Commentary on Jesus Huerta’s death in police custody in Durham, N.C.

first_imgJesus HuertaPhoto: Huerta familyDurham, N.C. — Another Durham resident has now died in a controversial encounter with the Durham Police Department. This time it was teenager and local Riverside High School student, Jesus Huerta.Personally, I don’t believe one word of what the Durham Police Department has stated. It seems to me, and many others throughout the city, that Durham police officers are simply covering their tracks with a concocted story that makes no physical or logical sense whatsoever.The official response of the Durham police chief, Jose Lopez, states that 17-year-old Jesus Huerta died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while placed under arrest in the back seat of a police squad car. After Durham police Officer Samuel Duncan arrested Huerta, reports state that Officer Duncan heard a loud noise from the vehicle’s rear seat and jumped out of his moving patrol cruiser. Duncan’s squad car then slammed into a parked van, leaving Huerta shot and killed in the process. This incident occurred right outside of the Durham Police Department headquarters parking lot.Judging from the buzz of conversations around Durham, many residents believe Officer Duncan was directly responsible for Huerta’s death.It is also quite disturbing how the first thing Durham police chose to highlight in this controversy was Huerta’s past juvenile offenses. Trespassing and misdemeanor possession of cannabis were not the causes of Jesus Huerta’s death. Such sheer lack of accountability on the part of the Durham Police Department is not only disrespectful, it’s outright despicable.Entertaining such a ploy is merely a distraction from gathering the truth of what actually happened here. Maybe someone should pull up the Durham Police Department’s criminal record. Fact is, a 17-year-old boy who was allegedly handcuffed, mysteriously died in police custody. Many residents are pointing to police brutality and excessive use of force.Unfortunately, Jesus Huerta became the third Durham resident killed by Durham police or while in their custody over the last five months. Thirty-three-year-old Jose Ocampo was killed July 27, shot four times in the chest for possessing a knife. Twenty-six-year-old Derek Deandre Walker was executed Sept. 17 by a Durham police sniper for publicly threatening to commit suicide.Personally, I’m not worried about the “Bloods and Crips” in Durham. I’m worried about our local thugs in pressed blue uniforms. I’m worried about gang members who carry badges, tasers, steel batons and handguns. These “law enforcers” are paid with public tax money to terrorize people.Jesus Huerta deserves more than blanket apologies from city officials. Phony condolences are of no use here. Huerta’s family members deserve justice; local Durham residents deserve the truth. A child has been killed, and we need answers. We need answers and Officer Samuel Duncan arrested. Now!Lamont Lilly is a contributing editor with the Triangle Free Press, Human Rights Delegate with Witness for Peace and an organizer with Workers World Party. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Pentagon intervention in Africa grows

first_imgDevelopments in Central and East Africa have dominated news coverage of Africa since December. The split within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), a close ally of Washington, and the deployment of French and African troops in the Central African Republic have led to an escalation of Pentagon involvement in these states.The U.S. Defense Department has announced the formation of an East African Response Force (EARF). This new unit is part of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which has been strengthened under President Barack Obama.A recent drone attack in southern Somalia is representative of the growing aggression of Washington in Africa. The government of Djibouti, a former French colony where the U.S. has over 4,000 soldiers at Camp Lemonnier, released a statement saying that such strikes are “vital” in the so-called “war on terrorism.” The drone strike was launched from a Pentagon military installation in Djibouti.Prior to the creation of the EARF, the U.S. operated in the region under the framework of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.U.S. Brigadier-General Wayne Grigsby, commander of CJTF-HOA, claims his forces are in East Africa only to assist governments in their military campaigns to defeat the “terrorist threat” posed by Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based guerrilla organization that has fought the Washington-backed regime in Mogadishu for the last six years.But Grigsby also admitted, “The purpose is to protect the United States and its interests abroad.” (Shabelle Media Network, Feb. 7) East and Central Africa have a vast repository of oil, natural gas and strategic minerals.U.S. role in South Sudan and CARAfricom’s EARF has been utilized in the current conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. A contingent of the unit was deployed there to evacuate U.S. Embassy personnel and to guard U.S. economic interests.A significant factor in the South Sudan conflict has been the intervention of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force, which sided with the government of President Salva Kiir. The Ugandan government is a very close ally of the U.S., and its military has benefited for years from Pentagon training programs and weapons procurement.On Jan. 23, a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed by the SPLM/A and the SPLM/A in Opposition, the faction represented by ousted Vice President Riek Machar. It called for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from South Sudan. The dissident SPLM/A in Opposition, however, says the UPDF is carrying out aerial bombings and ground operations in contested areas.In the Central African Republic, the U.S. has been assisting with the transport of French and African troops into the country. The forced resignation of interim President Michel Djotodia and the Seleka Coalition and his replacement by Catherine Samba-Panza have not stabilized the political and security situation. Anti-Muslim mobs both within the CAR military and among Christian militias have engaged in attacks on Islamic communities, seriously injuring and killing many people.A spokesperson for U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said airlift support was requested “to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.” The Pentagon assistant press secretary stated, “The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region.” (Stars and Stripes, Jan. 22)No ‘humanitarian’ military interventionThe intervention of both France and the U.S., however, has only worsened the conditions for people in the CAR. Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing the country to neighboring Chad, as divisions are becoming more pronounced based on religious differences and perceptions of political power.The United Nations Security Council has authorized the deployment of European Union troops to the CAR, but there is no evidence this will stabilize the ­situation.The growing French, U.S. and EU military involvement in Africa is designed to secure Western imperialist dominance over the oil, diamonds, gold and uranium that exist in abundance in the CAR and South Sudan.The imperialists are creating the conditions for the deterioration of the societies involved, and with their false propaganda about humanitarian assistance, are providing further rationale for an even heavier military occupation.Anti-war and anti-imperialist organizations in the U.S. must oppose these so-called “humanitarian interventions” because they are acts of war and military occupation. Resources utilized for these imperialist operations would be better served to put people in the U.S. back to work with jobs that pay a living wage.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Indigenous Day of Mourning

first_imgThe 47th annual National Day of Mourning organized by the United American Indians of New England was held Nov. 24 in Plymouth, Mass., to debunk the racist myth of “Thanksgiving.” Over 1,000 people gathered in solidarity with the fighting spirit of Indigenous peoples, who continue to resist racist U.S. genocidal policies dating back to Christopher Columbus.That resistance lives on today, especially in Standing Rock, N.D., where hundreds of Native nations have united since last spring against the building of the multibillion-dollar Dakota Access Pipeline within a four-state radius. The DAPL threatens to poison the water supply of at least 18 million people and desecrate sacred burial lands. Indigenous peoples and their supporters there have endured and resisted unimaginable brutality by militarized police and private mercenaries from such companies as G4S, a global security firm  notorious for human rights abuses.Another major focus for NDOM is the ongoing struggle to free beloved Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who sent a letter of solidarity to NDOM.  Increased efforts are being made to force President Obama to grant clemency for 72-year-old Peltier, falsely imprisoned since 1976 and in failing health.The rally of all Indigenous speakers included UAINE co-chairs, Moonanum James (Aquinnah Wampanoag) and Mahtowin Munro (Lakota), Thalia Carroll Cachimuel (Kichwa), Juan Gonzalez (Maya), Bert Waters (Wampanoag),Deborah Spears Moorehead (Wampanoag) and the Nettukusqk Eastern Woodland Singers. Additional speakers were Billy Myers (Iahtehotas), Sister Bello (Mexicana), Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Cheyenne River Lakota Nation) and Elder Vanessa Meztli Inaru (Taino).Following the rally, a spirited march took place before everyone enjoyed a collective feast.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

British election sets back right-wing agenda for austerity and war

first_imgYoung people were the strongest backers of Jeremy Corbyn.Signaling a turn to the left in the British electorate, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party was dealt a stunning setback in the June 8 snap elections. She herself had scheduled the vote in a mistaken belief she would increase her party’s majority in Parliament.The Conservative or Tory Party went into the election holding a small majority of 331 seats out of the 650 seats in Parliament. The second-place Labour Party held 232 seats and the Scottish National Party 56 seats, all in Scotland. The last election had been held in 2015.Britain operates on a parliamentary system, where the party that receives the majority of seats gets to select the prime minister and can pass its desired legislation. While the next scheduled elections had been set for 2020, May believed she could strengthen her hand by calling early elections. She was so wrong.The Tories won only 318 seats this election, a loss of 13 and eight seats short of a majority. That means it will need to form a coalition to run the government. There is speculation that May will try to form a bloc with the Democratic Unionist Party, which won 10 seats in the British-occupied provinces of Ireland. (Sinn Fein won the seven other seats there.) The DUP is an openly anti-Catholic and pro-imperialist grouping that has operated paramilitary gangs to fight against Irish freedom.Labour Party gains and CorbynThe Labour Party won 30 additional seats this election, and now has 261. What’s important about the vote is not that it puts Labour close to being in office but that it shows a change in the consciousness of the British electorate.It is all the more important because the Labour Party’s leader is their furthest left representative to be in Parliament in recent decades. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned on a program of renationalizing industry, taxing the rich, ending “austerity” and increasing funds for social programs for the working class.Because Corbyn has joined efforts to halt British and U.S. military adventures in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, and because he was the first to invite Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein to speak in Parliament decades ago, the Tories have baited him as a friend of the Irish Republican Army, of Hamas and Hezbollah, besides being a flaming Marxist who supports LGBTQ rights.Not only have the Tories and the overwhelmingly right-wing British corporate media attacked him relentlessly, but so have the majority of Labour’s elected representatives, who belong to the openly pro-imperialist Tony Blair wing of the party.Corbyn’s support has come from sections of organized labor and especially from the new youth who have flooded into the Labour Party to make this election a big gain for the party.A Marxist viewCorbyn is baited by the right wing as a Marxist. A sober Marxist view of British imperialism, however, would have to take into consideration the limitations of the electoral struggle in a powerful imperialist country whose banks participate in the domination of the world economy and whose nuclear-armed military intervenes in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.Whoever controls Parliament, the British billionaires control the media — including the great portion of the British media owned by Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch — as well as the military and the monarchy through their money and the centuries of connections between the bourgeoisie and the aristocrats. The ruling class controls the state apparatus. The Labour Party itself has been completely loyal to British and world imperialism, even if the Corbyn wing has criticized British aggression and condemned Tony Blair as a war criminal.The extent of the success in this election cannot be judged by something Corbyn said or didn’t say in his latest speech. And that would be true even if Labour had won a majority.As a measure of the mood of the British workers, however, the election is a refreshing move to the left, far away from the June 2016 referendum in which a majority opted for Brexit and gave a boost to the most right-wing and xenophobic elements in the U.K. Independence Party and the Conservative Party.UKIP, the most vicious anti-immigrant party, had nearly a complete wipeout in the June 8 elections.Momentum, the organization that incorporates the youth wing of the Labour Party and is allied with Corbyn, organizes to promote its own program. It calls for a transfer of the wealth of the rich to the workers and poor and agitates against all forms of discrimination, and has received a shot in the arm from the setback for both the Conservatives and the Blair wing of Labour.For the short term, the election gives encouragement to all those in Britain who fight against the war in Syria, who are for maintenance of the National Health System, who are pro-working class and who defend the rights of immigrants.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Heroic resistance continues to Israel’s blockade of Gaza

first_imgThousands of Palestinians assemble along the Gaza-Israel border during the ‘Great March of Return’ on April 13.Heroic demonstrations against the Israeli occupation of Gaza continued on April 28 for the fifth week. Every Friday since March 30, the Great March of Return has brought thousands of demonstrators, armed only with their unbreakable resolve, to the militarized fence surrounding the Palestinian enclave.The demonstrations are scheduled to continue until May 15, the day of the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe,” when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel.According to Reuters, three Palestinians were killed and another 600 wounded by the Israeli Defense Force on the last Friday. This brings the total casualties since the beginning of the Great March of Return to 42 Palestinians dead and over 5,000 wounded. Israel has deployed snipers and tear gas against the unarmed demonstrators since the demonstrations began.Conditions in Gaza have been described as “the world’s largest open-air prison,” as Israeli occupation forces have blockaded the small strip by land and sea since 2007, restricting the supply of key necessities, including medicine. The territory, which depends on Israeli-controlled power plants for electricity, receives only about four hours of energy a day.The Great March of Return has demanded not only an end to the siege conditions experienced in Gaza, but the right of all Palestinians to return to their homes and villages in what is now Israeli-controlled territory. The images of thousands of unarmed protesters confronting occupation soldiers week after week in defiance of the violence used against them is reminiscent of the struggle against South African apartheid.Israeli authorities have attempted to lay the blame for the horrific scenes coming out of Gaza at the feet of Hamas, the Palestinian organization that controls the territory. But it was the Israeli state that ordered snipers to fire on unarmed demonstrators, authorized the use of live ammunitions and tear gas, and intentionally deprived the people of Gaza of electricity and medicine. It was also the Zionist project that forced Palestinians from their homes in the first place, and has continued to expand deeper and deeper into Palestinian territory.Progressive people in the United State must unite not only to condemn the crimes of the Israeli government, but also to end the complicity of the U.S. government in those crimes. In addition to weapons sales and billions in yearly military aid, the U.S. has long protected Israel from international consequences, for example, by using its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block an investigation into Palestinian deaths, days after the Great March of Return began.Israel returns the favor by acting as the Pentagon’s attack dog against countries in the area that refuse to surrender their sovereignty, like Syria, Iran and Yemen.Through military aid, diplomatic support and economic ties, the U.S. has enabled the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. Washington has dropped all pretenses of neutrality since the election of Donald Trump, who in February announced he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.On April 13, the same day the IDF gunned down unarmed protesters, the imperialist militaries of the U.S., Britain and France launched a total of 105 missiles at Damascus to “punish” the Syrian government for alleged chemical attacks. In truth, these missiles made it impossible for international investigators who arrived the next day to determine what had happened.But the imperialists were silent when Israel used white phosphorus against Gaza in 2009, and of course, there has been no talk now from the capitalist politicians of any “humanitarian intervention” to protect the Palestinian people. The hypocrisy of the U.S. government is rarely so blatantly exposed as when it remains silent about the crimes of Israel.As the Palestinian people continue their heroic resistance against Zionist occupation, it is the duty of progressives living in the belly of the beast not only to continue to draw attention to their struggle, but to demand an end to U.S. support for Israeli apartheid.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

In Charlottesville & D.C.: Victory for anti-racists

