The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 20, No. 8


25ยข August 1, 1990

[Front page:

Support the Native people!--Mohawks defend their land rights;

Down with Bush! No to job discrimination!;

Economy on the skids--Don't sacrifice for the rich!]


Step Up the Defense of Women's Rights!

Louisiana politicians want savage anti-abortion law; Bush vetoes family leave bill; Adoption the alternative?; Pro-choice Catholics excommunicated; Clinic defense resumes in Boston....................................................................................................... 2
Brooklyn clinic open despite Bishop Daily................................................................ 3

Supreme Court nominee:

Law and order zealot or mystery man?...................................................................... 3

Strikes and Workplace News

Arizona copper workers; Unemployed protest; L.A. garment workers; New Mexico fiberboard workers; Texas refinery explosion; Grape & fruit workers...................... 4

Pentagon puts on green mask..................................................................................... 5
West Virginia wants you to inform on neighbor......................................................... 5
The Struggle of the Homeless.................................................................................... 5

Down With Racism!

Civil Rights Bill 1990: Bush defends discrimination in the name of fighting quotas. 6
Miami Haitians; Hop! & Navajo fight Peabody Coal................................................. 6
Anti-immigrant crusade; 'English-Only' bigots.......................................................... 7

20 years since the Chicano moratorium:

Renew the fighting spirit of the 60's........................................................................... 7

For Workers' Socialism, Not Revisionist State Capitalism!

Poland: joys of free-market capitalism....................................................................... 8
Strikes in East Germany.............................................................................................. 8
Gorbachev's fiasco...................................................................................................... 8

What's going on in Albania......................................................................................... 9
6,000 Albanians seek asylum in embassies................................................................. 9

Nicaraguan workers strike against Chamorro............................................................. 10

May Day in the Philippines......................................................................................... 11

The World in Struggle

Rebellion in Kenya; Mandela defends Kenya regime; Right-wing terror in S. Africa; Strikes in Brazil, Honduras, Ecuador, Argentina; Greeks protest................... 12

Support the Native people!

Mohawks defend their land rights

Down with Bush!

No to job discrimination!

Economy on the skids

Don't sacrifice for the rich!

Step up the defense of women's rights!

Supreme Court nomination

Mystery man, or law-and-order zealot?

Pentagon puts on green mask

West Virginia wants you to inform on your neighbor

Struggle of the homeless


Strikes and workplace news

20 years since the Chicano Moratorium

Renew the fighting spirit of the 60's

No to the anti-immigrant crusade on the Mexican border

Down with the 'English-only' bigots

For workers' socialism, not revisionist state capitalism!

What's going on in Albania?

6,000 Albanians seek asylum in foreign embassies

Social pact betrays Nicaraguan strikes

May Day in the Philippines

San Diego janitors protest

The World in Struggle


Support the Native people!

Mohawks defend their land rights

Near the town of Oka, outside Montreal, Canada, a fierce clash took place on July 11. Mohawk Indians had been blockading the road for four months, determined to stop the town from expanding its golf course onto territory claimed by the Indians. The land includes a Mohawk burial ground.

Oka's mayor and town council obtained an injunction against the Mohawks' blockade, and on July 11 determined to enforce it. At 5:00 a.m. a force of 100 Quebec provincial police launched an assault against the barricade. They had with them an earth moving machine. The police fired stun grenades and tear gas at the Indians. They also opened fire with guns, although they were allegedly firing over the heads of the Mohawks, to frighten them.

But things did not work out as the police expected. Far from being frightened, the Mohawks stood their ground and returned fire with their own weapons. The wind shifted, driving the tear gas back into the police. One of the policemen was shot, and later died, though police reports monitored on radio at the time indicated that he was mistakenly shot by the police themselves. The policemen fled down the hill away from the barricade, abandoning the earth mover and a number of police cars.

The Mohawks joyfully seized the earth mover and used it to smash the police cars and reinforce their barricades. Then they proudly posed, standing on the police cars in victory.

Victory inspires other actions

News of the victory inspired mass actions by other Indian groups in Canada and the U.S.

South of Montreal, Mohawks blockaded a bridge on a heavily-traveled commuter route. On Walpole Island, near Detroit/Windsor, Indians blockaded the island for one day in solidarity. In Restigouche, Quebec, Micmac Indians openly fished without the required fishing licenses. The Innu of Labrador also went fishing without licenses, to assert their rights and in solidarity with the Mohawks. For years the Innu have been demonstrating against a NATO air force base near their homes, which are constantly buzzed by jets on low-level practice missions.

At the same time as the battle in Oka, Lillooet Indians in British Columbia set up blockades which choked off auto and rail traffic in the British Columbia interior. The Lillooet and Mount Currie Indians are pressing land claims which the government refuses to recognize.

There have also been support demonstrations in Canadian cities by progressive non-native people, including whites and immigrant groups.

A shameful history

The Canadian government, like the U.S., has a shameful history of mistreating the aboriginal peoples of Canada. For hundreds of years the government -- first French, then English -- tried to wipe out the Indian peoples and cultures. By the 1960's and 70's, however, when the peoples' movements were large, the government was forced to recognize that this was impossible. The government has since adopted an official policy of recognizing the Indians as distinct peoples within the Canadian constitution.

But this hasn't meant all that much. When Indians demonstrate against intrusions on their land or for fishing rights, as the Innu have done, they are thrown into jail and given heavy fines. The government claims it will eventually settle all Indian land claims, but it insists that it can only process six at a time. With hundreds of claims, this means it will be 150 years before many claims get processed!

In the case of the Mohawks, their land claim at Oka has already been in and out of the courts for 200 years. While the courts have stalled them, the Mohawks have seen their land get stolen away by developers.

The July 11 attack on the Mohawk barricade is particularly shameful. Throwing aside all talk of "minority rights" or even the "right to assemble," Quebec police launched a military-style raid on a group of people peacefully demonstrating against a golf course! After their defeat, the police have turned to a policy of starvation and intimidation, imposing martial law in Oka and laying siege to the Mohawk encampment. The fact that the blockade continues, two and a half weeks later, is a tribute to the Mohawks' fierce determination to defend their rights.

Native people across Canada are getting fed up with the government's promises of justice, some day. They want their grievances addressed today. The battle at Oka and its echo around Canada signifies that a new spirit of militancy is alive among the native peoples.

[Photo: Mohawk fighter stands defiant atop smashed police cruiser]

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Down with Bush!

No to job discrimination!

President George Bush has declared time and again that he is opposed to racism. But then why is he threatening to veto the Civil Rights Bill of 1990, which was just passed in the Senate and is soon to come up in the House?

The legislation would make it somewhat easier for people to bring lawsuits against job discrimination, reversing some of last year's racist rulings by the Supreme Court. But Bush opposes it because, he says, the bill would be too costly for businesses. Oh, now we see. Bush is "opposed" to racism unless discrimination makes good business sense.

But, of course, that's what racism and sexism is all about in this country. Job discrimination is rampant in this country, and it's growing worse. How else can you explain the fact that unemployment for black people is double that for whites? How else can you explain that black people, on the average, make only a little more than half the pay of whites -- a gap that has widened since the 1970's? And what about the recent federal survey in which, although the racism is minimized, some 10% of all employers admitted they are discriminating against Latinos and other "foreign looking" workers?

The capitalists have found that discrimination is profitable -- both in forcing Afro-Americans, Latinos, other minorities and women into lower paying jobs and also in splitting up the workers and thereby weakening the working class struggle against the capitalists. Bush is simply acting as the point man for the capitalists who are on a crusade to reverse the gains of the mass movements of the black people, Latinos, women, and other oppressed from the 1960's and 70's.

This racism must be fought. We must once again, like in the 1960's, take to the streets in struggle. Build up mass movements of the black people, the Latinos, the women and other oppressed! And, through struggle, unite the working class for a showdown with the capitalists!

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Economy on the skids

Don't sacrifice for the rich!

Recession is in the air. According to government statistics, economic growth is slowing to a crawl. Measured by jobs, five New England states and Michigan are already in a slump. Meanwhile New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and some other states are hardly much better. A total of 16 states, with more than a third of the country's population, are just in a recession or near one. And most of the rest are stagnant, with only a few showing continued growth.

For a decade, the Reagan-Bush administrations promised -- give to the rich, and the era of the boom-bust cycle is over. And Congress said Amen!

Slash taxes on the rich and let schools, hospitals, and social services decay, they said, and permanent growth is at hand. And Congress said Amen!

Take concessions, allow unsafe chemicals, and speed up until your hands are mangled by carpal tunnel syndrome -- and insecurity will be gone.

Don't worry about the rich, their prosperity was supposed to drive the economy.

But what happened?

The rich made out like bandits. But the evils of capitalism remain, the insecurity of layoffs and recession remain, and even worse times are ahead.

The concessions were not for the economy, but for the rich. The gap between rich and poor is larger than ever. In 1980, the most wealthy 1% of Americans received just about half as much after-tax income as the entire bottom 40%. Today, the most wealthy 1% are doing twice as well, making entirely as much as the bottom 40%.

Meanwhile more and more people who sweat are counted as "working poor." The number of people demanding food stamps shot up by more than 1.2 million over the last year. And, says Reggie Smith, chief of Florida's food stamp program, "the working population is the fastest-growing segment of poor folks."

Other economists worry that consumer spending for big items is dropping -- because employed workers just don't have the money to buy them. So much for all the talk about how Reaganism has brought years of increasing family income. It was all a mirage. It turns out that these families can't afford to keep up even their spending of the past. When wages were cut, more families had to turn to a second wage-earner -- but after working expenses, childcare expenses, increased fees of all types, and with lower wages or only part-time work, these families are finding it hard making both ends meet.

And that's not to talk about the unemployed. The bourgeois economists have written them off and don't even see them. East German workers went into the streets to protest 2% unemployment, but American workers are supposed to regard millions of workers unemployed as "full employment."

The last ten years have been hell for the workers, but heaven for the rich. And now a recession is on the horizon.

It is not due to some minor problem. It is not because the Federal Reserve did or didn't cut the interest rate.

It is because a system built on the exploitation of the working majority by the wealthy is unstable. It periodically goes into glut and decay. Ever since capitalism began, it has been subject to periodic slumps and crashes and depressions. And it still is today.

No more sacrifice for the rich.

The economists lied. The cuts in social programs didn't save the economy, they just lined the pockets of the rich while leaving the workers to the full ravages of poverty and despair.

No more sacrifice for the rich.

There is no reason why the executives and bondholders and bankers have to get 40 or 50 or 100 times what a worker makes. Have they run the S&Ls so well that they deserve their million dollar bonuses while the WIC program for food for children is cut and workers are told to give up their health insurance?

No more sacrifice for the rich.

It is time that the workers organized to have their say. We must organize together and end this ravishing of our welfare. We must organize so that we can eliminate this system of exploitation altogether and run the economy for the benefit of all. Away with an economy run for the rich. We need a system run by the workers in common for the benefit of all. A system without a class of parasites living it up at the expense of the mass. A system where production is for use, and so increasing production is not the cause of layoffs and misery and recession but of increased welfare for all.

Hard times are here. Let's show that we can learn its lesson.

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Step up the defense of women's rights!

Louisiana politicians want savage anti-abortion law

The Louisiana legislature is seeking a ban on abortion with savage penalties. The overwhelming majority of the Democratic and Republican party politicians want 10 years in jail and fines up to $100,000 for those participating in abortion.

Furthermore, according to Louisiana Attorney General William Guste, who would be responsible for enforcing it, the bill may well outlaw such contraceptives as the IUD. The bill forbids the "use of any instrument" to terminate a pregnancy, and the Attorney General said on July 12 that this might apply to IUD's and other contraceptives that work after the woman's egg has already been fertilized.

