The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 20, No. 9


25ยข September 1, 1990

[Front page:

No war for the oil companies! U.S. troops out of the Persian Gulf!;

Oil monopolies grab billions;

Fight for universal health care!]


Down with Racism!

25 years since Watts; Transit workers vs. racism; Protest KKK rally in D.C.; Racism at Detroit zoo; Minneapolis march; Cleveland State sit-in..... 2

S&L Bailout: Why Should We Pay?

S&L criminals treated with kid gloves.......................................................... 3
Giving away S&L's to the rich...................................................................... 3
Seattle protest................................................................................................ 3

Health care is a right...................................................................................... 3

Strikes and Workplace News

Grocery strike; Postal workers; Nurses......................................................... 4
Auto contract; GM parts strike; NY transit................................................... 5

U.S. Troops Out of the Persian Gulf!

What are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?.............................................................. 6
Saddam's a tyrant, U.S. built him up............................................................. 6
Bush: lies of an imperialist hypocrite............................................................ 7
Protests: 'U.S. out of the Persian Gulf!'........................................................ 8
Stop racist attacks on Arab immigrants!........................................................ 8

The World in Struggle

Mohawks defy army....................................................................................... 9
CIA organizes Salvadoran death squads........................................................ 9
Rank-and-file unhappy with negotiations...................................................... 9
Strike paralyzes Dominican Republic........................................................... 10
Nicaraguan M-Ls sum up July strike............................................................ 10

Step Up the Defense of Women's Rights!

L.A. clinic defense; American Bar Assoc. aborts principles......................... 11
AFL-CIO 'neutral'; Police defend OR; Buffalo defense; Guam law reversed; Part of Pennsylvania law struck down........................................... 12

No war for the oil companies!

U.S. troops out of the Persian Gulf!

Oil monopolies grab billions

Fight for universal health care!


S&L criminals treated with kid gloves

Giving away the S&L's to the rich

Health care is a right!

No more cuts in AIDS programs!

Seattle: 650 people protest S&L boondoggle

Strikes and workplace news

Postal Worker News

Nurses hit the picket line

Get organized for the auto contract fight! No concessions Fight for every job!

Flint workers strike for jobs

New York transit workers fight layoffs

Mexican immigrants protest plant closing

No to a war to save the oil kingdoms!

What are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?

Saddam's a tyrant, U.S. built him up

Bush's arguments for war:

The lies of an imperialist hypocrite

Protests demand 'U.S. out of the Gulf!'

Stop racist attacks on Arab immigrants!

Solidarity grows across Canada

Mohawks defy the army

CIA organizes Salvadoran death squads

Workers' strike paralyzes Dominican Republic

Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists sum up July strike

Step up the defense of women's rights!

No war for the oil companies!

U.S. troops out of the Persian Gulf!

[Graphic cartoon.]

Iraq's Saddam Hussein has invaded and occupied Kuwait. Bush has sent 60,000 troops to Saudi Arabia in the biggest troop buildup since Viet Nam. They're talking about putting 250,000 troops there. A dangerous and tense standoff has developed. Every day's events bring closer a destructive war in the Persian Gulf.

The media do not question Bush's war drive against this "enemy." Instead they interview the military experts: Will the war be short or long? Will it be an air war or a land war? Will we take back Kuwait or should we go on to Baghdad and remove Saddam altogether?

But wait a minute. What are these war moves all about? What are the U.S. troops being sent to defend? Whose interests will be protected by a slaughter in the Arabian desert?


Nothing else but a war of robbers for oil profits


The fight that has broken out in the Persian Gulf is a fight among robbers and tyrants. It is a fight among the rich over control of oil, over division of the loot, over power and domination of a strategic corner of the world. And if war breaks out it is the workers and poor of the U.S., Iraq and other countries who will pay the price. The rich will want us to slaughter each other over their selfish interests.

What's at stake here is oil money. Saddam invaded Kuwait to pay off the big debts he built up when he warred against Iran on behalf of the Kuwaitis, Saudis, and oh yes, let's not forget, the U.S. and European imperialists. As well, the number one "U.S interest" is the flow of oil profits to EXXON, Chevron, etc.

The royal families of the Gulf sit on the largest oil reserves in the world. These medieval-style regimes of wealthy sheiks and emirs have been propped up by the U.S. and Britain for decades in order to ensure big profits for Big Oil. Iraq does not threaten to cut off the flow of oil. Saddam simply wants a rearranging of the oil profits, more To his favor.

In short, U.S troops are being readied for a slaughter to protect the U.S. corporate slice of oil wealth.

There are quick gains to be made too. Like price gouging at the gas pump. The world oil market is glutted. But a Mid-East crisis is always a good excuse to jack gas prices through the roof. It was done in 1973 and 1979 and it's being done again.

Pentagon generals and defense contractors tickled pink


Maybe no one is more tickled by the Kuwait crisis than the top brass at the Pentagon.

The threat of the Soviet bogeyman has collapsed with the demise of the state-capitalist systems in Eastern Europe. So the Pentagon, Northrop and the defense contractors are looking for new bogeymen -- Khadafy, Noriega or other excuses for their Stealth bombers and other tools of mass killing.

Now comes Iraqnophobia. This they hope will put an end to all the windy nonsense about "peace dividends" and arms cutbacks. This will keep the war machinery oiled.

This will also keep the Pentagon's world military empire in place. The Pentagon has always thirsted for bases on the Arabian Peninsula. Now it has its chance. A military foothold in oil-rich Saudi Arabia -- another trophy in U.S. imperialism's drive for global corporate dominance.

Down with all the tyrants in the Middle East!


Iraq's Saddam Hussein is a fascist tyrant. He wants to turn Iraq into the dominant capitalist power in the region. This is why he invaded Iran eight years ago (with the tacit support of the Reagan/Bush government). If anything, Saddam is merely copying U.S. imperialism's big bully tricks. Saddam's real sin is that he has unbalanced U.S. domination of the Middle East and its oil by going for his own piece of the pie.

It is one thing to sympathize with the working and exploited people in Kuwait or Iraq suffering under Saddam's rule. But this does not mean supporting the Kuwaiti royal family -- much less the U.S war effort to put them back in power. Why should American workers and youth go to defend oppressive tyrannies like the Emir of Kuwait or the King of Saudi Arabia?

We say no to a war for the oil corporations!


The interests of the American workers and progressive people do not lie with either the dictator in Iraq or the monarchs and sheiks.

And they do not lie with "our own" government. Today Bush talks of "our vital interests." But since when do the interests of the wealthy capitalists become the same as the workers'? Look what they've done for U.S lately. They've given us concessions contracts, put more people into the streets without a roof, revived an ugly offensive of bigotry and racism -- and all the while the S&L bankers, the Wall Street junk bond traders, the Pentagon contractors have partied on our backs. Now they want us to support their war in the Gulf, so they can party some more. Meanwhile, with the economy tottering on the edge of recession they're spending some $500 million a day on their latest adventure, the cost of which will only mount further. And who do you think is going to pay for that?

Our interests lie with the Arab workers and poor in their struggle against all their oppressors.

Into the streets with struggle


Do not accept the lies that would justify a slaughter for oil profits. Come out into the streets and say No to a war for the oil corporations!

More demonstrations will take place against Bush's troop deployment. Spread the word in the work places, schools and working class communities.

Protest U.S war moves! Let the Arab people settle accounts with their own oppressors! U.S troops get out of the Middle East!


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Oil monopolies grab billions

The multinational oil companies are grabbing billions of dollars of extra profits off the crisis in the Middle East. And it's the working people who are paying.

Selling high-priced crude oil to themselves


Oh yes, the oil monopolies whine they have to pay for imported crude oil that has jumped to over $30 a barrel. But they don't mention that they are mostly buying the oil from themselves.

As one voice for the capitalists admitted, "There is no doubt Big Oil is making a lot more money now than a month ago, mostly because it's selling its crude for a lot more money." (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 20) The U.S. and other Western oil monopolies own a large portion of the oil drilled in the Middle East. It is not just Saudi Arabian and Iranian companies that are hauling in profits off the higher priced crude oil. It is the U.S. multinationals as well.

Jacking up gasoline prices


At the same time, the U.S. refineries have jacked up prices to reap even more profits. The same Wall Street Journalarticle admits the Big Oil's "refinery profit margins of well over $4 a barrel are also high right now, because it is, indeed, selling high-priced gasoline that was made with $18 crude instead of $28 crude."

Of course the U.S. oil monopolies cry their refineries have to pay high "replacement costs" for crude since about "two-thirds of the imports" are paid at the price of international oil the day the ships hit U.S. shores. But even if this is true, it means that a third of the imports are on long-term contracts at the lower prices. And, what is more, the enormous world glut of oil has meant that the U.S. companies have huge stocks of crude oil that were bought at the old, cheap prices.

World oil glut means huge stockpiles of cheap oil

The fact is that before the Iraqi invasion there was a big glut of oil on the world market. Virtually all storage tanks around the world were filled. More than half of the oil tankers under charter were being used for storage rather than shipping. And all down the line the refineries, utilities, chemical companies and so forth had accumulated big stockpiles of cheap oil.

Even with the cutoff of all Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil, these stockpiles could last years. The U.S. imports from Iraq and Kuwait together only about 0.73 million barrels of oil a day. But even by low Department of Energy estimates, U.S. companies have 391 million barrels of oil stockpiled -- enough to cover the loss of Iraq/Kuwait oil for a year and a half. On top of this, the U.S. government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) holds 590 million barrels -- enough to last another two years.

One spokesman for the oil monopolies, the Oil and Gas Journal, admits that "U.S. crude and product stocks last week reached their highest level in eight years at a combined 1.123 billion barrels...If allU.S. imports were cut off, SPR and commercial stocks could provide 95 days of consumption equal to a total cutoff of oil imports." (Aug. 13) That means there's no immediate threat of oil shortage, even if a shooting war also cuts Saudi Arabian and other Middle East oil imports. What is more, it means the U.S. monopolies have 95 days of cheap oil, bought at the pre-Iraqi invasion prices.

The soaring prices at the pumps is just price-gouging, pure and simple.

Bush colludes with Big Oil


Everyone knows the oil monopolies are ripping us off. So even Big Oil politicians like George Bush have had to posture against them.

Bush's Department of Energy declared, "Uncertainties in the Middle East pose no immediate threat to the supply of petroleum products for American consumers, nor do they necessitate increases in prices for American consumers." Bush called on the oil companies to restrain themselves. And, under pressure from the Democrats, Bush launched a Justice Department investigation into whether the oil monopolies colluded to jack up prices.

But both Bush and the Democrats know the Justice Department can do nothing. The run-up of oil prices is taking place on the New York Mercantile Exchange (MERC) -- where oil monopolies, financiers and other capitalists come together to buy and sell futures on oil. Speculating that sometime in the future there may be a shortage of oil, the capitalists are pushing prices to the skies. And, although it is costing us billions, it is a perfectly legal and much-praised system of "free market" capitalism.

If Bush was doing more than posturing, he could begin to release the 590 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which would drive prices down. But the Bush administration decided not to use the SPR for the time being because "they didn't want the government to get involved in influencing oil prices." (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10) Or-put another way, Bush doesn't want to cut into the oil monopolies' profiteering.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are capitalist parties. That is why they will do little or nothing to curb the profiteering of the oil monopolies. And that is why they are cranking up the war machine to protect the U.S. capitalists' interests in Middle East oil.

To protect themselves the workers must build a movement independent-of both the Republicans and Democrats, a movement of struggle against the capitalists, a movement that declares: No to a war for the oil billionaires! Stop the profiteering, roll back prices!

