The Worker - Full Text 2004

Volume 18, No. 21 November 27, 2004

On the Balance of Forces NO TIME FOR ILLUSIONS -- TIME TO ORGANIZE AND FIGHT

Weighing up the balance of political forces in the post-election period underscores one relentless conclusion: the people of this country have no choice but to stiffen their resistance to the capitalist program of war, repression, and robbery. In the course of this resistance, the people must further organize their independent political movement and their own political party.

Even though more than 70% of the population refused to vote for Bush, the politicians and media are claiming that the elections were a "mandate" for Bush to wage more wars (not only against Iraq!), a "mandate" to further cut and privatize social services including Social Security, health care, education, etc., and a "mandate" to strengthen the arbitrary police power of the government.

As for the Democrats, just as they used the elections to help the capitalists ram the war program down the people's throats, in the post-election period they are already helping Bush escalate the program of war, repression and robbery.

Here is how the Democratic Leadership Council, the top policy-making group in the Democratic Party, presents the party program : 1) pushing the moral values of "patriotism, personal responsibility, opportunity" and "speak[ing] the language of faith"; 2) "bridg[ing] the trust gap on national security by spelling out our own offense against terrorism, not letting Republicans portray us as the anti-war party in the war on terrorism."

Some of the specific points of Bush program openly embraced by the DLC include cutting social spending, "reforming" Social Security to include individual retirement accounts, and expanding the role of religious groups in delivering government-funded social services. (see, for example, the Washington Post article (11/7/04) "Ending Our Losing Ways," by Bruce Reed, DLC executive director).

The elections themselves again proved not only that the capitalists will stay on the path of war, repression and robbery but also that the working people can expect no help from any of the parties of the status quo. The Democrats and their opportunist "left-wing" thoroughly disgraced themselves by actively working to demobilize the people and to split and liquidate the mass struggles, such as the new anti-war movement.

The only way out is the path of struggle!

We must broaden and deepen the resistance to the capitalist program and we must organize this resistance. In this work we must unite everyone in action against the capitalist program. The key to this unity is to actually fight against the capitalist program and not to compromise and capitulate to it. The key is to build up the independent political party and mass organizations of the people as the decisive means of drawing wide sections of the locked-out and excluded into the struggle.

The capitalists will continue their wars and attacks against the people. They can only be defeated by building up a new political movement, capable of replacing the capitalist government and bringing the people to power as the decision-makers.

In this situation, the Workers Party - despite our small size - must and is shouldering its responsibility. We have an intensive program for strengthening the consciousness and organization of the people and a broad program for mobilizing people into the mass struggles.

In the immediate period, the party is carrying out an important campaign strengthen the mass workers' press, increase its circulation and involve activists in building the press as a tool of enlightenment and as a lever for the independent organization and mobilization of the people. The Party is stepping up its Peace Petition campaign and creating new initiatives, including strengthening the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy, the Peace Agenda Forum, etc. to bring wider sections of people into the organized peace movement. Other initiatives are already underway to deepen the struggles for economic and social rights and to strengthen independent politics and organization.

WORKERS' PRESS MONTH

This December has been designated "workers' press month" by the Workers Party. During this period, the Party will carry out an intensive campaign to strengthen the foundations of the mass workers' press and make plans for the coming year to increase the circulation of "The Worker" and the Anti-Imperialist News Service (AINS).

Building the mass workers' press is one of the most important means of developing independent politics.

"The Worker" and the AINS carry the most vital news stories which can never be found in the monopoly-controlled media - news about the independent program and struggles of the people in the U.S. and throughout the world.

By popularizing the independent program of the people, summarizing the popular struggles and drawing appropriate lessons, the workers' press plays an irreplaceable role in helping people get a picture of their own movement and sort out the way to go forward. Thus, for example, our newspapers have provided activists with an ongoing forum and analysis about "how to advance the anti-war struggle" and develop it as a pro-active movement.

So too, the mass workers press wages a nonstop struggle exposing the lies of the capitalist media and zeroing in on the major ideological and political roadblocks to our struggles. It also provides people with vital theoretical, ideological and historical analysis - strengthening the consciousness of the people about the whole course of the struggle. Again, in the anti-war movement we have consistently published primary documents explaining the just stands of North Korea and Cuba, articles on the history of the Palestinian liberation struggle, reference material on U.S. policy and aims in Iran, etc.

"The Worker" is the only consistent voice of opposition to the Democratic Party and its little helpers - the unholy alliance of the so-called left, which acts as the trojan horse of imperialism within the people's movement, continually trying to tone down the demands of the movement, divert the people, import chauvinism and capitulation in the struggle and liquidate the independent organizations of the people. Thus, during the recent election circus, the workers' press was the only voice exposing the war demagogy of the 2 parties and keeping the anti-war demands of the people in the forefront.

In practical, day-to-day politics, the widescale distribution of "The Worker" and the AINS play a big role in going against the defeatism and pessimism of the capitalists, in creating a positive atmosphere in which the banners and struggles of the people are popularized and in which independent politics is brought to centerstage in the society. Thus at demonstrations and political gatherings in many areas, the workers' press has established a regular presence which many activists look for and turn to.

Just as importantly in many local areas (schools, workplaces, communities), the workers' press is at the very center of the independent political life which is developing amongst the people. Through the nonstop work of activists, the press is used to generate a new political atmosphere in which the needs and concerns of people are put in the center, and around which broad discussions and mobilizations take place. In many areas, people look on a daily and weekly basis for the latest editions of the paper, taking it as a starting point to orient their practical activities.

Thus the workers' press is not only a political and ideological weapon, it is a vital organizational tool as well. Activists organize regular discussions around the articles in "The Worker" and the AINS and use these discussions to reach out to ever wider sections of the people. In turn, the workers' press offers activists a forum for summing up their experience, reporting on their struggles and giving their views on vital issues of the day. Last year, as part of this work, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy began publishing a section of "The Worker."

During workers' press month, in addition to strengthening the editorial and technical staff of The Worker and the AINS, we are unfolding 3 specific initiatives. We are:

- 1) calling on activists organize new groups to read, discuss and popularize the workers' press. At the same time, we call upon existing groups and organizations of activists to incorporate the regular study of the workers' press into their ongoing organizational work;

- 2) asking all regular readers of the workers' press to a) contribute at least $1/week to our press so as to enable us to increase circulation and b) to extend the circulation of paper by ordering bulk quantities (10 copies/week: $1 additional; 20 copies/week: $2, etc.);

- 3) encouraging readers to send in regular reports on their activities, their conditions and their views on vital issues.

For our part, we will begin publishing a regular column entitled "Building the Mass Workers' Press." Through this column we will report on the progress of this campaign and the experience of activists and readers as well as the editors in strengthening our own independent, working class and anti-imperialist press.

TENS OF THOUSANDS PROTEST BUSH IN CHILE

On November 19, an estimated 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Santiago, Chile, protesting the presence of Bush at the annual Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.

The march was organized by the Chilean Social Forum and nearly 100 other groups. Participants denounced U.S. corporate domination of Latin America and spoke out against the U.S. wars in Iraq and elsewhere.

Earlier in the month, some Chilean opposition groups even filed a complaint in the courts to have Bush held as a war criminal.

Many demonstrators also denounced U.S. support for the military coup that overthrew President Allende in 1973. One demonstrator, 58-year-old Tom s Soto, referred to that coup as "an example of the kind of state terrorism that the United States always claims to be against."

The government mobilized over 5,000 police officers and used armored vehicles, tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrators.

CLOSE THE "SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS"

On November 21, over 16,000 people from cities all across the U.S. demonstrated in Fort Benning, Georgia to demand the closing of the notorious "School of the Americas (SOA)" - a military training institution which has been renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation".

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation-SOA is a neocolonial institution and one of the means through which the U.S. trains a caste of Latin American military officers and integrates them into the Pentagon's command structure.

The demonstration in Fort Benning marks the 15th protest in as many years, and was the largest turnout to date. This year, as in the past, speakers and protestors not only demanded that the school be closed, but called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and an end to the U.S.'s phony "war on terrorism."

Many speakers at the protests also demanded an end to U.S. pressure and aggression against Cuba, and an end to U.S. interference in Colombia and Venezuela.

These on-going annual protests against the SOA have not only exposed this ultra-militarist institution but also become an important school of struggle against U.S. military intervention throughout Latin America.

PENSIONS IN DANGER

In November, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal agency which insures pension plans, announced that during the last fiscal year its deficit doubled, reaching $23.3 billion. Economists and politicians are already raising the possibility that the PBGC, which has lost more than $10 billion/year for the last 3 years, may go bankrupt. The result could be the loss of pensions for millions of workers. Already the PBGC has arbitrarily refused to honor its commitment to pay the pensions of tens of thousands of steelworkers whose company-funded plans have gone bankrupt.

The PBGC is financed by premiums paid by companies that provide traditional pension plans for workers. But Congress has repeatedly refused to raise these premiums even as more company-funded pension plans are going into default. In fact, this year Congress passed a measure allowing corporations to reduce, by $80 billion over 2 years, payments to their pension funds, thereby increasing the risk of private bankruptcies and adding to the liabilities of the PBGC. Already dozens of large companies, with pension liabilities of $96 billion, have been put on a government watch list for possible default on their pension plans in the near future.

In sum, the big corporations and the government are deliberately underfunding the pension plans of millions of workers, threatening their retirement years.

GOVERNMENT CUTS COLLEGE AID

In the coming year, 1.2 million low-income college students will have their financial aid slashed; as many as 100,000 students may lose their current Pell grants altogether.

The cuts are the result of the Department of Education arbitrarily changing the formula used to calculate family income. Under the new formula, families can no longer deduct state taxes from their income when applying for Pell grants. As a result, many students whose parents earn between $35,000-$40,000 will lose their Pell Grants altogether while others will have their grants cut back. In total, Pell grant aid will be reduced by $300 million.

These cuts in federal aid for college come at a time when tuition at public colleges and universities is soaring, largely as a result of cutbacks in state funding. As a result every year, more working class and minority youth are denied access to college while those who remain are running up huge debts. In other words, instead of the door to higher education being opened wider and wider, it is being slammed shut by the government's refusal to make the needed investments.

PARENTS AND TEACHERS FIGHT FOR BILINGUAL EDUCATION

The following article was written by a member of the Committee for Educational Rights, an independent organization of teachers and parents in the Chicago area.

Illinois law mandates 3 years of transitional bilingual education which is defined as "a full-time program of instruction (1) in all those courses or subjects which a child is required by law to receive and which are required by the child's school district which shall be given in the native language of the children of limited English-speaking ability who are enrolled in the program and also in English, (2) in the reading and writing of the native language of the children of limited English-speaking ability who are enrolled in the program and in the oral comprehensive, speaking, reading and writing of English, and (3) in the history and culture of the country, territory or geographic areas which is th native land of the parents of children of limited English-speaking ability who are enrolled in the program and in the history and culture of the United State;" (105 ILCS 5/14C-1).

But parents and teachers have reported that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are arbitrarily and illegally denying bilingual education to thousands of students.

Our own investigation, shows for example, that at several schools in the southwest of the city, where many communities are predominantly Spanish-speakers, elementary schools often limit bilingual instruction to 1 or 2 years and also deny ESL instruction to students entitled, by law, to it. Other schools label certain classes as "bilingual" but actually all books and instruction are in English.

At one area elementary school, the bilingual program had been reduced to one year. Over 800 students who were eligible to receive ESL instruction were not receiving this assistance. A bilingual kindergarten class was eliminated, forcing students into a class where only English phonics are taught.

In the spring of 2004, teachers at this school got together and initiated a struggle for the implementation of the bilingual program as mandated by state law. There was a tremendous response from parents and the community. Parents came to public meetings and spoke out about their demands and concerns. They spoke about how they were unable to help their children with homework because it was in language they could not understand. Others spoke about how their children were denied bilingual classes, even though no adults in the home spoke English. Parents said it was discriminatory to have English only instruction in a school located in a community where Spanish is spoken in most homes. Many spoke out militantly in defense of their right to maintain their language and culture, demanding bilingual education be extended, not cut back.

As part of the struggle, a newsletter was produced to inform the community about the conditions in the school and about the actions and meetings organized by the parents and teachers. This newsletter brought to light the racist and discriminatory actions taken by the administration of the school and representatives of the CPS central office. When parents came to meetings regarding their children's education, administrators attacked the parents and blamed them for the problems at the school. When parents demanded bilingual education for their children, they were told that "when you live in America you must learn English." One parent was told that her child would not be instructed in Spanish, and if she wanted Spanish instruction, the child should go to a gang and learn it from them. Another racist reason given to deny students bilingual education was that speaking too much Spanish at home causes students to fall behind academically. The entire orientation of the CPS and various principals is that Spanish in an inferior language and English is superior, that students must be forced, "sink or swim," to learn English, and that they have no right to use their native tongue.

Our newsletter consistently showed that 1) denying bilingual education means denying students whose native language is not English the right to equality in education; and 2) the suppression of Spanish is part of the national oppression imposed on the minority peoples and immigrants by the U.S. government.

Already we have won some victories in our struggle. Over 800 students at our school are now receiving ESL instruction. Some 2nd grade classes are now allowing students to practice their Spanish writing skills. The principal has been forced to explain to staff that students cannot be exited from the bilingual program before 3 years of instruction. Funds have been provided for teachers to purchase Spanish and ESL materials for this current school year.

However, in this ongoing struggle, there is still more that must be done. The law is still being violated and parents' rights are still being denied. The bilingual program has not been completely implemented at the 2nd grade. There is no bilingual instruction past the 2nd grade. Many parents requesting bilingual education for their children are still denied.

But we are continuing the struggle. Our most important victory so far is that parents and teachers have begun to build up their own collective struggle and are asserting their rights to bilingual instruction and a genuinely modern education.

 

Volume 18, No. 20 November 9, 2004

STRENGTHEN THE RESISTANCE AND ORGANIZE THE PEOPLE'S INDEPENDENT MOVEMENT!

The fact that George Bush will continue as President for 4 more years confirms - as does the whole course of political events over the last 3 years - that the capitalist class will continue its program of war against the world, of strengthening the arbitrary power of the government and interfering in the lives of the people, and of privatizing the social sectors of the economy and helping the super-rich rob the public treasury. This situation can only strengthen the resolve of the people to resist the capitalist offensive and further organize the people's independent movement!

From the very start, the election process was used by the capitalists to ram their agenda down the throats of the people. For example, the "debate" between Kerry and Bush was over how to best continue the aggressive wars against Iraq and other countries. The American people were completely excluded - their demands and needs written off the agenda altogether, their organizations and struggles ignored and suppressed. (This is reflected, for example, in the fact that despite the billions of dollars spent electioneering, despite the intimidation and fraud of the capitalist parties, more than 70% of the people refused to vote for Bush).

During the elections, John Kerry and the Democratic Party played a key part in pushing the war program and the entire reactionary capitalist agenda.

The elections unfolded at a time of rising mass struggles, especially a nationwide anti-war movement. But the Democrats, presented as the "alternative," did everything possible to stop the mass struggles, pressure the people to give up their demands and abandon their own organizations. The Kerryites imposed the pro-war politics of "now that we're in Iraq, we have to stay," on sections of the anti-war movement. They beat the chauvinist drum for escalating the wars in Afghanistan and Palestine and for preparing new wars against Iran and Korea. By leaving tens of millions of Americans on the sidelines while muzzling many anti-war activists, the Kerryites worked to embolden Bush. Instead of galvanizing and directing the vast anti-war energy of the people so as to further isolate and undermine the capitalist war program, the Democrats disarmed the people and gave the war program a new lease on life.

The Republicans and Democrats were given a helping hand by the unholy alliance of so-called liberal and "left-wing" groups, including social-democracy, the so-called Communist Party, U.S.A., the trade union hierarchy and others. These opportunists were the real vanguard of the capitalist offensive against the independent thought and action of the people. They lied and covered over Kerry's program. They systematically covered over the root causes and dangers of the Bush program pretending that the wars are only a mistake made by one or a few bad capitalists. They undermined mass actions, such as the planned demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention. They split and liquidated many new, anti-war organizations. They reserved their greatest fire for any and all expressions of the independent thought and action, trying to impose their sectarian, Democratic party politics on every struggle and organization of the people.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. did not give way under the pressure of the capitalist election circus. We held high the deep aspirations and independent agenda of the people - sticking to the fundamental demands for peace, for economic rights and for the genuine empowerment of the people. We continued to join in and initiate mass anti-war actions and other actions in defense of the people's rights. We used the elections to deepen the politicalization of the people, criticizing and struggling against the parties of war and imperialism, exposing their ideologies and isolating their politics. We created new space for the independent political movement of the people - initiating new political forums, starting new organizations in the schools and communities, strengthening the independent press.

Although our Party is still very small, our experience confirms that the American people are resisting the capitalist program of war, racism, repression and robbery. Our experience shows that the people are eager to read and build a genuine media which gets at the truth and roots of things, to create forums and discussions in order to politicize themselves, to go into action against the capitalist program. Our experience shows that building a mass political alternative is the real question on the agenda!

The Workers Party calls to the working class, to the anti-war and other progressive activists, to all Americans who aspire for peace, democracy and progress:

Do not let the program of war and fascism pass!

Do not let Bush and U.S. imperialism have a free hand in their ongoing and new offensive against the people at home and abroad. Come into the public arena with a resounding "NO!" Stand up in your workplace, community, school, and go ever more widely amongst your peers to encourage an atmosphere of resistance and develop a real political culture in which people can get together and sort out their own aims and agenda.

We say now is the time to cast off any and all illusions and take the path of struggle. Do not forget the crimes of the Democrats and the opportunists who again are sowing pessimism, despair and capitulation. We must take the future of the country into our own hands by building our independent political movement in which the people themselves decide all the questions of strategy, tactics and organization.

The people's response to the capitalist elections and the entire program of fascism and war can only be: increase the resistance and organize our own independent movement!

OVER 100,000 IRAQIS KILLED BY U.S. INVASION

An article published in the October 29 on-line edition of the British medical journal "The Lancet" concludes that more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The article, "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey" is based on an intensive study of mortality rates before and after the U.S. invasion. According to the authors, "Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths."

The findings of their investigation conclude that violent deaths were 58 times higher than before the war. The authors repeatedly emphasize that their estimates are "conservative" and do not include many Iraqis killed in "devastated" cities such as Fallujah. "Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," the article also states.

The Lancet investigators also condemn U.S. military forces for hiding the truth of the casualty figures, and point out that doing so is in violation of international law:

"U.S. General Tommy Franks is widely quoted as saying 'we don't do body counts'. The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities of occupying armies to the civilian population they control. The fact that more than half the deaths reportedly caused by the occupying forces were women and children is cause for concern. In particular, Convention IV, Article 27 states that protected persons '...Shall be at all times humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against acts of violence...'. It seems difficult to understand how a military force could monitor the extent to which civilians are protected against violence without systematically doing body counts or at least looking at the kinds of casualties they induce."

These scientific findings testify, indisputably, to the inhuman and fascist nature of the U.S. war which is being waged against the Iraqi people.

U.S. imperialism launched its war against Iraq with a "shock and awe" campaign that included dropping 1,300 bombs on the people of Baghdad in one day. It has repeatedly used warplanes, helicopters gunships, missiles and tanks against heavily populated civilian areas. It has besieged cities, denying water, electricity, food, medical care and other necessities to the people in Fallujah and cities throughout Iraq. It has dropped over 2,200 tons of depleted uranium shells on Iraq, poisoning the people and contaminating the country with nuclear radiation which will last for millions of years.

These barbaric methods come from the very character of the war as an aggressive, colonial war. U.S. imperialism launched its war against Iraq in order to plunder its wealth, enslave its people and use the country as a base for recolonizing the entire Middle East. It has no regard for the lives of the Iraqi people because its very goal is to enslave them.

U.S. IMPERIALISM, HANDS OFF LATIN AMERICA!

Below we print part of a speech given by Michael Thorburn, a representative of the Workers Party, U.S.A., at a Chicago-area meeting organized by the Peace Agenda Forum on October 21, 2004. For the purposes of publication, the speech has been edited by the author.

Very simply, the aim of my speech is to encourage everyone here to work to make sure that the slogan: "U.S., Hands Off Latin America!" Is a central part of the peace movement and the political agenda of the American people.

This issue is fundamental because, as the saying goes, "no nation which oppresses another can be free." Thus, our Party - the Workers Party - holds that it is the elementary responsibility of every person who genuinely stands for democracy and the rights of humanity to resolutely oppose the national oppression and military intervention imposed on other countries by our "own government."

And everyone knows that for more than 100 years, the U.S. government and the U.S. monopoly capitalist class has considered Latin America their "backyard" and imposed colonialism and neocolonialism on the peoples.

Today, U.S. imperialism is intensifying its stranglehold over Latin America as part of its so-called "war on terrorism." Historically, Latin America is the foundation of the U.S. empire. And as U.S. imperialism fights to extend this empire - to create a unipolar world with itself as the "sole superpower" - it is determined to fortify its strategic base.

- Thus, we see that in February of this year, thousands of U.S. marines invaded Haiti, kidnapped the elected President and began restoring open U.S. colonial rule.

- We see the U.S. branding the Colombian people as "terrorists" and stepping up its direct military intervention in a counter-insurgency war which aims at suppressing Colombia's struggle for independence, democracy and social and economic progress. We see U.S. imperialism using "Plan Colombia" to stretch its military presence and activities throughout the Andes region, militarizing Ecuador and Peru, threatening Venezuela and Bolivia, etc.

- We see the U.S. government tightening its blockade - its war - against Cuba and publicly publishing a blueprint for military intervention and the reimposition of U.S. colonialism in Cuba.

- We see the U.S. government - through the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the highest officials of the government

- carrying out a destabilization campaign against the elected, constitutional government of Venezuela.

- We see U.S. capitalism intensifying its economic penetration of the continent, dictating austerity budgets and privatization programs to various governments, pressuring countries to accept such treaties as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the Andes Free Trade Agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and various bilateral treaties which aim at virtual U.S. annexation of Latin America.

History of U.S. Intervention

Before going more deeply into some of these sharpening immediate struggles, I want to review some of the background of U.S. intervention in Latin America. This history helps us see where present-day problems come from, helps us see that the super-exploitation and war against the peoples of Latin America is built into the very foundations of present-day U.S. capitalist-imperialism and that for more than 100 years this colonialism has been the bipartisan program of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

From the very founding of the U.S. republic, U.S. capitalism expressed an appetite for Latin America. For example, by proclaiming the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the U.S. government declared that the entire Western Hemisphere was its sphere of influence and warned European powers to stay out.

But in its early days, U.S. capitalism, despite its appetite, did not have the power to project itself too far. This changed around the turn of the 20th century as the era of monopoly capitalism and imperialism began.

U.S. capitalism emerged as a major imperialist power by waging the so-called "Spanish-American War," which really was a war waged by the U.S. government against the peoples of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines who were already fighting for their independence from Spain. Through this war, the U.S. imposed direct colonial rule on Puerto Rico and Cuba (as well as the Philippines), marking the beginning of the wholesale export of U.S. capital and U.S. marines to Latin America - the beginning of U.S. economic and, to a large extent, territorial domination of the continent.

This colonial project was codified by President Theodore Roosevelt in his famous "Roosevelt corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine which asserted U.S. imperialism's intention to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American countries to control their economic and political systems.

Roosevelt's doctrine reads, in part:

"Any country whose people conduct themselves well, can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the U.S. Chronic wrong-going or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, ... require intervention by some civilized nations, and in the western hemisphere the adherence of the U.S. to the Monroe Doctrine may force the U.S... to the exercise of an international [police] power."

These early years of "gunboat diplomacy" are well described by a U.S. General - Smedley Butler, who writes in his memoirs: "I spent 33 years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force - the marine corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a highclass muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism .... Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues in . . . I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" For American fruit companies in 1903." (quoted from Eduardo Galeano, "Open Veins of Latin America," 1971).

In fact, over the years, U.S. government has waged hundreds of wars and military interventions against the peoples of Latin America and these wars have been waged by every administration, Democratic and Republican.

A partial list of some of the major U.S. wars since the 1950's includes:

- in 1954 CIA-trained U.S. troops invaded Guatemala to carry out a coup against the Arbenz government and reverse the country's agrarian reform which went against the economic interests of United Fruit;

- in 1959 the U.S. began widescale covert intervention against Cuba after the revolutionary government undertook land reform and the nationalization of certain U.S.-owned enterprises. Over the years, U.S. intervention has resulted in the murder of hundreds of Cuban activists, workers, peasants, and students by U.S. covert operatives. In 1961 the U.S. launched the "Bay of Pigs" invasion, and later Kennedy threatened Cuba with nuclear war, etc.;

- in 1965, some 50,000 U.S. troops invaded the Dominican Republic;

- in 1973 the CIA-organized a coup in Chile which overthrow the elected government and resulted in the murder, imprisonment and exiling of tens of thousands of Chileans;

- in the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's, U.S. advisers on the ground directed the counter-insurgency war in El Salvador which resulted in 80,000 killed and 1.5 million Salvadorans exiled.

- in the 1980's, the CIA directed the "contra war" against Nicaragua which claimed the lives of 30,000 people;

- the 1983 invasion of Grenada by 30,000 troops in 1983;

- in 1985 invasion of Panama.

In sum, for more than 100 years, U.S. imperialism has imposed a series of fascist, military regimes on the peoples in Latin America and has been in a permanent state of war against the continent.

Just as today the U.S. government, in its war against Iraq, can rely only on doublespeak to advertise its aggression as "defense of democracy," to label its destruction and devastation of Iraq as "preventing chaos," etc., so too all the war and fascism imposed on Latin America by U.S. imperialism has been carried out in the name of "freedom" and "democracy."

At the time of the Monroe Doctrine, Henry Clay, Secretary of State, justified U.S. imperial ambitions by calling for "a human freedom league encompassing all nations from Hudson Bay to Cape Horn."

The U.S. wars against the Puerto Rican and Cuban people were waged in the name of "bringing freedom and civilization" to the people.

The invasions of Guatemala and Grenada were carried out in the name of "restoring democracy." The contras mercenaries and the paramilitary death squads in El Salvador, Colombia and elsewhere are called "freedom fighters" by the leaders of the U.S. government.

The 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic like the ongoing occupation of Haiti are justified as a means to "prevent chaos and anarchy."

The U.S. blockade of Cuba and its plan for armed intervention are given such names as the "Cuban Democracy Act" and "Assistance for a Free Cuba." The U.S. government works to destabilize the elected government in Venezuela by branding President Chavez as a "dictator."

The truth is that the path to democracy for peoples in Latin America is and can only be the path of struggle against U.S. imperialism - against its subversion, aggression, and support for internal reactionary regimes.

For the American people, a very touchstone of our commitment to genuine democracy is resolute, uncompromising struggle against any and all interference by the U.S. capitalist-imperialist government in Latin America. The touchstone of genuine American democracy, a vital part of opposition to the colonialism, racism and war program of "our own" government is to struggle to get U.S. imperialism out of Latin America, lock, stock and barrel!

Economic Basis

Of course, behind all this military intervention are the economic interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

Everyone knows that in Latin America whole countries have been turned into plantations - banana plantations, coffee plantations, sugar plantations, rubber plantations, etc. - owned by U.S. agri-businesses.

The fertile soil of Latin America has not been used to feed its people but turned into profits for the U.S. capitalists. Thus for example El Salvador has lost its self-sufficiency in food as its land has been used to grow and export coffee for the U.S. capitalists. And along with pillaging the land, U.S. imperialism - in alliance with the local oligarchy and fascist regimes - expropriated, by force of arms, the land of the peasants, abolished their communal and other indigenous ownership systems, and deprived millions of people of their livelihood. This same story, repeated in different forms all across the continent, is one of the root causes of today's war in the Colombian countryside, where for 100 years peasants have been fighting to keep their land and livelihood from armed expropriation by landlords in alliance with U.S. imperialism.

So too the mineral wealth of the soil, the patrimony of the peoples, has literally been drained and carted out of Latin America. Just as the conquistadors looted the gold of the indigenous peoples, the U.S. capitalists have grabbed billions of dollars in wealth by taking the copper of Chile, the tin of Bolivia, the oil of Venezuela and Mexico, the bauxite of Haiti, etc., etc.