The legislature has twice this year passed such a ban, and twice seen it vetoed by Governor Buddy Roemer. Governor Roemer agrees with criminalizing abortion, and treating pro-choice doctors like murderers, but believes that it is all fair-minded and compassionate and caring as long as there are exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

The legislature first passed a bill in late June supposedly allowing abortion to save the life of the mother, but without exceptions for rape and incest. Governor Roemer vetoed it, and the Senate failed to override the veto by a mere three votes. Then the legislators in July pulled a parliamentary maneuver to immediately submit a second bill, which allegedly had these exceptions. (Amazing how easy it is to set aside the sacred parliamentary rules when the ruling class really wants to do something.) This bill was passed by even larger margins than the first bill.

But the fanatical anti-abortion politicians wrote the exceptions in a narrow-minded and grudging way. Thus, in case of rape and incest, it has to be reported to the police and medical authorities within a week of the assault. Furthermore, "simple" rape doesn't count, only "aggravated" rape, where the victim is threatened with death or injury from a weapon.

On the grounds that a short week-long reporting period is unrealistic, on July 27 Governor Roemer vetoed the bill again. Although so many politicians voted for this second version of the bill that there are easily enough votes to override Roemer's veto, the legislature is not currently in session. The politicians are deciding whether to call a special session in August dedicated to oppressing women, or to wait till next year. Louisiana just can't say "no" when it comes to beating up on women.

Bush vetoes family leave bill

On June 29, President Bush vetoed a family leave bill recently passed by Congress. Bush claims to be such a great booster of the family and motherhood that he just can't stand to see women have abortion rights. But when it comes to taking measures to ensure the well-being of working women and their families, he wants no part of it.

The family leave bill was mild as can be. All it would do is require employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and guarantee workers their jobs back when they return. And this would not apply to work sites with under 50 workers, so less than half of all workers would be covered. The bill is better than nothing. But paid leave is what is needed. Furthermore the millions of workers in small shops, including millions of workers with the lowest wages and least benefits, need coverage too. Thus the family leave bill did not come close to meeting the crying need for an adequate system of maternity leave and leave for family illnesses. The bill's backers, primarily Democrats, promoted it on the grounds that it wouldn't cost much.

But "Mr. Family" could not even tolerate a slight imposition on business. Bush declared, "I strongly object, however, to the federal government mandating leave policies for America's employers." He, however, has nothing against employers mandating policies for their workers, firing pregnant workers, or forcing them to work right through their pregnancies. It seems that "Mr. Family" is more concerned with the bank accounts of capitalist families than with the children of working class families. He can't tell the difference between a stock portfolio and a family album.

Adoption the alternative?

When women are faced with unwanted pregnancies, there is no lack of people with easy answers to pontificate to them. Some say that adoption is the answer. But not always. Take what's happening in Michigan.

Detroit area adoption agencies have been overwhelmed by the increase in poor, black babies being put up for adoption. They are turning away some pregnant women who want to put their baby up for adoption, and refusing requests from hospitals for them to take unwanted babies.

Among the factors believed to have caused this crisis is the cutting off of Medicaid payments for abortions in December 1988. Many poor women cannot now afford abortion.

Of course, a woman can leave her child in the hospital anyway. In this case, the police will charge her with child abandonment. The baby will become a ward of the court, to be bounced among foster parents. And if the women has other children, or is pregnant again in the future, her criminal record for "child abandonment" may be used to take her family away from her.

How much more "humane" and "pro-life" this solution is, than allowing the woman to abort and choose the time to raise her own family! It gives more employment to judges, police and social workers. It allows racist scribblers to denounce inner-city women as uncaring monsters. And it makes the woman fear her entire life that her family may be taken away. How much more caring, realistic, and godly than allowing the woman to have abortion rights! Why, what these women need is not more rights and more support, more jobs and more social services, but prayer meetings, stiffer laws, and jail sentences to deter abortion.

For some women, of course, giving up the child for adoption is a reasonable alternative. But for others, for example, it is psychologically impossible to give up the baby once it is born. And for still others, adoption isn't even a possibility, because the adoption agencies won't handle the babies. And the "pro-life" crusaders, who pushed through the Medicaid ban, are nowhere to be seen at the hospitals when it comes to adopting inner-city babies. For them, "life" is only valuable in the womb, or in the suburbs.

Pro-choice Catholics excommunicated in Texas

At the end of June, a Catholic bishop, Rene H. Gracida, excommunicated an abortion clinic director, Ms. Rachel Vargas, and an obstetrician, Dr. Eduardo Aquino, in Corpus Christi, Texas. He also issued two threats of excommunication against another local clinic director, Ms. Elva Bustamante. Meanwhile New York Cardinal O'Connor has threatened excommunication of politicians who vote for pro-choice bills, but Bishop Gracida is supposed to be the first who has actually begun a new round of excommunications.

The Church "automatically" excommunicates any woman who has an abortion. But for Vargas and Aquino, Bishop Gracida issued a formal decree under his ecclesiastical seal. This is supposed to be more severe. No matter. Vargas, Aquino, and Bustamante have said that they would continue their activities. Maybe the bishops should consider burning the heretics at the stake. How else can they enforce their bans on divorce, contraception, and abortion?

Clinic defense resumes in Boston

The militant clinic defenses in January demoralized the anti-abortion fanatics, and they are still trying to recover. For months "Operation Rescue" (OR) was passive, and mostly restricted itself to some brief raids on clinics during the mid-week. Now it is trying to get back into action.

The anti-abortion bullies called for a prayer rescue to harass women's health clinics on July 7. But the Boston Branch of the MLP mobilized for defense, distributing leaflets with an "OR alert" at a July 5 candlelight march held by NOW, at a gay rights march, and elsewhere.

On July 7, OR went to two clinics. While not trying to close the clinics, they sought to harass the clients. They surrounded the women with sidewalk counselors and were obnoxious.

The MLP contingent was among the first pro-choice forces to arrive, and set up a banner right next to the anti-abortion bullies' picket. This communist banner enraged some of the religious fanatics, and led to heated debate. Eventually the OR leaders shepherded their people away from the debate, as they saw it was hurting their cause. The pro-choice forces were outnumbered, but militant, and surrounded OR's picket.

OR resorted to video recording everything and trying to get pro-choice activists arrested. OR pretends to be a people's movement, like that of the 60's, but it turns out that it relies on police protection. The militant clinic defense has brought out OR's true colors.

On July 14, religious fanatics from the more "moderate" wing of the anti-abortion bullies called for another prayer vigil. Two hundred fifty of them turned up outside the PreTerm clinic. But 200-250 spirited pro-choice activists had showed up to defend the clinic, arriving before the "pro-life" hypocrites. They were fired up and kept up constant slogans. They had so many signs that people driving up probably thought it was a pro-choice victory rally.

Brooklyn clinic open despite Bishop Daily

Bishop Daily of Brooklyn holds monthly "prayer" rallies to deny women their abortion rights. On Saturday, July 21 he decided to harass a clinic in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Although this was a mainly Hispanic neighborhood, the "parishioners" he gathered in the local church were mainly older white people.

Seventy-five or so pro-choice activists gathered at the Obstetrics/Gynecology Pavilion early in the morning, determined to keep it open. Some activists escorted women coming to the clinic, while the rest marched to the nearby church where Bishop Daily was marshaling his forces, and put their heart into slogans denouncing the anti-abortion crusaders. Four hundred anti-abortion holier-than-thou's led by Daily set out to the clinic, but they were accompanied all along the way with slogans like "Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!" and "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!" Bishop Daily and his crew gathered in front of the clinic, but the pro-choice forces kept shouting them down with slogans and some songs ridiculing the church's anti-women stands.

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Supreme Court nomination

Mystery man, or law-and-order zealot?

Bush has nominated David Souter for the Supreme Court. A law and order Neanderthal. There isn't a police baton he doesn't like, or a working person's right that he does like.

A friend of the most diehard right-wing

It is said that Souter's views are unknown. Hardly. He has been the darling of the notorious New Hampshire style ultra right for some time. He was appointed attorney general, and then a Superior Court judge, by Governor Meldrim Thomson, a politician so ultraconservative that even Ronald Reagan hesitated at times to accept his support for fear of being discredited. He was appointed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court by then-governor John Sununu, Bush's present chief of staff, another ultra-conservative and notorious enemy of the rights of the people.

And what did he do in those positions?

Despite all the talk of Souter's "Yankee independence," there wasn't a cause too outrageous for him to defend.

Nothing too ridiculous to faze him

As attorney general, Souter successfully persuaded a judge to give 15 days hard labor to nine protesters who had occupied the hazardous Seabrook nuclear plant.

When Meldrim wanted to lower flags in a religious observance on Good Friday, Souter defended this before the courts and, with a straight face, solemnly put forward that Christ was not a religious figure.

No matter how petty the cause of regimentation and repression, Souter was the man on the spot. Someone objected on religious grounds to displaying the state slogan "Live free or die." (This slogan appears on all New Hampshire automobile license plates, which are made by prison labor, giving you an idea of what New Hampshire rural conservatives mean by "freedom.") And under Souter as attorney general, the man was prosecuted. What possible harm could be done to the license plate by covering up that slogan, but leaving the license numbers fully visible? But the conservative partisans of "small government" always hasten to bring the government baton down on dissenters.

As a judge, Souter continued in the same direction as he had taken as attorney general. He is said to have never voted against the police on any case. Except in a rape case. He objected to the victim not having to testify about how she was behaving prior to being assaulted.

Souter also upheld the sordid cause of prejudice and ill-will. In 1987, as a New Hampshire Supreme Court justice, he joined in a ruling that homosexuals may be barred from becoming adoptive or foster parents.

Rich and lonely

Souter is not one of the common people. He is a a wealthy man, with net worth over $620,000 (of which only $150,000 is his house and farm). He may not even have much knowledge of what modern life is all about, or what an urban worker or an inner-city dweller faces. He is an isolated semi-hermit, living on his small farm house, indignant at $30 utility bills (oh, horrors), and proud of not reading newspapers. But fear not. The newspapers tell us he is a learned man -- about the days of yore gone by and the intricacies of legal word-chopping.

Senate sees nothing wrong

The Democrats in the Senate are unlikely to get too upset about this. After all, from Kennedy on down, they have all been cooperating with the Republicans in passing one "law and order" bill after another. Recently the Senate Democrats have passed another omnibus crime bill, and made a big fuss of extending the federal death penalty to dozens of new offenses.

Abortion rights?

There is instead a lot of talk that Souter is some type of mystery. For example, it is said that his views on abortion are unknown. A big deal has been made of his letter, nine years ago, to the New Hampshire legislature. On behalf of his fellow New Hampshire Supreme Court judges, Souter opposed the loophole in a New Hampshire parental consent law that allows minors to appeal to judges for consent for their abortion. But all he was worried about was that judges were involved and that the law didn't provide any guidelines. He did not oppose the parental consent law in itself.

Actually, his mentor John Sununu, who pushed Bush to nominate him, probably has an excellent idea of what Souter thinks. But even if Souter should surprise Bush and Sununu and not oppose Roe v. Wade, he is known to oppose the rights of the common people down the line in general.

Where do rights come from?

The appointment of Souter bears on the controversy over how to maintain abortion rights and other rights. The NOW leadership, and establishment women's organizations in general, have argued for relying on the police and courts. Yet we have seen one decision against abortion after another from the Supreme Court. The appointment of Souter only underlines that nothing can be expected from this court.

The establishment groups have occasionally won a few victories in court against the anti-abortion crusaders, such as in May with two Supreme Court decisions. But in such cases, the courts generally aren't upholding abortion, but laws and regulations against demonstrations and mass actions. It is disgraceful, but NOW has, in fact, been pioneering in the political use of the notorious and elastic RICO racketeering law. If this works, it would provide the dream weapon for prosecutors opposing any demonstration or mass movement whatever.

The appointment of Souter highlights the suicidal tactics of supporting repression as the way to achieve abortion rights. One can expect more anti-demonstration decisions from the courts. Only, it can be expected the brunt of these decisions will fall on the progressive forces.