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Fight for universal health care!

The struggle for health care is heating up. Workers are striking to defend employer-paid health care from cutbacks, higher deductibles, co-pays, higher worker premiums, cuts in services, etc. There are 10,000 grocery workers now striking in Portland. And some 500,000 auto workers, another 10,000 Detroit teachers, and many other workers face contract fights on these issues this fall. At the same time, mass rallies are springing up in various cities to demand universal health care and a complete overhaul of the rotten health system.

In this atmosphere, the AFL-CIO bureaucracy is beginning a media blitz on Labor Day for "health care reform." The bureaucrats have called for hearings and rallies in different cities through September and October. And they have declared October 3 to be "Health Care Action Day." They talk of lunch-time rallies at union shops and picket lines at nonunion work places where there is no employer-paid health care.

Certainly the workers must fight. Fight to defend full employer-paid health care and expand it to the over 18 million full and part-time workers who are not covered. Fight that health care be made available to all -- including the 19 million poor people who have no health care coverage now. Fight to overhaul the whole rotten system where profits for insurance, medical research and provider firms come first and actual care is constantly eroded. And fight to make the capitalists pay for the health care of the workers through employer-paid systems and a progressive tax on corporations and the wealthy.

But unfortunately, the AFL-CIO bureaucrats are not planning to fight for any of these things. Rather, they want to help Big Business shift the rising cost of employer-paid health care onto the workers. In May, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland complained that 'The current health insurance system places a heavy burden on employers that do provide health insurance..." It is the heavy burden on the bosses, not the workers, that Kirkland is crying about. And, instead of fighting the capitalists, he declared that the campaign for "health care reform" will "seek to involve employers, providers, insurers and government agencies..." This is not a campaign to overhaul the health care system, but rather to work with the present health care capitalists, together with the government and union bureaucrats, for a more refined system to exploit the workers.

Workers should certainly join any mass protests called by the AFL-CIO or others. But they must put up their own demands and expose the union hacks' subservience to the corporations.

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25th anniversary of the Watts rebellion

Twenty-five years ago the black ghetto of Watts in Los Angeles exploded in rebellion. For six days 10,000 people fought against police and National Guard forces of the racist government. In suppressing the uprising 35 people were killed, 1,000 injured and 3,927 arrested. In addition $40 billion worth of property damage was done.

Watts 1965 is remembered today as the first major black rebellion of the 1960's. In the period from 1964 to 1968 there were 257 uprisings in American cities, some of them even larger in scale than the Watts rebellion. Watts raised the specter of the black masses repudiating "non-violence" and terrorized the white ruling class of this country.

In 1965 the black people of Watts suffered terrible unemployment, poverty, discrimination and police repression. The black people's movement had been building since the 1950's. But it was being kept within the straitjacket of legalism, of maneuvering within the Democratic Party, of token reforms, and of "turning the other cheek." Martin Luther King and other reformist leaders were holding back the struggle. The masses, despite their sacrifices, felt that little had changed.

The black masses had grown tired of "turning the other cheek." Watts is recognized as the turning point where the oppressed black people lost patience with promises of reform and fearlessly defied the repressive forces of the government. Watts and other courageous struggles helped to break down some remaining barriers of segregation and gave impetus to the fight against discrimination. These struggles helped the black masses to proudly hold their heads high. They shook up the political realities of the day.

But there were limitations to these struggles. They were merely spontaneous outbursts of pent-up anger. They lacked revolutionary consciousness and organization, and this affected the method of struggle and what it could accomplish. As soon as the rebellions subsided, the "respectable" black reformists were again paraded as the "leaders" of the black people. They imposed the black bourgeoisie's program of accommodation with the white ruling class as the way to salvation. This, of course, has been a disaster for the masses. A tiny sold out, upper strata of blacks has grown rich and holds a certain amount of political power in America's cities. But for the vast majority, things have grown much worse.

Inequality and poverty have worsened. Homelessness and a drug epidemic are now added to the agony of daily life for the masses. Conditions of life in 1990 prove that in the rebellions of the 1960's, the black masses were right to chase the "respectable" black misleaders from their midst.

Transit workers oppose racist attacks in South Boston

The August 2 issue of theBoston Worker,paper of the MLP-Boston, calls on transit workers to stand up against the racist attacks in South Boston.

In the spring, Massachusetts Senate President Bulger and the South Boston Information Center held a public meeting on the so-called problem of black-on-white crime in South Boston. Vigilante groups were called on to attack "outside criminals" and a collection was taken up to pay the legal expenses for vigilantes who might get caught doing their racist dirty work.

Following this meeting, racist attacks on black people and Asians has intensified. Among others, racial harassment and physical attacks have become a weekly, and sometimes a nightly, occurrence at the Broadway and Andrew transit stations. In one incident a black transit inspector was pushed down an escalator in the Broadway Station and severely injured after he ordered three racist thugs out of the station for harassing and threatening two young black girls. White transit workers came to his aid and confronted the racists, who were subsequently captured. This is the kind of unity the workers need to display in the face of the racist poison of the rich.

Protest KKK rally in D.C.!

The city of Washington, D.C. has given a permit to the Ku Klux Klan for a rally at the U.S. Capitol on September 2. This is a racist provocation against the majority black and Latino population of the city.

Anti-racist activists have called for a counter-demonstration to confront the Klan and to denounce the chief racist of the land, George Bush, as well. Attempts to float racist rallies in the past in Washington, D.C. have been smashed by large numbers of young militants. If the KKK dares to show its face it can expect to encounter another angry response from the masses.

Black workers walk out against racism at Detroit zoo

Black workers at the Detroit Zoo walked off the job August 20 in protest against a racist slander by the zoo director.

While turning seven seasonal workers over to a maintenance foreman, zoo director Steven Graham said "I've got some monkeys for you." A few minutes later, the white foreman held up a poster of a chimp and asked, "Is this anybody you recognize?"

To get the workers back on the job, Graham apologized. But his apology was as bad as his slander. He said he didn't mean "monkeys" racially -- he calls all laborers "monkeys." The workers were hardly satisfied.

Mayor Coleman Young, who appointed Graham, was deeply embarrassed. Young tries to give himself the image of a fighter against racism, and so he wanted to end the controversy quickly. He fined Graham a week's pay and suspended the maintenance foreman for five days. But he said this was all that was needed since "Mr. Graham has apologized for his inappropriate remarks." Only a representative of the rich, like Young, could consider such a slander of workers an apology.

500 march against racist Minneapolis police

Over 500 people marched in Minneapolis July 14 to protest the latest attacks by police and other racists on black people.

The most recent incident took place on June 30 at North Memorial Hospital.

A young black man had just died at the hospital as a result of a shooting. Some 40 family members and friends were gathered outside the hospital, in shock and grief over this sudden tragedy. The hospital administration considered the gathering a disturbance and called in riot police from three municipalities and the Minnesota state police. Fifty policemen attacked the people and even unleashed attack dogs upon them. After the attack, the police and hospital refused medical treatment to the injured African-Americans.

Demonstrators also exposed a whole pattern of racist atrocities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Last year, for example, police raided a supposed "crack house." Without warning they threw concussion grenades which ignited the house killing two elderly black residents. No evidence of any drug activity was found. As well, black families in "white neighborhoods" have been targets of cross burnings by racist skinheads. The racist were acquitted by the courts on the grounds that cross burning is protected free speech, just like flag burning!

Detroit anti-racist march

[Photo: Stop Racism Now marches in East Detroit, August 26]

Black and white workers in Detroit, angered at increasing racist attacks, have begun organizing marches against racism around the metropolitan area. Marches have been held going from Detroit to several suburbs.

Cleveland State students fight racist administration

Black students at Cleveland State University have carried their occupation of the administration building into its second month.

They are protesting the firing of the black Vice President of Minority Affairs and Human Relations. As well they are angry that only 26 out of 530 instructors at CSU are African-American. And they are protesting that -- even though half of Cleveland's population is black -- only 2,000 of 19,000 students at CSU are minorities. The students have suffered at least seven arrests at their picket lines. But their spirit remains high as they keep up their shout "Fight the powers that be!"

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S&L criminals treated with kid gloves

If an ordinary person is even rumored to be involved with drugs they can be evicted from public housing -- so says the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A worker, who has not even been put on trial, can have his house, car, and other property seized if narcs claim they were involved in drug trafficking -- so says the Drug Enforcement Agency. The "war on drugs and crime" is most often simply a cover for attacking minorities, poor, and working people. It is a terrible injustice. But the injustice is all the greater when you look at the kid glove, treatment of the Savings and Loan criminals.

All a fancy banker or real estate speculator has to say is that he's broke and the government cries it can't collect.

Take the president's son for example.

Neil Bush claims he's too broke to pay back $200,000 in loans to his business partners Bill Walters and Kenneth Good -- who themselves defaulted for some $132 million in loans that Bush voted to give them from the Silverado Banking Savings and Loan. Nevertheless, Bush moved into a new $550,000 house in an exclusive Denver neighborhood.

Meanwhile Good is also claiming he's too poor to pay back $32 million in loans from Silverado. Yet he owns a $650,000 home in Tampa, a large condominium in New York City, a Maserati and Mercedes convertible, and more.

And Walters, who defaulted on a $100 million loan to the Silverado S&L, has also claimed he's broke. Yet in February he bought a $1.9 million estate in California. He also owns a $250,000 mobile home on prime oceanfront property, a $1 million "desert retreat" in an exclusive neighborhood called Indian Wells, a $7,500-a-year membership at a country club, two Mercedes-Benz, and more. All this was bought through a trust set up for his wife, and so the government says it can't touch it.

And the list goes on and on. William Seidman, chairman of the federal agency overseeing the S&L cleanup, says he has seen numerous cases "where people responsible for the failure of the institution...walked off with large sums of money." And, he adds, they put the money in trusts "and other ways that have put it beyond reach." How can it be "out of reach" for bankers when it is easily seized from people or their relatives simply "suspected" of drug dealing?

Obviously the answer is that this is a government of the rich. It treats bankers and other wealthy one way and workers and poor people another. This also explains why the big drug lords, those who have become big businessmen, are also seldom caught while poor people are evicted from their homes.

[Photo: Protesters at Neil Bush's House denounce him for S&L robbery.]

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Giving away the S&L's to the rich

The S&L bailout is turning into a giant boondoggle. The current $500 billion price tag continues to rise. And why? Not only is the government borrowing the money from banks (and paying tribute in high interest payments), but as well, it is virtually giving away the S&Ls it has bought.

For example, James Fail bought 15 Texas thrifts by putting up only $1,000 of his own money, and received assets and government aid worth three billion dollars. Fail was convicted of securities fraud in 1976. But in 1988, with the help of a former Bush aide, he was trusted to take over the S&Ls for a song.

And just this March, the government actually paid NCNB, a North Carolina-based bank, $700,000 to take over the Bankers Savings and Loan of Galveston, Texas (which had $104 million in deposits).

The S&L crisis was caused by the capitalists. And the bailout is being organized to profit the capitalists. The workers should not pay for it. Make the capitalists pay for the crisis!

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Health care is a right!

150 AIDS activists held a spirited rally in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors office on Tuesday, July 31. They denounced the county government's callous lack of concern for AIDS patients in particular and health care in general. Chanting "Health care is a right - ACT UP!" and "AIDS is being ignored by the L.A County Board!" they demanded an end to the incredible three-month waiting period for AIDS care at county medical facilities, and an increase in the county AIDS budget. Other activists carried out "civil disobedience" inside the hall, and 38 were arrested.

