebellion), now two and a half years old. Imprisonment of thousands without charge or trial for months on end. Imprisonment and expulsion of Palestinian writers and journalists for "incitement to rebellion." Murders by Israeli soldiers and unofficial death squads. Just this May, seven Palestinian day laborers were gunned down in cold blood by a supposedly "crazed" Israeli ex-soldier.

Is it any surprise that, under these conditions, there are Palestinian groups which launch desperate "revenge" raids against Israel? The recent guerrilla raid appears to have included plans for an indiscriminate attack on civilians. If so, such an act would be unjust and only hurt the Palestinian struggle. But it is not hard to see why some elements in Palestinian society are driven to desperate acts of revenge.

It is complete hypocrisy on the part of President Bush to demand that Yasser Arafat condemn every guerrilla action of the Palestinians, while the Israelis murder children on an everyday basis in the occupied territories.

Arafat's strategy has proven to be a dead end

The U.S. has once again exposed where it stands. The Palestinian people would do well to learn from this.

For years now, Arafat and the PLO leadership have promoted the idea that Palestinian freedom will come through the goodwill of the big imperialist powers, especially the U.S. But this strategy has proven to be a fiasco. Bush and Baker may talk about the "peace process" but nothing has changed for the Palestinians. There has been no letup in the savage repression by Israel.

But Arafat and the PLO leaders are not about to draw the proper lessons from their rebuff.

Arafat, for his part, had tried quite hard to appease Bush. The PLO leaders were desperate to maintain talks with the U.S., which have brought them further into the comfortable world of big-power diplomacy. But nothing less than a complete condemnation of any armed action against Israel would satisfy Bush, and this the PLO leaders are not quite ready to do.

Even after the suspension of talks, the PLO leaders are finding ways to heap praise on Bush and Baker. They are trying to arrange things diplomatically so that the talks can be resumed.

The talks may well resume, after some more concessions from the PLO. But that's not what the Palestinian people should orient their struggle towards.

No, the fight for Palestinian liberation requires developing the intifada. It requires taking the uprising out of the framework advocated by the PLO leadership, that it should simply be a means of pressure for a settlement arranged by the big powers. Instead, the intifada must be organized as part of a revolutionary struggle.

This means forging an alternative leadership to the reformist PLO, a leadership based among the workers and poor, independent from the bourgeoisified stratum which Arafat and Co. represent.

[Photo: Palestinian youth defy Israeli bullets with sticks and stones.]

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Chicago demonstrations support Palestinians

The May 20 massacre of seven Palestinian workers in Israel provoked outrage around the world. In Israel and the occupied territories, demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli army broke out. In Chicago, there were four demonstrations during the week of May 20 against the brutal Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and in support of the two-year-old Palestinian uprising, the Intifada.

On May 21 some 250 protesters picketed the very exclusive Racquet Club where the Israeli Consul-General was speaking before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Six people were arrested when the demonstration tried to break through the police lines to enter the club. Another woman was arrested inside the meeting when she stood up during the Consul-General's speech to read a statement against the killings.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, 100 people demonstrated in front of the American Red Cross headquarters in downtown Chicago demanding that the Red Cross send blood supplies for the many Palestinians wounded by the Israeli military.

Thursday, more than 300 people picketed in Daley Plaza and then marched to the Israeli Consulate where they mounted an angry picket line.

June 2 there was a demonstration of 170 people through downtown Chicago from the Tribune Tower to the Federal Building. The protest denounced the Israeli government for its oppression of the Palestinian people, and the U.S. government for its political, military and economic support of Israeli Zionism.

(Excerpted from June 12 "Chicago Workers' Voice,'' paper of the MLP-Chicago.)

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