first_imgCharlottesville, Va., Aug. 11The weekend of Aug. 11-12, the first anniversary of last year’s deadly march by neo-Nazis and hooded Klan members in Charlottesville, Va., confirmed one thing: These fascists don’t control the streets — no way.Instead, large rallies, marches and protests by progressive forces in both Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville owned the day.The “alt-right,” as the violent white supremacists are euphemistically called, were encouraged by the racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant Trump presidency to climb out of their klaverns last year and show themselves in public in Charlottesville in an armed torchlight parade carrying fascist symbols.Even after one of them, at the end of the rally, plowed through a crowd of people with his car, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Trump at first refused to condemn them, referring to “hatred, violence and bigotry on many sides.” Only after a storm of protest did he reluctantly amend that and mention racism.This year, calling themselves “Unite the Right,” the organizers applied for a permit to rally in D.C. on Aug. 12 at Lafayette Square. They estimated that 400 people would attend, including former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke.On the day, barely two dozen fascists showed up. Only a huge police presence saved them from the anger of the thousands who turned out to stop them. According to ABC10 news, “Unite the Right rally participants said other members were ‘scared’ to attend the rally in D.C., making the group of about 30 vastly outnumbered by the thousands of counter-protesters surrounding the area.”Earlier, when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced it would close down gates to the general public and let the fascists take special trains to the rally, the system’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, refused to go along. The WMATA then publicly rescinded its offer of ­special trains for the fascists. But on the day it went ahead anyway and closed down gates to the general public, prompting charges from the union that the agency had lied.While the openly Nazi and white supremacist forces may now be afraid to take to the streets, that doesn’t mean they have been defeated. On the contrary, they are not only in their klaverns and death cults, but many wear the uniforms of local police and Border Patrol.The slogan “Cops and the Klan work hand in hand” is still valid. And the far-right Trump appointees now in charge of so many federal agencies — like the notorious torturer Gina Haspel, director of the CIA — must be fought as they push the government even further to the right.Charlottesville a year laterThe following account of what ­happened in Charlottesville, Va., is by Malik Clark of G-Rebls and Workers World Party.After fascist and Nazi groups announced a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., for Aug. 11, University of Virginia students organized their own Rally for Justice on that day. The approach of the anniversary of Heather Heyer’s death a year ago during a similar rally by the far right conjured noticeable tension as everyone wondered what would happen. Would the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis return to clash with the anti-fascist demonstration?Organized by the activist group Students United, the event drew over 200 protesters carrying banners and signs denouncing white supremacy, neo-Nazis and the police. The student group planned to “reclaim the north plaza of the Rotunda,” where a statue of slaveowner president Thomas Jefferson stands — a target since the previous Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville.The students had been told they would be allowed to convene in this area, but law enforcement blocked off the statue and prohibited an occupation.Many organizations came out in support of the student rally, including community groups, members of the Catholic Church and local activists. They gathered to the east of the statue and the Rotunda. Passionate Black student leaders spoke of Heather Heyer’s tragic death and how the heavy policing of their approved rally was evidence of the people’s power. Survivors faced their resurfaced trauma and spoke about what the past year has been like for them and the importance of the community learning from tragic events.State law enforcement overwhelmed most free space within the university. A myriad of police cars, vans, armored vehicles and buses riddled the side streets and student/faculty parking lots. Officers in full riot gear made their way through the pavilions to approach the rally.The peaceful Rally for Justice became a target of yet another show of power by the tools of the government.Protesters formed a human barrier to keep the cop militia away, shouting, “We don’t see no riot here, why are you in riot gear?”The police came without warning and without requirement. The white supremacist neo-Nazis and Klan never showed.The students, not wanting to lose control and get caged in by the surrounding officers, moved the rally to the streets and marched through the campus, occupying space as they went. As the march progressed, police interference continued to block off routes. The students eventually lost control of the procession as the demonstration dissolved and marched off the campus.The alt-right did not need to come to the rally — the police did the work of trying to intimidate and instill fear within our ranks. This demonstration confirmed the unwarranted police aggression toward the left. Neo-Nazis can march with torches without fear, yet a moment of healing for a hurting community requires riot gear.By contrast, a rally in Booker T. Washington Park the next day was very well received. Many members of the community came out early on Sunday morning, empowering one another with spirituals, chants ands words of solidarity.One community member, Rosia Parker, spoke on the importance of the community standing against the police and white supremacy. “Charlottesville was built by the hands of Black people,” she said, adding, “We’re still taking this back, by force.” Parker and Katrina Turner had been pushed out of the way of the car that killed Heather Heyer during last year’s tragedy.Quoting Assata Shakur, Parker emphasized the need for unity between all people of Charlottesville. Community members spoke about the many difficulties facing Charlottesville, such as displacement, unaffordable housing and police brutality.The rally brought attention to other victims of violent clashes at the first march, so they would not be forgotten.The presence of the Ku Klux Klan in last year’s Unite the Right march was a wake-up call to this community. The community addressed the event as a racist terror attack. Don Gathers of the Charlottesville local Black Lives Matter movement urged everyone to do their part in the fight against racism and to hold Charlottesville officials accountable.The spirit of Heather Heyer can only be honored by fixing the problems that created such an influx of opposition. The people of Charlottesville are to be commended for being able to overcome their trauma and turn a terrifying experience into a movement for equality and peace.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Crisis económica en desarrollo: ¿política, sistémica o ambas?