Actually, the California budget for AIDS is likely to be cut by 5% to 8% when the just approved state budget goes into effect. A bi-partisan omnibus bill, passed by the Democratic-dominated legislature and signed by Republican Governor Deukmejian, mandates cuts of one to two billion dollars in social services and administration. In the "golden state," the rich get the gold, while the working people see schools decay, health care sicken, and living conditions go to pieces.

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No more cuts in AIDS programs!

100 workers and activists rallied outside the Alameda County Administration Building in the San Francisco Bay Area on August 2 to protest health cutbacks being imposed by the Alameda county and California state governments. This ACT-UP-organized rally denounced the proposed closure of a wing of Highland Hospital and cuts in AIDS programs.

Several protesters chained themselves to the front door, while the demonstrators chanted "Heath care is a right, fight back!" and "Keep Highland Open!" One placard read "Raiders -- $127 million, Health care -- $0," referring to the multimillion dollar deal the county is seeking with the Raiders football team while people who need health care are being turned out on the street. Speakers also denounced the new California state budget for financing two jails while cutting $2.3 billion from social services and education.

Activists jeered at the police as they waded into the protest wearing riot gear and green vinyl gloves. There were 11 arrests. But five days after the action the county announced that it would not close down the ward at Highland Hospital, although it would persist with reducing services, shutting clinics, and other severe cutbacks.

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Seattle: 650 people protest S&L boondoggle

Anger at the S&L boondoggle poured out in Seattle July 25 when some 650 people came out to a "town meeting." Dozens of people took to the microphones to denounce the rich and the government. When one person complained "Where have all the leaders gone?" a cry rang out "In the gutter!" Another person said, "I've been a taxpayer all my working life. And in the last few years, for the first time in my life I'm beginning to feel like a sucker." The Marxist-Leninist Party distributed hundreds of leaflets and its call to "make the rich pay for the S&L crisis" found an echo among the people.

The town meeting was organized by Mike Siegel of KING radio and John Hinterberger of the Seattle Times. Worried about the growing outrage of the masses, they hoped to restore confidence in the system by channeling discontent into lobbying and voting. Excited by the result, Siegel cried, "You people prove the system works."

One pet project they promoted was lobbying in support of a bill by the liberal Democrat Joseph Kennedy. His bill aims to sugarcoat the enormous costs of the S&L bailout for working people by raising some taxes on corporations and the wealthy. And, although shifting even a little of the costs to the rich may be worthwhile, Kennedy isn't even serious about this. No one in Congress is pushing for the passage of this bill. It is mainly an attempt to make liberal Democrats like Kennedy look good.

The town meeting organizers also pushed for minor reforms in election financing and were open to calls to vote out politicians who are implicated in the S&L scandal. They wanted opposition to individual corruption rather than a movement against the Democratic and Republican Parties themselves. But it is not simply a matter that individual politicians from both parties are implicated in the scandal. Both are parties of big business who backed the system that led to the crisis, and who are backing the bailout which is making more money for various bankers and financial sharks at the expense of the masses.

The S&L crisis is a product of the rotting system of capitalism -- a system where nothing is built or developed unless it means profits for the moneybags. Unless the working people build a movement that is independent of both Democrats and Republicans, a movement to fight the capitalists, then no campaign against corruption will change much.

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Strikes and workplace news

Oregon grocery workers strike

Over 6,000 grocery workers -- clerks, meat cutters, bakery and deli workers -- have been on strike against grocery chains in Portland, Oregon since July 21.

The companies want to cut the current health plan to force the workers to pay more of their own medical expenses. The strikers are fighting to maintain their current health benefits intact. The grocery corporate executives recently handed themselves salary hikes anywhere from 35-45%, yet they want to pinch pennies by cutting the workers' health benefits.

The strikers have received support from other workers in the area. They have used the tactic of "adopt a store for a day." Workers from different shops each select a store to picket, thereby helping to keep the picket lines always fully manned.


Levi-Strauss is picketed


Workers in San Antonio, Texas began a boycott of Levi-Strauss products July 27 by forming a picket line in an area mall. Even though Levi-Strauss made $272.3 million in profits during 1989 (an increase of 143% over 1988), they have been closing factories throughout the Southwest. The displaced workers in San Antonio are primarily Chicana women. They have organized a group called Fuerza Unida to fight back.


Their demands include extended unemployment benefits, pensions for long-time workers, and job training. The boycott plans to target college campuses next.


Alabama textile workers win union


Textile workers at the Reltoc Manufacturing Co. in Enfaula, Alabama recently organized a union. The workers -- mostly Afro-American women -- were paid so low that even working full time, many qualified for food stamps.

When the workers started the union drive, they used clandestine operations by "the magnificent seven." These seven workers swept through the job force signing up new members. The company bosses were never able to figure out who "the magnificent seven" were.


Kentucky coal miners organize


About 700 miners at one of South East Coal's mines in Irvine, Kentucky voted overwhelmingly to join the United Mine Workers on July 31. Before the ratification the company had no pension plan. There had been no salary raise since 1981. And the workers' health benefits had been cut. The miners hope to remedy these and other problems by forcing South East Coal into the industry contract. South East is one of Kentucky's largest coal companies, with four underground mines and a big coal processing plant. It produced more than two million tons of coal last year.


Justice for janitors


[Photo: 150 Los Angeles janitors picketed Bradford Building Services, one of the city's largest janitorial companies, August 15. Workers have been fighting for two years for union recognition.]

Strike supporter murdered in W. Virginia

300 workers of Asplundh Tree Company are into their eighth month on strike in northern West Virginia. Their picket lines have been joined by coal miners, employees of another tree trimming company, and by other Asplundh workers employed in the southern portion of the state. They are fighting against Asplundh's concession demands and vicious strikebreaking.

Asplundh has contracts with major power companies throughout the state to remove fallen trees and to trim branches away from power lines. Just before the strike started, it hired a shotgun-toting strike security force to attack the workers. Several picketers have been hit by scab vehicles. And on May 26 three well, known strike supporters were ambushed coming out of a restaurant by four men riding in a marked Asplundh company truck. One strike supporter was killed and the other two were seriously wounded by gunfire. Three of the killers -- a company supervisor, a scab, and someone who did not work at Asplundh -- were arrested. But their ringleader, the general foreman of Asplundh, has not been caught.

While the strikers have remained firm, the leaders of the International Union of Electrical Workers have been undermining the strike. They split off the Asplundh workers in the southern part of the state, settling their contract and sending them back to work. And they ordered the workers from the other tree company to return to their jobs. The Asplundh workers are being left to fight alone.

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Postal Worker News

Postal workers get ready for contract battle

Bargaining opens August 28 for 664,000 postal workers whose contracts expire in November. And Postmaster General Anthony Frank is out for blood. According to the August 27 issue of Business Week, Frank will " rules" to allow the Postal Service "to slash 80,000 to 120,000 jobs through attrition by 1995."

The job cuts will come through a series of measures including cutting restrictions on the hiring of temporary employees, who get less pay and none of the rights of the full-time workers, and part-time workers. Frank also wants "discretion to reassign workers to new tasks, shifts, and facilities as automation speeds up some jobs and attrition opens up others." This includes eliminating bidding procedures for clerks to window jobs on the basis of seniority. As well, Frank has announced plans to contract out an important chunk of mail sorting and the new remote bar code system to low-wage and mostly nonunion sweatshops.

Postal workers have to get ready now for a big fight to defend themselves.

Fight the firing of Detroit letter carrier Rick Broza

Nearly half the letter carriers at the North End station in Detroit have signed petitions against overwork. Recently another station was consolidated into the North End station. And management launched plans to increase the workloads for letter carriers by eliminating some routes, by making some longer, and by other means.

The resistance of the workers frightened the postal bosses and they retaliated by firing Rick Broza, one of the carriers who was organizing the petition drive. The bosses trumped up a number of ridiculous charges against Broza. The main one was essentially that he complained to a letter carrier working next to him about being harassed and lied to by management. It seems that now expressing your opinion in a private conversation to a co-worker is a punishable offense.

But this attempt to intimidate the carriers is not working. Broza wrote a letter to theDetroit Workers' Voicediscrediting the charges against him and exposing that the real reason for the firing was that "Management wants to crack down on anyone who stands up to their efforts to drive postal workers like slaves." The Detroit Workers' Voicehas been widely circulated among the North End workers and many are rallying to Broza's defense.


New York postal workers outraged at bathroom spying

Postal management constantly talks about improving labor-management relations. But the bottom line is harassment of workers to enforce speedup and discipline. Now it has stooped so low as to begin spying on workers in the bathrooms at the FDR station in New York City. Cameras, hidden in fixtures intended to look like sprinklers, have been installed at most bathrooms in FDR station. When workers discovered them they were outraged. Less than 24 hours after the news spread, many of the cameras had been blocked and some may have been damaged.

(Based on August 9 "New York Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP-New York.)

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Nurses hit the picket line


Minnesota nurses strike against forced overtime

In Albert Lea, Minnesota, over 100 nurses have been on strike since July 15 against Naeve Hospital. The main issue revolves around forced overtime. The nurses have been forced to work 16-hour shifts only to return eight hours later to serve another 16-hour shift. The nurses have complained that the overtime is killing them and that patient care suffers when nurses are physically exhausted.

The nurses have enjoyed support from their fellow workers despite a gag order imposed by their own union -- the Minnesota Nurses Association. The union has forbidden any striker to speak with any non-strikers regarding the struggle.

Sick-out of LA. nurses against understaffing

A three day sick-out by emergency room nurses hit Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California on July 23. The nurses protested the chronic understaffing at the county-run hospital. The curtailment of trauma services at private hospitals has brought more patients to Martin Luther King's emergency room without a corresponding increase in medical staff.

After three days, the nurses agreed to return to work after hospital officials promised them relief.

Kaiser nurses win partial victory

The 885 striking nurses at Kaiser Permanente's Hollywood medical center won a partial victory at the end of July. They ratified a new three-year contract, ending the nine-week strike.

Kaiser was forced to increase the nurses' pay raise above the original offer and to lessen their workload by agreeing that nurses no longer have to serve food or empty trash. The strike prevented the immediate cutting of overtime benefits. But the new contract stipulates the gradual elimination of double time pay for eight or more consecutive 12-hour days. This means the nurses will face an even sharper fight in the future against the monstrous overtime.

Detroit nurses strike for higher pay

Nurses hit the picket lines at Criterion Hospital just outside Detroit on August 21. The 335 nurses rejected Crittenton's offer of a 15.6% pay raise over two years. They are picketing against scabs hired from temporary nursing services.

Picket line battles at W. VA. nursing home

Dietitians, housekeepers and nurses aides have been on strike for three months against Beverly Health Care Center in Glasgow, West Virginia. This is their first strike since they became unionized three years ago.

Beverly Enterprises is a California- based chain with over 900 nursing homes nationwide. It is importing scabs and paying them $100 per day -- much more than the $4 an hour pay of the regular workers.

The strikers have been fighting back from the picket lines. Several picketers have been run down by company thugs. And ten picketers were arrested by the Glasgow police, who are protecting the scabs.

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Get organized for the auto contract fight! No concessions Fight for every job!

Ford, GM, and Chrysler put their first comprehensive contract proposals on the bargaining table at the end of August. And it doesn't look good for the 521,000 auto workers whose contracts expire September 14.

No more takebacks!

While health care deteriorates, Chrysler wants to slash medical benefits as GM and Ford propose to chip away at them.

While inflation takes off, Ford and Chrysler want to freeze base wages and hold increases to one-time bonuses. Meanwhile Chrysler, Ford and GM all want to keep the $1.73 cost-of-living allowance (COLA) from being rolled into the base wage, to divert part of it to pay for other benefits, and to keep pensioners from even getting COLA.