Indeed, Souter's law and order views simply reinforce where the court is already going. For example, in 1985 Souter was the only dissenter when the New Hampshire Supreme Court knocked down the use of police sobriety check lanes, which stop all motorists indiscriminately and check for intoxication, but the federal Supreme Court has since upheld this practice. And this year alone the Supreme Court has been increasing the power of the police in decision after decision.

With a court headed by Rehnquist and full of wealthy conservatives like Souter, the working class can expect nothing good from it. It is clear that we will only have the rights that we are willing to stand up for, to organize for, and to enforce with our own mass action.

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Pentagon puts on green mask

The Pentagon is turning green! The military wants to be the vanguard of the environmental fight. This is the latest word from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Hard to believe? Doesn't seem quite right that these despoilers of the earth would suddenly see the error of their ways? Well, you see, they explain they have seen the light: saving the environment is a national security mission.

More aptly, we might say, saving the bloated military budget is their national security mission.

The military budget has consumed trillions of dollars in the last decade, the bulk of it bled from the working class, every cent diverted from the real needs of the people. But with the waning of the cold war, it is hard even for the most die-hard warmongers to use the old excuses for such gigantic expenditures.

This has thrown the "military-industrial complex" into a panic. It would be ungracious for them to explain that the working class needs to tighten its belt further so they can continue to enrich themselves. And it would be most untactful to explain that the real purpose of all this military hardware is not defensive, but to cast the threat of American aggression around the globe. So the Pentagon, its industrial allies, and their political hacks have been desperately trying to find new "national security" tasks to secure as much money as possible for the military.

They've been floating several of these great new missions. Let the military fight terrorists! Or drugs! Or illegal aliens! But the problem for the military is that none of these "missions" explains why we need so many squadrons of bombers, thousands of cruise missiles, Star Wars, the space shuttle, fleets of tanks, submarines, aircraft carriers -- all the big ticket items.

Well, now Senator Sam Nunn (D- Georgia) and his fellow Democrats on the Armed Services Committee have found an answer: a new "Strategic Environmental Research Program" that will, "enlist the research talent available to the military and intelligence establishment, as well as its computers, planes, ships, satellites and other resources, to address environmental threats." (New York Times, June 29) Rather than cut the military budget, this program would only raise it a few billion more.

What exactly do these Senators have in mind? Well, nuclear submarines could measure the thickness of the polar ice. "Aircraft, ships, submarines and satellites [that about covers everything, doesn't it?] could collect information on air and water quality and on the global climate," while on military exercises. New nuclear reactor designs could be developed.

Now surely they could be more imaginative? What about tactical nuclear strike forces targeted against polluters? How about testing the environment's resiliency through the release of strategic amounts of chemical and biological agents? And nowhere do we see any mention of putting emissions control devices on missiles. Or studying ecological problems on Mars.

This proposal, so cleverly cloaked in the garb of "environmental concern" is the height of hypocrisy. Who is the biggest polluter in the world? The US military. Who poisoned thousands around the Hanford nuclear facility in the northwest -- with emissions as bad as Chernobyl, the New York Times reported recently -- and then hid the fact for 30 years? Who dumped so much nuclear and toxic waste in Ohio it will take $40 billion to clean it all? Who is planning on restarting its tritium processing plants in South Carolina despite open admissions that they are unsafe to run? Who continues to poison the people of Colorado with releases from its Rocky Mountain Arsenal plant? Who has marched men to ground zero of nuclear bomb blasts to see the effects? Who is still developing new chemical and biological agents? All this and more, much more, can be laid at the door of the Pentagon.

To then invite the military to simultaneously "safeguard" the environment is like inviting the fox in to watch the chicken coop while he has a sack full of squawking fowl under his arm. But Nunn and Gore aren't fools. They have no intention of "saving" the environment; only saving the military establishment.

It is an undeniable fact that monopoly capitalism and its insatiable drive for profit at all costs is fast destroying the ecological balance of this world. And just as a single toxic waste dump saves the polluter perhaps tens of thousands while costing millions to clean up, so it will eventually cost us tens or hundreds of times more than today's profits to actually repair the damage. This vast destruction is one of the strongest and clearest arguments for true social (rather than individual or corporate) control over the means of production -- and pollution. Only workers' socialism can ensure that overall costs and benefits are properly weighed and balanced.

The cynicism of the capitalists and their military knows no bounds. Having despoiled the earth, they now want the working class to hand over hundreds of billions more to supposedly clean it up. Aircraft carriers to take water samples! Why not also use the space shuttle to pick up garbage on Mondays and Thursdays?

No more lies! No more tribute for the generals and billionaire merchants of death!

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West Virginia wants you to inform on your neighbor

In July, West Virginia police have established a program to enlist the population as secret informers on each other. This is to be done by filling out a coupon and mailing it to the state police. No name needed. Just give the name, address or license plate number of anyone you want to denounce for being a suspected drug dealer or user. Or, you can phone the information into a toll- free number.

The program was begun on a trial basis earlier, when the Williamson Daily News printed coupons and called for people to fill them in and send them to the state police. Nearly 700 coupons were sent to police in Williamson and Mingo County. As a result, federal, state and local authorities arrested 46 people during June in Mingo county. So the police have made the program permanent. And now every time the police make a routine traffic stop, they hand out a coupon and encourage people to make use of it.

To calm people down, the police claim that they don't act against anyone on the basis of anonymous tips alone. Sure. As a matter of fact, the craze for anonymous denunciations is spreading across the whole country, and the police do act on them. HUD secretary Jack Kemp is trying to evict people from public housing on the basis of accusations alone, without court hearings. The law also now provides for the confiscation of the property of suspected drug dealers prior to a trial, and even if no trial and no conviction takes place. The Supreme Court also ruled in mid-June that police can stop and question people on the basis of an anonymous tip, provided it is partially confirmed. (For example, the tip says that the suspect is wearing a blue shirt, and lo and behold he is.) And there is the well-known practice of heavily armed police ransacking homes and apartments, without warning, on the basis of suspicion.

So much for the right to confront one's accuser. So much for innocent until proven guilty.

But all rights for the informer. The West Virginia police also say that there is no penalty for sending in malicious reports, that is, conscious lies, even if you sign your name. So if you have a score to settle, (but no conscience to placate), let your imagination soar.

As we have seen, the West Virginia program is by no means unique. There are many programs across the country for denouncing people to the police. The West Virginia program seems to have caught the attention of some reporters because the idea of coupons seemed unique. But, if anything, the West Virginia program is mild in at least one respect -- it doesn't pay informants. In some other programs, procedures have been established to allow payments to anonymous informants who are identified only by number, if their tips are found useful.

There was a time when movies ridiculed futuristic police states for having boxes, a sinister type of suggestion box, where citizens could issue anonymous denunciations of their neighbors and co-workers. The implication was that nothing like that was happening here. But from denouncing one's friends and acquaintances in the post-World War II Red Scare to the present-day military's 800 number for reporting suspicious people, from company spies in the work place to coupons for anonymous denunciations in the "drug war," spying has become a way of life in America.

But the police and ruling class must feel isolated indeed, if this is what they have to resort to. The real power resides not in those who can think of nothing better but secret informers and more jails to hold those who have been denounced, but in those who stand for organizing together on the basis of the mutual discussion and confidence of the working people. The future lies not with the informers, but with a working class that will stand together and stamp out this capitalist reign of insecurity and fear.

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Struggle of the homeless

Homeless people occupy Atlanta hotel

Over 240 homeless people have seized the long-abandoned Imperial Hotel in Atlanta. The occupation began on June 19, when about 10 homeless activists marched into the building and hung a banner across the building that declared, "House the homeless here." Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's Democratic mayor, complained that the hotel was an unsafe "firetrap," and he warned that the homeless could not remain there long. But the homeless activists defied him, have continued their occupation, and the number of occupiers has continued to grow each day into mid-July.

It is estimated that there are some 14,000 homeless people in Atlanta. And their plight has grown worse this summer. In April, the city closed its emergency shelters, involving some 1,000 beds, for the summer due to the "nice weather." And Atlanta's school board is now closing the 300-bed Atlanta Union Mission. The homeless have no place to go. But if they are found on the streets they face police terror. The city's plans to "revitalize" downtown and make it a "hospitality zone" for the rich has led to police carrying out a series of beatings, roundups, and other attacks on the homeless.

While the city is spending $142 million for a domed football stadium, putting out $5 million for the Super Bowl, and slating $1 billion to bring the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, it claims to have no money to help the homeless. Obviously, the homeless are right to take action themselves.

Protests hit mayor's roundup of the homeless in San Francisco

Police swept through San Francisco's Civic Center area July 6, arresting 13 people and driving an estimated 300 homeless people out of the area. More homeless people were arrested on the next two days.

The Democratic Mayor Art Agnos claims that homeless people no longer have to stay in the Civic Center area because he is providing two "multi-service centers" that will help them back into productive lives. But the night before the raid, homeless people marched to one of the shelters and were told that all of the 200 beds were occupied. Furthermore, neither of the centers have yet put in place the supposed "services" that Agnos promised -- and they won't at least "for a couple of months."

Homeless people marched on Agnos' home the night of July 6 to protest the police sweeps. At least two protesters were arrested and police seized food and a van with cooking utensils that had been brought to feed the homeless.

Houston homeless protest

Hundreds of homeless people had found shelter under an elevated freeway in Houston. But they were evicted to create a good face for the Economic Summit of the seven imperialist powers that was held in Houston the first week of July.

About 400 people came out to protest this and other attacks on the poor. They encircled the block housing the headquarters for the Houston Host Committee for the summit. And later they held a rally under the elevated freeway.

No to camping ban in Santa Cruz

Hundreds of homeless people marched in Santa Cruz, California July 4. They demanded housing. And they also demanded an end to police abuse and arrests. Santa Cruz has passed a ban on camping and is using it to sweep homeless people off the streets.

Bail out the homeless, not the banks

Nearly 1,000 people marched through Chicago's Loop July 16 demanding affordable housing. The protesters rallied in front of the U.S. League of Savings Institutions. With signs like "Bail out communities, not crooks!" they denounced Bush for spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the Savings and Loans Banks while spending only pennies for the homeless.

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Civil Rights Bill 1990

In the name of fighting quotas, Bush defends discrimination

Every time someone calls for an end to job discrimination, somebody jumps up and cries "Oh no, we can't allow quotas." The Reagan government used hysterical shouts against quotas to denounce even the idea that statistical evidence of racial disproportions at a work place could be used to show discrimination. It was on such arguments that the Supreme Court struck down a series of bars to job discrimination over the last several years. And now Bush has picked up the charge against quotas to denounce, and to threaten to veto, the Civil Rights Bill of 1990.

But what are they really complaining about? There is nothing in the new civil rights bill that mandates quotas. Indeed, the Democrats who wrote this bill -- Kennedy in the Senate and Hawkins in the House -- even amended it to say that nothing in the act should be construed to require an employer to adopt hiring or promotion quotas.

Then what's the issue? Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who led the attack on the bill in the Senate, explained "First of all, we admit that the act does not require quotas. We have never argued that the bill expressly requires or demands quotas. But as a result of the way this bill rewrites the disparate impact theory, the only way that employers can avoid costly lawsuits they are almost certain to lose is to adopt quotas."

Now let's see if we got this right. First a capitalist boss is shown to have hired less minorities or women than there are in the population. The capitalist was discriminating by race or sex and so, as Hatch admits, "they are almost certain to lose" lawsuits on the subject. Then, the boss, rather than pay for a "costly lawsuit," hires and promotes more minorities and women and thus eliminates the disparity in his business. Most people would say good, something is being done - about job discrimination.

But what most people would praise as measures for "equality" Hatch and Bush denounce as being "quotas." "Quotas" has just become a code word to oppose using statistical evidence to show discrimination or to fight any measures against discrimination.