While grabbing the raw materials and mineral wealth, the U.S. multinational corporations have set up branch plants across Latin America in order to exploit the working class. Under the thumb of U.S.-imposed governments, Latin American workers are super-exploited and often prevented from exercising such elementary rights as the right to unionize. Today, for example, after U.S. imperialism drained Haiti of its huge bauxite reserves, robbing the national patrimony of the people, 150 U.S. companies have set up shop in the country, paying workers as little as $1.60/day.

During the last several years, under the signboard of "neo-liberal economics," U.S. imperialism has been intensifying its economic penetration and superexploitation of Latin America. Through military, economic and political pressure, through bilateral and multilateral such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, etc., through the IMF and other international financial institutions, imperialism is directly dictating the budget of Latin American countries, forcing the privatization of state-owned industries, grabbing control of virtually the entire economic infrastructure. The goal if the virtual annexation of the continent by U.S. capital.

By 2001, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean owned $787 billion to U.S. and international bankers and were paying more than $150 billion/year in debt service (see U.S Commerce Department's "Survey of Current Business," September 2002).

This huge debt in turn is used by imperialism as a lever to further open up the economies of Latin America to imperialist penetration and take-over.

For example, from 1982 to early the 1990's Mexico was forced to privatize 886 state enterprises out of a total of 1,155 with U.S. monopolies gaining control over telecommunications, airlines, banking, mining, steel and other sectors. Similarly in Chile, the Pinochet regime (installed through a CIA coup) privatized 160 state corporations, 16 banks and thousands of mines and agricultural enterprises from 1975 through 1989.

Today, U.S. imperialism is demanding that literally all the wealth and labor of Latin America be put at its disposal. Various U.S.-dictated treaties are turning even the water resources over toU.S. multinational corporations and forbidding Latin American governments from protecting even such sectors as health care, education, or the national forests from foreign ownership. U.S. imperialism aims at nothing less than the virtual annexation of the continent.

As U.S. imperialism spreads its net across Latin America, the apologists for capitalism, portray this process as the road to "economic opportunity, freedom and development."

But, this is just economic doublespeak. The only "freedom" aimed at is the "freedom" of the U.S. monopolies to rob the wealth and exploit the peoples.

Why is it that Latin America remains economically underdeveloped and so many of the people live in poverty and hardship? The continent has fabulously rich soil and vast mineral wealth. And only the racist filth of imperialism could claim that the people don't work and create new values.

The real problem is precisely that the values created by the labor of the people leaves their countries and goes to Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to fill the pockets of the U.S. capitalists. The labor of the people does not go to insure their well-being or the economic independence and development of the Latin American countries, it is, instead, poured into the foundations of U.S. imperialism's empire.

So just as the path to genuine democracy in Latin America can only be the path of struggle against U.S. intervention, so too, the path of economic development and social progress can only be the path of struggle against the exploiting, colonial relations imposed on Latin America by U.S. capitalist-imperialism. This is the path of cancelling the debt, the path of putting the handcuffs on the multinational corporations, the path of nationalizing the economic infrastructure and putting the economic resources of Latin America in the hands of the peoples themselves.

Looking into the economic basis of U.S. intervention again teaches the people in the U.S. that our struggle against U.S. militarism and colonialism in Latin America must strike against the very foundations of the capitalist-imperialist system. In political terms it means that the struggle against U.S. intervention must be directed against the parties of monopoly capital and imperialism - against the Republicans and Democrats. (to be continued).

(This entire speech will soon be published in pamphlet form. For more information contact The Worker at P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL. 60625)

NORTH KOREAN "HUMAN RIGHTS" ACT

On October 18, George Bush signed into law the "North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004."

Amongst it provisions, the law prohibits humanitarian aid to North Korea unless the U.S. government certifies that the North Korean government has "taken steps to improve human rights" The law calls for strict regulations on all future aid, and an end to direct, bilateral humanitarian transfers between the U.S. and North Korea.

The act also authorizes assistance to North Korean defectors and organizations opposed to the government. Under the cover of providing aid to North Korean "human rights groups," the U.S. will provide funds to organizations that support the "development of a market economy in North Korea." Under this program, millions of dollars will be earmarked for propaganda via radio and television broadcasts.

In addition, future cultural and educational exchanges between the two countries will also be contingent on certification, and discussion of "human rights" must be the focus of all future political negotiations between the U.S., North Korea and other states in the region.

This law marks another escalation of U.S. pressure against North Korea. It aims at further isolating the country politically and dictating that other Asian countries join in the U.S. anti-Korean front. The law openly aims at overthrowing the existing government and social system by trying to build up covert counter-revolutionary forces.

On the lips of U.S. imperialism the slogans of "defending democracy and human rights" are clearly used as an excuses to trample peace underfoot, attack sovereign states, and set aside international law and established relations between states.

Such slogans are particularly hypocritical in the case of Korea. After all it was U.S. imperialism which waged the Korean war, killing 4 million Koreans, including 2 million civilians. Today, U.S. imperialism forcibly partitions the country, denying the Korean people their most basic right to sovereignty. It is U.S. imperialism which carries out daily armed provocations against North Korea, stations its troops in South Korea and tries with might and main to economically, politically and militarily strangle North Korea.

DPRK DELEGATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Pyongyang, October 31 (from the Korean Central News Agency -excerpts)

- The main obstacle to the efforts of the international community to improve the effective enjoyment of human rights and basic freedom are the actions which infringe on sovereignty, change systems, and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries....said the DPRK delegate during the discussion of the human rights issue at the 3rd Committee of the 59th UN General Assembly on October 26. He referred to the more undisguised practices of using the human rights issue to attain a strategic goal, distorting or turning away from realities to serve a political purpose.

He vehemently denounced the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and brutal murder of civilians under the cloak of "democracy"... and branded this as an inhumane act of placing politics above humankind and an insult upon human rights. Holding that the attempts to abuse the human rights issue as a tool of unilateral power politics should not be permitted any longer, he noted that any country should not force its politics and economic system upon other countries... A typical attempt to change systems under the pretext of the "human rights" issue is the "North Korean Human Rights Act" recently adopted by the U.S. congress...

It is a foolish pipedream to think that the political and economic system of the DPRK may be changed to suit the U.S. standard, he noted, adding that the U.S. attempt to change the DPRK system will go bust....

It is thanks to the people-centered politics of the DPRK government, enjoying the full support of the people, that the DPRK could firmly advance along the road chosen by itself without any social and political disturbance or vacillation, despite the political pressure, economic sanctions and military threat of foreign forces for nearly 60 years. He stressed:

The DPRK government will more consolidate the Korean-style, man-centered system of ensuring socialist human rights, under the banner of the Juche idea, and actively strive for world justice and the protection and promotion of human rights.

FROM THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF THE WORKING CLASS

The working class, deprived of all private property in the means of production and representing the advanced, socialized productive forces of society, cannot create conditions for its emancipation except by abolishing the system of exploitation of human beings. Thus the program of the working class is for socialism. The socialist economic system, based on the social ownership of the means of production, will insure the uninterrupted development of the productive forces based on a conscious plan which places the well-being of the people at the center.

In order to carry out the socialist transformation of society, the working class and broad masses of people must win the battle for democracy. The current state, which represents the class power of monopoly capital, must be replaced by a new political power which arises from and is wielded by the working class and broad masses of people themselves.

The immediate program of the working class aims at opening the path for the progress of society and creating conditions for the realization of the strategic program.

The immediate program of the working class includes:

Guarantying the Economic and Other Inviolable Rights of the People

Every human being has certain inviolable rights simply by dint of being human, and it is the elementary responsibility of society to provide guarantees for these rights. They include the right to a secure job or livelihood at the highest possible standard commensurate with the level of development of society, the right to comprehensive and free medical care, the right to secure pensions and for retired workers to live in dignity, the right to free and equal education at all levels (including child care and university education), the right to housing, shelter and food.

In addition to these rights which belong to everyone simply by virtue of being human, the workers, women, the youth, senior citizens, and the members of various nationalities all have rights which arise from their position in the society. The people have the right to work and live in a safe and healthy environment. All these rights also must by recognized and guaranteed.

One immediate step in terms of guarantying these rights is for the government to stop bankrupting the public treasury and dislocating the country's economy in order to guarantee privileges for the big capitalists. Instead, the government must make the needed investments in such vital programs as education, health care and so forth.

Democratic Renewal

The working class strives for the democratic renewal of the political process and political system so that the decision-making power is placed in the hands of the people.

The program of democratic renewal demands the abolition of any and all political privileges and the creation of mechanisms which guarantee the masses of the people the right to participate fully and directly in the political process and in governance.

Political parties must be denied the privilege to nominate and select candidates for office and this right must be returned to the people.

The electorate must also retain the right to recall elected officials at any time.

Further, the chasm between the legislative and executive branches of government must be overcome and the arbitrary power of the executive branch must be broken. The entire operation of government must remain under the direct supervision of the people. Any power not expressly delegated by the people to the government remains with the people themselves....

The program of democratic renewal recognizes the right to self-determination, up to and including the right to secession, for the Native peoples, the people of Puerto Rico and other oppressed nations.

The program of democratic renewal demands equality - equal rights and duties - for all regardless of race, national origin, sex, etc. This includes the right for all nationalities to develop their own culture, language, etc. Most importantly, equality means that everyone has the right to participate fully in the political process and governance, to take part as decision-makers in exercising control of their lives.

Democratic Foreign Policy

The working class strives for a democratic foreign policy. The working class demands the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops abroad, the withdrawal of the U.S. from all aggressive military pacts and alliances, such as NATO, an end to the militarization of U.S. society and an end to U.S. interference and intervention against other countries in any form - economic, diplomatic, political, military, etc.

A democratic foreign policy demands and end to Big Power interference and intervention against sovereign nations, and the democratization of international relations on the basis of recognizing the inviolable right of every nation to determine its own affairs. Every nation must be recognized as equal.

The working class is an international class. The U.S. working class, while carrying forward its short-term and long-term program, necessarily supports the struggle for emancipation of the workers of all countries.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 19 October 25, 2004

U.S. IMPERIALISM, HANDS OFF LATIN AMERICA!

Several articles in this issue are devoted to Latin America.

Materials on pages 3 and 4 report on the brutality of the U.S. occupation in Haiti and the Pentagon's plans to send more troops to Colombia. On the front page, we write about some of the many activities in the U.S. against U.S. intervention in Latin America. One article calls on people to join in the annual demonstrations in Fort Benning Georgia against the "School of the Americas" and another article reports on a recent meeting of the Peace Agenda Forum.

U.S. imperialism has long considered Latin American as its "backyard," robbing the wealth of the continent, superexploiting the peoples and carrying on a permanent war to suppress the popular struggles for independence and social progress.

Today, when U.S. imperialism has launched its so-called "international war against terrorism" in order to assert itself as the sole superpower, it is intensifying its exploitation and intervention in Latin America. Today, amongst other things, U.S. imperialism is 1) occupying Haiti and trying to restore direct colonial rule 2) working to destabilize the constitutional government of Venezuela; 3) tightening its blockade against Cuba and planning direct military intervention; 4) escalating a counter-insurgency war against the Colombian people; 5) extending and deepening its economic takeover of the continent through such mechanisms as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, etc., etc.

It is the duty of the U.S. working class and people to step up their struggles against U.S. intervention and U.S. colonialism and support the just struggles of the Latin American peoples for independence, freedom and social progress.

SHUT DOWN THE "SCHOOL OF THE ASSASSINS!"

During the weekend of November 19-21, thousands of people will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia to demand that the U.S. army close down its "School of the Americas" (SOA), renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

The SOA/WHINSEC is a combat school run by the U.S. military to train Latin American soldiers in such courses as counter-insurgency warfare, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence, interrogation techniques, etc. Since its establishment in Panama in 1946, the SOA has trained tens of thousands of military personnel including many who became U.S.-sponsored military dictators (e.g. Manuel Noreiga in Panama and Efrain Rios Montt of Guatemala) and organizers of death squads and paramilitary groups.

For many years, peace activists and people from many walks of life have been travelling to Georgia in November to demonstrate against this "School of the Assassins." During the weekend, activists will organize a wide array of workshops and rallies. In addition, the SOA Watch, one of the main sponsoring groups, will organize nonviolent direct action.

The struggle to shut down the SOA has become an important school for many Americans to learn about U.S. intervention and about the struggles of the Latin American peoples for national independence and social and economic progress.

PEACE AGENDA FORUM OPPOSES U.S. INTERVENTION IN LATIN AMERICA

On October 21, the Peace Agenda Forum sponsored an evening discussion in the Chicago area under the general title: "U.S., Hands Off Latin America!"

The program included a speech on "The U.S. & Human Rights Abuses in Colombia" by an SOAW activist (School of the Americas Watch) and another on "The U.S. Anti-War Movement & Latin America" by a member of the Workers Party. After the speeches, participants engaged in lively formal and informal discussion for about 2 hours. Nearly 40 people, including workers, college and high school students, public school teachers and college professors, trade unionists, church and community activists, professionals and others attended the meeting.

The first speaker provided a vivid picture of Colombia. Fifty-five percent of the population live below the poverty level. The speaker zeroed in on the human rights abuses of the Colombian government. Last year 3,000-4,000 political assassinations were carried out, including more trade unionists than any other country in the world. In addition, 100,000 people were displaced - turned into internal refugees - as a result of the war waged by the government and paramilitary right-wing death squads linked to the government. The speaker exposed how the U.S. government has been rapidly increasing its economic and military support for this repressive regime, including sending U.S. military "advisers" to directly assist the counter-insurgency war.

The second speaker called on the audience to take up the work of making the demand "U.S., Hands Off Latin America!" A central part of the political agenda of the American people. He emphasized that this is a fundamental issue of principle because for more than 100 years the capitalist government has imposed colonialism and neocolonialism on the peoples of Latin America and been in a permanent state of war against the peoples.

The speaker showed how today, U.S. imperialism is working to tighten its stranglehold over Latin American, suppressing the popular movements for independence and progress. In particular, the speaker pointed to some of the prominent fronts of the struggle on the continent including the Cuban people's struggle to defend their independence against the tightened blockade and pressure of the U.S.; the Venezuelan people's struggle to defend their "Bolivarian process" in the face of a U.S.-sponsored destabilization campaign; the Haitian resistance to U.S. occupation and colonialism; and the continent-wide struggles against economic domination and virtual annexation expressed in such unequal treaties as the FTAA, CAFTA, etc.

PENTAGON PREPARES TO SEND MORE TROOPS TO COLOMBIA

The new Defense bill for fiscal 2005 authorizes a doubling of the official number of U.S. military personnel deployed in Colombia from 400 to 800. It also raises by 50% (from 400 to 600) the number of private U.S. mercenaries allowed. The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 359 to 14 in the House of Representatives.

For several years now, the U.S. has been steadily escalating a counter-insurgency against the popular movements of the Colombian people. The U.S. military personnel in the country not only train the Colombian army, including elite counter-insurgency forces and paramilitary death squads. U.S. "advisers" have repeatedly engaged in reconnaissance and combat missions. In fact, unofficial estimates place the real number of U.S. military personnel, including mercenaries, in the thousands.

In addition, since 2000 the U.S. government has provided about $3 billion in military aid to equip the Colombian army.

STUDENTS CONTINUE ANTI-WAR SPEAKING TOUR

As part of the ongoing campus speaking tour against the war in Iraq, a member of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) recently spoke in a sociology class.

The speaker started with a short presentation, making three main points. First, she emphasized that the U.S. government keeps escalating the war. Second, she showed how the brutal methods used by the U.S. military reflect the war's aggressive and colonial nature. Finally, the speaker showed how the latest attempt to justify the war

- the refrain of "now that we're there, we can't leave" - is just another Big Lie being propagated by the government and politicians like Kerry to cover over the real economic and strategic aims of U.S. imperialism in Iraq.

After the presentation the students discussed many of the issues related to the war and how to end it.

Two themes came out again and again: 1) determined opposition to chauvinism and 2) students' feeling of alienation from the current political system.

Students repeatedly went against the anti-Iraqi chauvinism that is inundating our society. One student spoke of the need to remember the Iraqi casualties just as much as the American casualties. Another person denounced the hypocrisy and chauvinism behind the common depiction of Iraqis as "different" and especially "violent people." Others targeted the U.S. occupation as the obvious source of the violence and chaos. Another student emphasized the right of the Iraqi people to build their society without any outside interference even insofar as that process might involve internal strife. In addition, many students defended the necessity and justness of the Iraqi people's fight against the occupation.

Many comments from the class revealed an alienation from the political system. One student expressed disappointment that there is no presidential candidate that represents her views. Indignation was voiced about insulting campaigns that use pop culture gimmicks to try to convince the younger generation to vote. A number of students had firmly drawn the conclusion that in the current system people have no control over the political life and decisions of the government. One student said that people are exposed to an ongoing and constant stream of lies and spoke of the need to break from that pressure and work to have a broader perspective.

The YSDFP speaker introduced several points about how to advance the anti-war struggle by building up the independent political movement of the people.

U.S. MARINES IN HAITI

The following article is excerpted from a report by Bill Quigley, a member of a human rights delegation from Pax Christi which recently returned from Haiti.

The forced exile of President Aristide earlier this year was effectively a coup that eliminated the constitutionally elected government of the people of Haiti. The elected government was replaced with an illegally appointed government of the minority with economic and military power, supported by the U.S., France and Canada.

As a result, human rights conditions are now worse in Haiti now then they have been in years.

The democratically elected government leaders and their supporters are in prison or have been made into refugees in their own country while former military, gangs and rebels affiliated with those in power are often allowed to do as they please.

We visited with several political prisoners in the National Penitentiary including the highest officials of the government of President Aristide: Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, Minister of the Interior Jocelerme Privert, and the former Mayor of Port au Prince. The rule of law is being blatantly disregarded in their cases.

For example, Minister Privert has been held in the prison for six months and has yet to see a judge for formal charges, which by law should happen within 48 hours of arrest.

Prime Minister Neptune, who was arrested days after giving an interview critical of the government, has been in prison since June 2004. An elected delegate of Parliament, Jacques Mathlier, was reportedly arrested for arson but after going before a judge he was ordered to be released on July 12. Instead the Ministry of Justice ordered him transferred to the National Penitentiary where he has remained in prison ever since. The former mayor of Port au Prince was detained by the US military for 20 days in a boat offshore while the new powers established themselves - then he was transferred to the national penitentiary where he remains. We also visited the women's prison in Petion-Ville where 51 women are kept in a poorly lit concrete structure and met with activist Annette Auguste, a 69 year old folk singer also called "So Anneƒ" who supported President Aristide. She has been in prison since May 10, 2004.

Ms. Auguste and all of her family of fifteen, including children as young as 12, 10 and 5 years old, were illegally arrested in her home by US Marines. The Marines used grenades to break into the house in the middle of the night, forced black hoods onto the heads of all inside and bound their arms behind their backs with plastic handcuffs. While she was arrested and questioned by the US, she is now being held by the Haitian government and has never confronted her accusers. She told us "The Americans put me here, I am waiting for the Americans to set me free."

It is not just political opponents who are the victims of human rights violations.

Our delegation also visited a local police station in Port au Prince where 36 males were being kept in one concrete cell, 12 foot by 12 foot. None of those in the cell had formal charges, none had a lawyer, none had seen a judge, one had been in the cell since September 4. There is no medical care, and no food is provided. What food there is must be brought by families. Mixed in the same small cell were children, adults, and people with mental problems and epilepsy. We met one 13 year old boy and two 15 year olds in the cell. Prisoners showed open sores on their legs, others showed injuries from physical brutality. Some told us no one in their family even knows they are in jail. They sleep standing up and leaning against the wall as there is no enough space for everyone to even sit down together much less lay down. The criminal law system which has never worked well for the poor is now being used for massive arrests in the poorest neighborhoods.

We are very concerned about the widespread re-emergence of the previously dissolved military, which has historically been a challenge to and oppressive to an independent civil society. The military has also often served as an avenue through which the U.S. has exerted power over Haiti. We also met with many poor people in Port au Prince including some who were forced out of communities outside of Port au Prince (communities like Petite Goave and from the Central Plateau) as a result of the coup because they were perceived as supporters of President Aristide, the Fanmi Lavalas party, or protectors of human rights.

Opponents of the elected government came to town and killed the chief of police, burned down the police station and the prison. They then sought out supporters of the elected government, ransacked and burned their houses, placed black bags on their heads, executed them and dumped them in the river....

People have lost businesses and property - they are now homeless and living in fear and hiding with anyone who will shelter them. They are refugees in their own country. There are hundreds more from their area in the same situation and thousands more from other small outlying communities. Journalist, human rights workers, teachers, church workers, and labor unions are being threatened regularly and are clearly at risk.

National elected independent union leaders reported that the situation of workers has always been difficult with the bosses as adversaries, but now is worse because the government is aligned with the bosses and is also an adversary. Workers in businesses affiliated with the new powers in government are intimidated and forced to appear to be supportive of the new government in order to keep their jobs. The situation for workers is much, much worse since the exile of President Aristide. Within days of our visit, police with black masks attacked the office of a large labor organization and arrested people who are being held without charges....

Our delegation strongly concluded that the rule of law is being disregarded in the exile, arrest, beatings, executions, and detention of the people who were democratically chosen by the people of Haiti to govern. People affiliated with the elected government and those concerned about human rights have been beaten and arrested and homes burned and run off to live in hiding. The Haitian constitution and international law are being openly violated. We agree with the people that the rule of law must be reinstated. The international community must help restore the elected representatives of the people. This means explicitly the return of President Aristide and the release of all political prisoners.

U.S. "EXERCISE" TARGETS NORTH KOREA

On October 26, the U.S. is organizing another military exercise in Asian waters as part of its "Proliferation Security Initiative."

The exercise, outside Tokyo Bay, will involve military vessels, aircraft and personnel from the U.S., Japan, Australia and France.

Sources close to the exercise agree one of its main purposes is to send the North Koreans a message that they are being closely watched for any attempt "to ship weapons of mass destruction or dangerous materials, particularly to international terror groups."

The first exercise was carried out in September 2003.

U.S. officials have also openly admitted that such "aggressive interdiction" exercises are targeting North Korea and other so-called rogue states by threatening to board and seize their vessels in international waters and airspace.

The so-called "Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)" is a flagrant violation of international law. It is, in fact, nothing short of sea and air piracy and another sign that the U.S. is dangerously stepping up its aggression against North Korea and preparing for a possible blockade against the country.

U.S. TROOPS PREPARING FOR MAJOR ASSAULT AGAINST FALLUJAH

Recently, Britain agreed to deploy 850 troops to Baghdad to allow U.S. troops to prepare for an assault against the city of Fallujah.

The London Times reports that the expected all-out assault on Fallujah will take place after the American presidential election on November 2. It states that senior officers in the British army's Black Watch division have told their men of the contingency plan to move them to the Iraqi capital within a few weeks.

From the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March last year, the British forces have always remained in control of the southern sector around Basra. With American troops now struggling to stem the resistance in rebel strongholds, American commanders have stressed the need for reinforcements.

U.S. soldiers are killed almost every day in the capital. Almost every road in and out of the capital is the scene of attacks by insurgents.

The contingency plans are being drawn up for British troop deployments in case Fallujah and other rebel strongholds require large numbers of U.S. troops during the election period, The Times reported.

HUGE ANTI-WAR PROTEST IN LONDON

On October 17, 75,000 people marched through central London and filled Trafalgar square, protesting the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The march marked the culmination of the third European Social Forum - three days of speeches, workshops and debates largely dominated by opposition to the war.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 18 October 4, 2004

A "DEBATE" WITH ONLY ONE SIDE

According to the monopoly controlled media, the September 30 foreign policy debate between Bush and Kerry was a "defining moment," "a real debate which gives the country a sharp choice," etc.

This propaganda is more than enough to remind the vast majority of Americans of their true place in the political status quo - written out of the debate and out of the equation altogether.

Bush boasted about his war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the world. Kerry criticized some of Bush's methods - never his aims - and Kerry criticized the methods only to "bring fresh credibility, a new start" to the U.S. war program. In fact, John Kerry summed up the goal of both candidates when he described himself as the one who "would make a stronger commander in chief."

In other words, the "debate" was about who would be more militaristic:

- Both Bush and Kerry will continue the aggressive, imperialist war in Iraq.

[Bush: "The best way to defeat them is to never waver, to be strong, to use every asset at our disposal. It's to constantly stay on the offensive."]

[Kerry: "We have to be steadfast and resolved. And I am. And I will succeed for those troops now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq . . .My message to the troops is . . . .help is on the way. . . . What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of Fallujah and other places and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard."]

- Both Bush and Kerry will continue to spread the "war against terrorism."

[Bush: "this is a global effort. We're facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their hearts . . . To say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't really understand the nature of the war of terror. . . .the front on this war is more than just one place."]

[Kerry: "the enemy that is now in 60 countries with stronger recruits. . . . In my plan, I add two active-duty divisions to the United States Army, not for Iraq but for our general demands across the globe. I also intend to double the number of special forces so that we can do the job we need to do with respect to fighting the terrorists around the world."]

- Both are rabid racists.

[Bush: "The enemy understands a free Iraq will be a major defeat in their ideology of hatred."]

[Kerry: "we're now 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs."]

- Both support the fascist doctrine of preemptive first strike:

[Bush: "In Iraq we saw a threat and we realized that after Sept. 11 we must take threats seriously before they fully materialize."]

[Kerry: "The president always has had the right for preemptive strike . . . No president through all of American history has ever ceded and nor would I the right to pre-empt in any way necessary. "]

In sum, Bush and Kerry again proved that both the Republicans and Democrats are parties of war and imperialism, parties of racism and colonialism. They are both sworn enemies of the American and world's people.

The overwhelming majority of American people aspire for and demand peace. That is why, we have no choice but to respond to the challenge of the capitalist elections by strengthening our anti-war organizations and struggles.

The Workers Party calls on everyone to look squarely at reality and rise to the challenge facing us.

We especially call to all the class conscious workers and anti-war activists:

Don't let the parties of war monopolize the debate and the agenda!

Step up the work of popularizing the people's agenda for peace and strengthening independent politics and organizations, in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war and imperialism!

Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars!

We Must and We Will!

U.S. IMPERIALISM'S DOUBLESPEAK

by Bill Foster

In the language of doublespeak war is called "peace." In doublespeak, lies are presented as truth, the criminal is portrayed as the victim, etc.

Today, the U.S. government and the monopoly-controlled media have resorted to doublespeak because they simply cannot hide the monstrous crimes they are committing.

Thus, when the U.S. army slaughters Iraqi civilians, the U.S. military refers to the dead as "anti-Iraqi forces." When U.S. warplanes bomb markets, mosques, schools and city streets, the U.S. military says its is providing "security for the neighborhood."

Doublespeak cannot change the facts. The government is only able to tell these lies by relying on its monopoly of power. And in the very act of telling such lies, it is cynically telling the people that it will wantonly trample every human value underfoot in its drive to colonize Iraq.

But the American people, side-by-side with peoples throughout the world, do not allow these lies to pass. The war which the U.S. government is waging in Iraq is an aggressive, imperialist war - a war driven by the exploiting interests of the monopoly capitalist class, a war for empire and profits, a war waged against the Iraqi people.

The American people can only guard their humanity by fighting against this war. Those who have not yet thought things through must be told plainly and those who embrace the crimes of the government must be denounced and opposed.

U.S. MILITARIZATION OF LATIN AMERICA

The U.S. monopoly capitalist class has long considered Latin America as its "backyard" and imposed its colonial and neo-colonial rule on countries throughout the continent.

Today, as U.S. imperialism steps up its worldwide struggle to assert itself as the sole superpower, it is increasing its exploitation of Latin America and, in turn, increasing its militarization of the continent in order to suppress any opposition to its domination.

Within the last few years, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Haiti, increased its direct military intervention in Colombia (openly declaring that is waging a war against popular insurgency), tried to organize a coup d'etat and a destabilization campaign against the elected government of Venezuela. In addition, the Pentagon has been increasing its military presence throughout the region.

Today, as in the past, the U.S. militarization of Latin America is directed squarely against the people. Earlier this year, General James Hill, former head of U.S. Southern Command, testified before Congress admitting that U.S. militarization in the hemisphere is directed against "radical populists" who "are able to reinforce radical positions by inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment . . . [by] tapping in to frustrations caused by social and economic inequality." In order to deal with this "threat to U.S. national security," General Hill wants to further integrate the armies of Latin America directly under command structure of the Pentagon through "military to military contacts as means to irrevocably institutionalize the professional nature of those militaries with which we have worked so closely over the past several decades."