And as the speedup from "team work" and other job changes has caused tremendous overwork and job elimination, the Big Three demand even worse work rules and harsher measures against absenteeism.

Fight for every job!

Most of all, the auto bosses demand further job cuts -- what they call a "reasonable and predictable job shrinkage." As the auto industry slides into recession from the capitalists' worldwide crisis of overcapacity, the Big Three are whining they must eliminate even more jobs to be "competitive."

Of course they would never think of cutting profits, which reached record levels for the last several years. And they won't touch the $1.2 million pension just given Roger Smith, the former head of GM. And it never entered their minds to cut the millions of dollars in stock options that Chrysler just gave its 1,800 executives. Heavens no, profits and executive bonuses are sacred. Instead, it is the workers who are to be bled from more and more job cuts.

Bieber's "guaranteed" job cut plan

Unfortunately, the leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are not ready to defend the workers. UAW President Owen Bieber has declared he will accept the companies' demand for "reasonable and predictable job shrinkage" if the companies will agree to his "100% job-security program," which is based on the contract recently signed at JI Case of Racine, Wisconsin.

The companies' plan guarantees the automatic elimination of a set number of jobs every year through measures such as "a downward ratcheting of minimum employment levels." Most people call that job cuts, not job security.

Meanwhile, Bieber's "job-security" plan guarantees nothing. While his plan supposedly limits employee layoffs to no more than 12 weeks over the three-year contract, it is filled with loopholes. For example, the Case agreement allows layoffs for such things as "inventory reductions" and "sale of a plant."

How is this any different than the giant loopholes in the last contract which allowed layoffs if the companies faced "changing market conditions," and allowed plant shutdowns if they said it was "idled" rather than "closed"? Those loopholes led to the closing of six plants and massive layoffs in just the last three years. How many jobs will be lost with the new loopholes?

Even with the best contract language, only the mass struggle of the workers can defend jobs. But Bieber doesn't want to fight the companies. He wants to help them become "competitive." And so he is just plugging the old loopholes with new ones.

But the workers have suffered enough already. Let the capitalists become "competitive" out of their own pockets. We workers must defend ourselves. Fight for every job--against plant closings, layoffs, speedup, and backward work rule changes! Fight for those already laid off -- jobs or full pay and benefits until call back! Fight the takebacks and for a big wage increase and COLA for those on the job, on layoff, and on pension!

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Flint workers strike for jobs

2,700 auto parts workers walked off the job at GM's AC West complex in Flint, Michigan August 8. The six day strike won a temporary reprieve from the elimination of 900 jobs. But as the strike was drawing blood -- causing parts shortages that closed 16 other GM plants -- UAW leaders called it off and sold out the workers far short of real job security.

The settlement postponed the closing of Plant 2A from 1992 to August, 1993. But then it will be closed and the work outsourced to mostly low-paying, nonunion parts plants as GM planned all along. Still the UAW leaders claim this is a victory because GM promised to eliminate jobs only by "attrition." Unfortunately this "guaranteed employment" plan is no better than the one in the last national contract. It not only eliminates jobs through attrition, but it has a loophole allowing GM to layoff workers whenever GM declares a "sales slump." This loophole has allowed GM to close four plants in the last three years.

As well, the settlement establishes a joint UAW-GM committee to bring work back to AC West -- by proving it can produce parts cheaper than if they are outsourced. But this is what got the AC workers in trouble in the first place. The complex has lost nearly 11,000 jobs in the last 15 years to outsourcing. In competition with the low-paid, parts sweatshops, the AC workers were forced to give cost-cutting concessions on the promise that GM would keep all the jobs in the plant. But, after the concessions were given, GM is going ahead with plans to send the work to the sweatshops. Concessions, and competing with workers at other plants, don't save jobs. They must be fought for.

Outsourcing is a major issue in this year's contract. And UAW leaders are pointing to the AC deal as a model. But this is a dead end for the workers. Instead they must fight for every single job and help the nonunion parts shops organize to gain the same pay and benefits.

[Photo: Truck driver refuses to cross picket line of AC West workers In Flint, MI]

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New York transit workers fight layoffs

More than 200 transit workers rallied August 24 to shout their anger at the high-handed layoff of 300 provisional workers who carry out construction work on the New York subway system.

The day before, the New York Transit Authority (TA) booted them into the street without even a day's notice. Although they are all fully qualified track workers, and some have slaved for three years in the unsafe conditions and without the rights of permanent workers, the TA has refused to raise them to permanent status. Now, as the TA faces a budget deficit of nearly $200 million, they are the first to be hit with layoffs. More layoffs are expected as New York tries to solve its fiscal crisis on the backs of the workers.

But the workers are fighting back. Throughout the summer, track division union meetings were packed with angry provisional and other track workers demanding action. The Transit Workers Union (TWU) officials responded by denying layoffs were coming and canceling meetings.

But workers continued to organize on their own. Protest leaflets and stickers were circulated. And a transit-wide picket line and rally outside the TA headquarters was called for August 27. The New York Workers' Voice (paper of the MLP- New York) called on workers to join the fight against layoffs, to demand that provisional workers be made permanent, and to take the union bureaucracy to task for selling out the workers. The August 8 issue declares, "If the TA must have layoffs, let them cut their over bloated army of high-paid bureaucrats and managers. Let them slash the profits that flow into the pockets of their outside contractors, suppliers and interest-collecting banks. But don't touch the job of a single transit worker...All out for the August 27 picket line and rally!"

To head off independent action of the rank and file, the TWU bureaucrats hastily called the August 24 protest. But after seeing them sit on their hands for months, many workers don't trust the union hacks to fight. They are going ahead with plans for the August 27 picket and work to organize the rank and file independent of the union bureaucracy.

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Mexican immigrants protest plant closing

Over 100 workers picketed August 17 at the Paramount Division of White Consolidated Industries outside Los Angeles. The factory, which makes gardening equipment, is closing. And although some of the 400 workers have worked nearly 20 years at the plant, the company is offering them no severance pay or any other help. Most of the workers are undocumented Mexican immigrants, so the bosses thought they could just throw them in the street without a dime.

But the workers are fighting back. They are demanding two weeks' severance pay for each year of employment. And they are marching to press their demand.

After the demonstration at Paramount, the workers got on a bus to join a rally by a group of workers at another White subsidiary, Gerard Metal Craftsmen, in Gardena. Gerard also has announced plans to close by the end of the year. This plant has about 90 workers who organized into a union only two years ago. Gerard has offered its workers about $1,000 apiece in severance pay. But the workers are demanding more. The Paramount and Gerard workers marched side-by-side shouting, "We want a severance package, not peanuts."


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No to a war to save the oil kingdoms!

What are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?

Bush is calling on American workers and youth to rally to the defense of the oil kingdoms in the Persian Gulf.

The politicians and media don't however tell us much about what these states are. What is Kuwait? What kind of societies are the sons and daughters of American workers being sent to slaughter Arab workers for?

Feudal-capitalist tyrannies


The oil-rich sheikdoms of the Gulf are ferocious enemies of the Arab people.

Politically, they maintain a feudal type of rule. Top government officials are connected by family ties to the ruler, who rules with a patriarchal iron hand. But economically the regimes are fully capitalist. The ruling families are modern capitalist businessmen, fabulously wealthy and holding worldwide investments.

Saudi Arabia


Consider the government of Saudi Arabia, which Bush is so intent on defending.

Saudi Arabia makes no pretense of democratic institutions -- no parliament, no political parties, no trade unions, not even a consultative body for the king. The king appoints a cabinet to administer the country; these are mostly his own relatives. Like the king, they are all millionaires or billionaires.

There is also no pretense of separation of church and state in Saudi Arabia -- it is a conservative, religious state. The legal code allows cutting off limbs for various petty offenses. Women are completely without rights; even the wives of wealthy businessmen are not allowed to have an occupation, and can be executed for such crimes as adultery.



Like King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, the Kuwaiti emir was an absolute monarch. Kuwait had a talk-shop parliament for a while, but the emir tired of it and abolished it in 1986. Even back then, voting rights were only held by a small number of property-holding men. The emir ruled with an iron hand and repressed any opposition, even among the emerging Kuwaiti bourgeoisie.

As in all the Gulf kingdoms, the workforce in Kuwait was overwhelmingly made up of immigrant labor. Citizens of Kuwait were actually a minority in their own country; they made up 40% of the population, less than 20% of the work force, and about zero percent of the manual work force. The emir did buy social peace among the country's citizens, by guaranteeing them a middle-class standard of living.

But the Emir's wealth and the privileges for Kuwaiti citizens came from the labor of immigrants who were treated as slaves and servants. These laborers lived in shanty towns. Discrimination against foreign workers was intense, as they were not allowed to organize, kept segregated from one another, and not allowed to become citizens. It was an apartheid-type system, with immigrant labor supporting a small number of wealthy oil exploiters and their hangers-on.

The workers in Kuwait came from Arab and Asian countries. Maids and housekeepers from Sri Lanka, hospital workers from India and Pakistan, oil and construction laborers from other Arab countries, teachers and low-level bureaucrats from Palestine. Upper-level administrative jobs were all reserved for Kuwaiti citizens.

There is no local agriculture and little industry beyond oil. But the kingdom has over $100 billion in investments abroad, and the royal family is said to have another $50 billion in its personal accounts. The wealth from these investments in fact exceeds the country's oil income today.

A system of imperialist client states


How did such regimes emerge, and how have they managed to evade being overthrown for so long?

The Gulf monarchies -- Saudi Arabia and the system of petty emirates -- were set up by Western imperialism to dominate this strategic region. Later when oil was discovered, these kingdoms were propped up by Britain and the U.S. for no other reason than allowing a free flow of oil profits for the big oil monopolies like Mobil, Shell, and EXXON.

Britain had established supremacy in Kuwait at the end of the last century. Following World War I, Britain took over the region from the defeated Ottoman Empire (Turkey). This was the time when the imperialists were carving up their World War I booty: France took Syria and Lebanon. Britain picked out certain pro-imperialist "noble" families and installed them on thrones. Following the imperialist policy of "divide and conquer," Britain made sure that none of these kingdoms was large or powerful by itself, and that the various royal families had plenty to squabble about between themselves. Meanwhile, Britain maintained a monopoly on economic and military power throughout the area.

Beginning in the 1930's American oil companies had muscled into the area and eventually the U.S. become the dominant economic and military power. But the emirates remained client states of Anglo- American imperialism as a whole. The oil companies grabbed up the huge oil profits, the U.S. and Britain backed up the local rulers militarily, and the kings and sheiks were given a small portion of the oil wealth.

But the Arab masses were never satisfied with this system of oppressors imposed on their backs. The Gulf monarchies were shaken in the 1950's by the rise of anti-colonial and republican movements. This was the time that large parts of Asia and Africa were throwing off colonial domination.

The king in Iraq was overthrown in 1958. Revolutionary movements emerged in Yemen and Oman. The overall system of the Gulf kingdoms was however kept secure, especially through the services of the Shah of Iran, who was set up by U.S. imperialism to serve as policeman of the Gulf.

Nevertheless by the 60's, Britain was forced to retreat from direct colonial rule of the small Gulf states. But the local emirs and sheiks were kept in power. The popularity of Arab nationalism forced the Gulf kings to make certain adaptations. The rulers would shout against Israel, the most blatant imperialist outpost in the area. They contributed money to Palestinian organizations (to buy influence). At the same time, they viciously repressed any opposition political movements.

Cracks in the system


The system of Gulf states remained pretty much intact through the 1970's. The sheikdoms guarded the oil production for Western imperialism, and in return shared in the profits. They used the OPEC oil embargo of the early 70's to increase their share of the oil profits. It is at this time that they used their new-found gains to become huge worldwide business enterprises.