Democrats bending to Bush

This is racism, pure and simple. But the Democrats, the supposed champions of the oppressed and poor, are bending to it.

In fact, the Democrats already tried to amend the bill to make it more like what Bush wants. But due to the wrangling in the Senate, this was blocked the day the bill was passed. Now the Democrats are promising to amend the bill in the House or in the conference between the House and Senate.

To keep the bill from being "too costly" for businessmen, Kennedy has promised to put a cap on how much damages a boss can be forced to pay.

As well, some Democrats have been clamoring that the bill should be amended to ensure that a capitalist's practices would not be found discriminatory simply because statistics showed that he had disproportionately failed to hire or promote minorities and women. (Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 21) And Kennedy has pledged to consider some such changes in answer to Bush's charge that this is a quota bill.

The interests of business is the bottom line

But even without amendments, this bill is far too weak. After all, the Democrats agree with Bush's premise that the capitalists should be allowed to discriminate if it is a "business necessity."

The most common dodge of the bosses is to complain that there are not enough "trained" blacks or women and that's why they don't hire or promote them. Kennedy's bill, with no amendments to it, accepts this dodge. It differs with what Bush wants only in that it makes the capitalists bear the burden of proof that they had a "business necessity."

But the bottom line remains "business necessity" -- the almighty dollar. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are a party to serve and work for the interests of the capitalist class. And as long as the capitalists rule, discrimination will prevail.

Miami Haitians protest racism

Shouting "Stop police brutality!" 200 Haitians picketed the Biscayne Shopping Plaza in Miami on July 7. They were protesting the vicious police attack on 1,000 protesters at the plaza two days earlier.

This struggle began at the end of June, when a Cuban store owner and his son beat up a Haitian man who had complained about the merchandise he had bought. The store owner then called police who arrested the Haitian and three passers-by who had come to his aid.

That night Haitians began gathering in front of the store to denounce the attack and call for the arrest of the store owner instead. The next day more than 1,000 protesters picketed the store. For most of the day, the protesters stood their ground against 100 cops, chanting "Racism must go!" and other slogans. The police asked the owner to close the store for a while to let tensions cool.

On July 5, the store reopened. And 1,000 protesters again showed up to demand justice. They carried signs declaring "No More Hitlerism!" "Justice for Haitians!" and "Fight Racism!" The Miami police would have none of it. About 150 cops charged the protesters, clubs swinging. At least 12 demonstrators were hospitalized and 63 were arrested, Over 30 were taken to the Krome Detention Center and threatened with deportation.

Other black people joined the Haitians on July 7 to protest this police assault.

Hopi and Navajo fight Peabody Coal

Hopi and Navajo farmers in Arizona are fighting to stop Peabody Coal from stealing their water.

For two decades Peabody has been siphoning upwards of 1.4 billion gallons of water annually from an ancient aquifer under their reservations. The water flowing from the aquifer has traditionally been used to irrigate the Indians desert cornfields. But today there is not enough water for irrigation. The Indians insist that the water shortage they are now suffering is not the result of drought but due to Peabody's operations.

Peabody leases a strip mining operation on the Navajo reservation. It uses the water to transport the mined coal through a 273-mile-long pipeline slurry to a power plant on the Arizona-Nevada border. This is the only slurry operating in the U.S. The coal company has requested the Department of the Interior to grant them a "life-of-mine" lease. This would allow them to greatly increase mining, while pumping even more water out of the aquifer for another 21 years.

The Indians have opposed this request, demanding instead that the mine continue operating on a "conditional permit" basis. And that alternatives to the draining of the aquifer be used, such as finding other water sources or building a rail line to replace the slurry.

So far though, the federal government has stood on the side of the Peabody capitalists. A recently completed environmental impact survey was released by the department's Office of Surface Mining. This survey was the first ever done on the 64,858-acre Peabody mining tract. It found, much to the delight of Peabody, "no material damage" to the aquifer, air quality or biological resources. This merely strengthened Peabody's argument to allow them to continue plundering the water as well as environmental damage.

The Indians are demanding the Office reject the environmental impact study as unacceptable. They point out they have had hydrologists studying the region for two years in preparation for an Arizona Indians' water rights case. They contend this data will show the error of the impact statement. In fact, after reviewing the water assessment from the Office of Surface Mining, a water reclamation specialist employed by the Hopi has said water should be flowing in the wash near the villages, even during the hottest, driest months.

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Strikes and workplace news


Arizona copper workers on strike

Over 650 workers struck Asarco copper in Hayden, Arizona July 1. This is the first copper strike since 1983 when Phelps Dodge and the Arizona National Guard defeated striking miners after a bitter two-year battle.

Asarco is the third largest copper company in the world. In the recent period the price of copper has doubled, and record profits are being made. However, in typical capitalist fashion, Asarco. is demanding medical and pension givebacks and drastic work rule changes. Asarco wants cross-training so that any worker could be used for any job, even if it is not their specific job classification. In addition, Asarco wants 12-hour shifts, the dropping of callback rights from four years to two years, an increase in probationary periods to six months instead of three months, and that grievances must be filed by individuals rather than by union representatives.

The Asarco miners already have lower wages and benefits than other union copper miners in Arizona. In the 1986 concessions contract, the workers lost $4.50 in wages. Now, they want to recover what they have lost.

Two rallies have been held by the strikers in nearby Kearney, Arizona. They have been joined on their picket line by fellow miners from Asarco's Mission mine and Asarco's smelter in Hayden.

[Photo: Striking Asarco copper workers in Arizona]

Unemployed protest in Indianapolis

In a spontaneous protest at the Department of Employment and Training Services in Indianapolis at the end of June, about 80 unemployed people organized an on-the-spot action against the appointment practices of the office.

The action was initiated by a former substitute teacher who was upset that the office makes specific appointments with clients, but when people show up on time they have to get in line to wait and see a clerk. Often workers are made to waste half a day waiting even though an appointment has been scheduled.

Many of the workers at the office joined the protest. They printed slogans in lipstick on pieces of cardboard reading, "State Employment Unfair!"

The protest had an immediate effect. Four clerks were added to the two who were already seeing clients which sped up the process a bit. However, the protesters are not stopping there. They passed around a petition demanding an end to the practice.

Victory for the Proud Stitch workers!

In a Los Angeles garment sweatshop, 225 workers recently won a ten-week strike.

The workers at Proud Stitch, Inc., a swimwear firm, walked off their jobs in protest over the concentration camp conditions in the plant and the firing of workers involved in a union organizing drive. Company thugs assaulted some of the workers as they walked out and then tried to lock in the other workers. Despite these actions, picket lines were quickly established.

The strong strike buckled the knees of the company. The workers won a 16% pay raise, health insurance, paid holidays and vacation, union protection -- all for the first time! And the workers who were fired for organizing were rehired.

New Mexico workers strike fiberboard plant

Workers struck the Monta II a de Fibra fiberboard plant in Las Vegas, New Mexico in June. The 75 workers are demanding safe working conditions; pay equal to that made in their sister plant in Portland, Oregon ($4 more an hour); and a commitment to the safety and security of the environment.

At MDF, the workers do not have access to either firefighting equipment or respirators, a necessity in this line of work. Neither do they have protection and monitors for handling radioactive material. Yet they are forced to work 12-hour shifts, six days a week.

Company strikebreaking has grown desperate. It's gotten the school board to fire 13 employees of the West Las Vegas School District for publicly supporting the strike.

Texas refinery explosion

On July 12, an explosion at the Atlantic Richfield Company refinery in Channelview, Texas killed 17 workers -- five ARCO employees, a truck driver and 11 employees of Austin Industrial, Inc., the maintenance contractor.

ARCO is claiming this is a tragic accident. But the truth is that ARCO's greed for profits made this a tragedy just waiting to happen.

ARCO has made wide use of contract workers in the plant. Often they are not well trained or aren't informed about particular safety issues in the mill. And ARCO and the contract bosses drive them to the most unsafe practices. The wife of one victim reported that her husband had called her three times before the explosion. He complained that the workers were worn out. And they were nervous about starting up a compressor without a test of the levels of flammable gases in the area. She said he had been working 80 hours a week. And other reports note that the explosion occurred shortly before midnight, after the crew had been on the job for 17 hours.

Overwork and unsafe working conditions led to this tragedy. And capitalist greed lit the spark.

Grape and fruit workers win union drive

Some 3,000 grape and fruit workers in California fought an enormous intimidation campaign by Garin Co. to win a drive to unionize. In a last ditch attempt to smash the union drive, Garin laid off 1,200 workers in the weeks just prior to the vote on unionization. It also tried to coerce workers by shutting down company housing, turning off gas, removing workers' mattresses, and closing down the community kitchen.

But the workers would not be intimidated. By official count, 60% of the votes were for the Farm Workers union. An additional 20% of the ballots, most in support of unionization, were challenged by the bosses.

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20 years since the Chicano Moratorium

Renew the fighting spirit of the 60's

August 29 marks the 20th anniversary of the National Chicano Moratorium. On that day 20 years ago, more than 20,000 Chicanos demonstrated in East Los Angeles against the U.S. imperialist war on Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos. They also protested the oppression of the Mexican nationality people in the U.S.

The march was attacked by the police, and the moratorium turned into a major street battle that spread through many of the barrios of L.A. County. The resistance of the masses injured dozens of policemen and smashed 25 police cars. They set ablaze numerous banks, finance companies, and stores that were notorious for their exploitation of the community. It took the police two days to suppress the uprising. Three people were killed, over 60 hospitalized, and several hundred were arrested. But as this battle ended, others burst out. The masses continued to protest the police abuse, and street fighting erupted again several times during the next six months.

A call for liberation

The Chicano Moratorium was a major event in the mass movements of the 1960's. This was one of the biggest protests ever held by Chicanos. But more. It indicated that the masses had begun to recognize the link between U.S. imperialism's war in Asia and the oppression of Chicanos at home.

They denounced the racial discrimination that led to Chicanos suffering a disproportionate number of casualties in the war. They started supporting liberation struggles against the U.S. around the world. And they began to condemn the imperialist system and to make their rallying cry "Our war is here!"

As well, the street battles showed that the masses would not sit still for the terror of the police and the hated la migra (immigration agents) which had kept them under heel in the ghettos. They took to direct, mass resistance to defend themselves, to stand up for their rights, to confront the system.

Mass anger mounting today

Many of the conditions that lit the fuse of struggle 20 years ago are again fueling a deep anger in the Chicano community today.

Chicanos -- both those born in the U.S. and those who have immigrated from Mexico -- form an oppressed nationality in the U.S. And today, facing economic crisis and increased world competition, the U.S. capitalists are trying to turn the clock back on gains made from the Chicano struggles of the 1960's and early 1970's.

The U.S. has joined with Mexican capitalists in a drive for austerity and layoffs in Mexico. This is forcing many people to seek jobs in the U.S. But once here, the masses face rampant racism which the U.S. capitalists foster to push all the Chicano working people into the lowest paying sweatshops and ghetto housing. The right to speak Spanish is under attack. The laws against immigrants are intensifying job discrimination and bigotry against all Chicanos. Meanwhile -- whether in the name of a "war on drugs" or "stopping illegal immigration" -- the police are barricading off entire barrios, threatening to deport strikers, and stepping up everyday harassment and arrests.

These attacks are bringing some sections of the masses into struggle. Most Mexican nationality people are workers, and they form an important contingent of the U.S. workers' movement. In the last period Chicano farmworkers, meat-packers, food processors, clothing workers, and others have waged strikes and organizing drives to defend themselves. Struggles have begun against the deportation threats against militants. And there are fights to defend language rights at various work places.

As well, protests have broken out against attacks on immigrants on the border and against the notorious INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) detention centers. There is growing anger against police repression in the barrios. And Chicanos have come out to join the marches against U.S. aggression in Central America and to support the struggles of the working people in Mexico.

Although these struggles are still small and scattered, they are a sign of the discontent welling up in the Mexican nationality communities. They need to be built up into a broad, militant mass movement.