U.S. Military Bases in Latin America

Puerto Rico: Naval and Army National Guard bases

Cuba: Guantanamo Bay Naval Station (more than 8,000 soldiers)

Honduras: Soto Cano army base

Ecuador: Manta airforce base

Aruba & Curaco: forward-operating bases

El Salvador: forward-operating base at Comalapa

Colombia & Peru: 17 radar bases

The U.S. also maintains several smaller military bases in Antigua, Peru, Colombia and the Bahamas. In addition, U.S. military personnel are also deployed at bases which remain formally under the control of Latin American militaries in Peru, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.

Military Training

As part of keeping Latin American militaries under control, the Pentagon trains tens of thousands of soldiers and officers every year, training 22,831 in 2003 and a total of 72,495 in the period 1999-2003. The Pentagon trains army and police from every country in South and Central America, except French Guiana.

In addition, the U.S. sends $1 billion/year to finance the armies of Latin America.

Editorial: THE PEOPLE ARE THE MOTIVE FORCE OF CHANGE

The diehard campaigners for John Kerry keep getting more and more defensive - in fact, desperate to divert the discussion away from Kerry's record and away from solutions to the burning issues confronting the people. And in trying to divert the discussion, the Kerryites generally assert, without any substantiation, but with a great deal of arrogance, a series of ridiculous fairy tales about politics. A sampling of some of the more frequently used dogmas includes: "electing Kerry is a way to pressure the ruling class;" "Kerry is more likely to hear the people's voice;" "we must push the Democrats to the left;" "the people live on the dime's worth of difference between the 2 parties."

According to all these opportunist theories the decisive factor in political life is the ruling class; the masses of people have no independent role to play. Our only role is to vote for, call upon, beg or pressure the powers that be. We are "voting cattle" who can only hope that the so-called progressive wing of the capitalist class prevails and takes pity upon us.

I hate to shock the opportunists but the 6 billion people on this globe are not all holding their breath and awaiting the outcome of the capitalist election circus. The aspirations and struggles of the people do not depend on whether George Bush or John Kerry occupy the White House.

The opportunist fairy tales are only the latest version of the theory that the history of the world is the history of Kings and Emperors - of great men. It is the theory that "Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves." It is the theory which denies the most basic law of human society and human development - that it is the masses of people who are the motive force of progress and social change.

Who created the nationwide peace movement in our country? Not John Kerry and the Democratic hierarchy, but millions and tens of millions of ordinary Americans. Who is defeating U.S. aggression in Iraq? Not John Kerry and the Democratic warmakers, but the Iraqi people who are fighting to regain their independence and sovereignty.

The political issue facing our country has nothing at all to do with which representative of the ruling class wages wars against the world and robs the public treasury.

The issue is to strengthen the independent political movement of the working class and masses of people - the only force interested in, capable of, and fighting for peace, genuine democracy and the economic and human rights of the people.

DPRK WORKS FOR PEACE ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA

Below, we print excerpts from the statement made by Mr. Choe Su Hon, Head of the Delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, at the General Debate of the fifty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly New York.

Four years have passed since the beginning of a new century.

However, humankind is still confronted with grave challenges in its efforts to realize the aspiration to build a peaceful and prosperous world. Unilateralism and high-handedness become ever more undisguised giving rise to aggression, arbitrariness and instability in many parts of the world. Consequently, there continues unabated a vicious cycle of the sovereignty and interests of weak and small countries being trampled down for the sake of the exclusive interests of specific countries. Today, the main factor undermining international peace and stability is unilateralism and high-handed acts based on the "logic" of power. The challenge facing the humankind today requires, more urgently than ever before, the UN member States to strengthen their joint efforts in seeking fair international relations based on multilateralism which fully observes universal principles of the respect for sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and mutual benefits.

One of the regions where unilateralism and high-handedness are most rampant is northeast Asia, to be more specific, the Korean peninsula. On the Korean peninsula, the national division forced by outside forces has been lasting for more than half a century and the danger of war is snowballing owing to the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and threats of preemptive strikes against it. Even at this moment, all kinds of sophisticated war equipment are being deployed in and around the Korean peninsula, targeting the DPRK.

The acute political and military situation prevailing in and around the Korean peninsula proves clearly once again how just it is for the DPRK to have built up its strong self-defensive military power to prevent war and ensure peace upholding the Songun policy of the respected General Kim Jong II. The more vicious the moves of the outside forces to isolate and stifle the DPRK, the higher our army and people, firmly united around their leader, are holding the banner of Songun and pushing ahead with their struggle to build a prosperous and powerful state with optimism for the future and devotion to the socialist cause. The Songun policy, the independent policy of the DPRK, serves as a reliable deterrent to secure peace and security not only on the Korean peninsula, but also in the region of the northeast Asia and the rest of the world, for which we feel great pride and self-confidence.

The reunification of the country is the prerequisite to achieving a durable peace on the Korean peninsula, and it is our invariable stand to achieve national reunification independently on the basis of the June 15 north-south Joint Declaration. The historic June 15 north-south Joint Declaration represents a declaration of national independence as well as a milestone of reunification indicating the path towards national reconciliation, collaboration and reunification. Various works for national co-prosperity were activated in accordance with the lofty spirit of the Joint Declaration . . .

It is regrettable, however, that the above mentioned process of reconciliation and cooperation between the north and south of Korea did not hold out towards a durable peace and reunification, going through twists and turns on the way. It is because the process is unwelcome for the U.S. and therefore, it is dead set against the improved relations and on-going cooperation activities at all levels between the north and south of Korea. The U.S. should no longer hamper the north and south of Korea in their efforts to achieve national reconciliation, collaboration and reunification.

No matter how the situation may change in the future, the Government of the DPRK will continue to strive to overcome all the challenges of the anti-reunification forces within and without and open up a broad path to independent reunification of the country through national cooperation under the great proposition of "by our nation itself."

I wish to take this opportunity to clarify once again the principled stand of our Government regarding the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US.

As I already made it clear time and again at this platform, the nuclear issue is the product of the deep-rooted hostile policy on the DPRK pursued by the US for more than half a century. In other words, the DPRK is left with no other option but to possess a nuclear deterrent in the face of the situation in which the present US administration, being accustomed to rejecting our system, has been attempting to eliminate the DPRK by force while designating it as part of an "axis of evil" and a target of preemptive nuclear strikes.

Peace is most precious to our people, who have been living for more than half a century with a heartbreaking pain of national division forced by the outside forces and under the constant threat of the world's only superpower. Our people aspire after peace more than others, but never beg for peace. The peace that they want to achieve is the one for independent life, not a peace for slaves deprived of freedom. The confrontation on the Korean peninsula today is, in essence, the one between the foreign forces intruding into one's home and the owners struggling to defend it. The nuclear deterrent of the DPRK constitutes a legitimate self-defensive means to counter ever-growing US nuclear threat and aggression against the DPRK and reliably defend sovereignty, peace and security of the country.

Denuclearizing the Korean peninsula is our goal, and it is the consistent position of the DPRK to address the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the US peacefully through dialogue and negotiations. If the United States renounces practically its hostile policy on the DPRK including the cessation of nuclear threats, the DPRK also is willing to scrap its nuclear deterrent accordingly. Basing itself on this position, the DPRK proposed a package solution based on the principle of "word for word" and "action for action" for a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue, and as the first step to this end, offered such a flexible proposal as the "reward for freeze".

In this regard, at the third round of six party talks last June, the countries concerned shared the view on the importance of the both sides adhering to the principles of the "word for word", "action for action" and "corresponding measures for freeze" and reached an agreement. The proposal on the "reward for freeze" provides that the DPRK would freeze all the nuclear weapon-related facilities and the output from their operation on the premise that the US abandons its hostile policy, in particular its assertion on the "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of our nuclear program"

(CVID) , and that at the same time, the United States, for its part, would lift its economic sanctions and blockade against the DPRK, de-list the DPRK from the "sponsors of terrorism" and participate in compensation of energy worth the capacity of 2 million KW.

By offering this proposal, we intend to build mutual confidence in the first place and eventually solve the nuclear issue fundamentally through addressing each other's concerns and meeting their respective demands step-by-step on the basis of simultaneous actions under the present situation characterized by the hostile relations of extreme distrust between the two countries. The process of realizing the proposed "reward for freeze" will be the one of confidence-building between the DPRK and the US, and this is possible only when the US itself rewards for our freeze. It is natural that there are a start and order in doing anything. From this point of view, our freeze will be the first step toward eventual dismantlement of our nuclear program. Of course, the freeze will be followed by the objective verification.

In order to further clarify our will to dismantle the nuclear deterrent, we had intended to include in our freeze no more manufacturing of nuclear weapons, and no test and transfer of them. The US, however, disregarding the common understanding and agreement reached at the third round of six party talks, has been further intensifying its hostile acts against the DPRK in a more undisguised way, even openly announcing that there would be no reward for the freeze and dismantlement of our nuclear facilities.

Most recently, the US passed a "bill on human rights in north Korea" and thus fixed it as a law to provide financial and material support for overthrowing our system and force the third countries to do so. The US went so far as to slander and debase the supreme leadership of its dialogue partner. It also forces us to "disarm ourselves" like a defeated nation does, thus attempting to forcibly "dismantle our nuclear program first" and "overthrow our system" through the "CVID". Consequently, the basis of negotiations, which was hardly in the making to resolve the nuclear issue, has been completely destroyed. If the United States has the will to co-exist peacefully with the DPRK by abandoning its hostile policy on the DPRK, the nuclear issue will be resolved properly.

With regard to the six party talks, the DPRK is also of the position to continue the talks. Nevertheless, the ever intensifying US hostile policy and the clandestine nuclear related experiments recently revealed in south Korea are constituting big stumbling blocks to the continuation of the talks. The serious situation, whereby the basis of the negotiations has been totally destroyed and furthermore, the secret nuclear related experiments in south Korea have not yet been clarified, makes us unable to participate in the talks aimed at discussing the nuclear weapon program. Therefore, if the six party talks are to be resumed, the basis for the talks demolished by the United States should be properly set up and the truth of the secret nuclear experiments in south Korea clarified completely....

 

 

Volume 18, No. 17 September 21, 2004

THE LOGIC OF U.S. AGGRESSION

The U.S. government is preparing a big military offensive in Iraq.

The aim is to "retake" Fallujah, Samarra and other cities which are controlled by insurgent forces and considered "no-go" areas for the U.S. military. The insurgents control cities across Iraq including provincial capitals in Al Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Just what this offensive will mean for the Iraqi people can be seen from the threats of U.S. officials. On September 8, U.S. Army commander, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who leads the Army's 1st Infantry Division, threatened to retake the city of Samarra from insurgents, stating: "It'll be a quick fight and the enemy is going to die fast." He issued an ultimatum to the people, demanding that U.S. troops be given unimpeded access to the city. Other U.S. military commanders have threatened to "level" the cities, if necessary, to crush the popular forces.

Speaking about preparations for another all-out assault on Fallujah, another U.S. commander said: "We need to make a decision on when the cancer of Falluja is going to be cut out."

These threats are already translating into more death and destruction for the Iraqi people.

On 9/13 alone, for example, U.S. forces killed and wounded hundreds of Iraqis during fierce street battles and air strikes in the capital of Baghdad and its surrounding cities. One airstrike in the city of Fallujah killed over 60 civilians. TV images showed bloodied bodies, including many women and children, on hospital beds, while their relatives pounded their chests in grief and denounced the U.S.

The next day, another airstrike against a residential neighborhood in Fallujah killed 40 people, while wounding 30. Eyewitnesses stated that the city's hospital was filled with chaotic scenes as civilians brought their own wounded in. On the same day, several air raids hit the village of Zoba, killing more and destroying scores of homes. The bodies of women and children were being pulled from the rubble days afterwards. And the list goes on.

This the logic of U.S. aggression in Iraq. It is the logic of targeting civilians populations and it is the logic of escalation.

U.S. imperialism systematically targets civilians because the lives of the Iraqi people mean nothing to it. In fact, its Hitlerite tactics aim at letting the people know that the U.S. government will slaughter Iraqis at will unless they submit to U.S. colonialism. But Iraq will not be enslaved. From the day that George Bush declared "victory," the Iraqi people have been coming out all across the country in organized political and military struggles against U.S. occupation and for the salvation of their country.

Facing the resistance of the people, U.S. imperialism has not and will not become more reasonable or admit any "mistake." On the contrary. It knows only the methods of death and destruction and hence it will escalate and escalate and escalate the war until it is defeated.

It is the duty of the American people to demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq so that the people can regain peace and the sovereignty of their country.

THE DISENFRANCHISED

by Bill Foster

The very fact that so much time and energy is spent exhorting people to vote should put us on our guard.

After all, it wouldn't be necessary to cajole, threaten or bribe people if voting really made a difference in their lives. People would eagerly vote if they felt that it would cut their taxes, or prevent their sons and daughters from going to war or guarantee their retirement income or health coverage. Humans, by nature, need to and want to effect their social environment. But the plain fact is that the vast majority of Americans cannot effect anything by voting. We are disenfranchised.

And I do not just mean the tens of millions who are, de jure, denied the right to vote - the millions of immigrants, the millions of black Americans who have been convicted of felonies because of their skin color and are barred from voting, or the 16 and 17 year olds. These facts alone are enough to prove that, under the present system, voting is not a human right and that the people are not the sovereign power.

But the problem is much more than this. For example, as the last Presidential election demonstrated so vividly, the capitalists count the votes anyway they wish. Since the government has lied to us, robbed us, repressed us, etc. for so long, it would make no sense to believe a word it says.

In fact, the capitalists have rigged the electoral system in a way to completely deny the vast majority of Americans, any choice, any say-so. They have rigged the system by guarantying that the Democratic and Republican parties have a monopoly over the selection and nomination of candidates. And since both of these parties are bought-and-paid-for by the big corporations, the capitalists are guaranteed to win the elections while the working people are guaranteed to lose.

And this point must be insisted upon. Since the people are denied a role in the nomination and selection of candidates, they really are denied any right to vote - to elect representatives of their choosing. We are only given a "choice" between Lucifer, the Republican, and the Devil, the Democrat.

What after all are Kerry and Bush "debating?" They are debating the best way to wage the war in Iraq and the "war against terrorism." The tens and hundreds of millions of Americans who want peace are written out of the "debate" altogether. Bush and Kerry are "debating" the best way to strengthen the FBI, the CIA and the government's apparatus of repression, arguing over just what steps should be taken to undermine the people's democratic rights. The people are not a party to this debate; on the contrary our rights will be attacked by whoever wins. Kerry and Bush are debating just how much to cut taxes for big business and how to best help the capitalists rob the public treasury. Those of us who are not rich capitalists are left out of this debate as well.

The fact is that the vast majority of Americans are disenfranchised.

In the current elections, there is no space for those who are opposed to war and imperialism, to racism and repression, to poverty and exploitation.

The demand of the times and the real challenge of the elections is precisely to help organize the independent political movement which gives expression to the aspirations and interests of the tens of millions - no, the hundreds of millions of Americans - who are locked out of the current system.

FORUMS ON INDEPENDENT POLITICS

The Workers Party is encouraging people to use the election period to strengthen a real alternative to the political monopoly of the Republicans and Democrats. As part of this work, the Party is initiating regular forums on the necessity and program of independent politics. Below, we summarize some of the main points presented by Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker," in starting these discussions with various groups of activists.

1) The recent demonstrations at the Republican Convention sharply brought home the burning political contradiction of the times. Not only is the government going directly against the interests and will of the American people. Even within the popular opposition there is an impassable gulf between the drive and demands of the people and the political leadership of the movement which remains concentrated in the hands of the Democratic Party.

This political contradiction has been intensifying especially over the last 3 years as the American people have created a new nationwide anti-war movement. Every step of the way - from the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, to the invasion of Iraq, to the ongoing struggles against the many fronts of the government's aggressive foreign policy

- it has been the ordinary people who have come out in struggle and worked to organize themselves. Yet more, every step of the way the people have had to fight against the Democratic Party and its opportunist "left-wing." The Democrats keep trying to liquidate the mass initiatives of the people and suppress the ideological and political development of the anti-war movement.

The experience of the Workers Party shows that large numbers of people are straining to break from the tutelage of the Democrats and find the ways to give an organized and conscious expression to their political demands. This polarization will only continue.

2) The fundamental issue of contemporary American life is giving independent expression to the real aspirations and urgent demands of the workers and people. This is the very starting point and compass of progressive politics.

It is simply the ABC of politics that classes organize political parties to fight for their interests by capturing the political power.

3) Such an independent politics must be in accord with the fundamental interests of the workers and people and provide real solutions to the problems facing them. The immediate program of the Workers Party - the program of economic rights, democratic renewal, and a democratic foreign policy - offers such solutions. The fundamental aim of the Party is socialism.

The work of the Party is to bring this politics to the widest possible section of people, especially to those who are locked out of the present setup. Michael Thorburn gave examples of how the Party's program must be and is being continually concretized in the course of mobilizing people and standing up against the capitalist offensive.

In the course of discussions, the activists confirmed that a new wind is blowing amongst the people and large numbers are demanding change. Several activists gave examples of how Democratic Party politics continually stifles people's initiative and liquidates their struggles. Others spoke about their experiences with the Peace Petition and other campaigns of the Workers Party, underscoring how independent politics releases the initiative of people. In addition, various issues concerning the strategy and tactics of the working class and popular struggles were discussed.

The Workers Party will continue sponsoring such forums on independent politics.

HOW TO ADVANCE THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WAR

Tens of millions of Americans are coming out to demand an end to the war in Iraq and to the entire aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government.

The urgent question is: "how do we advance this struggle?"

The Workers Party says the people must mobilize and organize ourselves and unite the broadest numbers of people against the war. Through this struggle, and side-by-side with the peoples of Iraq and the world, we can force the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

At the same time, we must build up a proactive anti-war movement which aims at a genuinely democratic foreign policy - i.e. an end to U.S. interference and aggression everywhere, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, and an end to the militarization of our country.

Ending U.S. aggression in Iraq and winning a democratic foreign policy will be the deed of the people and can only be achieved through struggle against the parties of war and imperialism, the Republican and Democratic parties. The way forward is to strengthen the people's own, independent organizations and political initiatives

- the way forward is through mass anti-imperialist struggle and organization. The goal of this movement is a real anti-war government which makes a radical break from the parties of war and imperialism.

In our view, this is an urgent and practical program. Militarism and war are part of the way of life of the monopoly capitalist ruling class in the U.S. U.S. imperialism is trampling on the freedom and peace of the peoples throughout the world; in the process the capitalist war program is devouring our country - taking the lives of our youth, undermining the people's democratic rights, robbing the public treasury, etc. The program for a democratic foreign policy, for mass anti-imperialist struggle, opposes every aggressive step of the government in order to stay its hands and stop its wars. At the same time, this program consolidates the organized force of the people which can bring about fundamental solutions.

The experience of our Party shows that this principled politics can unite the overwhelming majority of people and empower them to come forward to assert their deep aspirations for peace and fight for the new world which beats in the hearts of people everywhere.

Aside from the capitalist warmakers themselves, the main stratum which refuses to take up this principled politics is the organized force of political opportunism. Political opportunists - who may dress themselves up as "anti-war leaders," "union leaders," "socialists," "revolutionaries," etc. - represent the influence of capitalist ideology and politics within the people's movements. Today, political opportunism is working against the unity of the anti-war struggle in 2 main ways.

Of course, the main line of opportunism is to work to keep the anti-war movement under tutelage of the Democratic Party. This politics not only covers over the crimes of the Democrats and the source of the war program, it continually liquidates the practical initiatives and struggles of the people and corrodes their political consciousness. We have written extensively about how opportunism works as a so-called "left-wing" of the Democrats. For now we emphasis that the anti-war movement can only advance through opposition to and struggle against the Democratic Party and the forces which insist on subordinating the people to the Democrats.

Of course, everyday more and more people are rejecting the Democratic Party and looking for the way to advance the anti-war struggle. As people reject the Democrats, opportunism tries to divert them into a myriad of opportunist "sects" each of which presents its "special brand" of "socialism" or "revolution" as the holy graille.

These sects insist that the war cannot be stopped without "the revolution" and hence activists should stop trying to organize the anti-war struggle and instead devote themselves solely to propagating the special doctrines of the sects.

While these sects posture as ultra "rrrrrevolutionary," they, in fact, are promoting defeatism and completely capitulating to capitalist politics. To insist that the war in Iraq cannot be stopped is to leave the question of war or peace totally in hands of the capitalists and in fact to claim that the capitalists are all powerful.

By counterposing "socialism" or "communism" or "the revolution" to the necessities of advancing the ongoing anti-war movement, these sects are, in fact, opposing both. Their deeds show that they are neither socialists nor anti-war activists.

The fundamental starting point of any progressive politics - and, of course, the very essence of genuine socialism and communism - is recognizing that it is the actual struggles of the working class and broad masses of people which is the motive force of change and progress in society. From this starting point, the task is to help give consciousness, organization and independent program to the real struggles which the people are forced to take up.

"Left" opportunism completely negates the real revolutionary character of the workers and people - their ability to unite and organize themselves so as to have their say over the issues confronting society. Instead of assisting the independent activity, thought and organization of the people, the sectarians want people to give up their actual struggles and wait until "judgement day" when everyone has adopted the "right consciousness" and sectarian mantras of the opportunists.

In fact, despite their "rrrrevolutionary" phraseology, the "left" sectarians, in actual practical life, capitulate to the Democratic Party. While criticizing the Democrats for not being "socialist" or "revolutionary" (what a revelation!), the sectarians still push the Big Lie that the Democrats (or at least some of them) are "anti-war" and belong in the anti-war movement. Thus, at certain times, the sectarian can be found campaigning for a "broad coalition" with the Democrats, while at other times, they curse the entire anti-war movement for being "reformist" and "pro-capitalist."

In sum, left opportunism is the mirror image of "right" opportunism. Both deny the role of the people as the decisive and leading force of the anti-war movement. Both surrender real political leadership over the issues facing us to the Democrats, while creating a divisive atmosphere on the basis of sectarian bickering over sterile ideologies.

(to be continued).

THE BRUTALITY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM'S WAR IN IRAQ

The methods of U.S. imperialism's war against Iraq - its wholesale targeting of civilian populations - reveal the real character of this war of aggression and conquest.

Again and again, international humanitarian agencies have spoken out against U.S. military tactics and called for independent investigations. On September 17, in a press release, Amnesty International called for an inquiry into U.S. methods, calling them a "violation of international law." In August, Human Rights Watch called for an end to the U.S. tactic of targeting ambulances and preventing access to the wounded in the city of Najaf.

Below, we provide just a few examples of the methods employed by the U.S. military in trying to subjugate Iraq.

One Day in the Life of the Iraqi People

- On September 13, U.S. snipers killed at least 11 people in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Ambulances and medical teams were specifically targeted by snipers in different areas of Ramadi, particularly near hospitals for women and children, eyewitnesses said.

"Medical staff and patients inside the hospitals were targeted and a number of them were shot in the head," the general director of the city's main hospital said. "The situation in general is unstable and deteriorating so I call on the government and NGOs to intervene as clashes are occurring every day...Our medical institutions are receiving casualties but medical supplies are not enough."

- On the same day, U.S. forces launched air strikes on Falluja, killing up to 18 people, including women, children and an ambulance driver. Up to 29 others were injured in the strikes. Seven people, including the driver of an ambulance, were killed when U.S. aircraft fired a missile at the vehicle while it was transporting casualties near the northern gate of the city.

"Every time we send out an ambulance, it gets targeted," Dr Rafia al-Isawi, director of Falluja hospital, told reporters. "How are we going to transfer casualties? This is unreasonable. The US army has no ethics." He added "Shame on our government that cannot protect the people." Other eyewitnesses said U.S. warplanes swooped low over the city and some of the shelling appeared to be coming from American artillery units deployed on Falluja's outskirts. One explosion went off in a market place as the first stall owners had just begun to set up, wounding several people and shattering windows.

- Also on September 13, U.S. attack helicopters carried out a missile strike on Haifa Street in a residential area of central Baghdad. The attack killed 13 people and wounded at least 60 others, including children. Eyewitness testimony, supported by television footage, shows that the helicopters fired directly at an unarmed crowd. Television video showed a dead man sprawled in the street, his stomach ripped to shreds by shrapnel, while a child was wounded in the leg and an Egyptian worker hit in the face.

The Siege of Najaf

In August, five thousand U.S. troops, supported by nearly 2,000 Iraqi puppet troops, cordoned off the city of Najaf.. U.S. attack helicopters and jet fighters bombed residential neighborhoods around the Imam Ali mosque, killing and wounding hundreds of people. At night, U.S. AC-130 gunships circled overhead and pounded the area around the mosque with gunfire. Tanks and armored vehicles sealed off the city, while U.S. troops and special forces pushed into the center of the city after engaging in fierce combat with Iraqi people on every street.

According to the New York Times, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in Najaf in August. The Washington Post reported that "after 21 days of merciless battering by U.S. weapons, parts of Najaf were completely destroyed." "It's like Stalingrad," a senior 5th Cavalry officer said. "Sarajevo," another maintained. "Beirut," a Marine commander said. "Not Dresden," an Army field officer said ..."Not enough fire." "...We are destroying this city," another Marine officer said during the battle.

Newspaper reports told of "uncounted numbers of civilian casualties" and tremendous damage to Najaf's Old City neighborhood. "The area stinks of sewage and soot, and its streets are filled with rubble from bombed-out buildings" one Reuters news reporter stated on August 27th.

According to a report by the Christian Science Monitor, U.S. forces in helicopter gunships "repeatedly fired machine guns and rockets into residential neighborhoods...also doctors at Al-Hakim hospital stated that U.S. and Iraqi forces had taken over the city's best-equipped hospital, turning it into a temporary military base and making if off limits to civilians." The use of civilian hospitals for combat operations and the prevention of civilian access to emergency facilities are both strictly forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Intense Bombardment and Destruction of Fallujah

In April 2004, U.S. Marines were forced to pullback from the city of Fallujah, but only after U.S. airstrikes and artillery fire destroyed huge sections of the city.

Helicopter gunships and F-16 and F-18 warplanes were used to bomb the city. Numerous accounts tell of the horrific results of the U.S. bombing and shelling. Civilian casualties escalated quickly as a result of U.S. roadblocks which prevented refugees from leaving the city. Water and electricity were repeatedly cut off by U.S. troops surrounding the city.

Dr. Kamal Al Anni, the head surgeon at Fallujah General Hospital, said that for three days roadblocks kept him out of the city. Ambulances in the parking lot of Fallujah General Hospital were repeatedly shot at by U.S. snipers. Doctors were forced to treat the critically wounded in makeshift clinics, while bodies quickly stacked up in makeshift graves throughout the city.

Iraqi doctor Salam al-Obaidi, a member of the Doctors for Iraq humanitarian society, worked in Falluja for six days during the fighting in April and described to the BBC how he saw "colleagues blown up in an ambulance - clearly marked - travelling in front...I saw the ambulance disappear - not all of it, but the front of it, the side where the driver and paramedic were."

Other reports at the time stated that many civilians in U.S.-controlled parts of the city were too afraid of U.S. snipers to leave their homes during the siege. Dr. al-Obaidi described cases of women, children and old men who appeared to have been shot by U.S. soldiers.

Abbas Ibrahim, a 30-year-old man who escaped the U.S. siege of Fallujah in April, told an Arab newspaper, "As soon as the Americans see a group of people in the streets, they shoot at them. People ventured out only if their homes risk being bombarded or if they must carry the dead or wounded to the city's clinics." An official from an Arab aid agency stated "Fallujah is a ghost town, a battlefield. The streets were deserted, no cars, all the shops were closed, homes and stores bombarded."

Since April, over 1,300 more residents of Fallujah have been killed by U.S. forces, while thousands more have been wounded.

YOUTH AND STUDENT VOICE

This section of the paper is produced by the Youth and Students for A Democratic Foreign Policy. The YSDFP encourages other activists and concerned youth and students to contribute articles.

STUDENTS EAGERLY TAKE UP PEACE PETITION

With the beginning of Fall semester, our organization - Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) - started to circulate the Peace Petition on college campuses throughout the Chicago area.

The response from students is overwhelming. The very first time we set up a literature table, about 40 students signed the Peace petition within about 2 hours. We have gotten the same kind of response day after day and on one campus after another.

Students tell us that they are eager to speak out against the war but many feel stifled by the election campaign in which both parties are for war. The Peace Petition campaign is releasing people's initiative.