But this system was shaken by the Iranian revolution of 1978-79. The Shah of Iran had been the linchpin of Western imperialism in the Persian Gulf area. The imperialists fully trusted the Shah and allowed him to be the top dog of the region.

The overthrow of the Shah was the first big crack in the system of Gulf states. It unleashed currents of change that are still sweeping the area. Western imperialism has yet to find a satisfactory replacement.

The Arab emirates knew they would be susceptible to mass upheavals inspired by the Shah's overthrow. In Iran the revolutionary movement was suppressed by Khomeini and his fellow mullahs, but even then the Gulf regimes remained worried. Khomeini sought to manipulate discontent in these countries and export Islamic fundamentalist influence there.

In response, the Gulf kingdoms, along with the U.S., supported Iraq's long war against Iran in the 1980's. In fact it was the Gulf states which largely financed this war. They thought they would use Iraq's army as their hired mercenaries, just as they have hired servants to do everything else for them.

But the irony of the situation is that the war's end nonetheless found Iraq close to bankruptcy. Threatened by economic crisis and having built up a larger military than ever before, Saddam Hussein decided to invade Kuwait. The hired bully boy has turned against his masters.

The present crisis is a second significant crack in the system of Gulf states. The imperialists have found themselves in a tight spot with no local power reliable enough for them to keep the region secure. Thus they have been forced to send in their own troops and are talking about keeping these forces for months...years...decades.

No matter how the present crisis ends, the imperialists have only created more trouble for themselves. They have undermined the very system that they relied on for most of this century. Indeed, the imperialists are beginning to wonder aloud whether the sheikdoms are viable regimes any longer.

It remains to be seen what social and political forces will come to the fore in the immediate future. Unfortunately progressive movements in this region are presently weak and in disarray. Fundamentalist Muslim forces are among the stronger existing currents and they are already working hard to take advantage of the hatred against U.S. imperialism that is emerging. In the long run, however, through various tortured twists and turns, the breakup of the present order will allow the workers of the region to see through the politics of the different factions of capitalist exploiters and develop their own class politics of working class liberation.

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Saddam's a tyrant, U.S. built him up

Bush and Congress tell us that Saddam Hussein is a butcher. But sorry gentlemen, our memories are not so short that we can't see your hypocrisy. For the last 10 years you were in bed with this butcher. Of course you didn't call him that then. Then the curses were reserved for others you wanted to portray as the enemy of the day.

Of course Saddam Hussein is a fascist tyrant, an oppressor of the Iraqi people. But U.S. imperialism has no moral high ground to allow it to go after him. It is up to the Iraqi people and other toilers of the region to settle accounts with Saddam Hussein, along with all the wealthy exploiters' regimes.

Misplaced hopes


There is so much hatred for the wealthy Gulf tyrants among the working people in the Middle East that many toilers have welcomed the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait. There is so much justified anger against Western imperialism marching in with its tanks, planes and warships that ordinary Arab people are becoming sympathetic to Saddam. There is such frustration in Palestine with the intransigent Israeli occupation that Palestinians, desperate for a way out of their misery, are coming to believe in Saddam's rhetoric that he will free them from Israeli brutality.

But these hopes in Saddam Hussein are misplaced. Saddam Hussein is no more a friend of the oppressed Arab people than the Emir of Kuwait, the King of Saudi Arabia, Mubarak of Egypt, or King Hussein of Jordan. The working people have to be their own liberators.

What is the Iraqi regime?


The roots of the present Iraqi regime go back to the late 1950's. A hated, pro-British king was overthrown by a military coup which was widely supported by the masses. But it wasn't the laboring people who built the new republic. It was the middle class which had its own capitalist aspirations. A bourgeois nationalist regime consolidated around the Ba'ath (Resurrection) Socialist Party. There was a lot of talk from them about the Arab nation, about opposition to imperialism and Zionism, and even about socialism. But while imperialist dominance was somewhat cut back and some social reforms carried out, it wasn't a democratic republic of the working people but a militarist dictatorship that got rigged up.

The Ba'ath has consolidated a one-party, state-capitalist regime. The main means of production -- especially the oil industry -- are owned by the government.

But the government is not a workers' government, and the state-owned enterprises are not run by the working people, but by a privileged, middle-class strata. The bureaucracy and military in Iraq are a terrible weight on the shoulders of the people.

In foreign policy, Ba'athist Iraq maneuvered among the different imperialist powers. It especially built up close ties to Soviet imperialism in the 60's and 70's. The Soviets showered this regime with praise, calling it a state of "socialist orientation." The local followers of Moscow in the pro-Soviet Communist Party also supported this line, no matter that every so often the Ba'ath would spurn the CP and take out their leaders and activists to be shot and jailed.

Saddam Hussein became a leader in the Iraqi army and became president in 1979. And under him the Ba'athist regime has gone from bad to worse.

Hired bully against Iran


The status quo in the Gulf, favorable to the big world oil monopolies, was drastically altered by the Iranian revolution. In this situation Iraq stepped forward as the champion of the reactionary emirates. Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran in September 1980. Hussein also hoped to take the Shah's place as the dominant capitalist power in the region.

This war resulted in the death of some hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis. It dragged on for eight years. Hussein even resorted to the use of poison gas to try and break the stalemate.

In the later years of the war Hussein launched a brutal campaign against the Kurdish people who live in the mountainous area bordering Iran. Hussein forced hundreds of thousands of Kurds to relocate to other parts of Iraq. His soldiers demolished their home villages and dealt brutally with any resistance. Hussein's army blanketed the Kurdish town of Halabja with poison gas in 1988, killing hundreds of residents.

And who backed up Hussein during these bloody years? Who profited from the slaughter? The same people who are shouting up and down against him today. The governments of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, etc. all aided Hussein. Arms merchants made tons of profits from selling weapons. Grain dealers got rich. The Soviet imperialists too armed and aided Saddam's regime.

The war's aftermath

When the war finally ended in 1988, Hussein claimed to have won the war. At home he had bought social peace by trying to maintain the living standards of the majority of the population. At that time he seemed secure.

But underneath, the economy had been severely, perhaps fatally, strained. Hussein took out some $70 billion in loans to pay for the war, and to repay them would require some serious sacrifice. He had mortgaged Iraq's future economy. Earlier there had been attempts by the regime to set up an industrial base to diversify away from reliance on oil. But this got sacrificed for the war, when Hussein was desperate for cash. The government also abandoned domestic agriculture, instead relying on imports to feed the people.

Thus the Ba'ath regime, despite its "nationalist" and "socialist" rhetoric, had lapsed back into the syndrome of a monocultural economy dependent on imperialism. One product -- oil -- accounts for 90% of Iraq's export earnings. Iraq imports about 80% of its food, mostly from the U.S., Canada and Australia. This type of state is no model of progress for the Arab people.

The new situation made Iraq's economy peculiarly sensitive to the world price of oil. Given the present world glut of oil, and its relatively low price compared to the 1970's, Iraq did not have a chance of repaying its loans. This opened up the prospect of serious internal discontent in the future, if the government tried imposing austerity on a war-weary populace. As well, Hussein had to provide jobs for the soldiers being demobilized.

In this situation Hussein made his move against Kuwait. By annexing Kuwait he could immediately cancel the $10-15 billion in loans owed to Kuwait. He also seized a few billion dollars from the Kuwaiti treasury. And he expected to make billions more by directly regulating the output of Kuwaiti oil wells.

Not so different from the sheikdoms

Saddam Hussein demagogically rails against the government of Egypt for having sold out the cause of Arab nationalism. And the Ba'athists denounce the sheikdoms as tools of imperialism. All true enough. But in some respects the Iraqi regime is not so different from that of the sheikdoms.

He too had been increasing his ties with Western imperialism. And his domestic style of rule isn't any better. Critics of the regime are brutally repressed. The Kurdish national minority has suffered especially hard. There are no rights for the masses.

Like the emirates, although not to the same extreme extent, Iraq relies on a large force of immigrant workers to run its economy. During the height of the war against Iran, there were some two million Egyptians working inside Iraq. Since the war ended, about half of these have lost their jobs. Many were summarily fired and shipped back to Egypt without receiving their proper pay. Today ordinary Egyptian laborers, trying to leave the country, are being harassed and mistreated by Iraqi forces.

Trying to be a regional superpower

Besides money, Saddam Hussein's other motive in taking Kuwait was to revive his sagging aspirations to be a regional power. Even without attacking the other emirates, or Saudi Arabia, he could make them listen to him if he took over Kuwait easily. It would also buy some popularity across the Arab world because the masses hate the Gulf kingdoms.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, Hussein has supported the rightist Christian faction led by Michel Aoun, who is fighting Syria. This is the latest outcome of a long-standing unprincipled regional rivalry with Syria.

Apparently Saddam Hussein thought that the imperialist powers would let him get away with grabbing Kuwait. Iraq's importance as an oil exporter, and the closer ties forged to imperialist countries during the war against Iran, may have made him think that the reaction would be relatively restrained. In any case, his impending economic debacle made him seriously consider desperate actions.

But Hussein's gamble didn't work. He's gotten himself cornered. Neither the imperialists nor the Saudis are willing to have a regional superpower which they don't completely control.

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Bush's arguments for war:

The lies of an imperialist hypocrite

George Bush is driving towards war in the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon and the media are dredging up every propaganda ploy to convince the American people that this is a just war. But war is serious business for the working people of the U.S. and the Gulf--because that's who suffers and bears the costs of war. Therefore we workers must look at the arguments for war with our eyes fully open.

"The U.S. must take a stand against aggression. We must stand up for international law and order."


This is bald-faced hypocrisy. Didn't Bush himself just invade Panama last December, violating international "law and order"? Didn't Bush, as vice-president, help organize the invasion of Grenada, the mining of ports in Nicaragua, and a dirty war in Nicaragua by the contras? Even the World Court ruled against the U.S. on the mining of Nicaraguan ports, but the U.S. blithely ignored that. So where does Bush get off criticizing anybody else for aggression?

Bush says he is defending the Arab people against an aggressor. But it is no secret that the U.S. government has long coveted military bases in the oil-rich Gulf region, and now it is implementing a permanent presence there.

And what about Israel, to whom Bush hands $3 billion a year in aid? As vice-president, Bush supported Israel's brutal invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which included the bombing of Beirut and the massacre of thousands of Arabs. Today Bush in the White House continues to support Israel's bloody repression in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. How come Bush has never called for blockading Israel? How come there's never even been any harsh curses at the Israeli rulers?

It's absurd to consider George Bush any kind of crusader against aggression. Yet Bush, and the fawning, high-paid journalists who extol his every word, continue to press this argument. Why? Because they know that the people hate to see any bully run over another country, and there is opposition to Saddam Hussein because of his takeover of Kuwait.

" The legitimate government of Kuwait must be restored."

Note the word "legitimate." Usually, the U.S. government justifies its aggression abroad with talk of restoring democracy and freedom. But it would be pretty hard to pass off the Emir of Kuwait or the King of Saudi Arabia as paragons of democracy or freedom.

Another article describes more fully the nature of the Gulf kingdoms. Here we just note that the Emir of Kuwait was a despotic monarch whose legitimacy was based solely on the "divine right of kings." If you accept Bush's logic, Queen Elizabeth is still the legitimate ruler of North America.

Workers cannot go along with what the rich consider legitimate. To the rich the death-squad regime in El Salvador which murders trade union and left-wing activists is perfectly legitimate, while the poor who struggle against this oppression are "terrorists."