But there are various reformists who are toning down the fight and working to keep it under the control of soldout union bureaucrats and Democratic Party hacks. Some, like Ceasar Chavez, are splitting up the Chicanos by supporting the anti-immigrant crusade of the capitalists and the AFL-CIO bureaucracy. Others talk of defending immigrants, but limit the struggle to things like begging the police to stop cooperating with the INS or making minor changes in the vicious anti-immigrant law. Meanwhile, they all preach that salvation for the masses will come by electing rich Chicanos or other liberal politicians of the Democratic Party. They hide the fact that the Democrats are servants of the capitalists, just like the Republicans, who have written or conceded to every new attack on the Chicanos -- be it anti-immigrant legislation, English-only laws, or the cuts in unemployment insurance, housing, welfare and other social benefits.

Build the movement

The masses must break free of these misleaders. It's time to renew the fighting spirit of the 60's. It's time to stand up to the racism and police repression, and to target the capitalist system that breeds it.

A march to Salazar Park has been called for Saturday, August 25 to commemorate the Chicano Moratorium. If this, or other actions, take place, workers of all nationalities should join this action and use it to build up the fight in defense of the Mexican nationality people. Full rights for the immigrant workers! Down with racism and "English-only" bigotry! Decent jobs, housing, and health care for all! Support the struggles of working people of Central America and Mexico! To the struggle!

[Photo: Chicano Moratorium march in East Los Angeles, August 29 1970]

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No to the anti-immigrant crusade on the Mexican border

Demonstrators from Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego have joined hands to confront a racist anti-immigrant crusade on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Racists calling themselves the "Alliance for Border Control" have driven into San Ysidro to shine car lights across the border once a month since last winter. These "Light Up the Border" actions try to spot Mexican men, women and children running through the brush into California in search of jobs. The racists wave banners reading "Long Live la Migra!" and shout racist slurs at the immigrants.

But people from Mexico and the U.S. have joined forces to mount demonstrations in support of the immigrants. The anti-racist protesters raise their own banners demanding "No Apartheid on the Border!" and "End Racism Now!" They shout slogans in Spanish and English: "No Mas Racismo!"/"No more Racism!" and "Somos un pueblo sin fronteras!"/"We are a people without borders!" And they hold up mirrors and large sheets of plastic to deflect the car lights back at the racists.

The racist Alliance for Border Control tries to scapegoat the immigrants for all the ills of U.S. society. It blames immigrants for everything from drug dealing to traffic congestion and pollution in Los Angeles. Its chief propagandist is the former mayor of San Diego, Rodger Hedgecock, who now spews racist filth against the immigrants on his radio talk-show. The head of the "Alliance" is Muriel Watson, the former spokeswoman for the union representing border control agents and the wife of a now-deceased border patrol pilot.

This organization is obviously no group of ordinary people. It is an attempt to create a racist mass movement to back up the desire of the capitalists for more repression against the immigrants, more border guards, stiffer enforcement, and so forth. But why? Everyone knows the U.S. capitalists want immigrant labor just as badly as the immigrants want jobs. But the capitalists want cheap immigrant labor. The point of the racist campaign is to ensure that immigrants are driven down, deprived of rights, and made into a super-exploited section of workers subjected to the worst, lowest paying jobs, in the most degrading conditions. Workers must stand in defense of the immigrants, documented or undocumented, and target the capitalists who stand behind the racist hysteria on the border.

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Down with the 'English-only' bigots

Alabama has become the 14th state to make English its "official" language. The referendum was put up for vote in June by the Alabama English Committee. It pretended this was just a harmless amendment to the state constitution aimed at fostering "understanding" through the use of a "common language" and at cutting government spending. With this soft sell, the referendum passed easily.

But, despite the nice words, these "English-only" laws are pure racist poison aimed at dividing the workers and trampling on the rights of Latinos and other oppressed minorities. Just look at California, where an English-only law was pushed through in 1986.

Since the law was passed, a vicious atmosphere of language bigotry has been developing. There has been a push for laws that would restrict bilingual education, ballots, drivers license exams, and other multilingual services. One city passed a law, which was later stuck down by the courts, requiring that store signs contain at least 50% English. Some libraries have even refused to accept foreign-language books that were donated to them.

As well, there have been a rash of rules adopted against people speaking anything but English in a series of private and public work places. In some cases, workers are even banned from speaking their native tongue during breaks or when phoning home.

Workers have fought back in many places. The food service workers at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, at Pomona Valley Hospital, at Executive Life Insurance in west L.A, at the Huntington Park Municipal Court, forced the English-only rules to be dropped. But it appears the bigotry is still spreading.

And this is just what "U.S. English," a national English-only organization, wants. Although they try to claim they are not bigots, and distance themselves from the more raving "English First" committee, the truth sneaks out. For example, a 1988 memo of one of the "U.S. English" co-founders complained about Latinos' supposed poor educability, high dropout rates, and high fertility. When the memo leaked out he resigned from the committee. And present leaders claim he was wrong. But they also claim he is not a racist, and they themselves denounce immigrants for supposedly refusing to learn English. In fact, what they want is to compel people to speak English and deprive them of their right to use the language of their choice.

Any attempt to impose an "official language" tramples on the rights of those who do not speak that language. "English only" can only strengthen the hand of the capitalists in their drive to whip up hatred of "foreigners" and step up the oppression of the Latino and other communities. The working class, to unite its ranks against the capitalists, must stand against English-only racism and defend the language rights of the workers of every nationality.

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For workers' socialism, not revisionist state capitalism!

Poland: the joys of free-market capitalism

Workers in Poland quite justly got rid of the fake communist government, but unfortunately they have placed their faith in a party which is ruining them with the "wonders" of free-market capitalism.

The Solidarity government's push toward Western-style capitalism began in earnest on January 1. Since that time the value of workers' wages has fallen precipitously, as government subsidies for basic consumer goods has been eliminated. Some 400,000 workers have become unemployed -- previously there wasn't much mass unemployment. At the same time, some 60,000 small businesses have gone into bankruptcy.

Farmers wiped out

This last statistic is especially interesting, since free-market capitalism was promoted as the climate in which small private enterprises would thrive.

Poland's small farmers have been especially hard hit, as government subsidies have been cut and Polish markets opened up to competition from Western agricultural goods. Farmers who existed for decades under the state-capitalist system have been wiped out in a few months of "free enterprise." Last year, in opposing the Jaruzelski regime, farmers had revived Rural Solidarity and voted almost unanimously for Solidarity candidates. But now, since they have seen the effects of Solidarity's policies, farmers are turning against the new government. Farmers have organized various demonstrations such as roadblocks to show their dissatisfaction. They feel betrayed.

The Polish farmers' disaster is no surprise to Marxists. From the British enclosure acts, which forced peasants off the land in the early bourgeois period, to the Irish potato famine, which killed millions in the 1840's for the glory of British capitalism, unfettered private capitalism has always been a disaster for the small farmer. The effects everywhere are class-differentiation, a few rich farmers becoming richer, while the mass of farmers are forced off the land into the urban proletariat.

In the long term, there really is no stable future for small farming. It will inevitably be replaced with large-scale agricultural production. Under capitalism this means ruination of small farmers in the face of stronger agribusiness. But that's not the only possible future: socialist revolution can open the way to progress without the same pain and suffering, by enlisting the existing small farmers in collectivization.

Polish workers sent to Israel

Conditions are becoming so bad that Polish workers are now being recruited as migrant labor for Israel. Workers are taking jobs doing construction work, replacing Palestinian laborers who have lost their jobs during the course of the Palestinian intifada (uprising). The wages are low by Israeli standards, medical care for the workers is expensive, and they are forced to labor under unsafe conditions. Most workers, after going, consider it a mistake; but still the recruiting goes on, as unemployment rises in Poland.

Solidarity attacks women

The decimation of workers' living standards is hitting women especially hard. They are proving to be the victims of Solidarity's drive to whittle down many of the old bureaucracies. Most of the lower-level employees of these agencies -- clerks, secretaries, etc. -- were women. The top bureaucrats are able to move on to some cushy position in the private sector, but the women workers lose their jobs. Some 80% of those laid off so far are women.

Some of these women will be able to get jobs in the private sector. But benefits will not be as good, and discrimination against women will be given free rein. The cost of day-care, formerly subsidized, is now soaring to Western standards. Under new laws passed by Solidarity, private employers will be allowed to fire women who take off maternity leave.

The government also has a new antiabortion bill waiting in parliament for a favorable time to push it forward. The bill is backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, which is promoting it in pulpits across the country. And the national congress of Solidarity held in April approved a resolution calling for "protection of the unborn child." At the same time, the government eliminated funding for the Family Planning Society.

For an independent workers' movement

As workers' living standards are decimated, dissatisfaction with Solidarity grows. Under this pressure, the leadership of Solidarity has split into two definite wings, one of them following Prime Minister Mazowiecki and the other following Lech Walesa.

But neither of these wings stands for a defense of workers' interests. Both of them share a common economic platform of attacking the workers' living standards in order to enrich a few private capitalists. The Solidarity leaders have been able to maintain the allegiance of workers because of workers' hatred for the discredited Jaruzelski regime and the fear of a return to that system.

But as the Jaruzelski-era bureaucrats are replaced, and the old regime is buried for good, that fear will subside. The issue facing the workers is to build an independent movement of their own class, which can stand up to all of the Solidarity demagogues in defense of the workers' interests.

Strike wave hits East Germany

East and West Germany officially began merging their economies on July 1. And immediately, strikes broke out all over East Germany as workers demanded wage raises to compensate for the effects of a unified currency. Workers also demanded guarantees of job security, since many East German enterprises began laying off workers.

The effects of the currency merger were immediate and hard-hitting. The price of bread jumped from 31 cents a loaf to $1.80. East German workers are now forced to pay equal or higher prices than West German workers, while their wages lag far behind. Unemployment rose quickly; from close to zero it went up to nearly 2% of the work force.

"Warning strikes" -- temporary strikes and rotating strikes -- were organized in many East German industries. Chemical workers won a 35% pay raise by their agitation. Factory workers and train drivers held strikes. Teachers, taxi drivers and farmers protested the new economic policies. Retail clerks protested the privatization of state stores. The high point for the mass actions came on July 6, when 100,000 workers across East Germany were out on strike.

Metal workers win contract

The focus for the July ferment was the contract negotiations between the state-owned metals industry and 350,000 metal workers represented by IG Metall, the West German industrial union. Historically the East German metal workers have been a large, important force, and they played a major role in the strikes and demonstrations of July. Management and the IG Metall labor bureaucrats eventually decided that something would have to be conceded to the workers, to keep them pacified for awhile.

A new contract signed on July 13 gives the metal workers a 30% pay raise and a 12-month job guarantee. This settlement addresses the workers' major concerns, but it only staves off until next year the inevitable clash.

A 30% pay raise sounds like a lot, but the East German workers are still getting paid only one-half of what West German metal workers do. As prices in East Germany rise, this will become a severe hardship in the next year. Even for now, the raise barely compensates for the sharp rise in social security and income tax deductions from the workers' paychecks. (Before July 1, social security was state-subsidized and there was no income tax.) This is a reduction from 43.

The workers also won a 40-hour work week.

[Photo: Massive strike of East German workers on July 6 in defense of jobs and living standards]

Last congress of the CPSU?

Every which way you turn, there's bad news from the Soviet Union. But beneath all the chaos and strife, what's taking place is that the old system is crumbling to pieces in the most painful way, while the forces of advance into a better future are gathering their first, most halting steps -- unfortunately also in a very painful way.

Ruling party falling apart

The Soviet Union certainly needs drastic change. Under Brezhnev, life for the people had become bleak. This wasn't socialism's fault but the product of the state-capitalist system of rule by a privileged bureaucracy. This system had emerged in the Soviet Union as a result of the revolution's degeneration many decades ago.