Many students have immediately asked for copies of the petition in order to circulate it amongst their friends and in the dorms and classes. Several students are working with the YSDFP to collect signatures and initiate anti-war discussions on campus.

Of course, the Peace Petition campaign is much more than simply collecting signatures. It is a starting point for discussion and mobilization - a big campaign to galvanize public opinion against the war - to give expression to the real agenda of the people, which is for peace.

In addition to having countless individual discussions with people we are already organizing small group meetings and taking new initiatives to bring the Peace Petition and Peace Agenda to center stage. We have printed poster-size copies of the petition and are planning to reach out to other organizations as well as begin a new speaking tour of the classrooms.

Join us in the work of the Peace Petition - in carrying through a big campaign to mobilize campus opinion against the war and further organize ourselves!

REPORT FROM NEW YORK

"We will never forget that the American people - in their millions and tens of millions - thoroughly oppose the government's war program and demand peace." This is the pledge of our organization - Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) - after marching with hundreds of thousands of people in New York City on August 29.

While the monopoly-controlled media maintains a virtual blockade of silence against the people's movements, hundreds of thousands of people came to New York and with their voices and their feet gave expression to a resolute and broad anti-war program. The people demanded: "U.S. Troops, Out of Iraq, Now!" They spoke out against U.S. aggression everywhere and stood in solidarity with the struggles of the peoples in Palestine and Afghanistan, in Haiti, Colombia and Venezuela, in Korea and the Philippines. In addition, slogans, banners and literature spoke against the Patriot Act, against racist attacks on Arabs and Muslims, and in support of the basic economic rights of the people.

The demands and energy of the people was in sharp contrast to the politics of the Democratic Party which tried - unsuccessfully - to dominate the demonstration. The Democratic Party politics not only supported John Kerry but arrogantly tried to suppress the voice and demands of the people. Groups like ours - many of which traveled hundreds of miles to act against the war - were literally told to "shut up" when we called for an independent, anti-war movement. Many Democratic Party hacks attacked any criticism of Kerry as "pro-Bush."

But large numbers of people are already taking the path of independence, in opposition to both the Republicans and Democrats. Countless people denounced Kerry's pro-war stands and rejected the line of the so-called "lesser evil." "The Worker" and other anti-imperialist literature was grabbed up by marchers and bystanders and we had many intense discussions about the necessity for independent politics.

In sum, the stand of the American people is clear-cut: Stop the Wars! The need is to strengthen the independent, anti-imperialist organizations of the people. After marching in New York, the YSDFP is more inspired than ever to be part of this work.

NEW U.S. PRESSURES AGAINST IRAN

On September 18, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors passed a resolution demanding that Iran freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.

This resolution was passed under extreme pressure from the U.S. which is demanding that Iran be denied its right to pursue the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes even though international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in particular, guarantee this right.

The government of Iran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear activities are solely for the peaceful production of electrical energy and that it would reject any attempts to infringe on its sovereignty and treaty rights to pursue this program. Last week, Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the IAEA, admitted that after more than a dozen unannounced inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities in the recent period, he is convinced that most issues have been clarified and that Iran is cooperating with the IAEA.

However, the U.S. is drumming up the so-called "nuclear issue," not only to prevent the development of Iran's nuclear industry but also as part of its all-around pressure and interference against the country. In fact, it seems as if the U.S. is echoing the same script against Iran that it used in preparing its illegal invasion of Iraq.

The U.S. wants to bully the international community to impose punitive sanctions on Iran and to isolate the Iranian government diplomatically, politically and economically. Leading media personalities in the U.S., as well as official government spokespersons, have repeatedly branded Iran as a "rogue" state and have called for preemptive military strikes against it.

On June 24, in testimony before Congress, John Bolton, Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, said: "I cannot say that the U.S. can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iran has an offensive BW (Biological Weapons) Program. The intelligence I have seen suggests that this is the case, and, as a policy matter therefore, I believe we have to act on that assumption. The risks to international peace and security from such programs are too great to wait for irrefutable proof of illicit activity: responsible members of the international community should act to head off such threats . . . It would be folly indeed to wait for the threat fully to mature before trying to stop it." In July, Charles Krauthammer, a syndicated newspaper columnist known for close ties with the Bush administration, writes even more explicitly: "There are only two things that will stop the Iranian nuclear program: revolution from below or an attack on its nuclear facilities. . . . The long-awaited revolution is not happening. Which makes the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent."

Just as with Iraq, the U.S., without any proof, is trying to create a hysteria about Iran and alleged "weapons of mass destruction," in order to bring about "regime change" in that country. Gaining control over Iran and its huge oil resources are part of U.S. imperialism's grand strategy for recolonizing the entire Middle East.

VENEZUELA REJECTS US SANCTIONS

(Monday, 9/13; Statement of the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.)

We were disappointed to learn that on Friday, September 10th, President Bush issued a determination that the United States intends to take action against Venezuela for allegedly not standing strongly against human trafficking. The Government of Venezuela stands firmly against trafficking in persons. We have signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which the United States has yet to ratify.

As well, we work closely with the regional office of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to put an end to illegal incursions by traffickers along our borders. In addition, the Government of Venezuela has taken significant steps, including the removal of immigration officials involved in human smuggling, among others. We are committed to stopping these wrongful practices, and to prosecute violators under our laws. We have done much, much more needs to be done, and much more will be done.

But, let us be clear: the real purpose of President Bush's executive determination is political. It is unfortunate and even outrageous that the United States has come to this decision without even minimal communication, or consultations with Venezuela. We are extremely disappointed that the government of the United States has politicized what is an important international issue.

It is well documented that the U.S. Government has provided financial assistance to political actors in Venezuela opposing the current government. The referendum of August 15, 2004, the results of which were internationally recognized, expressed the democratic will of the people of Venezuela to keep the current administration in office.

Following that referendum, we reached out to the United States seeking to improve relations between our countries. This was an expectation not only of the international community, but also of important sectors within our own countries. The decision by President Bush to use the influence of the United States in the international financial arena to deny funds to Venezuela appears to rebuff our efforts to improve bilateral relations; instead, it reflects a decision to continue the aggressive and unilateral policies of the past.

Incredibly, the one exception for continuing financial assistance to Venezuela is not to help us strengthen our capacity in dealing with important issues such as human trafficking, but to allow the U.S. government to continue supporting opposition political parties and organizations. We are disappointed that a government that has long held itself to be a beacon of Democracy, appears incapable of accepting democracy in Venezuela.

President Bush's determination last Friday would commit U.S. officials to using the influence of the government in international financial institutions to forbid the authorization of funding to Venezuela. We are certain that the international community will not follow suit. Many of the projects for which funds are made available through those international institutions not only help us to continue to strengthen our country's social development and institutions of democracy, but also to strengthen the energy sector and infrastructure of Venezuela, which has long been a productive and reliable source of energy to the United States.

"THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD"

At the end of August, the Census Bureau released new data which gives a small glimpse of just what life is like for tens of millions of working people in this country, advertised by the politicians as the "richest in the world."

Poverty

In 2003, 35.9 million Americans lived in poverty (defined as an income of less than $14,680 for a family of 3 or $18,810 for a family of 4). Altogether 4.3 million more people were in poverty in 2003 than in 2000. Those living in poverty included 12.9 million children and 15.3 million living in extreme poverty ($7,340 for a family of

3) .

Analysts for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said that increased poverty rates were due to 1) higher unemployment rates and

2) government cutbacks in income-support programs. In 2003, only 62.3 percent of Americans age 16 and older were able to work. Yet during the year, 2.6 million unemployed workers exhausted their unemployment benefits while Congress cut back the number of weeks the unemployed could receive payments. Already, during the first 7 months of 2004, another 2.2 million workers have run out of unemployment insurance. In addition, other income-support programs are being cut. For example, since 2000, 9% less families are receiving cash assistance under the federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program even though the numbers living in poverty continue to rise.

Health Insurance

Along with the increases in poverty, the number of Americans without health insurance is also continuing to grow. In 2003, 45 million people lacked health insurance, an increase of 5.2 million since

2000. Other studies have shown that in the course of the last 2 years, some 80 million Americans went without health coverage for at least part of the time.

The Census data also showed that while tens of millions are living in poverty and going without vital necessities, the rich keep getting richer. In 2003, while the bottom 20 percent of households received only 3.4% of the national's total household income, the richest 20% received nearly 50% of all income.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 16 September 13, 2004

More Airstrikes Against Fallujah:

U.S. KEEPS ESCALATING WAR

During the past week, U.S. airstrikes against the Iraqi city of Fallujah have killed and wounded dozens of people, including many civilians.

The airstrikes continued for several consecutive days. According to numerous reports, whole houses have been destroyed in many areas, leaving nothing but holes in the ground. Bombs and missiles from U.S. warplanes have targeted crowded areas in scores of daytime and nighttime raids. Residents with flashlights and shovels search for victims in the rubble, while Arab television shows bloodied children laying in streets and on hospital beds. There are major shortages of medical supplies for hospitals throughout the area, and the humanitarian situation is reported to be deteriorating fast.

In addition to the renewed bombing of Fallujah, the U.S. has also been carrying out numerous airstrikes against other Iraqi cities, such as in the northern town of Tal Afar where scores of people have recently been killed or wounded.

According to U.S. generals, these bombing raids are part of a new "show of force" strategy designed to "pacify" Iraqi cities in which the U.S. has no control. U.S. generals are openly talking about "levelling" Iraqi cities as the only way to assert U.S. control.

Pentagon officials admit that in cities such as Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi, and elsewhere, the U.S. army is afraid to enter and remains in fortified garrisons outside the city limits. Attempts to establish U.S.-trained Iraqi armies inside the cities have failed miserably. In Fallujah, for example, a U.S.-trained Iraqi battalion set up months ago was forced to flee the city after many of its leaders were arrested and shot by popular forces. During the month of August, 2,700 armed attacks were carried out against U.S. forces and last week the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq reached 1,000. (It is estimated that as many as 50,000 Iraqis have been killed).

The attacks against Fallujah and Tal Afar again reveal the desperate U.S. military strategy in Iraq. It is a Hitlerite strategy of terror and deliberate targeting of civilian populations. These barbaric methods come from the very character of the war as an aggressive, colonial war. U.S. imperialism launched its war against Iraq in order to plunder its wealth, enslave its people and use the country as a base for recolonizing the entire Middle East. Thus, the Pentagon knows that its enemy is the people of Iraq and the Pentagon's methods aim at terrorizing the population in order to force them to submit to colonial rule.

And as it did in Vietnam and elsewhere, U.S. imperialism is reacting to its growing isolation at the hands of the popular Iraqi insurgency by escalating its aggressive war. Last week, Senator McClain said that the Pentagon must be prepared to continue the war against Iraq for "10 or 20 years."

The American people must have no illusions. U.S. imperialism is going to continue and escalate its aggressive war against Iraq.

Only the struggles of the peoples can stop the war. We must further extent and organize our anti-war movement until U.S. imperialism is forced out of Iraq, lock, stock and barrel!

DRASTIC INCREASE IN MEDICARE PREMIUMS

On September 3, the federal government announced that senior citizens receiving Medicare will have their monthly premiums increased by 17 percent, the largest increase in premiums in Medicare's history.

This new increase comes after a 14% increase imposed last year.

Medicare administrators admitted that a large part of this year's increased premiums will go directly into the pockets of private insurance companies who are being subsidized by the government to offer coverage to senior citizens. In other words, the government is increasing Medicare premiums in order to rob money from the pockets of retired workers and turn it over as profits to the capitalists.

Forty-one million retired and disabled Americans rely on Medicare to meet their health care needs. But over the years, the government keeps eroding Medicare benefits while increasing the costs imposed on recipients. Today, Medicare pays, on average, only 45% of the yearly health costs of seniors. Such vital services as prescription medicines, long-term nursing care, vision and dental are not covered at all. The highly advertised new prescription drug benefit does not go into effect until 2006 and even then seniors will pay, out of their own pocket, the 80% of their first $5,000 in drug costs. Thus, in addition of Medicare co-premiums and co-payments, most seniors are forced to purchase additional private "Medigap" insurance and/or pay large out-of-pocket expenses. On average, retired workers spend more than $2,500/year or 20% of their income on medical bills.

The attacks on Medicare are an outrage. The government is refusing to guarantee even the minimal health care needs of senior citizens, who have given a lifetime of labor to the country. This is a national disgrace.

We must demand comprehensive and free health coverage for seniors and for all Americans.

WE'VE HEARD IT TOO MANY TIMES

by Bill Foster

I.

Does the following lament sound familiar:

"Normally, I would be the first person to insist that there is very little difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Don't forget, I am almost a socialist! But in this year's election, there is just too much at stake. This is the most important election in decades, perhaps ever. If the ultra-right wing wins, all will be lost. On the other hand, if we get out a big vote for the Democrats, we will open the door for the 'people's movement' to keep pushing the government to the left."

Probably, the reader (especially younger readers) immediately pictured some union bureaucrat or so-called "anti-war leader" lecturing them about the need to vote for Kerry.

Actually, I first heard the above homily some 40 years ago during the first presidential election I really remember.

Some friends and I wanted to participate in our high school's "mock election" by investigating and talking about various socialist candidates - we wanted to learn about alternatives. But none other than the "most liberal" faculty member called us aside, saying: "You know, I'd be the first to be with you but this year we just can't risk splitting the vote in the most important election ever. Don't forget: Barry Goldwater (the Republican candidate] is a war maniac. We must vote for Lyndon Johnson." Of course, Johnson has gone down in the history books as one of the biggest war criminals ever - his administration escalated and escalated and escalated U.S. imperialism's counter-revolutionary and genocidal war against the Vietnamese people.

II.

Yet more. Political opportunism is not content with simply electioneering for Kerry. It demands nothing less than silencing any voice of opposition.

How many times have activists been told at anti-demonstrations or in public meetings not to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq or not to condemn the entire "war on terrorism" or not to speak out in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle, etc. etc. because such slogans will "embarrass Kerry" and "split the anti-Bush front."

In fact, opportunism goes so far as to insist that any criticism of Kerry "helps Bush." Thus truth is turned upsidedown. Those for whom peace is not simply an empty phrase, those who refuse to embrace racism, colonialism, exploitation and war and who resolutely struggle against the parties of war and imperialism are condemned, while the war crimes of Kerry and the Democrats are covered over and hidden from the masses.

How is the line of condemning anyone who criticizes Kerry, any different from the fascist logic which puts the label of "terrorist" on anyone who opposes Bush or condemns every opponent of U.S. imperialism has "unpatriotic."

Well, millions and tens of millions of workers, anti-war activists, and others have been read this riot act too many times. We are going to keep speaking the truth and standing up for our own convictions and interests, in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war and imperialism.

PHILADELPHIA TEACHERS IN SHARP CONTRACT STRUGGLE

On September 7, the first day of school, Philadelphia teachers and other school employees organized informational pickets at the start of the school day.

The 20,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) are in a sharp contract struggle with the School District and the School Reform Commission.

The School Reform Commission, which has taken over management of Philadelphia's schools under a special state law, is demanding a series of outrageous cutbacks in the teachers' new contract. These cuts include:

- drastic cuts in health care coverage;

- elimination of the right of the teachers union (Philadelphia Federation of Teachers) to negotiate future health plan benefits;

- no guarantees for negotiated pay raises and pay cuts for several job classifications as well as cuts in overtime and compensatory pay;

- elimination of union seniority and granting school principals unlimited, arbitrary power to cut staff, control transfers, etc.;

- elimination of prep periods and increases in the length of the working day.

Many of these contract provisions were only gained by the teachers after a 7-day strike in 2000.

The School Reform Commission is trying to ram these cuts down teachers' throats by relying on Act 46, a special Pennsylvania law, which gives the state the power to take over any school district with a deficit and in turn prohibit employees from striking.

Philadelphia's teachers, however, have not been intimidated. They are organizing rallies, meetings, marches, informational pickets and other actions to unite their ranks, inform public opinion about the justness of their demands and prepare for whatever struggles are necessary to protect their jobs, wages and working conditions. The teachers are winning strong support from parents, students and concerned people throughout the city.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 15 August 24, 2004

THE PEOPLE MUST STRENGTHEN THEIR INDEPENDENT POLITICAL MOVEMENT!

As George Bush and the Republican Party prepare for their national convention, people across the country and from many walks of life are organizing protest demonstrations and other mass actions. Hundreds of thousands are expected to demonstrate in New York City on August 29 and similar rallies will be held in many other cities.

In fact, during the last few years, tens of millions of Americans have joined in actions to oppose the government's war program, to demand an end to the ongoing cutbacks in such vital social programs as education, health care, housing, income-support for the impoverished, etc., to resist the government's attacks on democratic rights and its unrestrained racism against Arabs, Muslims and others.

As the people have come into the public arena to make their voice heard, we have seen over and over again that the government has turned a deaf ear, that the decision-making power -- the public authority -- is not in the hands of the people. On the contrary. The government, along with the Republican and Democratic parties, is owned lock-stock-and-barrel by the monopoly capitalist class and the economic and political interests of this class puts it in opposition to everything that makes us human.

The government is sacrificing the sons and daughters of our country and committing unspeakable crimes against the peoples in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine and elsewhere solely to grab profits and empire for the capitalist billionaires. The government is denying our children a modern education, imposing sickness and disease on tens of millions of people, leaving millions of people without any livelihood solely to help the billionaires rob the public treasury. The government is inciting racism and building up an unprecedented apparatus of repression in order to silence the voice of the American people and impose the dictatorship of the rich over our country. And the plain truth is that the capitalist class and the capitalist government are only going to impose more wars, more poverty and exploitation, more racism and repression on the peoples.

To be true to ourselves -- to our human aspirations and our urgent demands -- we must face up to the harsh political realities of our country. We must face up to the challenge of breaking the political monopoly of the Republicans and Democrats by organizing our independent political movement.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. calls on people to rally around a program which aims at nothing less than a world of peace and friendship amongst the peoples, a world without racism and repression, a world which recognizes and guarantees, in practice, all the fundamental economic and political rights of the people, including the right of the people to rule the country, to be the government. We call on everyone to take up an immediate program which demands:

- the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad and an end to U.S. aggression and interference against other countries;

- guarantees for all the fundamental economic rights of the people including the right to a job or a livelihood, to free, comprehensive health care, to a genuinely modern education from preschool through the university, to income security in retirement or disability;

- an end to the government's growing racism and repression and ironclad guarantees for the democratic rights of the people.

Indeed these are minimal conditions for a modern and humane society.

To implement such a program, the people must take the question of politics into their own hands and organize their political movement, independent of and in opposition to the parties of war and exploitation.

As the resistance of the people increases, the capitalists are advertising the Democratic Party as the alternative to Bush and the Republicans. But the facts show that the Democrats have voted for the entire war program and that Kerry is advertising himself as a bigger and better militarist than Bush himself. The facts show that all across the country, Democratic governors and mayors have been in the forefront of slashing investments in education and health care, laying off government workers, privatizing vital public services, etc. The facts show that Kerry and the Democrats supported the Patriot Act just as they repressed anti-war activists both inside and outside of their own national convention. The fact is that the capitalists are relying on Kerry and the Democrats to slow down the people's resistance, to give the government a breathing space so that the very same program of war, racism, repression and robbery can be continued only with a different face in the White House.

The politics of the Democratic Party is not something that the people can compromise with or ignore and shuffle under the table. The fact is that the Democratic Party is waging an all-out struggle directly against the demands of the people and their independent politics. In anti-war organizations across the country, the Democrats and their "left-wing" helpers pressure the people to give up their clear cut demands and their independent activities in order to campaign for Kerry. In the unions, the labor aristocrats keep diverting the workers' economic struggles into dead-end campaigns for the Democrats.

When the opportunist "left-wing" of the Democratic Party insists that activists campaign and vote for the "lesser evil," they are covering over the real deeds of Kerry and the Democrats who have supported the entire capitalist program for decades.

When the opportunists try to create hysteria, using the slogan "anybody is better than Bush," they are covering over the extent of the dangers presented by the Bush program, which does not arise from the head of Bush but from the economic and political interests of the monopoly capitalist class.

Most importantly, by working to keep people under the tutelage of the Democrats, opportunism works to corrupt the consciousness and liquidate any independent organization and struggle of the people themselves. The line of sticking with the Democrats relegates the people to "voting cattle" with no other role except to bow their heads and accept the agenda and dictate of their exploiters and oppressors.

No, the Democratic Party must be isolated, denounced and struggled against just like the Republicans.

The Workers Party says: "Let us beat back the blackmail and break the political stranglehold of the rich!"

We call on the workers, the youth and students, the anti-war and other social activists to not give up their vision and agenda for society. We call on everyone who cares about the future of our country to use the election period and after to take new steps on the path of building up the organized, independent political force of the people themselves.

U.S. SIEGE OF NAJAF

As "The Worker" goes to press, U.S. military forces in Iraq are continuing to wage a brutal attack against the people of Najaf.

Five thousand U.S. troops, supported by nearly 2,000 Iraqi puppet troops, are being used to cordon off the city. U.S. attack helicopters and jet fighters have bombed residential neighborhoods around the Imam Ali mosque, killing and wounding hundreds of people. At night, U.S. AC-130 gunships have been circling overhead and pounding the area around the mosque with gunfire. Tanks and armored vehicles have sealed off the city, while U.S. troops and special forces have pushed into the center of the city after engaging in fierce combat with Iraqi people on every street. U.S. generals, as well as members of the U.S. controlled "Iraqi government," have issued ultimatums to the people of Najaf "to disarm and surrender, or face an all-out U.S. offensive." Press reports indicate that electricity and water have been cut off.

During the past week, tens of thousands of people in Najaf, and in many major cities throughout Iraq, have taken to the streets to show their support for the resistance fighters and to condemn the brutality of the U.S. occupation forces. Thousands protested in Baghdad on August 13, breaking down U.S. barriers and razor-wire cordons erected to prevent them from marching. "The situation in Najaf is a war crime carried out by the United States," said Jamal Seyyed Ali, a demonstrator from the northern town of Sulaimaniyah who came to Baghdad. "The big, arrogant United States feels it must kill women and children. I want all the Americans to leave Iraq, along with the Iraqi agents they brought from the West." Outside Iraq, similar protests erupted against the U.S. siege of Najaf, including largescale demonstrations in Syria and Iran.

The on-going resistance to the U.S. occupation and war, in Najaf and elsewhere, shows that the U.S. military campaign in Iraq cannot win.

U.S. troops, tanks, and warplanes are unable to break the back of the Iraqi resistance precisely because no amount of military force can crush a people's desire to be free from foreign occupation. The siege of Najaf is only one more instance of a desperate U.S. policy of attempting to bring "stability" through terror and wholesale murder.

REPRESSION AGAINST POLITICAL PROTESTS

In early August officials from the FBI admitted that they have questioning political activists across the country, and in some cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to "prepare for protests" at the Republican National Convention in New York.

Recent media reports also revealed that federal agents and city police across the country are "keeping tabs on activists and others they believe might try to cause trouble." They are making unannounced visits to people's homes, conducting interviews and monitoring Web sites and meetings.

In recent weeks, for example, FBI "counterterrorism" agents and other federal and local officers have conducted interviews in six states with people who have "protested in the past." They have not only conducted unannounced interviews with protestors, but also with their family members and friends. In Missouri, a number of young men were trailed by FBI agents for days and then subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. In New York, federal agents questioned a man who reportedly made "critical remarks against the president" and insisted he respond to questions about his political affiliation and whether or not he planned to attend the convention protests.

This news comes on top of far-reaching repressive measures planned for the RNC convention at the end of August. Tens of thousands of New York City police, as well as special federal paramilitary squads, are being mobilized. The city will spend more than $75 million on convention "security."

In addition, New York officials have refused protestors the right to stage an anti-war rally in Central Park on August 29. City officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, rejected the rally permit, citing "security concerns," due to the expected size of the demonstration. Government officials insisted that the protestors instead stage the rally on a remote section of the west-side highway, far from the site of the convention. The mayor of New York, as well as the corporate-owned newspapers, radio and television stations, have also been stirring up a media-sponsored fear-campaign by issuing reports of "potential violence and trouble" in an effort to keep people away from the demonstration.

Similar repressive measures were carried out last month during anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Protest rallies and marches were continually surrounded by thousands of city and federal police, and numerous arrests were made against peaceful demonstrators. Boston city authorities established an official "protest pen" surrounded by police and enclosed by 12-foot tall fences and barbed-wire. Throughout the convention, numerous city streets were closed and intersections were blockaded by city trucks and armored vehicles. Inside the Convention, anti-war activists were kicked out of the building simply for displaying their anti-war sentiment with buttons or signs.

Road of the Party: THE STARTING POINT OF POLITICS

It is easy enough to show that John Kerry and the Democratic Party are not the "lesser evil" but the very same evil.

Kerry and the Democrats support and will continue the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, etc. They supported the Patriot Act and will further build up the government's apparatus of repression. They embrace "trickle down" economics and will help the rich keep robbing the public treasury. And the reason is equally obvious. Just like the Republicans, the Democrats are bought-and-paid-for by the monopoly capitalist class.

But even more, we have a right to demand that those who tell us to "support the lesser evil," explain how they are working for "the good." In other words, when someone admits that Kerry and company will keep sending our sons and daughters to fight wars for the profit and empire of the capitalists, the next question is: "how, then, are you working for peace and an end to U.S. aggression." And in answering this question "good intentions" or "future promises" will not do. Everyone who claims to be for peace must explain how, in the real life of the here and now, they are working for peace.

Modern politics is a product of the class struggle. To safeguard their interests both the capitalist class and the working class need and seek political power -- the power of government. To gain this power, each class organizes its political party. In the U.S., the capitalists have long tried to thwart the political independence and struggle of the working people by promoting the fairy tale that the

U.S. is a "pluralistic" society without classes and that the Democratic Party represents the interests of the workers, the oppressed minorities, the peace movement, etc. This fairy tale is like telling a union member to elect the company CEO as president of the union or telling the prey to ask for the help of the predator. After all, what is the Democratic Party but a party of imperialist warmakers, of diehard racists, of capitalist exploiters?

The entire experience of the anti-war struggles over the last 3 years, brings home this political reality, i.e. that the people want peace but the decision-making power is in the hands of the parties of war.

The necessity which faces us and the most decisive feature of contemporary American life is that people are straining to break the stranglehold of the capitalist parties and ever more urgently seeking a way to give expression to their real needs and aspirations. This is the political task of the times -- the task of strengthening a genuine political alternative. Building up the political program and political party of the working people or supporting the parties of exploitation and war -- in real political life, this is the only choice.

The Workers Party offers a real alternative to the aggressive foreign policy and war program of Bush and Kerry, as well as to the entire capitalist program of war, racism, repression and exploitation. For example, our program calls for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, an end to U.S. intervention and aggression, an end to the militarization of our country and recognition of the sovereignty and equality of every country. During the elections, in addition to developing mass struggles to fight for this program, our Party is circulating the Peace Petition based on this platform. We recognize that this peace program will never be fully implemented by the capitalist class, which is warlike by its very nature, and therefore we aim at bringing to power a new government -- a peace government comprised of representatives of the working people themselves.

The Workers Party calls on all the class conscious workers, the youth and students, the anti-war and other social activists, and everyone opposed to the capitalist program of war, racism, repression and exploitation to sit together with us and help work out the ways to strengthen the independent politics which genuinely represents the interests of the workers and people of our country. This is the zero point -- the absolute starting point of independent political life.

JOHN KERRY'S "TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS"

George Bush and the Republicans openly flaunt their loyalty to the capitalist class and their eagerness to use the power of government to help the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Yet John Kerry and the Democrats, even though they advertise themselves as "friends of the workers," are just as loyal to the capitalists as the Republicans.

To begin with, let us not forget that during the Clinton years, Kerry enthusiastically supported NAFTA and the so-called "welfare reform" which drastically slashed income-support programs for the poor and most vulnerable.

Let us not forget that all across the country, Democratic governors and mayors have been in the forefront of slashing public investments in education, in health care, in income-support programs and other vital social services.

During the elections, Kerry and the Democrats are campaigning largely on a promise to help the workers by "putting jobs first." But the real program of the Democrats tells a different story.

The Democrats' election platform, approved at their recent national convention, explains the Democrats' economic philosophy like this: "We believe the private sector, not government, is the engine of economic growth and job creation."

The Democratic platform then goes on to outline a series of governmental measures to give the private sector more and more capital to "encourage" business to create new jobs. The Democrats promise to make "our businesses more competitive" and "speed the growth of new industries" by setting up government-funded "investment corporations to give small and medium-sized businesses access to capital." The Democrats also promise to increase government funding for corporate research and infrastructure.