We can't forget that as long as Saddam Hussein was simply massacring poor Kurdish peasants, he had a perfectly "legitimate" regime; but when he turns against a fellow dictator, and royalty to boot, he suddenly becomes Hitler reborn.

Of course it would have been better if the Kuwaiti Emir had been overthrown in a people's revolution. The Iraqi occupation just replaced one tyrant with another. But American workers have no interest in restoring this wealthy emir to his throne. Why should American youth who've been forced to join the military out of economic hardship, who come from working class families, go to war to restore the power of a tyrant worth some $150 billion? Or to defend the equally rich kings and princes of Saudi Arabia?

"We must defend our vital interests and our way of life."


Those are just other words for OIL. Here we cut through the hypocrisy about "international law" and get down to the real nitty-gritty: the U.S. establishment insists that Persian Gulf oil is theirs.

But how did Persian Gulf oil become the U.S. birthright anyway? When did the people there vote to join the United States?

Bush says control of the Persian Gulf area is essential to "America's vital interests," and he says it is needed to maintain the "American way of life." The media paints grim pictures of Americans standing in line for days to buy gas, paying $3-4 a gallon, and of higher prices for everything. War in the Middle East, presumably, will prevent all of this.

Even if true, this would be a nakedly imperialist argument. It means that might makes right. If you have the tanks and aircraft carriers, you can go raid any part of the world for its resources. Isn't this the same logic which Bush accuses Iraq of?

And what's this talk of "our" vital interests? The Persian Gulf is rich in oil. But who's benefited from this? The multinational oil companies -- like EXXON, Mobil and Shell -- and the Saudi, Kuwaiti and other kings, emirs and princes.

The U.S. government is a government of the oil monopolies and other capitalist corporations. They want to swindle the workers into believing that the workers and the rich have the same interests. But look at what these companies and the government have been doing over just the last 10 years. They've cut wages, cut social services, busted unions, created three million homeless, and robbed the S&L system blind -- all without any help from Saddam Hussein.

"We can't allow Saddam Hussein to control our oil supply."


Saddam Hussein was motivated to invade Kuwait for the same greedy money interest as the U.S. has in its drive for intervention. But let's not get carried away. He didn't threaten to cut off the supply of Persian Gulf oil, he only wanted a rearrangement of the Persian Gulfs oil profits to his regime's benefit.

Moreover there is a glut of oil in the world. And only 8% of American oil was imported from Iraq and Kuwait; this is hardly that big a chunk. As can be seen, this is being compensated by other countries. As well, there's oil sitting in the many oil wells in the U.S. which are capped, waiting for prices (and profits) to go up.

What is more, the world cannot go on with the rich and powerful nations grabbing up and burning every barrel of oil that can be pumped out of the ground. These countries use up a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, solely because imperialist might has dominated the world. And the incessant burning of fossil fuels is creating grave threats to the planet's environment.

Why should we go to war to protect a wasteful and dangerous "way of life"?

"We cannot afford to let a single strongman control the Persian Gulf."

Again, look who's talking. U.S. imperialism has been the single biggest power in this area for decades. U.S. oil monopolies have long dominated the profit making from the Gulfs oil. Washington is using this latest crisis to restore unrivaled U.S. hegemony in the area.

This is why the U.S. ruling class could accept a "single strongman" if it was one of "their own," like the Shah of Iran. A strongman who was put in power by the CIA in 1954. The Shah, it may be remembered, ran a brutal regime against the Iranian people with the help of the CIA and Pentagon.

They could also easily play with Saddam the strongman as they have done for the last 10 years. But then he was helping the U.S. crusade against Iran. They easily managed to overlook his brutality then, when he pushed out local Shiites to Iran, when he gassed Kurdish peasants to death, when he murdered dissidents. But when he moves against other pro-U.S. despots in the area, that's a no-no.

If a single strongman plays their game, then he's okay. But when he goes too far, then he must be put in his place.

"The United Nations supports us, the Arab League is sending forces, we're really leading a world effort."

Let's not kid ourselves. It's really a U.S. police action, but Bush has engaged in a whirlwind of diplomatic activity and succeeded in providing himself with an international cover.

But what does this international support mean?

It's no surprise that Iron Lady Thatcher and other European imperialists are supporting Bush. They've all profited from the Gulfs oil profits. And the Soviet Union and China, which once used to block U.S. hegemony in the United Nations, have both become avid collaborators of Western imperialism. It's no secret that they're eager for U.S. credits, investment, etc.

As for the Arab League and other poor countries, like Pakistan and Bangladesh who say they're sending troops too, this is just another example of imperialist bullying. The White House and Saudi Arabia are simply pulling in all the IOU's they've been accumulating from these countries.

For example, take the decision by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to support Bush -- can anyone take seriously Mubarak's "objectivity," when he receives $3 billion a year in aid from Bush?

"We can't tolerate hostage-takers."

As the standoff continues between the U.S. and Iraq, of course the world gets treated to new arguments for war each day. But these don't stand up much either.

Bush's latest argument for war is that Saddam Hussein has seized Americans and other Westerners as hostages. Saddam's act can't be condoned, but can we overlook that this is a product of the crisis, rather than a cause? By imposing an all-out blockade on Iraq, including food, Bush had in fact declared the entire country a hostage. He'd made known his intention to starve the millions of men, women and children there.

In a fight of one bully against another, we're not not going to see too many ethical and high-minded acts. On either side. But these won't make the war drive any more just.

Clearly, when all is said and done, there is no morality or justice in the war drive that's being whipped up by Bush. Congress and the entire media.

This is no war for high-minded goals -- in fact their attempts to come up with "noble" justifications all fall flat. The truth easily peeks through. This is a war of robbers over the fat profits of Persian Gulf oil. It is a war to preserve the profits of the oil companies. It is a war to make the Gulf safe for fabulously wealthy kings and emirs. It is a war to ensure imperialist domination in a strategic region. The workers have no interests in this kind of war!

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Protests demand 'U.S. out of the Gulf!'

Soon after Bush announced that he was sending troops to the Persian Gulf, demonstrations broke out in many cities.

Protests involving several hundred people each took place in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Dozens, of demonstrators turned out in Detroit, Boston, Milwaukee and elsewhere.

The cry "U.S. troops out of the Gulf!" rang out in all these actions. And in all of them, people squarely targeted the oil companies.

Liberals back war moves

We have found among the masses suspicion about the war drive. But so far, the demonstrations have been small, if spirited.

Why? The entire U.S. establishment supports the war buildup. From conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats. From the corporate mass media to the trade union leaders and other reformist bigshots.

Take Jesse Jackson, for example. He's the liberal Democrat who's made a lot of noise in recent years about peace and non-intervention. But in this case, Jesse is also on the war bandwagon. He says, "Bush's actions to date have been prudent, skillful, and in proportion.... he has fundamentally been right."

It's actually not at all surprising that these forces support the war drive. It shows the class lines at work: the liberals are no friends of the working people's interests. We should expose them and build a movement independent of the pro-capitalist misleaders. It may be hard work, but in the long run it is this type of movement which will be all the stronger.

CPUSA gives back-handed support for aggression

But even among those political groups involved in the recent anti-war protests, pro-capitalist influence is reflected.

A particularly obnoxious stand is that of the pro-Soviet CPUSA. They are trying to soften the protests with the slogan, "UN Yes, Troops No." As if the United Nations hasn't been harnessed to provide a legal cover for the intervention. The pro-Soviet CP, which has for decades straddled the U.S. liberal bourgeoisie and the Soviet revisionist bourgeoisie, is now championing a UN effort subscribed to by both of these imperialist powers.

Saddam a liberator?

As well, other groups are floating some rather strange ideas in the protests. These are mainly the reformist Workers World Party and assorted Trotskyist groups. These groups cover their eyes to the fact that this war in the Gulf is a war of robber vs. robber. Instead they try to prettify the Saddam Hussein regime. They ignore every crime of this regime, they ignore why it went to war, what its aims are, and simply paint it in glorious anti-imperialist colors.

Some like WWP first say only the Arab workers and peasants can decide if Saddam was right to invade Kuwait. Then their leader Marcy pontificates about how the "bourgeois democratic revolution is being completed." Parallels are drawn implying that Saddam is some sort of Napoleon bringing democratic progress to Kuwait. What rubbish!

Others will grudgingly criticize Saddam Hussein a bit (if pressed), but then insist that we must give "military, though not political, support" to Saddam. (Although we haven't seen them signing up to go fight in Saddam's bloodstained army.)

All this is shameful. They are helping Saddam push his lie to the Arab masses that he is their liberator. Ironically, a few of these groups, like the SWP, supported Khomeini's Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. Then they were willing to condemn Saddam harshly. Now Iraq's action against Kuwait, which is really an extension of that very same reactionary war (since he's trying to get paid for waging that war), is being hailed as an act of liberation!

The stands of the reformists, from the CPUSA to the Trotskyist boosters of Saddam, all stand in the way of building a serious anti-war movement. You can't build a movement against the U.S. troops when you want to throw your support to the UN which is giving the U.S. a legal cover. You can't build an oppositional anti-war movement when your everyday politics is to tail after the Democrats, who are all, to a person, supporting this war drive. And as well, you can't build a serious movement against this war and expect the masses to take you seriously if you spread outrageous lies about the merits of Saddam Hussein.

[Photo: San Francisco]

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Stop racist attacks on Arab immigrants!

U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf has given the green light for anti-Arab racists to crawl out of their sewers. Across the country, racist attacks on Arab people have begun to take place.

In Detroit, one man's home was fire-bombed and his truck vandalized in early August. Other Arab people have been called racist names. Arab students in suburban Detroit have been assaulted at early school sport training sessions. One man who is not even Arab was accosted in a Detroit suburb because he "looked" Middle Eastern.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a Palestinian man was slapped while standing in line at a store after speaking Arabic. He was told by his racist assailant, "Why don't you Iraqis go back to where you came from?"

Such despicable racism is being whipped up by the U.S. ruling class to divide the working class in the face of the growing economic crisis. Workers -- black and white, Arab and Latino -- must stand together and fight this growing racism.

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Solidarity grows across Canada

Mohawks defy the army

In Oka, Quebec the Mohawk Indians have kept up their road blockade despite the siege upon their encampment by the Canadian authorities. Meanwhile, the Mohawks' struggle has inspired other Native communities across the country to take up mass actions in solidarity as well as to press their own demands.

Last March the Mohawks first erected a roadblock to protest the usurping of their land for a golf course extension by the town of Oka. The Mohawks and other Indians have seen their land stolen over the years by rich developers as Canadian courts stall land claim cases. The land under dispute in Oka has been in, the courts for 273 years.

On July 11th, 100 Quebec provincial police assaulted the blockade, but failed miserably despite their stun grenades, tear gas, earth moving machine and firearms. After their defeat, the police turned to a policy of starvation and intimidation, imposing martial law in Oka and laying siege to the encampment. But one and a half months later the Mohawks are still maintaining the blockade of the road.

Also continuing is the sympathy blockade of the Mercier Bridge, one of the main links to the Island of Montreal, which the Mohawks of Kahnawake erected the same day as the police attack in Oka.

In mid-August, the federal government decided to send the army in. Prime Minister Mulroney put the military in the hands of the Quebec government to pressure the Mohawks. Some 3,309 soldiers were deployed in towns near the two Indian communities. On August 20 more than 1,400 soldiers replaced police at the two locations.

Negotiations were also begun with the Mohawks. The military was to serve as the guard dog, standing behind the smooth-talking negotiators. At first the army promised not to move any closer than where the police had positioned their barricade.