Gorbachev, who hoped to save the rule of this bureaucracy with Western-style reforms, has only worsened the crisis. Today the ruling class is sharply polarized. The recent Soviet "Communist" Party congress brought out open clashes between different factions.

The conservatives, headed by Ligachev, blame Gorbachev for creating chaos by loosening the political system. They want a return to the old corrupt, state- capitalist past, emphasizing law and order. Some among them are connected to extreme chauvinist groups like Pamyat, who yearn for a return to the old days of Tsarist-style anti-semitism.

Gorbachev blames them for having no perspective other than the old rotten order that existed under Brezhnev. But he stands in the middle, while the sands dissolve under his feet.

On the other end, the pro-Western liberals under Yeltsin, who Gorbachev once saw as his basic force for reform, denounce Gorbachev for wanting to stop halfway. They would prefer to go all the way into outright free-market capitalism, as has taken place in Eastern Europe.

Despite their differences, the Ligachevs and Gorbachevs want to preserve the privileges of the present ruling elite. Notably Gorbachev has refused to utter a peep against these privileges hated by the common people. Meanwhile Yeltsin rails against these privileges to gather public support, but he stands for the growth of a new private capitalist ruling class.

The ruling party as it has been constituted may well have had its last united congress. Already, it is losing people from all sides. This in turn creates further crisis, since the party has been one of the few glues holding together the Soviet federation.

The misnamed communist party has shown its full bankruptcy. None of the factions represent the interests of the toilers.

Workers Beginning to Stir

In this situation, the growing activity among the workers is the bright spot. The workers are the hope of the future.

Dormant for many years, they are beginning to get active. Strikes mount. Through their struggles, the workers will test the different political trends and eventually sort out what politics is in their interests. But this may be a drawn out process.

So far the Soviet workers, deprived of political life for so long and disillusioned with an elite which has borne the communist and working class name, haven't been able to form their own independent movement. They reflect the widest contradictory sentiments. Some of the workers are prey to anti-communist views, while others among them continue to hope for some type of socialist vision. The various factions of the bureaucracy and other elite forces maneuver among them, trying to hitch the workers behind their bourgeois goals.

Today's Soviet Union is highly volatile. The crying need the workers face is independent struggle and organization and their own socialist standpoint. They have to build their own movement, rejecting both those who yearn for the dead past and those who push the mirage of the free-market utopia. They have to find their way to the vision of workers' socialism, a society without exploiters run by the working people in the interest of all who labor. They have to return to the original vision of the communist revolution of 1917, the perspective of Lenin and the Bolshevik workers.

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What's going on in Albania?

For many years, the tiny land of Albania in the Balkans had attracted support and admiration from revolutionary workers worldwide, including from our Party. During World War II, the toilers of Albania had carried out a mass revolution against fascist occupation and they proceeded to overthrowing the old exploiters altogether. The new power lifted Albania out of extreme poverty and backwardness. The Albanian communists also stood up to Soviet, and later, Chinese revisionism, and sought to establish a revolutionary society radically different from the revisionist model. However, they have faced many difficulties, due both to circumstances and to flaws in their conception of working class rule. Unfortunately, a decade ago, faced both with international pressure and the pressing need to improve their conception of socialism to deal with problems that had been accumulating they instead abandoned revolutionary policy. This has led the country to crisis today. They still try to maintain a revolutionary pose, but this is just a facade put over a revisionist policy.

When Gorbachev first launched his program of perestroika and glastnost in the Soviet Union, the Albanian leadership strongly denounced it. And it also condemned the Western-style reforms in other Eastern European countries.

The Party of Labor of Albania (PLA) rightly said those were capitalist measures. And it said that Albania, which had followed a different road from these other countries for many decades, would not veer away from socialism.

Unfortunately, this criticism wasn't from a revolutionary communist standpoint. The PLA condemned the turn to open "free market" capitalism, but it appeared to find something positive in the bureaucratic state-capitalism in Eastern Europe. When the working people came out into the streets in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania, the PLA showed no sympathy with their strivings and briefly even hinted at support for the beleaguered corrupt regimes.

But this posture soon became untenable. The fact is, behind the fancy rhetoric, things were rotting inside the Albanian economic and political order. Indeed, last year even as he denounced Gorbachev, PLA leader Ramiz Alia began urging economic reforms similar to perestroika. And after the utter collapse of the old regimes in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and especially Bulgaria and Romania (its Balkan neighbors), the PLA escalated its talk about reform. At this point, not just economic reforms but also a program of "democratization" in the political realm was begun.

This May, a number of economic and political changes were finally put into legislation. And after the recent crisis at the embassies, even more changes have been announced. More are promised.

Albania's perestroika

What do these reforms amount to? It turns out that they are inspired by the very same ideas of perestroika and glastnost that the PLA denounced last year -- even though the PLA maintains the fiction it is doing something different. In fact, many of Ramiz Alia's speeches could have been lifted from Gorbachev.

Albania has declared that it is going over to a "new economic mechanism." This involves having the enterprises themselves determine jobs, wage levels, investment, etc., and giving wider scope for petty capitalism (in the name of cooperatives). This is nothing but the "market socialism" that many East European revisionist countries went over to decades back. ("Market socialism" is a fancy phrase for a capitalist mixed economy of state and private capital.)

Meanwhile, in the political sphere, the Albanians are introducing reforms which do away with various undemocratic measures which the PLA wrongly adopted even when it was revolutionary. Many of these measures were imitated by the Albanians from the Soviet Union of the 30's and 40's, when that country was already in a state of degeneration. Unfortunately, the reforms are not guided by the spirit of replacing bureaucratic tutelage with working class democracy, but merely as concessions to the masses at a time of growing crisis.

In short, Albania is adopting what Gorbachev advocated for the Soviet Union when he first took office. Many further changes have taken place in the Soviet leadership since, and the Albanians want to prevent things from going as far as they have in the Soviet Union. But they forget that Gorbachev didn't intend that either. In today's conditions, the road from "market socialism" to outright "free market" capitalism isn't very far. The difference between them isn't all that much. The Albanian leaders are deluding themselves if they think "market socialism" will solve their crisis.

A growing economic crisis

So why is this turn taking place? Nowhere is this squarely admitted by the PLA The PLA does not make available much detail about what's been going on in the country. But if one closely reads Ramiz Alia's speeches and reviews some of their writings over the last decade, a different picture emerges.

The PLA tries to give the idea that the current changes mark just the normal stage of where Albania was going, a natural evolution from the past. But this is a cover-up. In fact, the PLA did not plan for the current changes at all -- they mark a turn away from where it proclaimed it was going. But it refuses to face that squarely.

The heart of the matter is that Albania faces an economic crisis, brought into being by a number of factors.

Harsh realities

Albania at the time of its revolution had been the most backward land in Europe, with the people living in semi-feudal misery. But it has succeeded in developing a good deal of industry and an improved agriculture, and the standard of living of the people showed much progress. Albania did receive outside aid for its development, from the Soviet Union until 1960, and from China into the 1970's, but the PLA successfully prevented the country from becoming an economic satellite of either power.

Since the end of the 1970's, Albania has had to do without any outside economic aid. When Albania was cut off by the Chinese revisionists in 1978, the PLA made a declaration then that it was going to be completely self-reliant, that it wouldn't take credits from anyone.

This would be difficult for most poor countries, and especially for a tiny one like Albania. But this came at a time when the Albanian economy was apparently faced with a serious need to retool much of its industry. For example, reports from the early 80's indicate problems with the old equipment in the mineral processing industry, a big source for foreign exchange earnings.

Meanwhile, the world recession in the early 80's meant a sharp drop in the prices of many commodities that Albania exported, including oil. Albania has succeeded in building quite a diversified economy internally, but it remains heavily dependent for foreign exchange on the export of raw and partially-processed materials. This puts it at the cruel mercies of world commodity markets.

More recently, Albania has faced several years of drought. Not only has this affected agriculture, but also its industry, because a major part of its energy comes from hydro-power. Awhile ago, Albania was able to export electricity, but now the country has had to import electric energy. And it has even had to shut down factories, such as in the crucial ferro-chrome sector, at least partially because of a lack of power. (From Ramiz Alia's speech to the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee in July.)

A tight squeeze

As a result of all these problems, the country has faced a tight squeeze, especially in terms of investment either into retooling or new development. This comes at a time when the country has to find jobs for nearly 60,000 new job seekers every year. Meanwhile, the expectations and wants of the population have been on the rise. The end result has taken the form of shortages in consumer goods and public services, as well as the onset of mass unemployment.

Until now, the economy has grown, although the government has found it hard to get the extent of growth that it thought it needed to meet the needs of the masses. A series of the recent plans have not reached the targets the PLA had set. But now far more serious problems have appeared. What is more, the recent upheavals in Eastern Europe spell more trouble ahead. Albania had entered into many economic relations with these countries, including subcontracting for Eastern European firms. These ties are now in jeopardy as Eastern Europe moves towards hard-currency exchanges and many of the firms there are even shutting down.

The PLA's blunders

Many of the reasons for Albania's economic crisis are harsh realities that the country has faced. But there's more to it than that.

For one thing, the PLA has made some serious blunders in economic policy. They don't give too many details about these, but the biggest one mentioned so far involves livestock.

Since the revolution, the PLA had succeeded in enlisting its small peasants into collective farming. All accounts indicate that this was done carefully, with the voluntary participation of the peasants among whom the PLA had strong support from the days of the anti-fascist partisan war.

However, about a decade ago the PLA tried a scheme to collectivize the personal herds of animals belonging to the cooperative farmers. But it appears this was pushed artificially. They ended up with a sharp drop in production. Among other things, peasants responded by what Ramiz Alia describes as the "en masse slaughtering of cattle" in all the districts. (Speech to 10th Plenum, April 1990) This problem had been mentioned at the 9th Congress in 1986, but its scale was obscured. This no doubt placed a major squeeze in agriculture, as well as on the availability of food for the masses. Only now says Alia have they returned to the same number of cattle the country had on the eve of 1980.

Problems in the system

What's most serious isn't this or that mistaken measure, but what they show about how things are being run in Albania -- what they show about the very system of rule itself.

The very fact that a blunder of this proportion can have been minimized for a whole decade shows something about the style of "official optimism" which the PLA has more and more cultivated in its approach towards the Albanian people. This is the method of constant declarations that things were fine, even getting better and better, while reality was taking a different course. For a long time there had been a tendency in the PLA leadership to obscure its weaknesses and problems, but in the last period this has become worse than ever.

Fundamentally this reflects a wrong relationship between the state and the working people -- it implies the bureaucratization of a state which was once revolutionary. It reflects a refusal to trust the laboring masses and mobilize them squarely to confront problems and move forward. Instead, problems get swept under the rug or juggled within the bureaucracy. In the past there was at least a certain commitment to developing methods to mobilize the working people into taking part in running the country. But over the last decade this stagnated.

The onset of the 1980's coincided with the PLA taking a turn away from revolutionary ideas. The MLP has criticized how the PLA abandoned support for the revolutionary struggles of the workers worldwide in favor of currying favor with reactionary, and even the worst hangmen, regimes -- like the Turkish dictatorship and Khomeini in Iran.

At home too, the PLA abandoned interest in building a different model of society than has existed in the revisionist Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. Despite weaknesses, mistakes, and problems, the PLA had in the 60's and 70's striven to build an alternate model of a workers' state. This included attempts to mobilize the working class into the running of the country, measures against privileges at the top, etc. Such efforts made Albania attractive to anti-revisionist communists around the world, including our Party. But in the 1980's, the PLA reverted back to copying the political and economic model in Eastern Europe of the 1950's. The masses were no longer to be mobilized into any mass campaigns, political information and activities were not spread among them, and they were simply to act as producers. They were to work harder and harder to confront difficult conditions, but the principal motivator the PLA offered was nationalism. Albanian society fell into a deep stagnation.