Yet more. While lavishing billions in government funds on the private sector, the Democrats simultaneously plan to cut taxes for the capitalists. The platform promises: "Under John Kerry and John Edwards, 99 percent of American businesses will pay lower taxes than today."

In other words, Kerry and the Democrats plan to take billions of dollars accumulated by the government through taxes on the working people and use these monies not to give jobs or income-support to the workers but to give business more capital. Again, our country's social capital is being turned over to a handful of private owners. Thus the Democrats entire "job creation" program is another replay of the "trickle down" economics made infamous by the Republicans.

This "trickle down" economics is a double and triple fraud. In the first place, providing the capitalists with investment funds, research and development grants, tax breaks, etc. will not create jobs but rather result in more unemployment. This is because the capitalists invest in new technology and equipment with the precise motive of sweating more and more work out of fewer and fewer workers. The capitalist goal is not to create jobs but to increase profits by increasing the exploitation of the workers.

Furthermore, Kerry's "trickle down" economics turns truth upsidedown. It is not the capitalists who create economic growth and jobs. It is the labor of the workers which produces all the wealth of the country.

The capitalist economic system is nothing but a system of organized class privilege. By granting a handful of private businesses ownership over the country's means of production, capitalism enables these owners to exploit the labor of the workers and control the economic life of the country. Kerry and the Democrats, just like the Republicans, wield the power of government to arbitrarily strengthen this system of privilege and turn even more of the country's economy over to the capitalists.

In opposition to the "trickle down" economics of Kerry and Bush, the economic program of the working class goes directly against the power and privilege of capital. The workers demand that the economic resources of the country must be directly in service of the people and that the first principle and very motive of economic life must be to guarantee the economic rights and well-being of everyone, including the right to a job or a livelihood, to free, comprehensive health care, the best possible education, etc.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

An Example of Democratic Party Politics

For the last few months, several co-workers and I have been building an anti-war discussion group at my work place. Nearly every week, we get together to discuss such issues as the war in Iraq, the situation in Palestine and other fronts of the so-called "war on terrorism." We investigate and discuss the issues and inform our co-workers through discussions and on-line reports of our meetings. These discussions not only create a lively atmosphere at work but have already led people to be more active in the broader anti-war movement.

A few weeks ago, our meeting was scheduled to take up the issue of U.S. intervention on the Korean Peninsula, an issue which we were eager to learn more about. However, the meeting got diverted by an individual who showed up to insist that the only thing our group should or could do was "elect John Kerry" in November because he would be better than Bush.

Several of us responded by showing that Kerry is a pro-war candidate and that the Democratic Party has a long history as a party of war. I quoted the platform and positions of Kerry and the Democrats as published in a recent issue of "The Worker."

After these facts were presented, the Kerry supporter admitted that we should vote for Kerry because he would be able to create an "international coalition" and "bring more troops to Iraq from other countries." The person also said Kerry would "restore U.S. credibility in the world." In other words, it turned out that this Kerry supporter had only pretended to be for peace but actually supported continuing the U.S. occupation, U.S. colonialism and the U.S. war in Iraq by giving it an "international face."

This experience showed me that the anti-war movement can only consolidate and strengthen itself by actively struggling against the politics of the Democratic Party. In the first place, this politics tried to liquidate our group's independent, anti-war activity and replace it with electioneering for Kerry. In the second place, it turned out that the Kerry politics is not anti-war but pro-war and is importing the chauvinism of U.S. imperialism into the people's movement.

From A Student Activist

One of the things that I encounter among some people is a feeling of isolation and marginalization, a feeling that because the current political set up is so exclusionary, little can be done to influence the existing conditions.

My answer is that empowerment comes through the struggles of the people and the way forward is to participate in these struggles and to help build up an independent politics that gives clarity and organization to these struggles.

Many historical examples show that the struggle of the people is decisive and capable of bringing about real changes:

- The Civil War ended chattel slavery;

- Through the trade union movement, workers joined together and won the 8-hour day, child labor laws and other important reforms;

- In the 1960's the combined struggles of the anti-war movement in the U.S. and the Vietnamese liberation movement forced U.S. imperialism out of Vietnam.

Presently, we are witnessing the development of a new, broad anti-war movement. Again these protests are bound up with the international movements against the U.S. war program and are being linked with the anti-colonial struggles in such countries as Iraq and Palestine.

The burning need is to give independent expression to this movement through the formation of independent organizations such as the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP), the Workers Party, etc. As part of maximizing our independence, we must build up our own workers' press, such as the Anti-Imperialist News Service (AINS), "The Worker" and the mass circulation of literature that helps give orientation and clarity to our independent, anti-war movement.

The YSDFP is in the thick of this work. We are helping to give system and organization to the anti-war movement and we will not rest until all troops are unconditionally withdrawn from Iraq and until every country is guaranteed its inalienable right to sovereignty. We will not rest until the U.S. itself has a people's anti-imperialist government.

We are part of an unconquerable force which includes the anti-war masses in this country as well as the anti-colonial struggles and liberation movements being waged all over the world.

MORE ARBITRARY ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANTS

During August, the Department of Homeland Security plans to give immigration officials working along the borders with Mexico and Canada sweeping new powers to deport suspected "illegal aliens" without any judicial review.

This new procedure extends a program put in place in November 2002 at U.S. airports and seaports which authorized immigration police to summarily deport suspected illegal immigrants. In 2003 more than 43,000 people were deported without any recourse to judicial reviews.

Giving immigration officials the power to carry out deportation without judicial review dramatically expands the arbitrary police power of the government. Human rights advocates have pointed out that this arbitrary power means that not only illegal immigrants but also asylum seekers, legal travelers and even U.S. citizens could be deported simply for travelling without certain papers or on the arbitrary whim of an immigration official.

In fact, earlier this month the United Nations released a report, prepared in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, that reveals how this procedure of "expedited removal" has intimidated many immigrants seeking political asylum and that many asylum seekers were arbitrarily deported in violation of accepted international law. The report documented repeated cases of immigration officials intimidating asylum seekers and treating them with derision. Some of the methods used by immigration officials included racial and sexual taunts, strip searches, belly and leg restraints, etc.

These new immigration regulations again show how the government is using the scarce tactic of the "threat of terrorism" to undermine the democratic rights of the people and build up the arbitrary, repressive power of the state.

DEMOCRATS ATTACK NADER'S BALLOT STATUS

Across the country, the Democratic Party is spending large sums of money and employing an army of lawyers to deny Ralph Nader a place on the 2004 election ballot.

Local Democratic Party organizations, especially in states where Nader is expected to draw 2 or 3 percent or more of the vote, are mounting legal and administrative challenges to signature petitions aimed at putting Nader on the ballot. Three states, (Georgia, Oklahoma and Indiana) have already barred Nader and his ballot status is under challenge in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, West Virginia, Texas, and Illinois. The Democrats are also preparing challenges in many other states. The basic strategy of the Democrats is to challenge the validity of signatures on Nader nominating petitions in hopes of throwing out enough signatures to invalidate Nader's ballot status.

Commenting on the Democrats' tactics, a Nader spokesman said: "It doesn't matter if it's a swing state or a safe state. The Democrats are doing their best to harass us everywhere. Their goal is to divert our resources and bleed our campaign."

The methods used by the Democrats and the obstacles facing the Nader campaign again bring home the bankruptcy of the current electoral system. Despite the fact that Nader is a nationally known personality who received nearly 5% of the votes in the last election, he is being denied a place on the ballot in many states.

The Democrats and Republicans maintain a real monopoly over the government by maintaining a monopoly over the nomination of candidates for office. The people, in turn, are denied any possibility of voting their conscience, voting for candidates of their choosing. Thus, the reality is that the people and deprived of any real role in choosing their representatives. In fact, we do not have the right to vote. This is not a democracy but a dictatorship of the rich and their twin parties -- the Republicans and Democrats.

WORKERS PARTY LAUNCHES PEACE PETITION

In late July, the Workers Party initiated a "Peace Petition" campaign as part of its program for using the 2004 election period to strengthen the anti-war struggle and the people's independent political movement.

The "Peace Petition," which is reprinted below, is designed to bring the people's agenda for peace to the center of public opinion. It is also designed as an organizing tool for strengthening the independent organizations and initiatives of the people.

We encourage organizations and individuals to join in this campaign. Work together with the Party to circulate the Peace Petition as widely as possible and bring more and more people into the organized, pro-active peace movement.

Peace Petition

Recognizing that the U.S. war against Iraq is an aggressive, imperialist war;

Recognizing that within the last 3 years, the U.S. government has also invaded Afghanistan and Haiti, escalated its direct intervention in counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines, and is threatening and pressuring scores of countries including North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, etc.

Recognizing that both the Republican and Democratic parties have declared that they will continue this aggressive foreign policy as part of a so-called "war against terrorism" which will last for decades;

We, the undersigned -- determined to use the period of the 2004 elections and afterwards to take positive steps on the road to peace

- - resolve to:

1) Demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Palestine!

2) Demand an end to U.S. aggression and intervention and the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad!

3) Denounce and oppose the Republican and Democratic Parties as parties of war and imperialism!

4) Take steps to further organize the people as the only force capable of winning the peace!

We Demand Peace!

VENEZUELA'S CHAVEZ WINS RECALL VOTE

The following article is based on reports from Venezuelanalysis.com.

(Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 16)

At 4:03AM, Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that President Hugo Chavez will continue his term until 2006.

According to the numbers, obtained from a tally count of 94.49% of ballots from automatic voting machines, the opposition failed to obtain more votes that those who wanted Chavez to stay. The "no" option obtained 4,991,483 votes representing 58.25%. The "yes" option obtained 3,576,517 votes, representing 41.74%. Manual count of votes from rural and low income urban areas where Chavez has widespread support, and where automatic machines were not used, could increase the President's margin of victory.

After almost six years in office, the South American leader has managed to hold up his popular support after obtaining 56% in the 1998 elections and 59% in the 2000 re-election.

After numerous attempts to remove Chavez from power through unconstitutional means, including a coup d'etat, illegal strikes, and a management-led shutdown of the state oil company, the opposition put all their hopes in the recall referendum to oust Chavez before the end of his term.

Recall referenda is a new constitutional right Venezuelans won thanks to the new Constitution drafted by an elected Constituency Assembly during Hugo Chavez's first year in office, and approved by popular referendum. The recall of elected officials was an idea proposed by Chavez to the Assembly, and it was supported by the majority and rejected by the opposition, which now used that right to attempt to oust the President.

The recall referendum win represents the eighth electoral victory of Chavez or his party in the last six years.

More than 400 international observers, including several ex-presidents, journalists, intellectuals, Human Rights advocates, and a mission from the OAS, came to Venezuela to observe the recall referendum process. Analysts define the Venezuelan recall referendum as the most closely monitored electoral process in the western hemisphere.

OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria announced on Sunday that the referendum results will be trustworthy.

"We are an example of Democracy in the world," said Venezuelan Education Minister Aristobulo Isturiz.

A Victory for Democracy and Against Imperialism

After the voting results were announced, Chavez spoke to thousands of his supporters concentrated outside the Presidential Palace in downtown Caracas. Chavez hailed the referendum win as a victory of participatory democracy over neoliberalism and imperialism He has argued that his real enemy in the recall was U.S. President George W. Bush, whose government opposes Chavez. "This is a constitutional and popular victory....a victory of the people of Venezuela and a victory of the Bolivarian constitution."

President Chavez said: "Venezuela has changed for ever, there's no going back to the past, the fourth republic [of the pre-1999 constitution] has died."

Chavez said he hoped the U.S. would respect the people and the government of Venezuela after this democratic victory and said mockingly that his victory is a gift for the Bush administration, "a gift that landed in the middle of the White House."

 

 

Volume 18, No. 14 July 20, 2004

NO TO THE PARTIES OF WAR AND EXPLOITATION! EXTEND AND ORGANIZE THE OPPOSITION!

The Workers Party, U.S.A. calls on the workers, the youth and students, anti-war and other social activists and everyone who cares about the future of our country to meet the challenge of the current elections by:

1) Denouncing and isolating the Republicans and Democrats, the parties of war and exploitation;

2) Stepping up the resistance to the capitalist program of war, robbery, racism and repression;

3) Building up the people's own organizations and strengthening the independent political movement which truly gives voice to the aims and program of the people.

The capitalist class is using the current elections to attack the people.

On the one hand, George Bush continues as President, flaunting his militarism, his racism, his loyalty to the capitalist billionaires and his contempt for the American people.

The facts have shown a thousand times over that the Bush administration, with the full cooperation of the Congress, has repeatedly lied to the whole world and continues to do so. The facts show that Bush and the entire U.S. government are war criminals responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The facts show that the government has used its lies and its war hysteria to help the Pentagon arms merchants rob the public treasury. The facts show that Bush and the government are openly inciting racism, imposing a reign of repression in the communities of Arab-Americans, Muslims and others and suppressing the democratic rights of all Americans.

As the mass opposition to Bush grows, the capitalists are funding and advertising Kerry and the Democrats. The capitalists hope that Kerry can be used to quell the resistance of the people and restore confidence in the government. The Kerry campaign is an attempt by the capitalists to change the face of government so as to continue the same program of war, robbery, racism and repression. This is the program Kerry has supported every step of the way and which he is sworn to continue.

The people of our country cannot afford to give way to this capitalist politics. Every day the crisis facing our country is deepening and we can expect no cure from the gods of plague.

The Republican and Democratic parties will keep leading our country into wars - wars for the profits and empire of the big capitalists but paid for in the lives of the sons and daughters of the workers. The Republicans and Democrats will keep helping the rich rob the public treasury while slashing vital social services such as education, health care, Social Security, etc. The Republicans and Democrats will keep building up the government's apparatus of repression and attacking the democratic rights of the people.

Only the people can save the situation.

The most important and fundamental fact about American political life is that within the last 2 years, tens of millions of people have come into the public arena to fight for their own aims and demands.

Amongst other things, the people have created a new, nationwide anti-war movement. Already this movement has rejected the lies of the government and exposed the real colonial aims behind the war program. Already this movement has brought the people's demand for peace into the public arena. Already this movement is giving encouragement to the peoples in Iraq and throughout the world who are struggling against U.S. aggression and dictate. Already, activists in this movement are building up their own organizations so as to keep the initiative in their own hands and unfold more independent mass actions.

The task of building and strengthening the new - of spreading the resistance and strengthening the people's independent movement - is staring us in the face.

The Workers Party, U.S.A. calls on the working class and people of our country to actively resist the election circus of the Republicans and Democrats. We say: use the election period to take positive steps to reclaim our country.

Let us continue to expose the lies of the capitalist politicians and media and to tell the truth about the government's program.

Let us use the election period to bring the people's agenda more to the center stage.

Let us not subordinate our true aspirations and independent program to the parties of war and exploitation.

Let us loudly say: "No!" To imperialist wars and demand nothing less than a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. interference and aggression and withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad.

Let us demand an end to the robbery of the public treasury and insist that the government make all the investments necessary to guarantee the economic rights of the people, including the right to a job or a livelihood, to comprehensive health care, to a modern education, to income security in retirement, etc.

Let us speak out against the government's racism and repression and defend the inviolable democratic rights of the people.

In short, instead of hanging on to the impossible dream that the capitalist politicians will help us, let us continue to help and organize ourselves.

Let's take the practical steps to:

* organize more mass actions to defend our rights and win our demands.

* build genuine anti-war, anti-imperialist organizations, to strengthen our unions and other workers' organizations, to create new organizations to defend democratic rights, etc.

* expand and improve our independent press, such as The Worker, the Anti-Imperialist News Service, etc.

* strengthen our own political party, the Workers Party.

The capitalist parties will only continue to lead our country to ruin.

Nothing is going to change for the better until tens of millions of us get organized to win back our rights and our country. It is time to get on with the job.

WHY WE MUST TAKE THINGS INTO OUR OWN HANDS -

by Bill Foster

In my experience more and more people want to join in the anti-war struggle, yet many are having a hard time finding activities to get involved in.

A big part of the reason is that the organized forces of political opportunism are working hard to liquidate the anti-war struggle and replace it with electioneering for John Kerry and the Democratic Party.

The opportunists have gone so far as to actively undermine anti-war actions (such as the important and long-planned demonstration at the Democratic Party Convention and actions on June 30 organized to expose the fraud of the so-called "transfer of authority in Iraq").

The opportunists are undermining these mass actions because they don't want to embarrass John Kerry and have his real pro-war stand put under the spotlight.

The facts are that Kerry has not only ardently supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but has continually expressed the concern that Bush may "cut and run" before the war is won. On July 4, Kerry again criticized Bush for not sending enough U.S. troops to Iraq. Kerry said: "We know that a chief of staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki, was right when he argued that more troops would be needed to establish security and win the peace in the weeks and months after Saddam Hussein's fall." (Kerry, Op Ed article in the Washington Post, 7/4/04). And in the same article, Kerry again insists that U.S. troops will have to stay in Iraq "for a long time to come."

But the political opportunists are silent about this and the rest of Kerry's 100% pro-war, pro-imperialist stand - silent about his all-out support for Israeli aggression, silent about his program for increasing the size of the U.S. military, silent about his threats against Korea and Venezuela, etc.

In my opinion, covering over the pro-war stand of Kerry and the Democrats is a political crime, a crime against the consciousness of the people. Just as Bush lied about "weapons of mass destruction" to mislead public opinion about the aggressive character of the war, so opportunism is lying in order to mislead public opinion about Kerry's plans to continue this imperialist war.

The current activities of political opportunism should teach us important lessons.

Firstly, it is clear as noonday that the capitalists are using the elections as a way to actively liquidate the anti-war movement by substituting electioneering for the independent movement of the people.

Secondly, we can see that as long as the anti-war movement remains in alliance with and under the tutelage of the Democrats, political opportunism will liquidate the struggle at the key times.

The fundamental lesson is the anti-war struggle can only consolidate itself and keep growing if it is organized in opposition to and struggle against the Democratic Party and its opportunistic so-called "left-wing."

It is the people themselves who must take all the issues of the politics and organization of the anti-war struggle into their own hands.

EDITORIAL: ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS MUST FINISH THEIR JOB

Today, many Republican and Democratic politicians, while pretending to be critical of the government for lying about the reasons behind the Iraq war and about some of the conduct of the war, are insisting that "now that we're there, we have to stay and finish the job."

This argument is simply another way of denying reality - of covering over the ongoing aggression and barbaric methods of U.S. imperialism as well as the real colonial aims behind the war.

It is an outrage to hear the politicians claim that "if the U.S. leaves, there will be chaos and suffering in Iraq," when the very cause of the chaos and suffering is the war which the U.S. continues to wage. The fact is that the U.S. keeps escalating the war and relying on such barbaric methods as bombing civilian population centers, besieging cities and depriving them of vital necessities, carrying out collective reprisals and mass detentions, etc.

And it can be no other way, precisely because "the job" which U.S. imperialism is trying "to finish" in Iraq is the "job" of conquering the country and enslaving the people. From the very beginning, the real motive behind the war was the thirst of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class to grab Iraq's oil, take over its economy and turn the country into a base for U.S. colonial domination of the entire region.

For anti-war activists our "job" also remains the same. It is to continue to expose the ongoing war and occupation and to expose the real imperialist aims of the war. Our "job" is to keep speaking out and mobilizing the people until U.S. imperialism, and all foreign troops, get out of Iraq - lock, stock and barrel!

For Your Information: JOHN KERRY ON ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Below we reprint excerpts from a position paper on the Middle East released by the John Kerry Campaign. Briefly summarized, Kerry's position is: full support for Israeli aggression and expansionism, including its reoccupation of the West and Gaza in 2002 and permanent Israeli annexation of several West Bank settlements. Kerry support the apartheid Wall which Israel is building to grab yet more West Bank land. Kerry opposes the Palestinian people's right to return to their homeland and openly declares that he has the right to pick the government and leaders of the Palestinian people.

The Kerry campaign's position paper on the Middle East reads as follows:

"John Kerry: Strengthening Israel's Security and Bolstering the U.S.-Israel Special Relationship

John Kerry has been at the forefront of the fight for Israel's security during his nineteen years in the US Senate. His pro-Israel voting record is second to none....

John Kerry believes that particularly in uncertain times like these we must reaffirm and indeed strengthen our special relationship with Israel, our most steadfast friend and ally in the region....

Kerry supports Israel's right of self defense to eliminate threats to its citizens, including actions taken by Israel against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in Gaza. In spring 2002, when Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield to root out Palestinian terrorists and dismantle the Palestinian infrastructure, Kerry co-sponsored a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel and called for continued assistance in strengthening Israel's homeland defenses.

John Kerry expressed support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unprecedented plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. He recognizes that in any final settlement for Israel to remain a Jewish State, Palestinians must settle in a future Palestinian State rather than in Israel, and that in light of demographic realities, a number of settlement blocks will likely become a part of Israel.

John Kerry supports the construction of Israel's security fence to stop terrorists from entering Israel. The security fence is a legitimate act of self defense erected in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli citizens. He believes the security fence is not a matter for the International Court of Justice.

John Kerry believes that Yasser Arafat is a failed leader and unfit partner for peace and therefore has supported his total isolation. He has demanded a new, responsible Palestinian leadership, committed to ending the violence and fighting terror - in word and in deed - and will work tirelessly to ensure that this new leadership emerges.

John Kerry has always voted to maintain critical foreign aid to our ally Israel, resisting any attempts to cut it over his years in the Senate. In the early 1990s, he fought President Bush when his administration restricted aid to Israel through the loan guarantee program...

John Kerry has long advocated moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel's indisputable capital. In 1999, he signed a letter taking President Clinton to task for not moving the embassy."

The full version of this document can be view online at electronicIntafada.net.

KERRY AND THE DEMOCRATS ON IRAQ

From the very beginning, the so-called "war on terrorism," including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have been the bipartisan policy of the Republicans and Democrats.

John Kerry and John Edwards both voted in favor of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and have repeatedly criticized Bush for not sending enough troops.

For example, in a speech on February 27, 2004, Kerry insisting on bolstering U.S. troops in both countries, boasted that he advocated a "stronger, more comprehensive, and more effective strategy for winning the War on Terror than the Bush administration has ever envisioned." Most recently, on July 4, Kerry writing in the Washington Post about his "Realistic Path in Iraq;" says: "We know that a chief of staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki, was right when he argued that more troops would be needed to establish security..."

John Edwards has repeatedly echoed Kerry on the need for more troops. For example, in a Senate speech "Winning the Peace in Iraq," 5/20/03: "It makes no sense that we didn't have enough military forces on the ground..."

Kerry and Edwards are both members of the Democratic Leadership Council, the dominate policy-making group in the Party. The DLC has and remains in the forefront of demanding even more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and the world. An example of the DLC's attitude towards the so-called "war on terrorism" appears in an article by Will Marshall in the May 7, 2004 edition of the DLC's Blueprint Magazine:

"More than any particular rogue dictator or brand of terrorists, it's the belief system of Islamic extremism that really threatens us....Radical Islam has risen in reaction to a series of historical shocks... For a proud people in the grip of cultural despair, the slogan 'Islam is the solution' has undeniable appeal.

"How can America prevail in this new war of ideas? In the same way we overcame fascism and outlasted communism: by containing the advance of Islamic extremism...

"Containment means stabilizing Afghanistan so that it never again becomes a host for the jihadist virus. We can't do that with the meager forces there now....

"Iraq, however, is the grand strategic prize...A precipitous withdrawal, on the heels of Spain's craven pull-out following the Madrid attacks, would be a strategic windfall for bin Ladenism.... Bringing home the troops before our mission is done in Iraq would save lives in the short run, but only invite bolder attacks down the road."

Senator Joseph Biden, another member of the DLC, the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a top adviser to Kerry, says: "We're going to need more security, more forces on the ground in order to get more security... you've got to get troops somewhere ...still 95% of the real fighting is going to be done and protection done by the American military in Iraq. But this is a long haul. We're not even talking about an exit strategy until December of 2005 . . .and we need more than 138,000 forces, in my view, between now and December of 2005." (Interview on Fox News, June 13, 2004).

YOUTH AND STUDENT VOICE

Open Letter to the Students and Young Workers of Our Country: Together We Will Win the Peace!

During this summer tens of thousands of young workers and students will go to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to protest the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Across the country, millions will continue to speak out against the government's war program.

Our protests have the urgent, immediate goal of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now! But they are also about the future of our country and about asserting our own role in shaping that future.

The challenge that faces us is nothing less then ending all U.S. aggression against other countries and helping to bring into being a world of peace and friendship.

So far, by activating ourselves and coming out so vigorously against the war, we have made a good beginning. But to carry our struggles through, we need to further politicize and organize ourselves.

This is why we are writing to you - to tell you a little about our experiences and to ask you to write back about your experience.

In the course of fighting against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we keep learning more about the extent of the government's aggressive foreign policy. We have seen the U.S. government invade and occupy Haiti, support the Israeli aggression in Palestine, threaten war against Syria, North Korea, Iran and other countries.

We oppose the entire chauvinist logic of the U.S. government which claims that it can "liberate" countries by invading them, that it can brand whole peoples has "terrorist" or "extremists," that it can "spread democracy" by imposing its political and economic system on others, that it can "oppose terrorism" by bombing civilians, etc. This chauvinism only reflects the interests of the big U.S. capitalists who exploit and dominate other countries and peoples.

In short, the government's program of chauvinism, war and colonialism goes directly against the most basic rights of humanity and our deep aspirations for peace.

Thus we have organized ourselves to help build up a proactive and independent peace movement which demands a genuinely democratic foreign policy - which demands the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, an end to U.S. intervention; an end to the militarization of our country; and recognition of the sovereign right of every country to determine its own destiny.

Over the last year, as we have strengthened our own organization, we have kept working to reach out to more and more people. We work on a daily basis to initiative discussion with our peers at school and at work. We have initiated and joined in many anti-war actions. We have raised the banner of struggle against war and imperialism on many campuses in the Chicago area.

Our experience has continually brought home 3 major lessons:

1) The overwhelming majority of students and youth, (and the people generally) deeply share our desire for peace and oppose the government's war program.

2) The key thing in bringing people into the struggle is politicalization - creating space in which people can discuss the issues, expose the lies of the politicians and the media, look into real causes, and participate themselves in working out way forward.

3) We must continually politicize and organize ourselves. When we began our work, we had little or no experience in political life. But, step by step, we have been able to increase our working abilities and reach more people by staying together, sticking with our principles, summing up our experience and keeping the initiative in our own hands.

We are convinced that as the great majority of youth and students and the whole American people break the political stranglehold of the rich and take the future of the country into our own hands, we can surely bring about the political changes necessary to win the peace.

This is why we must find the ways and means to get together and sort out how to advance our common struggle against war.

Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy

PRIVATIZING CHICAGO'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

On June 24, Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley, announced a program for turning nearly 70 of the Chicago's public schools into charter or contract schools over the next 6 years.

Daley's new program, called "Renaissance 2010," is based on a blueprint drawn up by the Commercial Club of Chicago, a business group. The 70 new schools, like the 19 charter schools which are already operating in Chicago, will be funded by taxpayers but run by private contractors, including for-profit companies. These companies will operate the schools free from most state regulations and oversight. They will not be bound by union contracts and will be able to hire and fire teachers and other employees at will, set their own pay scales, design their own curriculum, etc.

In addition to annual operating expenses, the Board of Education (BOE) will spend at least $75 million in special construction monies to build these new schools and get them going. And while Daley and the BOE are spending taxpayers' monies to supplement private business, they are laying off thousands of teachers and other employees, closing down several schools and complaining about a "budget deficit."

In announcing this new program for school privatization, Daley admitted that over the last 10 years, Chicago's highly advertised "school reform" has failed miserably. But Daley continued to ignore and cover over the reason behind the deteriorating public school system in Chicago and Illinois.

The reason is that the government - at all levels - refuses to make the needed investments. In Illinois, nearly 80% of school districts are running deficits due to lack of funds.

Yet the government keeps diverting monies from the treasury for public education and turning it over to the private sector. Every year, the state of Illinois pays out tens of millions of dollars in tuition tax credits to help wealthier families pay the costs of tuition at private elementary and high schools.

The construction and funding of charter schools is another means of draining funds from the public schools. Charter schools intensify a dual school system in which a small number of children get high quality education, while the majority of working class and minorities students are left in underfunded schools.