first_imgNo hay duda de que el caos político en los EUA está contribuyendo al aumento del pánico en la bolsa de valores.El cierre del gobierno por la exigencia de Trump de que el Congreso asigne $5 mil millones para construir un muro en la frontera con México, no sólo es obsceno desde el punto de vista político, sino que también afecta a toda la economía.Lo mismo ocurre con la creciente hostilidad hacia China, como se ve con la imposición de aranceles por parte de la administración Trump a cientos de miles de millones de dólares en productos chinos, que comenzó en abril pasado. Luego, China impuso una cantidad igual de aranceles a los productos estadounidenses, afectando particularmente a los agricultores en los Estados Unidos que producen soja y carne de cerdo. Los precios de la soja y la carne de cerdo estadounidense ya han bajado.Pero estos choques a la economía que se han originado a partir de los edictos políticos de la administración de Trump no son toda la historia. Hay muchos indicios de que el caos en los mercados de valores refleja tendencias mucho más profundas en la economía capitalista.Mercados bursátiles y precios de mercancíasLas acciones estadounidenses acaban de terminar su peor semana desde agosto de 2011, cayendo un 17 por ciento desde sus máximos históricos.Sin embargo, debajo de los altibajos de la bolsa de valores, se esconde una creciente evidencia de que la economía capitalista va camino a una “corrección”, un desplome, del tipo que ocurrió en 2008 o algo aún peor.El sitio web tradingeconomics.com proporciona tablas detalladas sobre los precios actuales y proyectados de las monedas, acciones, mercancías y bonos. Como se puede imaginar, reflejan los descensos en los precios que han ocurrido en muchas áreas de la economía en los últimos días, especialmente en el precio del petróleo.Pero ¿qué pasa con la perspectiva a largo plazo?Las proyecciones de precios para la mayoría de los productos generalmente no son más que suposiciones fundamentadas. Los giros de la bolsa de valores, que se basan en la dirección anticipada de la economía, muestran cuán volátiles pueden ser tales conjeturas.Sin embargo, hay un indicador basado en algo más importante: el Baltic Dry Index (BDI). El precio de las acciones en el BDI se basa en el volumen de bienes que se enviarán durante el próximo año. Este es un punto de referencia que indica la dirección de la economía global.“Debido a que la mayor parte de los productos secos a granel se compone de materiales que funcionan como insumos de materias primas para la producción de productos intermedios o terminados, como el concreto, la electricidad, el acero y los alimentos, el índice también se considera un indicador económico eficiente del futuro crecimiento y producción económica. El BDI es considerado por algunas personas como un indicador económico importante porque predice la actividad económica futura”. (Tradingeconomics.com)Las acciones en el BDI cayeron un 3 por ciento el viernes 21 de diciembre. Se espera que disminuyan cada trimestre durante el próximo año, de los actuales $1.279 por acción a $939 en el tercer trimestre de 2019.Esta disminución anticipada en el envío global es un indicador mucho más confiable de hacia dónde se dirige la economía que el precio de otras acciones.Caen precios de productos básicosAl mismo tiempo, los precios de los productos básicos como el petróleo también se han desplomado. El petróleo es particularmente sensible a las demandas generales de la actividad económica, ya que alimenta las necesidades comerciales e individuales.Cuando la administración de los Estados Unidos impuso sanciones a Irán de manera unilateral, los productores de petróleo en los EUA estaban encantados. Steve Austin, de oil-price.net, escribió en agosto que “la pérdida de 2,7 millones de barriles diarios de Irán es un agujero enorme para los suministros mundiales de petróleo”. Predijo que el precio del petróleo se elevaría a 150 dólares por barril.Más recientemente, otros analistas predijeron que el crudo Brent, que se vendió a 85 dólares por barril en octubre, podría llegar a los 100 dólares. Todos deben estar mordiéndose las uñas ahora. ¡El crudo Brent se está vendiendo a $54 por barril! El WTI, otro índice de los precios del petróleo, ha caído de $75 por barril a poco más de $45.Además, se espera que China compre poco o nada de petróleo crudo de los EUA en 2019, citando la “incertidumbre política” en sus relaciones con Washington. Los EUA ya mantienen un déficit récord de $43 mil millones en su comercio con China, el cual ahora se espera que crezca aún más.Los bajos precios del petróleo pueden acabar con el negocio del fracking en Estados Unidos. El petróleo fracturado, en el que la roca se fractura por medio de un líquido presurizado, cuesta casi $50 por barril el producirlo, por lo que no es rentable a los precios actuales. Esta podría ser una buena noticia para los ambientalistas y los pueblos indígenas, ya que el fracking es también el método de extracción de petróleo más destructivo para el medio ambiente.La gran lucha por el Dakota Access Pipeline hace dos años involucró el suministro de petróleo hacia el este desde los campos de fracking de Dakota del Norte. Cientos de manifestantes, invitadas/os por naciones indígenas a venir a proteger sus amenazadas fuentes de agua, fueron arrestadas/os y heridas/os cuando el gobierno federal envió a la Guardia Nacional y la policía local para reprimir brutalmente a las/os manifestantes y destruir su campamento. Esta operación militar comenzó durante la administración de Obama y fue continuada por la pandilla Trump.Además, se espera que las ventas de automóviles en los EUA el próximo año no lleguen a los 17 millones por primera vez en cuatro años. Todas estas cifras y proyecciones apuntan a tiempos más difíciles para las/os trabajadores y pequeñas empresas en los Estados Unidos.Crisis capitalistas y sobreproducción¿Qué es una crisis económica capitalista? ¿De dónde viene? ¿Pueden las medidas paliativas evitar que estos colapsos periódicos ocurran?Tales preguntas han sido debatidas por generaciones. Los analistas burgueses liberales, a menudo llamados “keynesianos” por el economista británico John Maynard Keynes, insisten en que la política del gobierno puede prevenir tales crisis.Su visión, llamada “teoría del