But on August 23, the troops moved further into Mohawk territory, aerial surveillance began, and police started searching boats going to and from the Indian encampments. Provincial politicians started hinting that the army would be sent in to remove the Mohawk blockades if the negotiating team did not agree to it. But the Mohawks, who have been stockpiling arms, say they are ready to shed blood in defense of their interests.

Initially when the talks began the issue was how to settle the controversy over the land stolen for the golf course. But the Indians have felt the power of their mass action. Even though the government has promised that the land will be theirs after the roadblock is dismantled -- the government is buying it to give it to them -- the Mohawks are refusing to just settle for that. They want to be sure that other long-standing grievances will be addressed once they relieve the government of the pressure from their mass action. As well, they are demanding amnesty from criminal charges that are bound to follow when they end the blockade.

Other Native groups take up militant actions


In mid-August Indians in northern Ontario and British Columbia began blockading railroad lines in solidarity with the Mohawks in Oka. For years they too have raised their own demands, such as the settlement of land claims, complaints over unfair compensation for use of Indian reserves, and for better housing, only to be ignored by the government.

In northern Ontario members of the Long Lake 58 band began a blockade of the Canadian National (CN) rail line on August 13, stopping cross-Canada freight and passenger traffic. On August 17 another blockade was set up by the Pic Mobert band across the Canadian Pacific (CP) rail track. They were reinforced by the Pic 50 Heron Bay band who came to join the blockade and threatened to occupy the Trans-Canada Highway if Native demands were not addressed.

CN Rail won an injunction from the Supreme Court for the tracks to be cleared, and the blockade was ended August 19. Then CP Rail also won an injunction on August 20. But the Indian groups have taken up the strategy that whenever a blockade is forced to an end by an injunction, another goes up somewhere else on the same line.

Out west in British Columbia members of the Stl'atl'imx Nation had set up a blockade of the British Columbia (BC) Rail line on August 17, but did not obey a court injunction to remove it. They had been allowing passenger trains to pass but not freight trains. When a passenger train was stopped temporarily so that the Indians could explain their grievances to the passengers, the rail company stopped all passenger trains.

On the third day after the injunction was served, British Columbia police moved in to remove it. Thirty-five people were arrested. But it was only hours later that another blockade was put up about 100 kilometers farther down the line by the Lil'wat Nation. That blockade was removed the next day.

Other solidarity mass actions are taking place across Canada too. Demonstrations of support have taken place in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other cities.

The new spirit of militancy among the Native peoples is a fresh wind blowing across Canada. The Indians are fed up having their demands ignored, fed up with poverty, racist abuse and mistreatment. It has been only since the mass actions this summer that the government has moved to promise action on many of the issues. Only carrying this struggle forward will ensure whether the new promises are kept or end up being just another set of broken pledges.

[Photo: Mohawks on their barricades near Oka, Quebec]

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CIA organizes Salvadoran death squads

President Bush is trying to push through more aid to the death-squad government in El Salvador claiming that it has evolved new respect for human rights. But more information is coming out that not only is this a death-squad regime, but also that the CIA is directly involved in organizing the death squads.

Salvadoran high command behind death squads


Last fall, Cesar Vielman Joya Martinez escaped to the U.S. and began telling his tale on CBS television. He was a member of a special Salvadoran military unit, the First Infantry Brigade. He says the brigade carried out at least 74 executions between April and July 1989. He admits that he personally murdered eight people.

Martinez pointed out that the selection of suspected leftists to be killed was carried out by a committee of high- ranking Salvadoran officers -- including Deputy Minister of Defense Colonel Orlando Zepeda, intelligence chief Major Diaz Hernandez and the head of the First Brigade Colonel Elena Fuentes. He charged that President Cristiani himself had knowledge of the death squad operations.

U.S. deeply involved


Martinez also explained that a U.S. adviser specializing in intelligence and another U.S. adviser worked in liaison with the First Brigade. And he showed that the CIA paid expenses for intelligence operations in the brigade. He said that although U.S. advisers "didn't want to hear of the actual killings...obviously they had to know what was going on."

His story has been directly confirmed by another member of the brigade who fled to the U.S. in March. And his charges have been indirectly confirmed by a member of the First Brigade who confessed to the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter who had been under surveillance by Martinez earlier. The First Brigade was attached to the Atlacati battalion. The killers were being trained by the 7 th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the U.S. Army, commanded by Captain David Akins, only 48 hours before the murders.

Bush covers up


The Bush government has been embarrassed by Martinez' revelations. It has tried to keep Martinez bottled up in a State Department inquiry of his credibility. And the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has moved to deny his application for political asylum on the grounds that the Salvadoran government wants to prosecute him for murder.

Then on July 10, ten heavily armed men from the INS broke down the door of Martinez' Long Beach, California home and hauled him off. He is charged with illegally entering the U.S. after being deported back in 1983. Bush hopes to whisk Martinez out of the country, and back into the loving embrace of the death squads, before he can testify before Congressional hearings.

Rank-and-file Salvadoran rebels unhappy with negotiations

An article in the August 11 issue of the New York Times reveals that rank-and-file Salvadoran guerrillas have begun criticizing their leaders' negotiations with the Cristiani death-squad regime.

The U.S.-backed Salvadoran government is trying to put an end to the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants, and they are using "peace negotiations" to this end. And, unfortunately, the leaders of the FMLN -guerrillas are falling for just such negotiations. They have given up the social demands of the workers and peasants. They have also given up demands for the dismantling of the military and other apparatus of the fascist tyranny, declaring they would agree to reducing the army to about the size it was before the civil war broke out. And they have even given up demands that U.S. imperialism get out and give up El Salvador as one of its spheres of domination. Today their demands amount to a call that they be allowed to run in elections and for a return to the situation that existed before the civil war broke out. In short, they are willing to settle for the repression and exploitation of the working people by the U.S.-backed oligarchy that has existed for decades and which led to the uprisings of the masses in the first place.

But rebel fighters are upset. According to the New York Times, many troops say they are more radical and more committed to a real victory than their commanders. Some are criticizing the leaders for giving up the socialist aims of the movement and turning to empty slogans of "Democracy, Democracy." One rebel is quoted as saying, "I'm constantly asking the question, but what about taking power?

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Workers' strike paralyzes Dominican Republic

A two-day general strike against the austerity program of the U.S.-backed Balaguer regime paralyzed the Dominican Republic in mid-August.

In the second week of August, the Balaguer government declared an oil price hike of almost 100%. That pushed ahead all-round inflation which had already made the prices of food, medicines, clothing, basic services and transportation unreachable. Unemployment is at 40%. Peasants have been thrown off the land. Salaries don't even reach a tenth of what's needed to support a family (even according to government statistics). The hospitals have no medicines or beds to provide for their patients. And transportation is in complete chaos.

The workers had had enough. They went on strike demanding an end to the Balaguer-IMF policies of strangling the impoverished masses to pay for the country's foreign debt and budget balancing.

Balaguer responded with savage repression. Fourteen people were killed, hundreds were injured, and over 6,000 were arrested and beaten by the government forces and paramilitary gangs organized by Balaguer's Reformist Party. Following the strike the entire leadership of the electrical workers' union was fired. And many of them have been arrested and beaten.

But despite the repression, the masses are fighting back. During the two days of the strike they fought the police and the army in many poor neighborhoods and on the countryside roads. After the strike, demonstrations and local strikes have broken out in barrios across the nation. At the electrical company, workers are protesting the sacking of their union leaders with daily demonstrations and pickets inside and outside of the working facilities.

[Photo: Street fighting against the army and police during general strike in the Dominican Republic.]

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Nicaraguan Marxist-Leninists sum up July strike

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (MLPN) took an active part in the 80,000 worker strong strike that swept Nicaragua in June and July. It summed up the strike in a communique which was carried, in part, in the July 18-25 issue of El Pueblo.

Masses unleashed against Chamorro regime


The MLPN (formerly known as MAP- ML) hailed the strike for overcoming the demobilization of the masses which had resulted from the false promises of the new government. It said the strike had increased the masses' confidence in their own power. This strike is a step forward, the MLPN declared, "not only for the depth of the actions and radius of organization, but also for the greater number of sectors involved, as well as the breadth of demands raised."

The MLPN notes that the workers' unity in action exposed and isolated the UNO Chamorro government and various of its right-wing backers who had been posturing as friends of the workers. For example, the UNO's union center, CPT, had called itself "independent." But it appeared on the side of the entrepreneurs' organization, COSEP, which was taking action against the strikers.

As well, the UNO's demagogy about disarming and demobilizing the contras was unmasked. The contras were allowed to violently attack the strikers. And UNO forces which had declared themselves "neutral" in the strike were caught collaborating with the Catholic Church hierarchy to harbor and protect the contra thugs.

Sandinista sellout denounced


The communique also emphasized that the tremendous energy unleashed by the workers in the strike was squandered by the Sandinista Front (FSLN) who mediated the sell-out settlement.

The FSLN undertook to "lead" the strike only after it was already underway. The FNT, a coalition dominated by Sandinista-led unions, formulated a 21-point list of demands featuring the request for a UNO-FSLN "social pact." In other words, the Sandinistas changed the main issue in the strike to getting themselves more say-so in the government. They then called off the strike in favor of a dialogue over the list, with themselves acting as "mediators" between the workers and the government.

But even prior to the start of the strike negotiations, the FSLN and the government had already come to a private agreement to end the strike -- far short of the workers' demands. El Pueblo quotes Daniel Ortega's admission of this treachery: "Already at this time [the convening of the negotiations], we hadthe accord practically signed, because we had previously been in communication with the government."

The Sandinista "mediators" simply used the strike as a bargaining chip with the government to get a better position for themselves as junior partners in the Chamorro regime. The main provision of the settlement was the formation of a new social pact between the UNO and the FSLN, giving the Sandinistas more power. This pact was concretized in the creation of new joint commissions composed of the UNO, the Sandinistas, and the capitalist officials. Meanwhile the urgent demands of the workers, peasants and poor were sold out. (Of the 21 written demands, only 2 were accepted outright, while 7 others were met with vague promises.)

[Photo: Nicaraguan strikers resist police attack in recent strike in Managua.]

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Step up the defense of women's rights!

When it comes to women's rights, the AFL-CIO is 'neutral'

On July 31, the AFL-CIO Executive Council declared it will continue to refuse to support abortion rights. It will remain "neutral." It refuses to even make the half-hearted declarations that some of its member unions make, and it definitely refuses to call upon the working class to fight for women's rights.

This stand of the AFL-CIO leadership is a shameful betrayal of women workers and of the interests of the whole working class. It is working class and poor women who will suffer the most from the right-wing attempts to wipe out legal abortion. It is working class women who will be forced to face injury and death in illegal back-alley abortions.

Whether one is personally in favor of abortions or not, it is important for workers to defend the right of each individual woman to be able to decide for herself. For that matter, it is precisely the spread of access to contraceptives and medical clinics that helps cut down on unwanted pregnancies. The antiabortion zealots also oppose contraception and other necessary medical services in the name of their other-worldly morality, saying that such popular methods of contraception as the birth control pill are "abortifacients." (The recently-vetoed Louisiana anti-abortion law, for example, apparently outlaws the IUD and some other contraceptives as well.)

The Executive Council claims it cannot support abortion rights because it is too "divisive." Terrific! Standing up for working women is divisive! After all, right-wing bigots and some fanatic clergymen wouldn't be happy. The Executive Council would rather forsake tens of millions of working women than upset the traditional enemies of working class rights. Funny how the Executive Council doesn't consider it divisive when they collaborate with the capitalists, grant concessions, or go ahead with any number of stands that antagonize the AFL-CIO rank and file.