All across the country, the government is playing the most cynical game to undermine and dismantle the public schools. First the government, criminally neglecting its responsibility, runs the public schools into the ground through lack of investment. Then, the government condemns the public schools, citing their poor performance as an excuse to privatize the educational system, providing new sources of profit for the capitalists, while condemning most children to even worse schools.

The people must put a stop to the underfunding and privatization of the public schools.

Every generation of Americans have come out in struggle to win and expand the right to equality in education; the nationwide public school system is one of the great achievements of our country. Privatization goes directly against the right to equality in education and turns us backwards towards the feudal system in which only the elite received high quality education.

The way forward is to further modernize the schools by insisting that the government make all the needed investments to insure the highest quality education for everyone.

SOARING COSTS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

The cost of prescription drugs keeps going through the roof, making needed medicines increasingly unaffordable especially for the 65 million Americans (including some 15 million seniors) without any prescription insurance.

According to a recent study done by "Families USA" (a health care advocacy group), the cost of prescription drugs are rising at a rate of 300% to 400% faster than the average inflation rate.

In 2002, overall national spending on prescription drugs increased by 15.3% with more than one-third of these costs due to prices increases. For seniors, the problem is even worse. Over the last 3 years, the prices of the top 30 brand name drugs dispensed to seniors increased by 22%; in 2003 alone these prices rose 6.5% or more than 4.3 times the inflation rate. Several frequently prescribed drugs rose between 15% and 20% in price.

Since most seniors live on fixed incomes (many rely solely on Social Security payments and find themselves below the poverty line), the increase in drug costs often means a choice between health and other necessities such as food.

The recently passed and highly advertised legislation to include a prescription drug benefit in Medicare will not solve the problem. In fact, in many cases things will get worse.

To begin with, the Medicare drug benefit will not begin until 2006. After that seniors will pay more than $420/year in premiums and a total of $4,020 out of the first $5,100 in drug expenses.

What is more, many companies are using the new legislation as an excuse to eliminate prescription drug insurance currently provided to retirees. A recent government study estimated that in 2006, employers will reduce benefits or eliminate them altogether for as many as 3.8 million retirees. This number is expected to increase in the following years.

This is a national disgrace. In a country which boasts of an advanced health care infrastructure, tens of millions of Americans cannot afford needed medicines.

This situation must be changed so that everyone is guaranteed, by right, the best available health care, including prescription medicines, free of charge.

PHILADELPHIA WORKERS FIGHT AGAINST CONCESSIONS AND SERVICE CUTBACKS

On July 7, 2,000 municipal workers in Philadelphia held a rally to oppose the city government's plans to impose concessions contracts on the workers and to cut back public services.

These attacks on city workers and public services are a direct result of the local government's decision to slash corporate taxes and reduce spending.

Several municipal unions are locked in sharp contract struggles and the government is pushing for cutbacks in wages, health benefits, pensions as well as layoffs. The city has already begun cutting services - reducing hours at public clinics and libraries, planning cutbacks in fire stations, etc.

But the workers are not intimidated. At the July 7 rally, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and other unions declared "No concessions!" And demanded that government "stop balancing the budget on the backs of city workers." Several unions have already taken strike votes and are prepared to step up their struggles.

Other unions which participated in the July 7 rally, pledging their support for the municipal unions, included the Transport Workers Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the American Postal Workers Union, the SEIU and others.

NLRB ATTACKS GRADUATE EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS

On July 13, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate employees at private universities do not have the right to join unions and be represented by them.

The ruling came in a case involving Brown University and graduate teaching and research assistants. The NLRB, reversing an earlier ruling in the year 2000, said that these workers do not have the right to unionize and bargain collectively with the employer over wages, benefits and other conditions of work. The ruling will effect similar workers at private universities across the country. Labor law concerning workers at public universities is regulated by state labor boards. Some state boards have recognized the rights of graduate employees while others have suppressed these rights.

Over the last several years, the struggles of graduate employees have come to the fore because more and more universities are relying on these workers to do a large portion of the teaching and research. Thus the graduate employees, who are severely underpaid and overworked, have been forced to unionize and fight for better wages and working conditions.

The NLRB decision is an assault on the democratic rights of everyone. The government has no business restricting the people's right to freedom of association and no right to tell workers how they can or cannot organize themselves. The very fact that the workers face a continuous struggle with the capitalists over wages and working conditions makes it necessary for the workers to get together and come out collectively. The ways and means they employ in this struggle are for them to decide.

Currently in the U.S. 32 million workers, including independent contractors, agricultural workers and others, have no legal right to form unions. Commenting on this and other restrictions on workers' rights in the U.S., a report by Human Rights Watch (published in

2000) says: "freedom of association is a right under severe, often buckling pressure when workers in the U.S. try to exercise it."

Despite the attempts of the capitalist state to deprive graduate employees and other workers of their inalienable democratic rights, the workers will undoubtedly continue to organize themselves and come out to claim their rights.

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The Worker (Update) is also available at the Workers Party, USA home page: www.workersparty.org

 

 

Volume 18, No. 13 July 6, 2004

WORKERS DEMAND HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!

On June 19, tens of thousands of workers and their families, marched and rallied in more than 165 cities in all 50 states to demand reliable, affordable health care for all.

The day of action, called "bridging the gap for health care," was organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Jobs with Justice and Rock the Vote. This national mobilization was called to focus attention on the crisis of our country's health care system which denies coverage to tens of millions of workers and to call for fundamental reform.

The day of action brought together workers and activists struggling on many fronts including: - struggles to demand universal health care coverage funded at both the federal and state level;

- struggles against employer cutbacks in health care benefits and for increased company-sponsored health coverage;

- struggles to expand and strengthen Medicaid and Medicare;

- struggles to reduce health care costs, including the price of prescription drugs;

- struggles to guarantee safe staffing levels at all health facilities.

This national day of action is a harbinger of even greater mobilizations and struggles in the coming period. As the for-profit health care system continues to deny millions of people the elementary right to coverage, more and more people are coming out to fight for immediate and fundamental change.

TENS OF MILLIONS DENIED HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

A new study on health insurance, published by "Families U.S.A." in June, shows that during the years 2002-2003 81.8 million people or 1/3 of all Americans were without health coverage for at least part of the time.

Other important facts published in the report show that:

- 2/3 of the uninsured (55 million people) were without coverage for 6 months or more; - 80% of the uninsured were workers or their dependents;

- 27 million children under age 18 were without health coverage;

- the percentage of people without health insurance is dramatically higher amongst the oppressed minority peoples (59.5% amongst Hispanics and 42.9% amongst African-Americans).

These statistics translate into the denial of vitally needed health care to tens of millions of people who face needless pain, suffering and early death.

The Families U.S.A. report discusses how, in addition to going without regular doctors and other caregivers, the uninsured go without preventive care and screenings. For example, the uninsured are three to four times less likely to be screened for breast cancer or hypertension and receive 30% fewer checkups than people with insurance. Seventy percent of those in poor health, including those with chronic conditions, forgo treatment because they are uninsured. Every year tens of thousands of people die prematurely because they lack health insurance.

What an outrage! In a country which has built up of a modern health care infrastructure and educated an army of health care professionals, nearly 1/3 of the population are denied access to needed care.

And all because the profit-motive controls our country's health care system. On the one hand, the big HMOs and insurance companies keep raising health care prices, while, at the same time, employers are cutting health insurance programs for workers and the government keeps cutting back on public health programs, including Medicaid.

The solution is to take the profit-motive out of health care and create a national health care system which guarantees everyone the right to free and comprehensive health care.

PENTAGON KEEPS CALLING UP MORE TROOPS

While the U.S. government is waging aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to grab the wealth of these countries and assert U.S. dominance in the region, it is the American people who are paying the price. Already 140,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq and another 20,000 in Afghanistan. And the Pentagon keeps forcing more young workers into combat.

- On June 29, the Pentagon announced that 5,600 former soldiers (who have already completed their tours of duty and left the military) will be recalled and sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for as long as one year.

- Earlier in June, the Pentagon announced that soldiers due for retirement but already deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan would be forced to remain at war until their units are withdrawn from combat.

- Since the start of these 2 wars, 364,000 members of the Army reserves and National Guard have been called to active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving tours of duty as long as 20 months.

- Both branches of Congress have passed bills authorizing the expansion of U.S. armed forces by 20,000.

And make no mistake about it. The politicians in Washington, D.C. are preparing to send more and more young workers to fight these rich men's wars. In the words of Democratic Senator Jack Reed, there is "the urgent need to increase the size of the Army. The administration's assessment of the number of troops needed to occupy Iraq, fight the war on terror and maintain the nation's military commitment around the world has been woefully inadequate." Already through such methods as the forced recall of retired soldiers and the arbitrary extention of duty tours, the government is relying on open coercion to maintain troop levels. Further, many politicians are calling for a reinstatement of the military draft.

And already the toll of the war in Iraq includes:

- 836 U.S. soldiers killed as of June 16;

- 5,134 wounded;

- more than 11,000 evacuated from Iraq due to "non-combat injuries or illness."

- one out of every six soldiers returning from Iraq have severe mental health and emotional disorders, including major depression, severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. (see study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, July 1, 2004).

And of course, the cost to the Iraqi people is much higher. In addition to destroying the economic and social infrastructure of the country, the U.S. war of aggression has killed or wounded more than 50,000 Iraqis (mostly civilians), even according to conservative estimates.

The people of Iraq are being killed and put under the heel of U.S. colonialism and American workers are being sacrificed in their tens of thousands - all for the superprofits of the big capitalists. These aggressive, imperialist wars must be stopped!

Not One Cent, Not One Life for Imperialist War!

VENEZUELA ASKS U.S. TO STOP FUNDING OPPOSITION AND COUP SUPPORTERS

The following article by Martin Sanchez appeared in Venezuelanalysis.com on Thursday, June 24.

In a letter dated June 22, 2004, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's Ambassador to the United States, requested that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell ask the U.S. Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to respect Venezuela's election laws and stop funding coup leaders.

"We would ask that, in supporting democracy in Venezuela, the United States take care not to violate Venezuela's election laws or other Venezuelan laws; and take care not to assist or facilitate the violation of such laws by Venezuelan citizens," said the statement.

"We also would expect that the United States and its agencies would refrain from funding organizations and individuals in Venezuela who participated in the April 2002 coup," said Alvarez.

The National Endowment for Democracy has been providing monetary assistance to Venezuelan groups that are seeking to remove democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez, according to documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by the New York-based Venezuela Solidarity Committee, and published at www.VenezuelaFOIA.info. The evidence of U.S. funding of Venezuelan anti-Chavez organizations, has enraged Venezuelan authorities, as the Aug 15 recall referendum on Chavez approaches.

One of the recipients of the U.S. aid is Sumate (Join up), the group that organized the technical aspects of the signature drive to demand the recall. Sumate's director Maria Corina Machado, signed a document in support of dictator Pedro Carmona, a businessman who replaced Chavez after a military coup d'etat in 2002. The Venezuelan government has accused the NED of giving a grant to Ms. Machado's group after the coup, knowing about her support for Carmona. The Carmona government abolished the constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court, fired all state governors and the Attorney General, and unleashed a wave of persecution of Chavez loyalists resulting in the death of up to 50 people during the short-lived dictatorial rule.

NEW THREATS AGAINST VENEZUELA

On June 18, the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that the Colombian government had received 46 new AMX-30 battle tanks from Spain. According to El Tiempo, the tanks will be part of new Brigade, including four battalions and a Special Forces unit, created to "patrol the border" and "defend Colombia" from an "eventual incursion from Venezuela." The Venezuelan government, as well as political observers throughout the region, view the new tank brigade as part of the U.S.-orchestrated destabilization campaign against the constitutional government of Venezuela. Already the Colombian army, as well as paramilitary death squads, have repeatedly infiltrated into Venezuela. In May, the Venezuelan army captured a large number of Colombian paramilitaries who had cached weapons inside Venezuela and were preparing to launch armed anti-government actions.

One possible scenario is that a border "incident" could be used as an excuse by U.S. imperialism to carry out a fullscale invasion of Venezuela in the name of "defending Colombia." The U.S. seeks to overthrow the government of Venezuela because it has been strengthening the economic and political independence of the country and opposing U.S. domination of Latin America and the world.

KOREAN "DAY OF STRUGGLE AGAINST U.S. IMPERIALISM"

On June 25, millions of people throughout North Korea participated in the "day of struggle against U.S. imperialism," an annual event held on the day on which the U.S. ignited its war against Korea in 1950.

In the capital city, Pyongyang, a million people rallied against U.S. imperialism in Jonsung Square, and in other plazas throughout the city. Over the next few days, similar rallies were held in cities and regions all across the country.

During these mobilizations, the Korean people, rallying firmly around their government, army and party leaders, not only recalled the barbarous crimes committed by U.S. imperialism during the war but also denounced the continuing plots and aggression of the U.S. government.

Especially now, the U.S. has been increasing its pressure against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), branding it has part of the "axis of evil," drumming up a hysteria about the "nuclear danger" of the DPRK, etc. Along with this propaganda, the U.S. is increasing its military deployments in the region and its threats against the DPRK.

Through their mass actions, the Korean people again showed their determination to oppose any future aggression from the U.S. They also demanded the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from South Korea and vowed to continuously strengthen the sovereignty of their country.

CRIMES OF U.S. IMPERIALISM

The following article is excerpted from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), June 30.

The U.S. imperialists are a wicked enemy to humankind. The United States is neither an apostle of peace nor a guardian of democracy nor a protector of human rights. . . . [Rather, U.S. imperialism has] infringed upon independence and sovereignty and blocked social progress, [is] a chieftain of aggression and a kingpin of state-sponsored terrorism and a harasser of peace.

The U.S. has engineered at least 100 military coups worldwide to wipe out the movement for national liberation and stifle those countries aspiring after independence against imperialism for over 40 years since the end of the Second World War....

The U.S. criminal true nature finds its vivid expression in its frantic moves to destroy socialism, a progressive society and hope and ideal of humankind in which man's independence is fully realized. The U.S. imperialists' offensive to isolate and stifle the DPRK proves that their moves have reached their height.

The U.S. true colors as a harasser of peace finds its vivid manifestation in the fact that it committed 114 wars and at least 8,900 cases of military intervention since early in the 20th century .... And perpetrated 185 military invasions against developing countries from the end of WW II until 1991.

The U.S. imperialists' brigandish and bellicose nature has become all the more undisguised in the new century. Their Iraqi war was hideous state-sponsored terrorism, a typical act of aggression and a crude violation of sovereignty and peace in the 21st century.

The U.S. is the only nuclear war criminal in the world as it developed and used nuclear weapons for the first time in human history and it poses constant nuclear threat and the danger of a nuclear war to the world.

The U.S. is the world's worst exploiter, plunderer and human rights abuser.

Multi-national companies were a main form of international monopoly that appeared after the end of the Second World War and they served the U.S. as a major means for exploitation and plunder. The multi-national companies belonging to the U.S. made their way to developing countries facing economic difficulties under the pretext of "aid" to rake up profits per dollar 4-5 times or even 10 times what it had invested....

In another development, the U.S. is dumping its surplus commodities into the developing countries while putting pressure upon them to open markets.

"Aid" and "loan" on the lips of the U.S. are a leverage for international exploitation and plunder and lead to economic and political subjugation because it takes away a hundred things after giving one.

The criminal human rights abuses committed by the U.S. imperialists are clearly proved by their acts of killing or wounding civilians in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 1999 Balkan War and the recent disclosure of the U.S. occupation forces' inhuman torture and maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners.

The U.S. is now employing all sorts of fig-leaves to cover up its crimes committed in the past and its criminal nature. But the U.S. imperialists' aggressive and brigandish nature can never change.... [no one should] pin any hope on the U.S. imperialists.

What is most important in the anti-U.S. struggle is that one must build up one's own military force and if all those countries aspiring after independence increase their own military force they can certainly stop the U.S. from running wild.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 12 June 15, 2004

COLONIALISM AND IMPERIALIST WAR CAN NEVER BE LEGITIMIZED

On June 8, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution, sponsored by the U.S. and Britain, which endorses U.S. plans to continue its occupation of Iraq under the cover of "partnership" with an "interim Iraqi government."

Out of one side of its mouth the Security Council resolution, claims that "full sovereignty" will be restored in Iraq on June 30. Yet, out of the other side of its mouth, the Security Council authorizes the U.S.-led multinational force, now at 160,000 troops, to take "all necessary measures" against "terrorism" which is defined as anything which interferes with the "timetable and program for the political process" dictated by the U.S.

This attempt by the U.S. government, with the help of the other big imperialist powers which dominate the Security Council, to claim that the "interim Iraqi government" will be sovereign is not only another Big Lie. It is an attempt to legalize colonialism and legitimize war against the Iraqi people.

The truth is:

- After June 30, 160,000 foreign troops, mostly U.S., will occupy Iraq and U.S. imperialism will continue to dictate the political, economic and other affairs of the country;

- The "new" interim government, like the Iraqi Governing Council before, has been handpicked by the U.S. According to Lakhdar Brahimi, the special U.N. envoy who helped the U.S. select the new government: "Mr. Bremer [head of the U.S. occupation authority] is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country." Thus, the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, has been on the payroll of the CIA and the British intelligence agency MI6 for 30 years.

- In addition to picking the leaders, the U.S. will exercise complete control over the interim government through 110-160 U.S. "advisers" who will be appointed to 5-year terms in each and every ministry of the Iraqi government. The U.S. "advisers" will control governmental revenues and have the power to review and authorize all contracts and decisions; according to the Wall Street Journal (5/13/04), the Iraqi government will "be unable to make major decisions . . . Without tacit U.S. approval." The new government will not have the power to stop the privatization and U.S. take-over of the Iraqi economy or change the laws enacted by the U.S. occupation authorities. The real decision-making power will be in hands of the U.S. embassy which will employ more than 3,000 people and will be headed by U.S. ambassador John Negroponte.

Most importantly, U.S. and other foreign troops will continue to occupy the country and wage war against the Iraqi resistance movement. The Bush administration has repeatedly emphasized that at least 135,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq until 2006 and indefinitely thereafter until the "job is done." In addition, the Pentagon continues to build 14 permanent military bases throughout the country. As for the Iraqi military, which the U.S. will be training and equipping, it too will be under the command of the Pentagon. In the words, of Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser of the interim government: "Iraqi security forces will be part of the command structure but on all military decisions, we will be consulted."

No, shuffling a few faces in the puppet Iraqi government does nothing to change the colonial character of the U.S. occupation. A Security Council resolution approved by other big imperialist powers does nothing to change the aggressive character of the war that the U.S. government continues to wage against the Iraqi people.

U.S. imperialism invaded Iraq, trampling the sovereignty of the country underfoot. U.S. imperialism has committed and continues to commit untold crimes against the people -- killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, destroying the economic and social infrastructure of the country, bombing civilian population centers, imprisoning and torturing people by the thousands, poisoning the country with nuclear radiation from its weapons of mass destruction, etc. Today, U.S. imperialism makes the law at gunpoint -- grabbing the oil wealth and industries of the country, deciding which Iraqis are free to publish newspapers, organize political parties, etc. And all along, U.S. imperialism has been bludgeoning and bribing other governments to endorse its aggression.

The fact that the U.S. government and the U.N. Security Council brazenly declare that this imperialist war and colonial occupation reflect "democracy" and the "sovereign" will of the Iraqi people reminds us just what kind of world imperialism is imposing on the peoples.

The peoples cannot afford to have any illusions. U.S. imperialism will remain on the warpath. By claiming to have restored "Iraqi sovereignty," the U.S. government and the Security Council have officially embraced doublespeak and are trying to legalize a "new world order" in which Might Makes Right and in which any people who fight for freedom and independence against U.S. dictate are considered "terrorists."

Only the peoples can defeat the war program of imperialism and defend their freedom and independence. In Iraq, the resistance to U.S. colonialism will continue to grow, just as throughout the world, peoples and countries are coming forward to create a worldwide front against war and imperialism.

The American people must fulfill their duty to humanity by stepping up our anti-war struggles. We must demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. We must fight against every aggressive step taken by the U.S. government against the Iraqi peoples and the peoples everywhere. We must strengthen our own independent political movement. We must aim at nothing less than bringing to power a new, anti-war and people's government which can withdrawal all U.S. troops stationed abroad and live in peace and friendship with all the peoples.

WHAT KIND OF ACTIONS?

By Bill Foster

Have you ever met an anti-war "organizer" who is so preoccupied with participating in one "action" after another -- so busy selling bus tickets to some demonstration -- that he/she has "no time" for political discussion?

In all likelihood, such an individual has been temporarily infected with the fever of "actionitis."

Today the opportunist "left-wing" of the Democratic Party is spreading "actionitis" as a way to divert attention from the pro-war politics of John Kerry. Since Kerry is an extremely tough sell as an anti-war candidate, the opportunists hope that actions can be used as a "safety valve" while keeping people in the fold of the 2-party system and "getting out the vote." Demonstrations are organized so that activists can "let off steam" while the main speakers and organizers (even while using the demonstration to give themselves "militant" credentials) harp on the theme of "the lesser evil."

An even "more militant" posture is taken by those who claim to be "politically neutral" and insist that "street heat" is the way to "educate" all the politicians and "pressure" them to "respond to the demands of their constituents." This argument creates the maximum illusions not only in the Democrats but also in the Republicans and the political status quo. This is simply a rehash of the Big Lie of High School Civics which pretends that the politicians do not base their policies on the interests of the capitalist class but rather are empty vessels who can be educated to "represent the people." Such "pressure politics" confines the people to the subordinate role, unable to aspire to do more than pressure the powers-that-be -- the movers and shakers -- who always remain the decision-makers.

Yet another strain of "actionitis" elevates "mass actions" as the "be-all and end-all" of anti-war strategy while disdaining and abstaining from "partisan politics" altogether. This form of "actionitis" is only a way of sticking one's head in the sand. It fails to wage a concrete struggle against the politics and ideology of the Democratic Party and does nothing to enhance the independent consciousness and organization of the people.

Obviously any movement for political and social changes requires actions. But the issue is: what kind of actions? For example, does a particular mobilization aim at developing the fight against the warmakers and strengthening the people's independent movement? Or is it only used as a "more militant" way to "get out the vote" and create illusions in the warmakers.

In other words, actions cannot be a substitute for politics. On the contrary, they must be developed as part of the people's independent political movement -- in opposition to, and struggle against, the parties of war and imperialism.

THE MARINE'S TALE: 'WE KILLED 30 CIVILIANS IN SIX WEEKS. I FELT WE WERE COMMITTING GENOCIDE'

The following article by Natasha Saulnier appeared in "The Independent," May 23, 2004.

During 12 years in the US Marines, including three years putting new recruits through boot camp, Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey hardly questioned his role. But what he saw in Iraq changed that. "In a month and a half my platoon and I killed more than 30 civilians," Mr Massey said. He saw bodies being desecrated and robbed, and wounded civilians being dumped by the roadside without medical treatment. After he told his commanding officer that he felt "we were committing genocide", he was called a "wimp".

Mr Massey, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and depression, left the Marines in November. Back home in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, he says the cause of the uprising in Iraq is that "we killed a lot of innocent people".

His 7th Marine Weapons Company, armed with machine guns and missiles, was one of the first into the country in March last year. "We would take over villages and control checkpoints," he said. "My men and I would fire warning shots at oncoming vehicles. But, if they didn't stop, we didn't have any qualms about loading them up."

The Marines were told that Iraqis were filling ambulances with explosives, and that soldiers were dressed as civilians, but after pouring fire into vehicles and hearing no explosions, they started to doubt the truth of these claims.

"Iraqi military compounds had nothing in them, except for dismantled tanks, equipment that was barely functioning, and barracks that looked like ghost towns," Mr Massey said.

The incident that haunts him most took place early in April, near an Iraqi military compound five miles from Baghdad's airport. "There were approximately 10 demonstrators near a tank," he said. "We heard a shot in the distance and we started shooting at them. They all died except for one. We left the bodies there.

"We noticed that there were some RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] about 200 metres away from them -- they might have come from the military compound. The demonstrators had the ability to fire at us or at the tank, but they didn't. The survivor was hiding behind a column about 150 metres away from us. I pointed at him and waved my weapon to tell him to get away. Half of his foot had been cut off. He went away dragging his foot. We were all laughing and cheering.

"Then an 18-wheeler [truck] came speeding around. We shot at it. One of the guys jumped out. He was on fire. The driver was dead. Then a Toyota Corolla came. We killed the driver, the other guy came out with his hands up. We shot him too.

"A gunny from Lima Company came running and said to us: 'Hey, you just shot that guy, but he had his hands up.' My unit, my commander and me were relieved of our command for the rest of the day. Not more than five minutes later, the Lima Company took up our position and shot a car with one woman and two children. They all died."

The next day the platoon guarded a checkpoint at Baghdad Stadium. "A red Kia Spectra sped toward us at about 45mph. We fired a warning volley above it but the car kept coming. Then we aimed at the car and fired with full force. The Kia came to a stop right in front of me, three of the four men shot dead, the fourth wounded and covered in blood. We called the medics, but he died before they arrived. That day we killed three more civilians in the same circumstances. I talked to my captain afterwards and told him: 'It's a bad day.' He said: 'No, it's a good day.'"

Mr Massey watched as badly injured Iraqis were repeatedly "tossed on the side of the road without calling medics". His reaction to the event that triggered the recent siege of Fallujah -- the sight of the blackened, mutilated bodies of four American private security men -- was that "we did the same thing to them".

Iraqis, he said, "would see us debase their dead all the time. We would be messing around with charred bodies, kicking them out of the vehicles and sticking cigarettes in their mouths. I also saw vehicles drive over them. It was our job to look into the pockets of dead Iraqis to gather intelligence. However, time and time again, I saw Marines steal gold chains, watches and wallets full of money."

Several members of his platoon expressed concern that so many civilians were being killed, but Mr Massey says he told them: "We've got a job to do." Finally, however, he voiced his own doubts to his commanding officer. "I told him I felt like we were committing genocide in Iraq, that we were doing harm to a culture. He said nothing and walked away. I knew my career was over." Later, he says, his superior poured abuse on him, saying, "You're a poor leader. You're faking it. You're a conscientious objector, you're a wimp."

After being sent back to the US, Mr Massey was offered a desk job. "I had seven years until retirement from the Marine Corps, but I told them I didn't want their money any more," he said. The Marines' slogan -- "No better friend, no worse enemy" -- now embitters the former sergeant, who says remorse keeps him awake at night.

"One day we would go into a city and set up roadblocks where civilian casualties would take place, and then the next morning we would undertake a humanitarian mission," he said. "How do we expect people who've seen their brothers and mothers killed to turn around and welcome us with open arms?"

YOUTH AND STUDENT VOICE

This section of the paper is produced by the "Youth and Students for A Democratic Foreign Policy." The YSDFP encourages other activists and concerned youth and students to contribute articles.

SPRING ANTI-WAR PROGRAM: A BIG SUCCESS!

During the last week of May, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) organized an anti-war forum under the banner: "Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars! War on Terrorism: Program for World Domination."

The main speech, presented by a member of the Workers Party, outlined the extent of the U.S. government's so-called war on terrorism. Within the last 2 and 1/2 years, the U.S. has dispatched combat troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Colombia and the Philippines. The U.S. government is also completely responsible for the Israeli aggression against Palestine and the U.S. is threatening and preparing wars against many other countries.

The speaker also exposed the root causes of this war program in the capitalist-imperialist system -- a system in which the U.S. monopoly capitalist class robs the wealth and exploits the peoples in countries throughout the world. The speaker showed how today U.S. imperialism has become extremely aggressive in order to "defend" and expand its world empire.

In the second half of his talk, the speaker said that there is a new awakening unfolding amongst the American people as tens of millions of people have come forward to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The speaker pointed to need to further develop this spontaneous protest movement by embracing a proactive peace agenda which aims at ending U.S. intervention and aggression against other countries. In order to win this struggle, the people need to strengthen their independent political movement against the parties of war and imperialism.

A lively and wide-ranging discussion followed the main speech.

One individual tried to justify the war by claiming that the American people supported it. This view was firmly rebuffed by people who pointed out that it is the government which has the decision-making power. It was further emphasized that it is only the capitalist class which has a stake in the war program and that the ideology, culture and politics of chauvinism and aggression comes from the capitalists and not from the American workers and people.

Another part of the discussion focused on how the U.S. multinational corporations grab the resources and exploit the peoples of other countries. Several people opposed the chauvinist point of view which insists that the people of other countries can't develop their own economic, political and cultural life but must rely on "help" from the U.S.