subconsumo”, sostiene que cuando a las/os trabajadores no se les paga lo suficiente para comprar los productos que producen, ocurre una crisis. Abogan por salarios y beneficios más altos como una forma de evitar estos colapsos periódicos del sistema.Esto parece ser un punto de vista pro trabajador/a, pero en realidad oculta un punto de vista pro capitalista, ya que argumenta que el capitalismo puede ser domesticado y reformado.Karl Marx y sus colaboradores rechazaron esta opinión. Marx mostró que las crisis del capitalismo están integradas en el sistema. No provienen del subconsumo sino de la sobreproducción, y se repetirán mientras exista el capitalismo.Marx argumentó que el subconsumo existía en anteriores sociedades de clases. Tanto bajo la esclavitud como en el feudalismo, las masas vivían en extrema pobreza, mientras que los ricos vivían en la opulencia. Las masas nunca ganaron lo suficiente para comprar todo lo que producían y necesitaban. Sin embargo, estas dos formas anteriores de opresión de clase, por brutales que fueran, no produjeron crisis recurrentes de producción.Las crisis de sobreproducción son una característica únicamente capitalista.Entonces, ¿qué es la sobreproducción? ¿Es solo producir más de lo que la gente necesita? De ningún modo. Y si bien significa producir más de lo que el público puede comprar, también significa mucho más que eso.El sistema capitalista está impulsado por la necesidad de los propietarios de capital de capturar más mercado y, por lo tanto, ampliar su capacidad de producción. “Expandir o morir” se encuentra en el corazón de este sistema.Los capitalistas deben aumentar sus ganancias, no solo para tener un estilo de vida más rico para ellos mismos, sino también para volver a incorporar en sus negocios los medios para expandir la producción y así desplazar a sus rivales. Es esta competencia por el mercado la que impulsa continuamente la expansión hasta el punto en que se llega a la sobreproducción. Los capitalistas que pueden expandir su campo de explotación sobreviven; los que no pueden, deben morir.Todos los capitalistas deben intentar hacerlo. Si bien pueden parecer un club de multimillonarios, en realidad son una manada de lobos que se atacan mutuamente incluso cuando se unen para degradar a las/os trabajadores.La Gran Depresión de la década de 1930 fue el resultado de una sobreproducción capitalista mundial. Esto llevó al colapso de los mercados de valores en todos los países capitalistas desarrollados. Eso significó el colapso de literalmente millones de empresas, corporaciones y bancos, que a su vez despidieron trabajadoras/es, produciendo desempleo y sufrimiento masivo. Los precios también cayeron, pero sin un ingreso, ¿quién podría disfrutar de los precios más bajos?Cabe señalar que, de todos los países más grandes del mundo, solo la Unión Soviética, que había derrocado al capitalismo, escapó del caos de la Depresión. Con su economía planificada de propiedad estatal, el desarrollo industrial de la URSS de hecho se aceleró en la década de 1930.¿Qué acabó con ese colapso general del capitalismo? La Segunda Guerra Mundial. La guerra más destructiva que el mundo ha visto. Y con ella llegó la destrucción de muchos de los medios de producción más antiguos, abriendo espacio para una nueva ronda de desarrollo capitalista, a costa de cientos de millones de vidas.La lucha venideraYa sea que llegue tarde o temprano, otra crisis capitalista es inevitable. El dolor y el sufrimiento que causará a la clase trabajadora, especialmente a los sectores más oprimidos, por necesidad abrirá muchas luchas nuevas y agregará ímpetu a los movimientos progresistas existentes.El establecimiento político capitalista, particularmente el Partido Demócrata, intentará capturar y limitar estos movimientos, argumentando que las reformas pueden resolver el problema.Por supuesto, las/os trabajadores deben luchar por reformas importantes. Necesitan salarios más altos e ingresos garantizados ahora, no en un futuro. Necesitan atención médica asequible y escuelas eficaces. Se debe poner fin a la ofensiva racista que amenaza las vidas de las personas de color. Las/os inmigrantes necesitan encontrar un hogar seguro. Las mujeres y las personas LGBTQ2S necesitan que se supere la misoginia, la dominación machista y la violencia sexual.Pero todas estas luchas reformistas no terminarán el problema básico.Para eso, estos movimientos populares pueden y deberán convertirse en parte de la lucha para acabar con el capitalismo, que instiga y propaga todo tipo de discriminación y opresión. Solo la revolución social para acabar con el capitalismo puede erradicar las crisis económicas y, al hacerlo, redirigir nuestras energías para satisfacer las necesidades de la humanidad y el planeta.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Pride weekend in Buffalo

first_imgOn Saturday, June 1, about 200 women and gender-oppressed people marched up one of Buffalo’s busiest streets for the 19th annual Dyke March. Led by Black and Brown women, the march had chants, banners and signs condemning the war on the LGBTQ+ community, the war on women, the war on people of color and on all oppressed people. The strongest message was for the need to unite the struggles of all the oppressed and to be in the streets demanding change.On Sunday, June 2, the many thousands-larger, bank-sponsored Pride Parade took place. Workers World Party Buffalo marched in this year’s parade, supporting an Anti-Capitalist Leftist Solidarity Bloc and acting in unity to bring radical politics and the LGBTQ+ liberation struggle back to Buffalo’s Pride events for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.The Solidarity Bloc declared its intent to “Make Buffalo Pride for the People, not profit,” proclaiming: Pride for the People is accessible and inclusive. Pride for the People brings community together to celebrate milestones and organize for our futures. Pride for the People is united against a corporatized, white-washed, profit-driven Pride. Pride for the People remembers the radical origins that gave us the right to march.The Solidarity Bloc encouraged participants to wear black, in direct contrast to the overpriced rainbow merchandise that surrounds the parade.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Will autoworkers strike for jobs and equal pay?