Of course the Executive Council is well aware of the widespread pro-choice sentiment among the workers. So they hint they may be a little pro-choice, saying in a policy statement: "We resent and resist government intrusion into matters that are essentially private." How kind. They "resent and resist" government intrusion, but they are "neutral" about whether it should take place. Or maybe they don't consider the decision to have a baby to be a private matter.

In any case one thing is clear. The arm of the working class is needed for the pro-choice struggle. And that arm can only be raised by striking off the shackles placed on it by the fat, lazy misleaders who have stolen the unions from the workers.

Police defend OR march; pro-choicers undaunted

Operation Rescue scheduled a march and rally for downtown Los Angeles near City Hall on Saturday, August 18. Forty to fifty pro-choice activists decided to go there to confront them. They ended up facing 700 or so anti-abortion protesters. This was no problem, but there were also 60 cops who walled the pro-choice forces off with wooden barricades, plus an additional dozen police on horseback.

The pro-choice activists had half a dozen large signs exposing the lies and anti-women nature of the anti-abortion bible-thumpers. They shouted slogans and pilloried Operation Rescue as best they could, given the constant threats from the police. The police gradually pushed back the pro-choice activists to the opposite side of the street in order to protect OR's planned march.

The pro-choice activists were undaunted, shouted slogans while OR paraded to the park, and then ran ahead of the march to reach the park and set up a picket. The police however sent a wave of mounted police to clear the activists out of the park, as well as having police with billy clubs push out activists who had stood their ground. The pro-choice forces maneuvered and succeeded in re-entering the park near the OR marchers. Despite the cops pushing them back, the activists succeeded in staying in the park and heckling the OR speakers, who spoke at a platform, protected by a wall of police.

Randall Terry, head of OR and a loudmouthed liar, spoke at the rally, sobbing that the police were so harsh to them, and that "the gas ovens didn't start overnight." But is Randall Terry against gas ovens -- he calls the pro-choice forces "murderers" who will burn in the flames of hell -- or does he just want to make sure that the right people go into them?

As for the Los Angeles police, all those at the day's events could see the real story. A wall of police protected Terry and company. But it is notable that when the shoe was on the other foot, and Terry's minions were trying to disrupt the anti-Scalia demonstration a week earlier, the police showed no such concern for protecting demonstrations from counter-demonstrators. Instead they favored OR and sought to intimidate the pro-choice forces from opposing OR's infiltration. Nor has anyone seen the Los Angeles police move against OR clinic blockaders without waiting half a day.

But in any case, it is certainly hypocritical for Terry to complain about his followers occasionally being arrested for abusing women and health clinics, when everyone knows he wants to fill the jails with his opponents. OR advocates laws that would flood the prisons with women who have abortions or use contraceptives (OR believes that anyone who uses the birth control pill is a murdering abortionist), or doctors and nurses who work at health clinics, or anyone who dares go against any of their religious dogmas. Just recall the recently vetoed Louisiana anti-abortion law or the just overturned Guam law, and the long, savage prison sentences they mandate.

The pro-choice counter-demonstration succeeded in showing that the people will not stand for Terry's fundamentalist fascism. Meanwhile the pro-establishment women's groups stayed away from the day's events. They instead kept hundreds of pro-choice supporters around four health clinics, where OR never appeared.

Pro-choice slogans ring out in Buffalo

On August 4th, 60 pro-choice activists confronted anti-abortion zealots at the Womenservices clinic in Buffalo, New York. Their spirited activity blocked Project Rescue's efforts to harass patients entering the clinic.

The bulk of the anti-abortionists formed a circle across the street from the clinic and prayed for the abolition of women's rights. Besides praying, several anti-choice people engaged in screaming at women patients going into the clinic. The religious bigotry of Project Rescue is so intense that one of the ministers leading the weekly efforts of these thugs had previously denounced a clinic doctor for being Jewish.

But the pro-choice activists drowned out the anti-women shrieks. In the past in Buffalo, they generally used Christmas carols or whistles, but this time there were pro-choice slogans, such as "Back alleys no more, abortion rights for workers and poor!" The use of slogans was popular, gradually spread among most of the activists, and generated enthusiasm. Activists also formed a picket which kept up the slogans against Project Rescue. In addition, a street theater group briefly ridiculed the racist and anti-women stand of Project Rescue.

At one point, a large Project Rescue man shoved a woman of small stature. When she defended herself, he got the police to arrest her. And in general, the anti-choice bigots tried to threaten the activists by videotaping them for two full hours. But the pro-choice forces raised their fists to the camera in defiance.

All this proved very discouraging for Project Rescue. By the end of the action they were hypocritically complaining that their rights had been denied. They have a very strange idea of rights. They think it's their right to harass women, close clinics, set the police on people, and shout lies, but nobody has the right to support women, keep clinics open, shout opposing slogans, or be free from police interference. The only rights Project Rescue recognizes is to obey the dictates of the bible-thumpers. One pro-choice activist indignantly asked what kind of freedom Project Rescue wants, just freedom for their own right-wing, anti-women views but for no other views? Other activists denounced Project Rescue for being part of the whole Reagan/Bush bandwagon to cut funds for social services, for not caring a stitch about babies once they are born, etc.

The day's activities strengthened the pro-choice forces. Supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party took part and, in particular, encouraged the use of pro-choice slogans.

Guam's anti-abortion law is struck down -- for now

Guam's anti-abortion law was struck down on August 23 by U.S. District Judge Alex Munson. The government of Guam argued that constitutional protections didn't apply to people on Guam because this island in the Pacific Ocean is only an unincorporated territory of the U.S. But Judge Munson held that the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision applied in full force in Guam.

Guam's law was the most savage in the nation. It made abortion a felony for a doctor and a misdemeanor for a woman. The only exception was if the woman's life was in danger or there was a "substantial risk" to her health. However, this exception was partially nullified by the requirement that the risk to the woman be certified by two doctors who don't work together. It's not so easy anywhere to have to deal with two doctors. But given that Guam is a tiny isolated place, this requirement is particularly narrow-minded.

The law also banned free speech, and made it a crime to tell a woman where she might obtain an abortion elsewhere in the U.S. The anti-abortion zealots, when they are denounced for shouting insults at women going to health clinics or beating up doctors, complain that they are only exercising their "rights." But they recognize no rights at all for the working people, and they applauded the Guam law, and want to see it reinstated.

The Guam law had been suspended on March 23, a few days after it was signed into law on March 19, to allow judicial challenge. And now the governor of Guam, Joseph Ada, who signed the bill, has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling overturning it. If he appeals, the Reagan/Bush Supreme Court may take the occasion to overthrow the Roe vs. Wade decision altogether.

The Guam law shows the right-wing anti-abortion crusaders recognize no rights for the people. If they had their way, they would conduct a veritable inquisition and fill the jails with those who oppose them. Let us stand up for our rights, because otherwise we will find ourselves without any.

Part of Pennsylvania anti-abortion law struck down

On August 24 Federal District Judge Daniel Huyett III struck down parts of an anti-abortion law in Pennsylvania. This law didn't directly ban abortion, but sought to make it as unpleasant as possible for any woman to have an abortion. If the anti-women fanatics can't be happy, they'll be damned if anyone else will be. Such is the humanitarianism of the anti-abortion movement.

The judge ruled that some of these restrictions violated the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. Among them was a provision that a married woman (a) first inform her husband and (b) then listen to a state-prepared talk -- from a doctor and (c) then wait 24 hours. Whatever the doctor knew to be the medical truth, the doctor would have to say instead what the biased legislators wanted said comparing abortion and childbirth.

The judge pointed out that this would, among other things, require an extra trip to the doctor. He also pointed out that "dysfunctional marriages" were common, and hence many pregnant wives would not be able to deal with notifying their husbands.

He also struck down a provision that a minor can only have an abortion when (a) a parent first hears the state-prepared lecture on abortion (b) waits 24 hours and then (c) gives consent.

The Pennsylvania attorney general announced he would appeal the law. He hopes that the Reagan/Bush Supreme Court will overturn the woman's right to privacy and to abortion. Even Judge Huyett himself, in his opinion overturning part of the Pennsylvania law, warned that judicial protection of the right to privacy isn't likely to last long. If the judges themselves are warning that the law is a thin reed for women, it's time for every working class woman, and every working class man, to take the matter into their own hands. Let us build a movement to enforce the rights of the working class against the tyranny of the ruling class!

400 denounce Supreme Court judge

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 9. Scalia is one of the anti-women, reactionary judges appointed by Reagan. Another Scalia on the courts, and Roe v. Wadewill be gone. So when he appeared, pro-choice forces were outraged. And he was greeted by 400 demonstrators, who picketed outside, denouncing him. Slogans rang out: "We won't go back!" "Never again!" "U.S., out of our ovaries!" "Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate!" A lively picket extended almost 85 yards along Wilshire Blvd.

Twenty anti-abortion fanatics tried to mingle in with the demonstration to disrupt it. They could only do this with the protection of 30 Los Angeles policemen. The same policemen who try to protect anti-abortion fanatics from being pushed away from clinics which they are trying to blockade, now helped the fanatics try to infiltrate the pro-choice pickets. But many activists wouldn't accept this. A number of them turned on OR, surrounded them, and chased them down the street. They hemmed OR into the walls of buildings and shouted "Pro-lifer, your name's a lie, you don't care if women die." The police threatened the pro-choice forces, arrested one, forced them to dismantle two signs for being on poles that were too thick (while letting OR keep its metal flag pole), but they couldn't stop OR from being beaten back.

Down with the reactionary Supreme Court justices! Real justice depends on the mobilization of the masses in their own interests!

Anti-abortion bullies defeated at LA clinic

Over 40 pro-choice activists confronted 20 religious fanatics in front of the Silver Lake Latina Clinic in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 16. The anti-abortion fanatics of Operation Rescue (OR) didn't try to blockade the clinic this time, but picketed instead, spouting religious and anti-abortion views.

The pro-choice forces at the clinic differed on how to deal with this. The section under the influence of the pro-establishment women's groups refused to confront the anti-abortion fanatics. But over a third of the pro-choice activists marched up to the OR picket and denounced them to their face. They shouted pro-choice slogans, "OR, your name's a lie, you don't care if women die" and "Church and state, sep-a-rate." And they ridiculed the religious hypocrites with slogans like "Blessed are the profits from our armaments stocks," and "Obey, pay, and PREY on, women." It turned out that OR can dish it out, especially to unescorted women patients but they can't take it. And many became visibly upset.

Over the next two and a half hours, OR became demoralized and nasty, and it slithered away piece by piece. One anti-abortion thug, a monitor, threatened to do bodily harm to a pro-choice militant, but the activists told him that they would defend the militant. And that was that.

American Bar Association aborts its principles

The American Bar Association is the largest lawyer's group in America. In February, its House of Delegates finally took a stand in favor of abortion rights. It suggested that the government should not interfere "with the confidential relationship between a pregnant woman and her physician."

But on August 8 the House of Delegates reversed itself, and took a neutral stand. A poll by the ABA's own Journal claims that lawyers, by a large 70-30 margin, don't want Roe vs. Wade overturned, but at the same time other polls say they don't want the ABA to take a stand on the issue either.

It is notable that Attorney General Thornburgh threatened the ABA with a loss of influence at the White House if it didn't rescind its vote in favor of abortion rights. And this did seem to be the most effective argument with the House of Delegates -- don't worry about principles, don't worry about the interests of the masses of women, your own personal influence with the rich and powerful is what counts. After all, you wouldn't want to jeopardize your chance for a $100,000/year judgeship, would you?

Isn't it wonderful that there are now over a million lawyers in this country?

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