This forum was the third anti-war meeting organized by the YSDFP this Spring. The YSDFP also continues to join in mass actions against the war, sponsor regular literature distribution tables and to organize a widescale speaking tour in which members lead anti-war discussions in classrooms. This work is bringing anti-imperialist politics to the center of campus life. Many students, faculty members and community activists are joining the work. Thousands of pieces of literature have been distributed and hundreds of small group and individual discussions have been held.

The banner of anti-imperialist politics has been raised high and it is becoming a rallying point for students and faculty. In the course of this work, the YSDFP is growing and strengthening its political, ideological and organizational capacities.

A SUBTLE OPPRESSION

A member of the YSDFP writes about some of his recent experience:

My parents had gone to a number of peace marches, which to me seemed like a futile exercise. I reasoned that a group walking some thoroughfare chanting pithy slogans with placards denouncing certain governmental actions would solve nothing, except to placate the consciences of those involved, that they could later say they took a stand to raise their voices against wrongs being committed in their names. To satisfy my curiosity, however, I went to a march in Chicago which was organized to protest the war being waged in Iraq. A huge crowd filled Federal Plaza after the march, and I stayed to watch the people and hear speeches by whomever was invited to rouse the crowd.

While standing there, someone appeared at my side. He asked what I thought about the war, and I could only plead ignorance. The only subject in school I could never enjoy was history; all I gleaned from those books was the fact that a miniscule minority of men and women far more gifted and powerful than I could ever dream to be had left us with the gifts of civilization and governance, complex organizations upheld by a few supermen, which I might gaze at with wonder but should by no means attempt to comprehend. I was not born into that great caste of senators and warlords; I was made of more humble stuff, and as such would live my life in ignorance of the machinations these powerful people strove to uphold in an increasingly violent and chaotic world.

The man next to me mentioned a group at a local college which discussed political issues, and with some hesitation I decided to give it a try.

I came to the table they had set up in a hallway of the school convinced I was about to be forced to swallow more names and dates; what I was introduced to there was very foreign to me. Simple ideas; that war is not waged by the people of our country but an aggressive, gluttonous few; that the basis of civilization is not war but community; that our woes are not brought about by the complex nature of our modern era but that there is a group of people who are doing everything in their considerable power to oppress and exploit those who they have been entrusted to lead.

Though these facts are plain to see, the myriad messages I have received since infancy would have me believe otherwise. Through various institutions I have been told that people are by nature warlike with a few beautiful exceptions, that we need to trust our leaders to make those decisions we could never have the strength of character to uphold, that we live in a land of democracy and brotherhood constantly threatened by peoples who do not have the capacity to understand our vastly superior way of life.

It was not a comfortable awakening, giving way to the realization that there are very powerful people who do not hold our best interests in their hands, that the blood shed around the world is not senseless tragedy but the actions of greedy tyrants who will hurt as many people as they want to obtain ever more power and wealth.

However, it is refreshing to the soul to imagine that the majority of the people I meet want the same peace I seek, hate the growing violence around the globe; yearn for community, not separation.

PEACE AGENDA FORUM SPEAKS OUT AGAINST U.S.-ISRAELI AGGRESSION

On June 2, the Peace Agenda Forum held a public meeting in the Chicago area to denounce U.S.-Israeli aggression and support the Palestinian people's struggle. The forum was sponsored by End the Occupation - Northern Illinois (ETO), the Workers Party, Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy and the DuPage Peace Through Justice Coalition. About 40 people, from many walks of life, participated.

The first speaker, from the ETO, gave a history of Palestine. With a series of maps, he graphically showed how the zionist movement and the state of Israel have continually expanded, usurping the homeland of the Palestinian people by force of arms and depriving them of their independence and rights. In his speech and through the screening of a short video, the speaker also depicted the harsh conditions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza and exposed some of the brutal tactics of the occupiers, including the demolition of Palestinian homes. The speaker zeroed in on the Israeli strategy of expanding its territories through illegal settlements in the West Bank and cantonizing Palestinian population centers in such a way as to undermine the creation of a genuinely viable Palestinian state.

A second talk was given by Michael Thorburn, a member of the Workers Party, who began by calling for the immediate and complete cutoff of U.S. aid to Israel and support for the Palestinian people's just struggle for their own independent state. The audience vigorously applauded, showing its support for these demands.

Michael Thorburn provided a detailed history of U.S. policy over the last 50 years, showing how Israeli aggression and expansionism derived its economic, political, and military strength from U.S. imperialism. The U.S. uses Israel as a garrison in its struggle to dominate the oil-rich and strategic Middle East and to suppress the Arab peoples' struggles for national independence. Michael Thorburn exposed how none of the "peace plans" authored and advertised by various U.S. administrations call for a genuinely independent Palestinian state which has the attributes of sovereignty.

Michael Thorburn stressed that today, the stepped up U.S.-Israeli aggression in Palestine must be placed in the context of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism" which aims at recolonizing the Middle East. He showed how the real terrorists are the U.S. imperialists and Israeli aggressors and showed how the Palestinian liberation struggle is part of a worldwide people's front against war and imperialism.

A lively discussion period followed the presentations. In both the formal and informal discussions, many people remarked how the Forum hit the nail on the head, bringing sharply home both the conditions facing the Palestinian people as well as the paramount need for the American people to direct their efforts against U.S. aid to Israel.

The Peace Agenda Forum is a new initiative of anti-war activists in the Chicago area. It aims to bring the people's demand for peace to centerstage, to bring together the many currents and organizations in the anti-war struggle and to develop the grassroots peace movement in the schools, neighborhoods and workplaces.

"ONLY THE PEOPLES CAN STOP THE WARS: A PROGRAM FOR STRUGGLE AGAINST U.S. IMPERIALISM'S "WAR ON TERRORISM"

In this book, Michael Thorburn, a leader of the Workers Party, U.S.A., offers an in-depth analysis of the concrete features and roots of the so-called "war on terrorism." The author focuses the reader's attention on the vital question of how to advance the anti-war struggle.

The first chapter looks at the continuing U.S. wars and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq and places these in the context of U.S. imperialism's strategy to establish itself as the sole superpower based on the doctrine that Might Makes Right.

Chapter Two reports on the growing anti-war actions and initiatives of the American people. It zeros in on the issue of building up a proactive peace movement. The author puts forward the program for a genuinely democratic foreign policy and elaborates the strategy and tactics of anti-imperialist politics.

The final chapter looks into other important fronts of the U.S. government's war program -- in Palestine, Korea, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere. All the articles and speeches collected in this book were written as part of the day-to-day work of mobilizing people against war and militarism. For this reason, the book is imbued with the spirit of struggle. It is indeed a call to all of us to get organized in the struggle against war and imperialism.

Send check or money order ($12) to: Workers Party, USA; P.O. Box 25716 Chicago, Il 60625

CHICAGO SCHOOLS TO CUT JOBS AND PROGRAMS

The following article is based on material from a newsletter published by Chicago teachers.

During the last week of May, the Chicago Board of Education announced a series of drastic cuts in the school budget for next year which will result in the elimination of as many as 3,600 jobs and cutbacks in vital educational programs. The proposed cuts include:

- - the layoff of nearly 2,200 teachers;

- pay cuts and reduced hours for 600 psychologists, social workers, reading and math specialists and early childhood instructors;

- - elimination of 1,300 teacher aides, security guards, and parent workers;

- - cutbacks in educational programs including the math and science initiative, special education, etc.

- - the closure of 10 schools.

The proposed layoffs would result in the biggest cuts in teaching staff since 1995 when Mayor Daley took direct control over the schools.

In announcing the layoffs, the Board only added insult to injury by brazenly asserting that many schools and educational programs are "overstaffed." Who do they think they are kidding? Everyone knows that classrooms are overcrowded and teachers are overwhelmed with paperwork, extra duties, etc. Everyone knows that the Chicago public schools, like schools across the country, need more teachers, more specialists, and an expanded curriculum, not less!!

In addition to those who lose their jobs altogether, virtually every teacher, as well as the students, will be effected by these cutbacks. Principals and the Board will increase class size and caseloads, pile more work onto the remaining staff, arbitrarily deny students special education and other needed programs, etc. CEO Arne Duncan, claiming that the Board doesn't have enough money in its budget, even warned that the cutbacks "may not be done yet."

But the real issue is not a lack of money -- the issue is the Board's priorities. Every year, the Board allocates hundreds of millions of dollars in for-profit contracts to private janitorial companies, food service companies, etc. Last year, the banks alone received $274 million in interest payments from the Board. We ask: what is the first priority of the Board's budget -- to guarantee profits for the bankers or to provide education for Chicago's children?

Already, teachers and other workers, as well as concerned parents are organizing to stop the cutbacks. Informational pickets have been held at several schools across the city as well as at the Board of Education's monthly meeting. Teachers and parents are planning to speak out at a series of upcoming public hearings on the proposed cutbacks.

Another important part of the fight against layoffs is the ongoing struggle to demand full implementation of contractual guarantees and laws concerning class size, caseloads, special education instruction, etc. One of the well-used tactics of the Board is to illegally violate the contract and the law in order to cut costs, eliminate jobs and deprive students of their educational rights.

The Board's proposed cutbacks are part of an ongoing offensive against the public schools system in Chicago and across the country. Federal, state and local governments are all refusing to make the investments needed to guarantee the education of our country's children, especially the children of the workers and minorities. At the same time, the government keeps imposing layoffs, pay and benefit cuts, increased workloads, etc. onto teachers and other educational workers.

We say this criminal neglect of our schools must be stopped. Teachers, parents, students and all concerned people must demand that government fulfill its responsibilities and properly fund the public schools. Rather than layoffs and curriculum cutbacks, we need massive new investments in the public schools.

No Layoffs! No Curriculum Cutbacks! No Increased Workloads!

PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS IN NYC FIGHT FOR HIGHER WAGES

During the second week of June, 100,000 public sector workers in New York City organized mass actions and strikes to demand improved wages and benefits.

- - 23,000 home health aides, members of Local 1199/SEIU, waged a 3-day strike to demand a wage increase from $7/hour to $10/hour over 3 years as well as certain elementary rights to health coverage, vacations, etc. The home health aides are employed by 11 private agencies which are funded by federal, state and local governments.

After the first day of the strike, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest agency, agreed to the union's main demands, including the $10/hour wage demand. Tentative contracts have also been reached with 3 other agencies, employing another 12,000 workers. The union is prepared to strike again against any holdout agencies after another 30-day bargaining period.

- - On June 8, 60,000 teachers, firefighters and police held a huge downtown rally to demand increased wages.

- - 7,000 day care workers went on strike for 3 days. The workers have been without a contract since April 2000 and without a raise since December 2000.

Similar problems are confronting public workers across the country. While the military contractors and other capitalists rob the public treasury, the government keeps screaming that it has "no money" to fund vital services and pay public workers. Thus public workers have no choice but to come out in struggles to defend their wages and livelihoods. These struggles demand the support of all the working people.

U.S. CONDUCTS "SUBCRITICAL" NUCLEAR TESTING

On May 25th, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it had conducted a subcritical nuclear test in an underground cavern, 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The test, so-called "Operation Unicorn" was the 20th "experiment" as part of a new testing program which began in 1997.

Such "subcritical experiments" involve exposing tiny amounts of nuclear materials to high explosives. According to U.S. officials, the blasts do not produce a nuclear chain reaction, but are "designed to test the skills of U.S. nuclear weapons experts, as well as the materials contained in the U.S. nuclear arsenal."

Bush administration officials have said recently that they want the Nevada Site to "to resume full-scale nuclear tests, if necessary."

Such tests are further proof that the U.S. government is planning nuclear war and directly threatening humanity with disaster.

Last year, the U.S. government took concrete steps to develop a new generation of nuclear bombs. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to repeal a 10-year-old ban on the development of small nuclear arms, and approved $15.5 million to conduct further research on a huge nuclear weapon, called the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator," that would be used to destroy deeply buried targets. The panel also agreed to spend $6 million to research other "advanced nuclear weapons concepts," and it earmarked $25 million to enable the Pentagon to resume new nuclear weapons testing that was suspended under previous administrations.

Today, as the U.S. tries to create a "new world order" with itself as the judge, jury and executioner of the peoples everywhere it is increasingly relying on the nuclear option and its nuclear superiority to intimidate and threaten the peoples.

By continually discussing the need for "new nuclear weapons" and "nuclear strike options," the government is trying to override the profound anti-nuclear, anti-war sentiments of the peoples and prepare public opinion for the use of nuclear weapons.

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The Worker (Update) is also available at the Workers Party, USA home page: www.workersparty.org

 

 

Volume 18, No. 11 May 23, 2004

U.S. IMPERIALISM ESCALATES AND EXTENDS ITS INTERVENTION AND WARS

U.S. imperialism continues not only to escalate its war against Iraq but also to step up its aggression and interference against countries and peoples across the globe.

Just within the last few weeks, U.S. imperialism:

- has tightened its encirclement and stepped up its attacks against the population of Karbala, Najaf, Kufa, and other cities across Iraq. AC-130 helicopter gunships, as well as tanks and warplanes, are regularly being used against heavily populated areas. In Karbala alone, entire city blocks have been destroyed and at least 120 Iraqis killed in the last few weeks;

- organized its police dog , the state of Israel, to step up its genocidal war against the Palestinian people. For example, on May 18, the Israeli army invaded the Palestinian city of Rafah, killing at least 50 people and driving thousands from their homes;

- imposed new economic and political sanctions on Syria with the aim of bringing about "regime change" in that country;

- imposed a series of new economic sanctions and other measures aimed at overthrowing the current economic and political system in Cuba;

- stepped up its campaign of destabilization and counter-revolution against the government of Venezuela;

- invaded Haiti to overthrow the constitutional government and impose direct U.S. military rule.

And more. Within the last 2 1/2 years, U.S. imperialism has also invaded and continues to occupy Afghanistan, dispatched more counter-insurgency troops to Colombia and the Philippines, increased its pressure and war preparations against North Korea, Iran and other countries, etc.

The plain facts are that U.S. imperialism is already waging wars on every continent and that it is preparing to escalate these wars and start new ones. No people or country is safe. Bush's "preemptive doctrine" declares that the U.S. will attack any country, at any time, in order to insure U.S. domination over the entire world.

This war program arises from the very basis of the capitalist-imperialist system -- from the fact that the U.S. monopoly capitalist class lives not only by exploiting the working people at home but also by superexploiting and enslaving peoples the world over.

In short, the world is at a turning point. U.S. imperialism is seeking to impose a permanent state of war on the peoples and a "new world order" of colonialism and militarism.

Thus, in the course of advancing the urgent struggles against the war in Iraq and against every aggressive step taken by the U.S. government, the people must build up the force capable of defeating imperialism and its war program once and for all.

We must build and strengthen an independent political movement which can defeat the parties of war and bring to power a peace government

- - a government which ends U.S. intervention and aggression in all its form, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country.

ISRAEL INVADES RAFAH

On May 18, Israel launched a major military offensive, "Operation Rainbow," against the Palestinian city of Rafah in southern Gaza, near the border with Egypt. With the stated purpose of "destroying Palestinian homes" in order to "widen an Israeli patrol road," the Israeli military command has been carrying out a scorched-earth policy in Rafah.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, invaded the densely populated city and refugee camp, leaving a path of ripped-up roads and demolished buildings in their wake. At least 50 Palestinians have been killed and scores more wounded since the offensive began. Thousands of Palestinians have been driven from their homes. Thousands more have been arrested, and many human-rights organizations have stated that water, blood and medical supplies are running low in the city, which has been sealed off by Israeli soldiers since early May.

Massacre of Protestors

On May 19, Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians peacefully protesting the invasion, killing nearly 20, including many children. Eyewitnesses stated that helicopter missiles and tank shells were fired directly into the crowd, sending people fleeing in panic, with many dragging bloodied friends and children with them.

On May 20, the United Nations Security Council voted 14-0 criticizing the Israeli attack on civilians while also condemning Israel's policy of destroying Palestinian homes in violation of international humanitarian laws. Amnesty International, labeled the massacre in Rafah a "war crime."

Despite the U.N. vote and outrage from the international community, however, Israeli leaders declared "the offensive is not over," while U.S. President Bush not only refused to condemn the attack but insisted that Israel "has the right to defend itself."

Eyewitness reports from Rafah continue to expose the destruction and carnage resulting from the invasion.

According to Yacoub Othman, 55, who lives in the Brazil neighborhood and was hit by random fire in the leg as he walked downstairs in his home... "I couldn't even open the window and call on my neighbor to call for an ambulance because the [Israeli] snipers were right in front of us and the bulldozer was working in the street in front of us."

One witness described a "sea of blood with body parts flying all over" during the May 19 attack on demonstrators. "It was horrifying," said Mahmoud Abu Hashem, another eyewitness. "There was one person with his intestines coming out. Another had blood covering his face and you couldn't even make out his features."

On May 19, over 5,000 Palestinians rallied near Gaza City, condemning the invasion in the south. Protests against the offensive also took place in numerous Palestinian cities throughout the West Bank. Also, thousands of Israeli peace activists protested the army's Rafah operation at a Gaza crossing point and in Tel Aviv.

Internationally, emergency protests against the invasion have also taken place in many cities throughout Europe and in the United States.

VENEZUELANS MARCH FOR PEACE AND AGAINST PARAMILITARY AND IMPERIALIST INTERVENTION

On May 17, thousands upon thousands of Venezuelans marched in Caracas to protest the invasion of the country by Colombian paramilitary troops and to denounce ongoing U.S. intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs.

The mass action was organized one week after the Venezuelan government captured some 120 paramilitary bandits who had infiltrated the country and were planning attacks on Venezuelan military bases and a coup d'etat against the constitutional government headed by President Hugo Chavez.

President Chavez spoke at the rally and denounced the U.S. government as "an invader and assassin imperialist force which marginalizes the United Nations in order to humiliate the dignity of millions of human beings." The President said that the Bush administration is behind efforts to oust him and again accused the U.S. government of being behind the coup d'etat that briefly removed him from power in April of 2002.

BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON VENEZUELA

U.S. imperialism is carrying out a destabilization campaign against the constitutional government of Venezuela headed by President Hugo Chavez.

Amongst other things, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the U.S. government has been organizing and financing opposition groups in Venezuela. In April 2002, these groups attempted a military coup, arresting Chavez and issuing a number of "decrees" nullifying many of the economic and political reforms being implemented by Chavez. The coup, although immediately recognized by the U.S. government, was defeated by the Venezuelan people who came out in their millions to rally around the elected government.

Since 2002, the U.S. government has continued to fund and encourage the same oppositional forces. Relying on tactics similar to those employed in Haiti and elsewhere, the U.S. government and media (as well as the monopoly-owned media in Venezuela) continually try to create hysteria about Chavez' alleged "dictatorial powers," while promoting the opposition as the "democratic alternative." However, the facts show that the opposition, in addition to having virtually no popular support, relies on the methods of agent provocateurs and terrorists.

The opposition openly agitates for the armed overthrow of the constitutional government and several leaders have repeatedly called for U.S. military intervention. Their tactics include murder and torture of government officials, as well as attempts to incite civil strife through violent street actions. The aim is to cause a disturbance big enough to "justify" U.S. intervention to "restore peace."

There is also the danger that the U.S. may use Colombian paramilitary death squads and/or the Colombian army to create armed conflict with Venezuela which again could be used as an excuse for U.S. intervention. Within the last year, Colombian paramilitaries have been repeatedly caught making incursions and preparing armed attacks inside Venezuelan territory.

Recent History

From 1958 to 1998 two parties representing the Venezuelan upper classes [Accion Democratica (Social Democrats) and Copei (Christian Democrats)] monopolized political power through an agreement, known as "puntofijismo," under which the two competed and shared the state administration while excluding all working class parties.

In the 1980's, the Venezuelan economy faced tremendous difficulties as a result of the fall in oil prices and the flight of foreign capital. In response, two successive administrations -- headed by Presidents Carlos Perez and Rafael Caldera -- adopted a typical neo-liberal economic program which included "Structural Adjustment Loans" from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), privatization of state-owned enterprises, cutbacks in social expenditures, deregulation, etc. The measures -- dictated by U.S. and foreign banks

- - destroyed the livelihoods of the Venezuelan people, forcing more than two-thirds of the population into poverty.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez was elected President on a platform that called for the democratization of the country through the convening of a National Constituent Assembly and the drafting of a new constitution. In August 1999, the Constituent Assembly was elected with an overwhelming majority of members supporting the pro-Chavez Fifth Republic Movement (MVR). The new constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum in December 1999 and subsequently the Chavez-led coalition won a substantial majority of representatives in the new government.

Chavez and the MVR began a process of economic and political reforms known as the "Bolivarian Revolution."

Several measures have been taken to strengthen the economic independence of the country. The new Constitution itself banned the privatization of the oil industry and other state sectors. In 2001, a new law was passed mandating that the Venezuelan government maintain at least 51% ownership in all new oil exploration and production enterprises.

Chavez also brought Venezuelan oil production in line with OPEC quotas, thereby reducing oil exports to the U.S. (Venezuela is one of the 4 top suppliers to the U.S., accounting for 13% of the oil imported to the U.S. in 2002 or more than 1.4 million barrels/day).

Chavez has also taken measures to impose certain limited monetary controls to prevent manipulation of Venezuela's currency by the big international bankers.

One of the major social reforms of the Chavez government is in the educational sector. Chavez has doubled the government's annual expenditures on public education and already built 3,200 new "Bolivarian Schools". These schools help the most downtrodden because they are day-long schools, thus enabling parents to work. The Bolivarian schools also provide free breakfast, lunch and a late afternoon snack for all children. The schools are also closely integrated with the community and serve as community centers. In addition, "Plan Simoncito" has greatly expanded infant and child care for ages 0 to 6. Today more than 300,000 infants and children, nearly 45% of Venezuela's children, receive free day-care.

In addition, Bolivarian University is extending access to higher education to tens of thousands of students from impoverished backgrounds. With the help of Cuban experts, Venezuelan has also undertaken an extensive adult literacy program.

Some of the other ongoing reform initiatives include:

- rural and urban land reform which has already given title to land and housing to hundreds of thousands of peasants and urban poor.

- a community health care program which is establishing clinics in poor neighborhoods.

- a nationwide network for distributing food at below market rates.

The U.S. government also opposes the independent foreign policy of the Chavez government which has repeatedly spoke out against U.S. aggression and interference in Latin America and throughout the world, against the FTAA, etc. Chavez also opposes the blockade of Cuba and concluded a barter-exchange agreement with Cuba, providing that country with 534,000 barrels of oil/day in exchange for Cuban assistance in developing the health and education sectors of Venezuela.

YOUTH AND STUDENT VOICE

This section of the paper is produced by the "Youth and Students for A Democratic Foreign Policy." The YSDFP encourages other activists and concerned youth and students to contribute articles.

All U.S. and Foreign Troops Out of Iraq!

On Thursday, May 6, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) organized a public meeting to demand: "All U.S. and Foreign Troops Out of Iraq!" About 25 people, including students as well as people from neighboring communities, participated.

The YSDFP spent 10 days preparing for the meeting by setting up literature tables on campus, making presentations to various classes as part of an ongoing speaking tour against the war, distributing hundreds of leaflets and other anti-war literature, and initiating innumerable individual and small group discussions with students and faculty. Leaflets announcing the meeting were posted around campus.

In the course of this work, the YSDFP found widespread opposition to the war and almost universal outrage at the recently exposed abuse of Iraqi prisoners as well as other war crimes of the U.S. government. Many students and faculty joined in the work of popularizing the meeting and speaking out against the war.

Through its ongoing program, the YSDFP is working to create public space in which students and faculty can get information, hold serious political discussion, and take a strong stand against the war.

At the meeting itself, the main talk was given by a member of the Workers Party. The speaker focussed on 3 main points:

1) He detailed the inhuman methods of the U.S. occupationist army -- including the bombing of heavily populated areas, the use of nuclear-tipped munitions, the siege of cities, the abuse of prisoners, etc., etc. -- and showed how these methods reflect the very character of the war. The U.S. government is waging an aggressive war, a war which aims at colonizing Iraq and for this reason the Pentagon sees the entire Iraqi people as the enemy and relies on methods which terrorize and humiliate the Iraqi nation.

2) The war against Iraq is only one link in a so-called "war against terrorism" through which U.S. imperialism is trampling on the sovereignty of countries and declaring its "right" to wage "preemptive wars" at any time and against any country. U.S. imperialism is trying to throw humanity back to the days of open colonialism. At stake is what kind of world are we going to be living in -- will it be a world of perpetual war or will it be a world of peace in which the sovereign rights of every nation are recognized?

3) The speaker showed how the war in Iraq has the bipartisan support of the Republican and Democratic Parties because it arises from the interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class to grab the resources of Iraq, exploit the people and recolonize the Middle East. The speaker emphasized that in the course of broadening the anti-war struggle, the American people must strengthen an independent political movement, in opposition to the parties of war and imperialism.

Campus Speaking Tour

The Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) is continuing its speaking tour in classes in Chicago-area colleges.

The speaking tour was initiated by the YSDFP in order to generate discussion about and against U.S. imperialism's war program. The recent classes have focused on the war against Iraq. In each class, a member of the YSDFP makes a speech about the war which is followed by a discussion involving the whole class.

Time and again students have thanked the YSDFP for taking a straightforward stand and boldly speaking out. The students appreciated the information given in the speech and discussion and said that it helped them sort through a matter of importance to them.

In a number of these cases, the political discussion provided space for students who already had strong convictions to express their anti-war views. In other cases, the experience gave students heart to articulate their own only partially formulated anti-war stands. For instance, many rallied to denounce assertions that people in Iraq and the Middle East were generally terrorists. By taking such action, they did not allow racism to pass.

The speaking tour has also encouraged much discussion and other action around anti-war politics. Some students have shared the literature they were given in the classes with other people. Others have told their family and friends about the discussion that took place in their class. Some have written papers based on the YSDFP discussion and literature. A number of teachers have also joined in. All of these things are involving people in actively taking a stand, finding out about the issues, and sorting through what's at stake in the U.S. government's war program.

By sticking to our principled positions, we have repeatedly exposed the diehard pro-war views which quickly degenerate into open racism (e.g. "they're all terrorists") and rabid militarism (e.g. "nuke 'em"). We have also exposed the reactionary methods of the proponents of war who try to sidetrack the discussion, resort to verbal abuse and try to intimidate others.

The speaking tour is an important part of the YSDFP program of bringing anti-imperialist politics to the center of student life. By speaking in classes, we are directly engaging with the diverse opinions that exist among the students. We are standing up to tell the truth about the war to everyone -- those who agree with us and those who don't. We are ready to defend and elaborate our anti-war position under any and all circumstances and in the process are creating space and experience to assist others to do the same. By carrying this principled banner of opposition into the classrooms, we strive to unite the broadest possible sections of students in struggle against the war.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 10 May 10, 2004

EVERYTHING THAT MAKES US HUMAN DEMANDS:

U.S. AND ALL FOREIGN TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ!

The barbaric methods of the U.S. occupying army in Iraq have aroused the conscience of humanity. The immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq is ever more urgent.

Most recently the world has seen photos of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. Such torture is systematic and ongoing. On May 6, the International Committee of the Red Cross made public a report, based on visits from March to November 2003, to detention centers in Iraq. The Red Cross said that serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, including the killing of unarmed prisoners, and abuse that is "tantamount to torture . . . Went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered a practice tolerated" by occupation forces. A spokesman for the Red Cross said that the abuse of Iraqis revealed in the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison were not "isolated acts of individual members of coalition forces" but part of "a pattern and a broad system." Further exposing the lies of the Bush administration, which continues to conceal information and deny prior knowledge of prisoner abuse, the Red Cross reported that it had repeatedly urged the U.S. government to take "corrective action." Similarly, Abd Al-Basit Turki, the former human rights minister in the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said that he had told Paul Bremer, chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, last November that U.S. soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners from the very beginning of the occupation and at every jail and detention center. In an interview with a French newspaper, Turki also said that he had direct reports of continuing prisoner abuse.

Conservative estimates put the number of Iraqis detained by the U.S. at more than 40,000, mainly civilians and including large numbers of women and teenagers.

And the torture of prisoners is only one example of the inhuman methods used by U.S. imperialism in its war against the Iraqi people.