Today in Ramiz Alia's speeches, you can get a picture of what this stagnation has amounted to. He describes an economy run on bureaucratic orders, stagnation in political and government structures, stifling lack of creativity, etc. -- all of which are typical features of the Soviet- bloc Eastern European countries.

The capitulation

In the conditions of Albania, even a strong workers' state trying hard to keep itself rooted among the toilers and follow socialist principles would be faced with a difficult time. But it isn't just objective difficulties that bring Albania face to face with disaster, but the fact that especially over the last decade, it has turned its face away from revolutionary policies, away from the toilers. It has been stagnating towards becoming a cousin of the revisionist East European countries.

And unfortunately because the degeneration of the Albanian political system has gone so far, its leaders cannot come up with revolutionary, communist answers to the country's problems. Instead, like the Eastern European revisionist regimes tried yesterday, the PLA is looking for solutions in the same type of capitalist economic and political reforms. These changes mean a major turn to the revisionist "market socialist" system that's existed in Eastern Europe. In other words, the road back to a typical capitalist country.

(In future issues, we will examine the reforms in Albania in more detail)

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6,000 Albanians seek asylum in foreign embassies

"It won't happen here," the leaders of the Party of Labor of Albania have often declared, referring to the mass unrest sweeping Eastern Europe. Such things only happen in revisionist countries, they said, not in a socialist land like Albania. But in July, events in Tirana proved that Albania is not immune from the crisis gripping that region.

Of course even a revolutionary country there could face a difficult time, being small and affected by the crisis of instability around it, but Albania has made itself more open to crisis by diverging away from the socialist path. Of late, Albania has merely given lip service to opposing Soviet-style revisionism while in fact carrying out a revisionist program in foreign and home policies.

Stirrings of discontent

In early July, about 6,000 people streamed into foreign embassies in Tirana, seeking asylum abroad. At first, the people seeking refuge were attacked by police, and several were injured. Later the government allowed them to leave the country. But it condemned them in extremely harsh language, calling them disoriented, anti-patriotic, vagabonds, etc. At the same time, the government showed its worry about the situation among the masses by raising wages of lower-paid workers, agreeing to pay 80% of the wages of those on temporary layoff, etc.

It is not clear who were the people who sought asylum. They appear not to be political dissidents but those who wanted to leave for economic reasons. They think they can do better in Western Europe or North America. Part of the reason for this exodus may lie in the fact that mass unemployment is beginning to rear its head in the country.

The gulf between the PLA and the people

Some strikes and demonstrations have also been reported recently. These are hard for us to directly verify -- the Albanian official press keeps a tight lid on the country's problems and we don't have any reliable sources there. But the embassy affair itself is a serious sign of dissatisfaction. The Party of Labor of Albania suggests that this affair was an artificial occurrence, instigated by foreign enemies. It was not supposed to represent anything internal to Albanian society. But the fact that the numbers of those seeking asylum grew into thousands so quickly -- and the worry shown by the government about further mass unrest -- shows that this was more than a minor incident. Six thousand people in a small country like Albania is not insignificant.

The attempt to pooh-pooh the affair as artificial and just throw curses at those leaving, as well as the reprehensible police shootings initially, has brought the gulf between the PLA and the people into the open.

New passport laws

PLA head Ramiz Alia says he doesn't understand why these people wanted to seek asylum since the regime recently decided that people can now get passports and travel legally. True enough, the Albanians did pass such a law. And they also rescinded the law which condemned anyone defecting or leaving the country illegally as an "enemy of the people," subject to harsh penalties. (Now it's simply to be treated as a crime of illegal border crossing.)

But Alia's response is too glib. For one thing, those leaving complained that only loyalists of the regime were getting passports. But even if this isn't so, the whole way that those laws were changed suggests a far more serious problem that was bound to create cynicism and lack of confidence in the PLA.

There was no discussion about why the regime had the old laws in the first place. There was no self-criticism. New laws were simply announced and hailed as great measures of democratization. Although this implied that something was wrong earlier, there was to be no acknowledgment of that. Instead it was just proclaimed that Albanian society had reached the level of economic and cultural development which allows more respect for the rights of individual citizens. Sure.

A bad legacy from 1930's Russia

The truth is, those laws were part of a bad legacy that the PLA -- even when it was revolutionary and represented the workers and peasants -- adopted from the Soviet Union of the period when it began to degenerate. In 1934, the Stalin regime, as part of many changes abandoning socialist ideas, had declared that those fleeing were to be considered enemies liable to harsh penalties, including the death penalty.

The PLA apparently picked this up after it came to power in 1944. It may have originally seen it as a weapon against counterrevolutionaries. During many revolutions in history, there have been imposed border restrictions and measures seizing the property of counterrevolutionaries who flee, etc.

But it's one thing to take such actions during revolutions, it's quite another to extend such measures to all citizens and keep them up for years and years. The PLA never abandoned this after it had stabilized its rule. In fact, even when it broke with the Soviet Union and criticized many features of the Soviet revisionist model, it kept such laws. The PLA seems to have found in such laws an easy way -- or so it thought -- of keeping problematic outside influences, imperialist or otherwise, away from the country and keeping skilled personnel at home.

Such methods don't work

A revolutionary regime using such measures will find itself creating discontent among otherwise loyal people who want to take part in worldwide contact, something quite natural in an increasingly interconnected world. But a regime that has turned away from revolutionary ideas and practices, as the Albanians have, will sow the seeds of even greater disasters when it tries to keep up such laws. And it may give up such laws too late to prevent mass outbursts, as has happened in Albania.

There are always some people in a country who will want to emigrate abroad. Many Albanians did it over the centuries. Some will do it to connect up with broken families, some will do it to seek their fortune, and some will do it because they politically hate the regime. Putting up walls will not do away with any of these wants. A toilers' government can't keep its country purified by putting up restrictions on its people's right to travel.

Unfortunately, the Albanian regime today isn't giving up its mistaken laws against travel rights out of a desire to strengthen its revolutionary bonds with the masses. No, it does so as a sop to the masses at a time of growing crisis. It does so as part of a package of reforms turning the country on a faster road towards Western-style capitalist politics and economics.

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Social pact betrays Nicaraguan strikes

Some 80,000 farm and urban workers struck against the U.S.-backed Chamorro government in Nicaragua in July. But the Sandinista leaders stopped the strikes halfway and turned to negotiating a "social pact" with Chamorro.

Since the last big strike in May, Chamorro has been stepping up attacks on the Nicaraguan workers. Since taking office Chamorro has devalued the currency 18 times and also gradually withdrawn state subsidies for food and basic services. This has forced prices up over 300%, far outstripping the 100% wage increase won by some state workers in the May strike.

Farm workers refuse to give land back to former owners

Chamorro also rushed ahead with privatization plans. In mid-May she began "leasing" state farms to their former owners, whom the revolution had expropriated because of their ties to the Somoza tyranny or who had taken the money and fled the country. This is the first step towards completely returning the land to the old owners.

In just a month Chamorro leased some 83,000 acres or about 57 state farms. But when the former owners went to take control, farm workers at most farms refused to turn them over. With the support of peasants from nearby collective farms, the farm workers put up barricades at farm entrances and guarded them with machetes and slingshots. In a confrontation at one farm, six workers were arrested. But on the whole Chamorro was hesitant to use force, and the farm workers held their ground. They demanded the repeal of privatization decrees and state aid for planting.

Strikes begin

Meanwhile, Chamorro also attacked the urban workers. Chamorro refused to pay debts to some state-owned companies and held off various construction and other projects that were under way. Chamorro wants to privatize many of these companies, and holding back funds meant forcing the layoff of thousands of workers and setting the stage to sell off the companies.

But workers decided to resist. On June 27 a strike began among 3,000 workers at textile plants which were virtually idled due to Chamorro's antics. The strike spread to metal, beverage, and construction companies. Workers at various state farms refused to carry out planting and joined the strike.

By July 2, some 30,000 urban and rural workers were out on strike. It was only then that Sandinista support firmed up for the strike. The National Workers Front (FNT), a coalition dominated by Sandinista-led unions, called out state workers and put forward a list of demands for negotiation. This included a series of mass demands such as suspension of land privatization decrees, a higher minimum wage, and job security. But at the center was a call for a "social pact" between the Sandinistas and the Chamorro regime. The Sandinista leaders bitterly complained that Chamorro had broken past agreements with them and had refused to consult them before going ahead with a series of her measures. With the call for a social pact, the Sandinistas maneuvered to use the strike to cut a better deal for themselves as junior partners with the capitalist rulers led by Chamorro.

With the Sandinista call the strike spread, shutting down government ministries, banks, the state-owned telephone company, the airport, and bus and water service in Managua. Workers at the government-owned television station locked out the administration briefly and broadcast news of the strike. The strike was also joined by students and teachers protesting Chamorro's elimination of their free bus tokens.

On July 5, some 2,000 workers demonstrated in Managua. About 80,000 workers were then out on strike.

Chamorro hits at strike

The next day Chamorro broke off negotiations and threatened strikers with firing and arrest.

In response, the workers began to build barricades in Managua. The streets were blocked in dozens of locations and vehicle traffic ground to a halt.

Emboldened by Chamorro's threats, reactionary vigilantes began to attack the strikers. The CPT, the reactionary union center connected to Chamorro's UNO party, tried to hold an anti-strike march. But only 500 people showed up.

Vice-President Virgilio Godoy, who heads a more right-wing faction of UNO, called for "confrontation" against the FSLN. Together with contras, CPT reactionaries, and the right-wing Radio Corporacion, Godoy launched the "National Salvation Brigades." They attacked several strike centers. On July 9, a worker was killed in fighting at the Texnica textile plant. Later, the reactionary gangs killed at least three more strikers and injured dozens more.

The sharpening fight frightened the Sandinista leaders. Daniel Ortega called on the strikers to take down the barricades. But strikers refused, and fought back against the vigilantes.

Although the workers didn't listen, Chamorro heard and understood that Ortega was trying to hold back the strike. She seized the moment and sent army troops and police to bulldoze down the barricades. The workers did not resist these troops (who are headed by prominent Sandinistas). But as soon as the troops left, the workers rebuilt the barricades.

A deal is struck

Since she couldn't stop the strike by herself, Chamorro reentered negotiations with the Sandinistas. On July 11, the FNT leaders promised that a deal was close and convinced workers to take down the barricades. The next day the strike ended with the announcement of an agreement.

Although Chamorro had to temporarily give some ground, the strike had been stopped halfway before the workers won their demands.

The agreement gave state employees a 43% wage increase. This was the same amount offered them before the strike began.

Chamorro also agreed to temporarily freeze the return of state farms to private ownership, except for 15 which the Sandinistas agreed could be rented out. This means the Sandinistas leaders sold out a section of farm workers who had, up to then, successfully resisted the privatization.

Sandinista leaders claimed they had won job "stability." But this is questionable. In the first place, they agreed to the permanent elimination of 1,000 jobs of state workers, who had been fired earlier by Chamorro. In return, Chamorro agreed to give those fired some severance pay. As well, there have been reports of additional layoffs of workers following the strike.

All other demands are up for negotiation. Despite this, Daniel Ortega declared the strike a "victory for Nicaragua." Why? Because the main agreement was for the formation of joint commissions -- composed of government officials, Sandinistas, and private capitalists -- to discuss a "social pact."

The Sandinista leaders were willing to sell out the main demands of the workers for the mere promise that they can negotiate a better position for themselves in the ruling regime. What treachery!

But despite this deal, the situation remains tense. While Chamorro balances between the extreme capitalist reactionaries headed by Godoy and the contras on the one hand and the Sandinistas on the other, she continues to press the masses to the wall. New struggles are coming up. And the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua is active, showing the masses a road independent of both capitalist reaction and Sandinista betrayal, a road of independent struggle to defend the class interests of the workers.