first_imgThe United Auto Workers has begun negotiations for new contracts with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Current contracts expire in mid-September. For the first time in decades, UAW International President Gary Jones has raised the specter of a strike.Jones informed GM CEO Mary Barra and company negotiators on July 16:  “My Brothers and Sisters are ready to do whatever is necessary to get the contract that, in this time of record profits, they deserve.” A similar message was presented to Ford and FCA. GM workers protest plant closings outside corporate headquarters July 15The UAW regional offices are hosting strike-preparedness classes for local leaders and interested rank-and-file members. Union dues have been increased to bolster the strike fund, and weekly strike pay was increased this year from $200 to $250. Industry analysts in the corporate media are nervously reporting “a wide divide” between the two sides. (Detroit News, July 15)Workers on the plant floor have been hesitant to take the International’s tough talk seriously. For decades the International bureaucracy has asked them to vote “yes” on contracts, claiming big gains when they were, in fact, taking major concessions.The 2007-11 contracts introduced the two-tier pay scale that paid future hires less than higher-seniority “traditional” workers doing the same work. This unequal and divisive formula — an affront to basic union principles — was expanded when contracts were modified during the 2009 GM and Chrysler (now FCA) bankruptcies and maintained in the 2011-15 contracts. FCA workers voted down a contract in 2015 that would have extended the two-tier wage scale another four years. They approved a second contract that brought newer, “in-progression” workers’ pay up to that of traditional workers after eight years. Similar language was included in GM and Ford contracts. Workers hired after October 2007 at FCA are still excluded from traditional pension plans and have unequal health benefits. When UAW members approved contracts in 2015, most believed they were voting to eliminate tiered pay. But new language actually expanded a third tier of lower-paid “temporary employees.” They get no bonuses or benefits beyond a very basic health care plan.With few protections against arbitrary discipline and discharge, temps are subjected to widespread abuse by supervisors, including racist and sexist harassment. Their work schedules vary from one or two days a week to seven, with little advance notice, and they are expected to cover for high absenteeism on days of bitter cold or oppressive summer heat. Plant closings another big issueJones has taken Barra to task over GM’s plans to permanently close plants in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland. The Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant has been idle since March, and three others are slated for closing. The current contract prohibits GM from closing or idling plants. The company has tried to get around the contract by calling the plants “unallocated” — meaning no new work after the current car model being built is discontinued.The UAW has mainly limited the fight against plant closings to filing grievances, taking legal action and holding prayer vigils. It has not lent support to GM workers in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada whose plant is also on the chopping block. Several busloads of GM workers from Maryland and Lordstown demonstrated with local autoworkers outside GM world headquarters in downtown Detroit July 16, the day negotiations opened. The closing of Lordstown is a big blow to the Youngstown-Warren area, which has been devastated by multiple steel mill closings. In a sign of hard times, Youngstown’s only daily newspaper, The Vindicator, will cease publication in August.Meanwhile, FCA is going forward with closing Mt. Elliott Tool and Die in Detroit, which will eliminate more skilled-trades jobs. Workers have also been laid off in a number of FCA and Ford plants. Several decades of capitalist restructuring have reduced UAW membership at the Detroit Three to 155,000, even as car sales have rebounded to pre-recession levels. A recession in auto would bring even more layoffs.Strike all three!The companies are quick to point out that their average labor costs are higher than those of Asian and European vehicle manufacturers with plants in the U.S. They want the UAW to partner with them in holding costs down in order to be competitive. GM CEO Barra warned President Jones that “our collective future is at stake.” (Detroit News, July 16)The UAW should reject these bogus arguments. Labor costs are estimated to be only 5 percent of the cost of a car. Put another way, only 5 percent of sales revenue goes to the workers. This comes to a little over $20 billion for the three companies combined, not much more than their combined profits of about $16 billion in 2018. On the average, four hours of labor go to profits for every five hours that go to wages and benefits. This is a high rate of exploitation, and it is much higher in low-wage countries. Unions have every right to say no to concessions.Demands around equal pay and job security are more than just, but it may take a strike to get the companies to agree. It is past time for the UAW leadership to kick its decades-old habit of class collaboration, the root of an embarrassing bribe-taking scandal still under federal investigation.The traditional “pattern bargaining” strategy has been to name one of the three companies as a “strike target” from which the union will try to get the best possible contract, hypothetically by striking if necessary, and then to push the other two companies to follow the “pattern.” The last auto strikes, in 2007, were for two days at GM and six hours at Chrysler. Some workers mocked them as “Hollywood strikes” — just for show. What they “won” was introduction of two tier, no raises for four years and the erosion of skilled trades through consolidation.Given the hard line the Detroit Three bosses are taking, a better strategy might be to strike all three and demand no plant closings, no mass layoffs, no more tiered pay and all temps must be made permanent employees.Grevatt is a UAW worker who recently retired from FCA after 31 years. She is the Trustee of UAW Local 869 and an elected delegate to the union’s recent convention.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Count all the votes! The struggle has just begun