[Photo: Nicaraguan youth built street barricades in the recent strikes against the Chamorro regime]

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May Day in the Philippines

This May Day was a step forward for those seeking to build an independent working class movement in the Philippines. They oppose the Aquino government and its landlord and capitalist base. And they also oppose the petty-bourgeois and revisionist stands of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines, as well as social-democratic and other opportunist trends.

The Bukluran unions and other mass organizations associated with the Union of Proletarian Revolutionaries of the Philippines (KPRP) staged the longest and most militant march of the day. There was a time when the CPP denounced the Marcos government and then the Aquino government for busing passive participants to rallies, and instead organized marches and demonstrations on the way to rallies. But this time both the the pro-Aquino trends and the supporters of the CPP used buses. The workers' trend however marched militantly. It was a 15-mile march from two places of assembly in Quezon City to the rally at Bonifacio Park in Caloocan City and on to the bigger assembly in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park in Manila.

The workers' march was twice as large numerically than last year, numbering more than a thousand, with larger numbers at the rallies.

At Bonifacio Park there was a joint rally with the workers from a union at Rubberworld Incorporated, which is associated with the KMU and the National Federation of Labor Unions. The KMU probably thought that it would embarrass the KPRP by outnumbering it and dominating it, but that's not what happened. There were several hundred workers from the Rubberworld union. And there were workers from about 20 Bukluran unions. So about 2,500 workers were there. The KPRP-associated speakers addressed the rally, announced a new phase of their work to build up the proletarian revolutionary wing of the movement. They interested the KMU-associated workers, whose leaders had to herd them into buses to prevent them from joining in the march.

The militant speeches and slogans also attracted 17 urban youth from two young activists' groups, who joined the march and turned down invitations to go on the KMU buses. These youth said they had been organized by the popular democrats, which is part of the broad alliance plan of the CPP. But these youths distanced themselves from the Maoists and social-democrats and preferred to wave their flags with the proletarian trend, shout its slogans, etc. They walked in the march under the sun for three hours, waved their flags together with Bukluran and the KPRP, and chanted slogans.

At the Rizal Park rally, the march ended up by joining in a rally dominated by the revisionists, in which the revisionists were much larger in number. Why go to this rally? This was part of united front tactics to approach the workers under the influence of other trends, and to put forward class solidarity. The KPRP and Bukluran were not allowed speakers or announced at the rally, but that is not why they went. Their aim was to present themselves to the other workers, and its streamers and leaflets attracted interest from the masses.

Slogans along the way included basic slogans for May Day and for the unity of the workers of the world. There were slogans to build the independent proletarian trend in the Philippines: "Long live the proletarian revolutionary movement!" There were many slogans on the demands of the struggle in the Philippines, such as "Confiscate and nationalize all lands!" "Crusty the U.S.-Aquino 'total war'!" "Remove, if not confiscate, the U.S. military bases!" and "Women, you have a role in social change."

The march didn't hide or minimize the crisis of revisionism, but had many anti-revisionist slogans. Among them were "Not communism but revisionism collapses throughout the world and also in the Philippines," and "Not socialism, but state capitalism collapsed in Eastern Europe."

Issue number one of Anakpawis, the Toiler, carried a detailed account on this May Day, discussing its significance, its advances, and shortcomings to be corrected in the future.

[Photo: Revolutionary workers marched for 15 miles in May Day demonstration]

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San Diego janitors protest

Daily pickets have been held by 50 janitors and their supporters at the San Diego International Airport since June 30. They are protesting union busting.

World Service, Inc., a Houston-based company, hired nonunion workers instead of union janitors who had previously been employed at the airport. The company is following the same pattern they established in 1983 when they fired union janitors at the San Francisco International Airport and replaced them with nonunion workers.

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The World in Struggle


Rebellion in Kenya

Rioting in the streets broke out in the East African country of Kenya in mid-July. In four days, 28 people were killed in six towns. Working people, throwing stones, fought pitched battles with President Daniel arap Moi's police in the slums of Nairobi, the capital, and in the northern city of Nakuru.

The initial spark for the rebellion came from a call by liberal opposition politicians for the right to form new political parties. For the last year, a number of lawyers, professors and politicians have been trying to pressure President Moi into broadening the political base of the government. At present Moi's Kenya African National Union (KANU) is the only legal party.

Liberals bail out

But Moi, after first promising to make some changes in the future, then went on a rampage against the opposition. He arrested some leaders of the campaign, and others quickly cancelled a rally they had called for July 8 in Nairobi.

It was too late, however. By this time a mass interest in change had been aroused, and people turned out by the hundreds for the now-illegal rally. When Moi's police attacked them with tear gas and guns, they went on a rampage, broke through police lines, commandeered vehicles and stormed through the streets of Nairobi. The fight was on, and it quickly spread to other towns.

Underlying the mass outburst is the deteriorating situation in Kenya. The gap between rich and poor is growing, as the poor are squeezed by Moi's austerity plans ordered by the International Monetary Fund. Impoverished workers set up shantytown slums around Nairobi, and then have to fight Moi's police who are sent out to clear them away. Officials of Moi's government and KANU are notoriously corrupt, and make an extra income by shaking down the poor and powerless.

For now Moi has survived the challenge to his government. But the winds of change have only temporarily died down.

[Photo: Demonstration in Nairobi, Kenya under attack by police]

Why is Mandela defending the Kenyan regime?

Nelson Mandela is looked to by many people as a staunch fighter against oppression. So where was Nelson Mandela when the toilers of Kenya were fighting in the streets of Kenya against the oppressive regime of Daniel arap Moi? Mandela stood foursquare behind Moi and denounced the rebellion against him.

Moi was hosting a meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Nairobi, right after the rebellion. The OAU is the organization of African governments, where the bourgeois officials hobnob with each other and spout militant rhetoric while maintaining oppressive, capitalist regimes at home.

Mandela arrived, fresh from his whirlwind tour of the United States and Britain. He rushed to embrace Moi and then gave a speech to the OAU in which he protested against Western countries "forcing" their version of democracy onto Africa. He stood up for Moi, and other African one-party states, and their right to maintain these regimes as supposedly their own "African way."

Mandela tried to paint opposition to Moi as an imperialist plot. And U.S. imperialism gave some credibility to this, as some voices in the U.S. government posed as friends of the bourgeois opposition. But this is simply a case of the U.S. maneuvering, trying to cover all bases.

The U.S. remains, as it has for decades, the best friend and supporter of Moi's government. Kenya has been the biggest recipient of U.S. aid to black Africa: And the main force in Kenya enforcing imperialist dictate onto the masses has been the KANU government of Moi.

In addition, it's quite hypocritical of Mandela to paint himself as an opponent of imperialism, when he had just gotten off the plane from his tour of the U.S. and Britain. In the U.S. he hailed the traditions of American democracy in his speech to Congress and promoted the president of American democracy, George Bush, as a staunch opponent of apartheid. Similarly in Britain, he held friendly talks with Margaret Thatcher, a last-ditch defender of the South African regime.

What appears to be consistent is Mandela's fawning on capitalist government leaders. When in the West, he fawns on Western leaders. When in Africa, he fawns on local dictators like Daniel arap Moi. He even hails the "courage" and "honesty" of apartheid president F.W. de Klerk. Of course, Mandela wants a change in South Africa, but his idea of change is not a thorough revolution against racism but to have his ANC party brought into a power-sharing arrangement. Thus, to reassure the powers-that-be around the world, his message is, "Look, I'm one of you! You can trust me and the ANC to keep the masses in line when we come into power. Try us and see!"

Right-wing terror in S. Africa

In South Africa, the ultra-right wing is making good on its threats to fight any move toward ending apartheid. On July 6, a bomb went off at a crowded bus stop in Johannesburg during morning rush hour; 29 black people were injured. This was the worst in a rash of bombings in July. Other targets were the homes of white anti-apartheid activists and the headquarters of the National Party (the ruling party) and the Democratic Party (the liberal white opposition party), and a prominent newspaper. A bomb was also found and defused at the headquarters of the National Union of Mineworkers.

While the government does nothing to disarm these terrorists, it continues to use brutal force against the black masses. On July 11 the police moved in to a section of Soweto to raze shanties erected by the poor. When the impoverished blacks fought back, police killed one and injured many.

These events show that the reformist solution advocated by Nelson Mandela and De Klerk remains fraught with many obstacles. While the ANC leadership puts its eggs into the negotiations basket, the racists maneuver -- De Klerk stalling while the ultra-right launches terrorism. At the end of July, the De Klerk regime stepped up its stalling yet further, with alleged discovery of a new plot by ANC activists to overthrow the government.

In the meantime, the expectations of the black masses are high, and they are in motion. In the first six months of 1990, the number of work days lost to strikes was three times what it was during all of 1989, and five times all of 1988. The racists cannot keep this powerful force in check forever.

Strikes mount in Brazil

Brazilian workers are fighting mad against the government's shock anti-inflation plan which is devastating their pay and jobs.

Three times during the last week of July, workers at Ford Motor near Sao Paulo rampaged through the plant, attacking equipment, cars, and buildings. Production at the plant has been stopped since 900 workers went on strike June 11. Those responsible for the attacks on Ford are among 6,500 workers idled by the strike whose pay has been cut off or reduced.

Meanwhile, at the National Steel Co. plant in Volta Redonda, west of Rio,22,000 workers have been on strike for most of the month. On July 25, they shut down the city with a general strike. The steelworkers want a wage increase and oppose the government's attempt to sell off the plant, which will bring layoffs. Transit workers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, struck in mid-July to fight the effects of President Fernando de Collor's austerity policies. De Collor has overruled contractual and court-ordered pay raises with dictatorial decrees resulting in drastic pay cuts for workers. Rio's bus drivers and subway workers walked out in protest, creating massive commuter problems.

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Greek working people protest

Thousands of people demonstrated outside a U.S. naval base on the island of Crete in Greece on July 24. They were protesting a new agreement between Greece and the U.S. which allows U.S. military bases to stay in the country for another eight years.

Police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas. The protesters responded with firebombs and gunfire, wounding two policemen and setting government offices on fire.

The government of Greece remains committed to the NATO imperialist alliance headed by the U.S., but the Greek working masses are opposed to it.

Also in Greece, on July 11 the entire country was shut down in a one-day general strike to protest the government's economic policies. Two million workers stayed off their jobs demonstrating their opposition to new legislation that would lengthen the working day. Some 10,000 marched in Athens chanting "Hands off the eight-hour day!"

[Photo: Protesters vs. U.S. base in Crete]

Strike against Duvalierists in Haiti

Haiti was shut down by a general strike on July 11. The strike was called to protest the return from exile of two prominent security officials in the government of Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier. Duvalier was overthrown in 1987 in a mass upsurge, but since then a succession of governments has worked to push the masses into the background and to restore Duvalierist reaction.

Following the strike, some liberal elements tried to have the two officials banned from Haiti through legal channels. But the supreme court ruled that they have the right to return.

Meanwhile the new president, herself a former supreme court justice, is surrounding herself with Duvalierists. It will take a thoroughgoing mass revolution to break the hold of right-wing terror on Haiti.

Mass strikes in Honduras

Ten thousand banana workers have been on strike against Chiquita Brands International in Honduras since the last week of June. They are receiving widespread support from other sectors of the Honduran working class -- farm workers, teachers, water and power workers. Meanwhile, postal workers are also on strike and have occupied the country's main post office in Tegucigalpa. And public hospital workers are protesting against the government's plan to privatize their jobs.

Metal strike in Argentina

350,000 metal workers in Argentina staged a two-day strike July 11-12. Workers demanded raises to compensate for runaway inflation which is already over 700% in 1990. The austerity plan implemented by Peronist President Carlos Menem is decimating the working class.

General strike in Ecuador

A one-day general strike took place in Ecuador in mid-July. Workers built barricades and set fires in a massive, countrywide protest against the austerity policies of President Rodrigo Borja. Borja called out troops to suppress the workers his policies are impoverishing.

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