first_imgAs of this writing it’s unclear who won the U.S. presidential election. Ballots are still being counted in several “battleground” states. Trump prematurely and illegitimately declared victory early this morning, and will likely challenge a Biden victory by attempting to suppress votes not yet counted. He has vowed to take this fight to the Supreme Court, where he has just secured a solid right-wing majority.Many of the ballots last to be counted in these states are from early voters in Black majority urban centers such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta — those most inclined to vote against Trump. A record 100 million-plus voters are estimated to have voted early. Rallies are taking place all over the country today around the demand to count all the votes. These actions are pulling out people — particularly people of color — who drove long distances to wait in long lines in all kinds of weather to cast their votes. To some extent this election became a referendum on the most blatant, vile, divisive and uncensored white supremacy and bigotry emanating from the White House. Many will see the inconclusive vote results as a setback.Trump’s early push to stop the vote count continues a pattern of dirty tricks that include robocalls with false information, deliberately sabotaging postal deliveries, putting up fake ballot drop-off boxes, disenfranchisement of former prisoners and migrants, and physical assaults and intimidation, including attacking voting rights marchers in North Carolina.After a judge ordered the postal service to conduct a sweep of unmailed ballots and prioritize their timely delivery, Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy refused to comply. The Justice Department backed DeJoy.The bigot-in-chief’s fraudulent declaration of victory is but the latest example in a long, ugly history of denying Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities the basic right to vote. The electoral college itself, which skews results with a “winner take all” state-by-state selection process, is rooted in efforts of enslavers to maintain political control over how U.S. presidents are chosen. Real democracy is a myth in this country.While limited by their politics and ties to the Democratic Party, today’s demonstrations are taking the struggle against racist voter suppression beyond the confines of the voting booth. What’s all the more significant are calls emanating from sections of organized labor for a general strike if Trump refuses to step down. Even if this doesn’t happen, the importance of this conversation – of workers withholding their labor as a form of mass political protest – must not be underestimated.Get ready for a big fight, regardlessEven if the rallies achieve their goal and secure Biden’s path to the White House, the epic struggle unfolding since the COVID-19 crisis and the lynching of George Floyd will intensify. Among the huge numbers who voted for Trump are the many racist police, whose associations — misnamed unions — endorsed the president. They are openly allied with white supremacist paramilitaries such as the “Proud Boys.” Since these pro-fascist elements may be buoyed if Trump ekes out a victory and full of venomous hatred if he doesn’t, progressives and anti-racists will have to step up their defense of people of color, migrants, homeless, protesters, LGBTQ2S+ people, women, people with disabilities, youth and others. Black and Latinx workers in the South and Southwest, where Trump carried most of the states, could be particularly vulnerable to hate crimes. The Old South, with its long history of segregation and the lowest level of unionization, is where new manufacturing in steel, auto and other industries is now concentrated. White workers are targeted with the most hateful rhetoric, intended to pit them against the most oppressed workers. A significant section of the capitalist class favors and funds Trump’s fascist appeal. Donors among the super-rich hail from the financial, real estate, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, and other industries. Without their support, super-PACs such as America First Action would collapse. But the popular movement would also have to fight a Biden/Harris administration. In this election campaign, the Democratic Party avoided appealing for support on a progressive basis, even though it observed a new, historic, anti-racist movement developing. Rather, the Democrats ditched Bernie Sanders in favor of Biden, pandered to Trump’s socialist-baiting, rejected calls to defund the police and distanced themselves from The Squad — Congresswomen of color Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayana Pressley, who just won reelection.Biden’s own history includes passing racist “anti-crime” bills as senator, presiding over record numbers of deportations, and engaging in sexist behavior as vice president. He has done nothing to stop police killings, including the 2014 murder of Tamir Rice that occurred during his tenure. Both as an elected official and as a candidate — with a long list of ruling class backers himself — he has expressed a solid commitment to U.S. imperialism in foreign policy.Was the choice of Biden a factor in the Democratic Party’s poorer-than-expected performance?The only way forward for working class and oppressed people is to take the struggle beyond the narrow arena of capitalist elections. A range of tactics must and will be employed, from street protests to general strikes. The prospects for independent mass struggle are the best antidotes to any demoralization or discouragement among those who were hoping for an electoral wipeout of Trump. All hell could break loose soon. Class struggle, the driving force of past and future history, is our ray of hope. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more