U.S. imperialism launched its war against Iraq with a "shock and awe" campaign that included dropping 1,300 bombs on the people of Baghdad in one day. It has repeatedly used warplanes, helicopters gunships, missiles and tanks against heavily populated civilian areas. It has besieged cities, denying water, electricity, food, medical care and other necessities to the people in Fallujah and cities throughout Iraq. It has dropped 2,200 tons of depleted uranium shells on Iraq, poisoning the people and contaminating the country with nuclear radiation which will last for millions of years. It has relied on the Hitlerite method of collective reprisals, arresting entire families and retaliating against entire towns in an attempt to suppress any resistance to its occupation.

These barbaric methods come from the very character of the war as an aggressive, colonial war. U.S. imperialism launched its war against Iraq in order to plunder its wealth, enslave its people and use the country as a base for recolonizing the entire Middle East. Thus, the Pentagon knows that its enemy is the people of Iraq and the Pentagon's methods aim at terrorizing the population in order to force them to submit to colonial rule.

And, despite the ever growing resistance of the Iraqi people, despite the worldwide condemnation of the war, the U.S. government is escalating its aggression.

Right now, U.S. troops are tightening their siege of the cities of Fallujah, Najaf and Karbala. On May 6 and 7, U.S. tanks and troops launched new attacks in Najaf and Karbala, killing 50 Iraqis.

The Pentagon has announced that 135,000 U.S. troops will remain at war in Iraq at least through the end of 2005 and that this number may be increased at any time. Bush is again appropriating $25 billion more for the war and both Bush and Kerry have repeatedly said that the U.S. government "will stay the course" in Iraq and send as many troops and weapons as are needed.

Yet more. The aggressive, colonial war against Iraq and the inhuman methods used by the U.S. army are already being spread all over the world. Within the last 2 and 1/2 years, U.S. imperialism has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Haiti; it has directed the Israeli army in a genocidal war against the Palestinian nation; it has dispatched more troops to Colombia and the Philippines. The U.S. government is also actively preparing new wars against Syria, Korea, Iran and other countries. U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism" is nothing but the battle plan of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class to dominate the world through force of arms.

Thus the conscience of humanity calls us to the struggle for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq.

The future of the peoples of the whole world calls us to further organize ourselves so as to defeat the war program of U.S. imperialism and bring to power a genuine anti-war, anti-imperialist government.

U.S. HOPES U.N. CAN "LEGITIMIZE" COLONIALISM

Every day, the Iraqi resistance grows and the U.S. war of aggression is condemned by wider sections of world public opinion. Facing this situation, the U.S. government is trying to overcome its political isolation by turning more towards the U.N., hoping to find a way to put a "more legitimate face" on its colonial occupation and war.

Special U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been shuttling back and forth between Bush and various political figures in Iraq trying to find a formula for a "transitional government." Brahimi himself says his mission is "to find a way of making the process viable and credible" (NYT 4/28/04). For its part, the Bush administration says: "We're in synch with Brahimi" (State Department spokesman quoted in NYT, 4/28/04). And why not. The "transitional government" will have no real authority; the power will remain 100% in the hands of the U.S. Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, has already issued an edict declaring that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely and that any Iraqi troops will be directly under the command of the U.S. On May 4, General Abizaid, the U.S. commander for the Middle East, announced that troop levels would remain at 135,000 until at least the end of 2005 and that, at any time, the number could be increased. Secretary of State Powell has publicly admitted that the sovereignty of Iraq will be "limited." In other words, the U.N. is being used as a cover, a way to deflect public opinion, even while the U.S. occupation and war continues.

John Kerry and the Democratic Party hope that by intoning the words "United Nations" even louder than Bush, they can deceive public opinion and divert the anti-war movement better than Bush. For months, the Democrats have been calling on Bush to bring more U.N. and NATO troops into Iraq even while insisting that "primary responsibility for security must remain with the U.S. military" (from Op-Ed article by Kerry published in the Washington Post).

The U.S. government is more than willing to use the U.N. if it dances to the U.S. war drum (last year, the U.N. Security Council gave its official sanction to the U.S. occupation). At the same time, the U.S. has repeatedly underlined that it will never cede any authority to

U. N. policies which run counter to U.S. imperialism's interests. What is more, it must be kept in mind that only the U.N. Security Council has the authority to deploy troops and that the Security Council is dominated by five big powers - including the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - each of which have the power to veto any action not its liking.

In other words, either the U.N. will be used as a tool of U.S. aggression or the U.S. will continue its aggression alone.

When one scratches the surface of the calls for U.N. intervention, one frequently hears the argument that "there will be chaos if the U.S. just pulls out completely. The Iraqis aren't ready yet; they need to be taught the ways of democracy." This is simply another variant of the chauvinism of George Bush, a replay of the tune which the colonizers and slavemasters have always sung to the colonial peoples: "you are not yet ready for freedom; we are enslaving you in order to civilize you," etc., etc. The struggle in Iraq is not about creating a "kinder and gentler" occupation. It is not about the relative role of the various imperialist powers in the colonization of Iraq. It is a struggle of the Iraqi people against U.S. imperialist aggression and occupation. It is a struggle for independence, sovereignty and freedom.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 9 April 20, 2004

IRAQI RESISTANCE GROWS; U.S. ESCALATES WAR

The U.S. military siege of Falluja and the ongoing bombardment of population centers across Iraq must steel the determination of the American people to redouble our efforts to end this aggressive war.

On April 4, thousands of U.S. troops sealed off Falluja as U.S. military commanders vowed collective reprisals against the city for the killing of 4 American mercenaries. Since then, AC-130 gunships, F-16 fighter planes, helicopters and hundreds of tanks have repeatedly bombed the city. As of April 10, more than 500 Iraqis - mostly noncombatants, including 157 women and 146 children - had been killed, more than 1200 wounded, and 60,000 forced to leave the city. As The Worker goes to press, Falluja remains blockaded, its electricity and water cut off.

The savage methods of U.S. imperialism reflect its colonial aims in Iraq. From the beginning, the U.S. military has used devastating weapons against civilians, targeted the economic infrastructure of the country, relied on the Hitlerite method of collective reprisals with the hope of terrorizing the people, subjugating them and establishing its own colonial rule in the country.

But just as the people in Falluja continue to defend their city and their lives, so too, all across Iraq the people are rising in struggle against U.S. occupation.

Since early April, popular uprisings have developed in dozens of cities across the country. Demonstrations, strikes, public meetings, relief efforts and other actions are also being organized to support the popular uprisings.

The U.S. government is responding to the ever-growing resistance of the Iraqi people by escalating its war of aggression.

With the logic of the slavemaster, Bush insists that anyone who resists the subjugation and dictates of U.S. imperialism is a "terrorist" and that U.S. imperialism will use its military might to impose its will on the peoples everywhere. In his April 13 press conference, George Bush declared that he is prepared to send even more U.S. troops and escalate this war of aggression for years on end. Already, the number of U.S. troops is increasing and the duty tours of 20,000 soldiers have been extended. Democratic Presidential candidate has likewise declared his determination to "stay the course" in Iraq and increase U.S. troop strength.

The American people must have no illusions. Within the last 2 and 1/2 years, U.S. imperialism has declared war on the world. Already it has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and is using its surrogate army in Israel to wage war against Palestine. It has increased its "low-intensity," counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines. It is building up new weapons of mass destruction at an unprecedented pace and threatening war against Syria, North Korea, Iran and other countries.

This so-called "war on terrorism" and the escalating war in Iraq show the desperation and savageness of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. monopoly capitalist class, with its insatiable appetite for economic territory and profits, is seeking to dominate the world through force of arms.

U.S. imperialism will keep escalating its war in Iraq until it is defeated and forced out. It will continue to launch more aggressive wars against the peoples as long as it has a single troop at its command.

The American people must confront this war program and defeat it.

We must continuously extend our anti-war struggles and demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq.

We must broaden our movement and fight against U.S. aggression in every corner of the world - in Afghanistan and Palestine, in Colombia and the Philippines, etc., etc.

In the course of these struggle we must build up our own independent, proactive movement. The people demand an end to U.S. aggression and intervention, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, an end to U.S. participation in military alliances and support for reactionary regimes and the recognition of the sovereign equality of every nation.

We demand nothing less than a world of peace and friendship amongst the peoples and our peace agenda can only be won through a continuous, unyielding struggle against the parties and government of war and imperialism.

DEMOCRATS ALSO PREPARE TO ESCALATE WAR IN IRAQ

In fighting to end the war in Iraq, the American people must realistically weigh up the balance of political forces.

One of the first things which stands out is that, from the very beginning the invasion of Iraq, and, in fact, the whole so-called "war on terrorism," have been the bipartisan program of both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

And again, last week as Bush announced plans to continue and escalate the war, he had the full support of the Democrats.

Senator Kerry, the Democratic candidate for President, in an Op-Ed piece published in the Washington Post, said: "Americans of all political persuasions are united in our desire to succeed. The extremists attacking our forces should know they will not succeed in dividing America, or in sapping American resolve, or in forcing the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops. Our country is committed to help the Iraqis build a stable, peaceful and pluralistic society. No matter who is elected president in November, we will persevere in that mission...If our military commanders request more troops, we should deploy them."

Kerry's only "criticism" of Bush is that he should work harder to bring in the United Nations as a way of giving more political cover and more troop strength to the ongoing U.S. occupation. Of course, Kerry insists that the U.N. will remain under the domination of the U.S. military. In the same Washington Post article, Kerry writes: "Moving forward the administration must make the United Nations a full partner...We also need to renew our effort to attract international support in the form of boots on the ground to create a climate of security in Iraq."

"We should urge NATO to create a new out-of-area operation for Iraq. ..This would help us obtain more troops from major powers....The primary responsibility for security must remain with the U.S. military."

No one should be surprised by the position of Kerry or the Democratic Party generally. Just like the Republicans, the Democrats are a party financed and created by the monopoly capitalist class and for that reason it is a party of war and imperialism.

Thus, in advancing our anti-war struggles we need to rely on the people themselves, continually mobilizing them into active life and building up the independent organizations and independent political movement of the people themselves.

THE PALESTINIAN NATION WILL SURVIVE AND WIN!

On April 14, George Bush officially announced the U.S. government's support for Israel's plan to permanently annex large sections of the West Bank and thus effectively prevent the establishment of any viable, independent Palestinian state.

In a White House statement and a letter to Ariel Sharon, Bush gave official U.S. sanction to the Israeli program of establishing illegal settlements on Palestinian territory in order to usurp Palestinian land and expand Israel's borders. Bush said: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

Bush also declared that the U.S. government no longer accepts (even in words) the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and homes seized by Israel in 1948. Bush also gave his approval to the apartheid wall which Israel is building across the West Bank. At the same time, even as Israel continues to occupy Palestinian towns and kill the Palestinians on a daily basis, Bush demanded that the Palestinian people give up any resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression, saying "Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere."

Bush's announcements flagrantly violate international law, U.N. resolutions and several international documents and commitments signed by the U.S. government itself. Bush has publicly declared that U.S. imperialism and its creature, Israeli zionism, are preparing to annex Palestine and liquidate the Palestinian nation.

For the last 2 years, U.S. imperialism and its creature, the expansionist Israeli state, have been waging an-out war against the Palestinian people. Israel has repeatedly attacked and occupied cities and towns across the West Bank and Gaza, killing 3,000 Palestinians, wounding nearly 40,000 and forcing another 50,000 into exile. Israel has systematically sought to destroy the entire political, economic and social fabric of Palestinian society, assassinating political and religious leaders, destroying the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, expropriating more lands, destroying the homes and farm lands of the people, closing and bulldozing schools, etc. The apartheid wall being built for 450 miles throughout the West Bank will confine the Palestinians to 12% of their historic homeland, hemmed in and encircled by the Israeli military.

This attempt to liquidate the Palestinian nation is part of U.S.. imperialism's so-called "war against terrorism." As the U.S. military is occupying Iraq as a first step in recolonizing the entire Middle East, it simultaneously seeks to crush the Palestinians so as to stabilize its base of operations in Israel and extinguish any resistance to its domination.

At this time, so crucial to the future of humanity, the Workers Party calls on all democratic-minded people to rally in defense of the Palestinian people whose very survival as a nation is at stake. More than ever, the Palestinian liberation struggle is a call to the conscience of all humanity and a vital part of the resistance to U.S. imperialism's program for world domination.

The Palestinian Nation Will Survive and Win!

U.S. Imperialism and Its "War on Terrorism" Will Be Defeated!

THE STRUGGLE FOR PALESTINE CONTINUES

Below we print a number of statements from Palestinian and Arab spokespersons condemning George Bush's statements of April 14 and reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

In an official statement issued on April 14, from Ramallah the Palestinian Leadership said:

"President Arafat and Prime Minister Ahmed Qure' chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee in the presence of the Palestinian factions representatives."

"The Palestinian leadership received information about the deal Sharon seeks to strike with U.S. President, George Bush. This deal that Sharon seeks, affects for the first time the refugees issue, the 1967 borders including Jerusalem and covers the illegitimate existence & the expansion of the settlement blocks on the Palestinian land, in addition to the segregation wall which confiscates 45% of our land in the West Bank. It also substitutes the "road map" with Sharon's plan for expansion, occupation, settlement, the building of the segregation wall and the prevention of the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

"The Israeli conditioned withdrawal from Gaza coupled with the continued Israeli control on Gaza borders with Egypt, sea, air and land give evidence that this withdrawal is meant to transform Gaza into a jail....

"This deal, which Sharon insists on, comes at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations and without the participation of this legitimate leadership represents an illegitimate act and serves the interests of the occupation and settlements and the segregation wall. We call on all Arab nations, the international community, Quartet and all peace loving forces to reject this project because it contradicts the international resolutions and the road map and affects the USA's role as a sponsor of peace."

PLO: Sharon-Bush "Exchanged Messages" Contradict International Legitimacy

RAMALLAH, April 15, 2004, (WAFA)- The Palestinian Liberation Organization(PLO) said Thursday that the Sharon-Bush "exchanged messages" contradict International legitimacy, the relevant signed accords and the Road Map peace plan.

In a meeting, chaired by President Yasser Arafat, attended by various Palestinian organizations, the PLO's Executive Committee reiterated its rejection to the Israeli occupation and colonization including the construction of the Apartheid wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)....

Arafat: Palestinian People, Land and Freedom Defender

RAMALLA, 15, 2004 April 15, 2004 (WAFA)- President Yasser Arafat has reiterated that the Palestinian people will not abandon their goals of achieving freedom, independence and national sovereignty in the Palestinian independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

In a live speech broadcast by Palestine TV on Thursday, Arafat said that "our fate is to defend our right to self-determination and the right to return to our homeland."

Arab League: Israel Must Pull out from 1967 Territories

CAIRO, April 15, 2004, (WAFA) - The League of Arab States affirmed Thursday the necessity for Israeli pullout from the Occupied 1967 Territories and of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on those Territories.

In a press conference, the spokesman of the League's Secretary General Hussam Zaki said that it is not possible to reward the Occupation or ignore the negotiations of the final status issues.

Zaki considered Israel's announcement to annex some settlements Blocs in the West Bank, is a direct contradiction of International law and a cut-off of the opportunities to achieve a just peace for the Palestinian issue.

Abed Rabbo: Bush Declared Death of Peace Process

On April 16, the Palestine Media Center reports on statements by Abed Rabbo, Minister of Information:

In an unprecedented, dangerous move, US President George W. Bush gave Israel's premier last night full backing for his go-it-alone plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip and implicitly recognized Israel's claim to some of the West Bank's largest settlement blocs as part of any peace accord with the Palestinians....

President Bush directly tilted towards the Sharon government by indicating for the first time that the Jewish state can retain six of the biggest settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in any final peace agreement reached with the Palestinians.

Under international law, all settlements are deemed illegal....

About 92,500 Israelis live in the six settlements, which Sharon wants to maintain a grip on and annex to Israel -- out of a total of 240,000 in the West Bank, or 400,000 if occupied east Jerusalem is included.

In a letter to the Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, Bush also voiced unequivocal support for Israeli demands to ensure that any peace deal with the Palestinians should not provide for the thousands of Palestinians who were expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries in 1948 to return to Israel.

Effectively, [the Bush-Sharon plan] means that Israel can annex and keep the settlements of Ma'ale Adumim, the largest colony in the West Bank, which Israel envisions will grow to the edges of Jerusalem, Kiryat Arba, Ariel, Givat Ze'ev, Gush Etzion and the Jewish settler enclave at the heart of the southern West Bank city of Hebron for "eternity" as he had promised settlers.

YOUTH AND STUDENT VOICE

This section of the paper is produced by the Youth and Students for A Democratic Foreign Policy. The YSDFP encourages other activists and concerned youth and students to contribute articles.

STUDENTS ORGANIZE TO OPPOSE U.S.-ISRAELI AGGRESSION

On April 14, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) held two public meetings to oppose U.S.-Israeli aggression.

For two weeks ahead of time, the YSDFP organized wide-ranging work to prepare for the meetings and politicize other students about the issue. Many students got involved in the work, talking to their peers, distributing literature, studying the history and current situation in Palestine, etc. Several teachers also supported the work. At the meetings themselves many members and friends of the YSDFP participated as well as other student activists, teachers and concerned people from the community. This broad campaign is part of the increasing initiative of the YSDFP to bring anti-war politics to the center of campus life.

At the meetings, Michael Thorburn, a member of the Workers Party, was invited to give the main talk. He made several extremely important and timely points.

Firstly, Michael Thorburn emphasized that right now the very survival of the Palestinian nation is at stake.

Shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. and Israeli governments announced that Palestine was another front in the so-called "war against terrorism" and in March of 2002, Israel invaded and occupied every Palestinian city and town. Since then thousands of Palestinians have been killed and tens of thousand injured. Israel has repeatedly blockaded towns, carried out mass detentions, destruction of houses, etc.

The Israeli aggression systematically seeks to destroy the very fabric of Palestinian society. It has targeted the political, economic and social infrastructures - assassinating political and religious leaders, destroying the buildings of the Palestine Authority, closing and bulldozing educational institutions, homes, agriculture lands and so forth.

Israel is building an apartheid wall across the West Bank which will confine the Palestinian people in isolated cantons, comprising only about 12% of their historic homeland, while the rest of the West Bank, including the illegal Israeli settlements will be de facto annexed to Israel. On April 14, George Bush gave the U.S. government's official support to this annexation.

The U.S.-Israel aggression aims not only at suppressing any resistance to occupation but at liquidating the Palestinian nation altogether - at killing and dispersing large sections of the people and leaving the rest encircled in prison-towns.

Michael Thorburn discussed, in some detail, the history of Palestine to show that the current state of Israel is an expansionist, settler-colonial regime sponsored by European imperialism, and today primarily U.S. imperialism. He showed how U.S. imperialism has built Israel as its fort in the Middle East, a dagger in the heart of the Arab world.

Michael Thorburn emphasized that the current struggle in Palestine must be seen in the context of U.S. imperialism's so-called "war on terrorism." While U.S. imperialism has occupied Iraq and is waging a savage war to subjugate the people there, it has declared that this is only the beginning of its plan to recolonize the Middle East and use its military might to create a unipolar world under its hegemony.

In this context, Bush has repeatedly declared that any opposition to U.S. domination will be crushed through military force. In Palestine, as elsewhere, the U.S.-Israeli aggressors rely on doublespeak logic to cover over their aggressive, genocidal wars as "self-defence" while branding any resistance to their domination as "terrorism."

U.S. imperialism is seeking a "final solution" to the "Palestinian problem" -- seeking to stabilize its base area in the Middle East by liquidating the Palestinian resistance struggle.

But the Palestinian people will never give way. On the contrary. They are continuing to resist and fight for the salvation and liberation of their nation. This struggle has won the support of all progressive and democratic peoples and is a vital part of the struggle of the peoples against imperialism and the so-called "war on terrorism." Michael Thorburn emphasized that the American people must bring the issue of Palestine to the center of the ongoing struggles against the war in Iraq and build up a unified anti-imperialist movement which unites the many currents of opposition to war and imperialism into one, mighty, independent, proactive movement.

At both meetings, Michael Thorburn's speech was followed by lively and open discussions. Many people wanted to know more about the history and tactics of U.S. imperialism against the Palestinians and several participants contributed to this discussion. Others focussed on the historical and social causes of the conflict, emphasizing that contrary to imperialist propaganda, the problem had nothing to do with religion but was a product of European colonialism. Perhaps most importantly people talked about how to advance the struggle against U.S.-Israeli aggression and against the so-called "war on terrorism."

ORGANIZING AGAINST WAR AND IMPERIALISM!

Below we print a summary of a report given at the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism (March 21, 2004) by a member of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP).

The YSDFP was founded in May of 2003. The members of the organization had been active in the struggle against the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as other anti-war struggles. Our experience had taught us the need to build a proactive anti-war movement.

The program of YSDFP is to fight against every aggressive measure of the U.S. government and, at the same time, fight for fundamental solutions -- for a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. aggression against other countries, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country.

The YSDFP recognizes that only the people can stop the war program and aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government. Therefore our work is based on the independent organization and mobilization of the people in opposition to, and struggle against, the parties of war and imperialism.

Over the last 10 months, we have worked to bring the burning questions of the anti-war movement to the center of public opinion and mobilize more people into the struggle.

Firstly we have worked to keep the struggle against the war in Iraq sharp.

At the time of our founding in May, there was a tremendous amount of propaganda that the Iraq war was over. We assisted more people to see that, far from being over, the war was just beginning. We showed how the U.S. monopoly capitalists were looting and taking over ownership of the Iraqi economy. We showed how far from turning sovereignty over to the Iraqi people, the U.S. was installing a puppet government and that the real authority remained with the 140,000 U.S. and other foreign troops. We showed that the so-called terrorism in Iraq was not terrorism at all, but an insurgency fighting a just struggle for independence.

While keeping the struggle against the war in Iraq sharp, we also worked to broaden the anti-war movement by mobilizing people against the other fronts of U.S. imperialism's war program - e.g. in Palestine, Haiti, the continuing counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, etc. People have expressed a lot of appreciation for this as these issues are intense yet it is very difficult to sort through the information we are given by the monopoly controlled media. Many said that our literature/analysis was the only resource that provided clarity on these issues or even alerted them that they were issues at all.

In the course of these mobilizations, certain issues repeatedly came to the forefront. For one thing, in opposition to the chauvinism of imperialism, we have defended the fundamental democratic principle of the sovereignty of countries, showing that whether the excuse is "weapons of mass destruction," or "the brutality of Saddam Hussein," U.S. imperialism has no right to invade other countries.

The U.S. government continually propagates the idea that the Iraqi, the Haitian, and other peoples in the dependent countries need the U.S. to "liberate" them, bring stability, and mentor them in the ways of democracy. We have isolated and exposed this propaganda as the ideology of racism and chauvinism. We have done so by standing up for the principle of sovereignty and showing that to violate that principle is to assert that some people are by nature or by culture backward and uncivilized.

Regardless of the words used by our government to describe what it is doing, we continued and will continue to fight against this war by exposing and denouncing its colonial aims and brutal character. We refuse to give the war-makers any respite.

In the course of these struggles, we work to politicize people about the root causes of the war program in the economic and strategic interests of the monopoly capitalist class and the very nature of the imperialist system.

Our work aims at building up the independent anti-war movement and organization of the people and for this reason we have had to struggle against both the parties of war - the Republicans and Democrats.

We showed that in reality the Democratic party is not the lesser evil at all, but has the very same program as Bush. For example, we showed how the Democrats voted for the war and that their program of using more U.N. and multinational forces in Iraq is only an attempt to put a better face on U.S. colonization of Iraq.

We helped people to see that just because we're told that voting for the so-called lesser-evil is the only realistic thing to do, there is an alternative - the people's own struggles and organizations. We warned people early on that the role of the left-wing of the Democratic party is to wage an organized political struggle against the independent anti-war movement and lead it down a slippery slope that begins with campaigning for Kucinich or Sharpton and ends by putting its support behind a candidate such as Kerry, whose political program is literally indistinguishable from Bush's.

Day-to-Day Work

The alpha and omega of our practical program is to politicize and mobilize our peers on the widest possible basis.

- We set up weekly literature tables to distribute The Worker, the Anti-Imperialist News Service and other anti-war literature. In addition, we reach out to even more people by regularly walking around campuses to distribute the literature.

- We organize regular political discussion meetings to take up such topics such as Iraq, Colombia, North Korea, the anti-war movement and the elections, and other burning issues facing the anti-war movement.

- We initiated a campus speaking tour in which we speak against the war to classes. This has been extremely successful. By doing this, we are bringing anti-imperialist politics right into the center of student life.

- We have taken on the initiative of going to more and more schools in order to carry our program to even broader sections of people. Each time we've gone to a new school and set up a literature distribution table we have received a very enthusiastic response.

- We join in mass anti-war actions such as the March 20 demonstrations, the Books Not Bombs rally, a recent local demonstration against Tommy Franks, etc.

My experience with the YSDFP has taught me that amongst the people there is tremendous opposition to the government's war program. And my experience has taught me that the way to release people's initiative and advance the struggle is through anti-imperialist politics. The work we have done over the last 10 months has helped us create a vibrant anti-imperialist student organization and we are prepared to tremendously increase our work.

WHO SAYS NOBODY CARES?

One of the most frustrating things I hear when talking to people about the war is: "Yes, I'm against the war but 'nobody cares.'"

We -- the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy -- go out amongst the people distributing antiwar literature such as "The Worker" and we ask people what they think about the war. I myself was surprised at how overwhelmingly positive the response was. If I had never gone out and asked people what they thought, I would never have known how many people are against the war.

And there are very few people that are adamantly pro-war. Most people, if they are not speaking against the war, just say they are confused. And it is no wonder why considering the barrage of pro-war propaganda the mass media puts out. For some people, we are the first antiwar voice they have heard. That is why our work is so important. When you go amongst the people, you find that many people are against the war, but they all feel like they are the only ones. If we brought all these people together, they would find out it that this is far from the case.

I was discussing with one antiwar activist who kept on saying that most American people are too stupid and that is why most people are not against the war. We decided to put this to a test and go around the school asking people what they thought of the war. The first ten people we talked to said they were against the war. We can see that the problem is not that people don't care. In fact, one of the biggest problems people have is: what can we do? They ask this because they feel voting Democrat or Republican doesn't stop the war program. They need a real alternative -- an independent movement of the people against the parties of war. That is why we need to keep building up a principled antiwar organization.

CHICAGO SCHOOLS NEED MORE INVESTMENTS, NOT MORE STANDARDIZED TESTS

The following article is excerpted from a newsletter produced by Chicago teachers.

As Spring comes, Chicago teachers and students are once again wrapped up in standardized tests.

In fact, the growing emphasis on high-stakes testing distorts the curriculum throughout the year. Principals reward and punish teachers based on their students' test scores, forcing teachers to "teach to the test" and restrict the curriculum. Students, who for a variety of reasons, simply do not perform well on such tests find themselves more and more under the gun.

In Chicago, and across the country, high-stakes, standardized tests are being used more and more as a means to punish students, cut funding for schools, and cover over the government's failure to invest the funds needed to guarantee the education of our children.

In Chicago, standardized tests play an important role in the rating system used by the Board of Education. Schools in which students do not perform well on the tests can be placed on probation, taken over directly by the Board (and its teachers dismissed) or even closed altogether.

The "No Child Left Behind" Act, passed in 2001 by Congress and the Bush administration, makes federal funding of public schools dependent on students' scores on yearly standardized tests.

All students in grades 3-8 must take annual tests in reading and math and all students in grades 10-12 must be tested at least once. Mandatory testing in science will begin in 2007.

These tests are used to measure whether schools are making "adequate yearly progress" towards a standard of 100% "proficiency" by the year 2014.

School which receive Title I funding (federal monies earmarked for high poverty areas) and which fail to make "adequate yearly progress" for two consecutive years will face an escalating menu of penalties, including loss of Title I funds, firing of staff, take over by the state, possible privatization, etc.

All across the country, educators, state and local governments agree that year-by-year more schools will be labeled as failing. For example, last year, 365 Chicago schools, enrolling 285,000 students, failed. A recent survey by Education Week indicates that as many as 75% of all public schools will eventually fail to meet the requirements of the NCLB and be subject to sanctions.

While the politicians advertise standardized testing as a way to "improve performance," the reality is that the law only gives the government an excuse to slash funding and push for privatization of the schools.

It is obvious to anyone that test results -- at best -- only reflect the educational inputs received by students in the first place. Thus mandating standardized tests without improving inputs -- lowering class sizes, modernizing schools and curriculum, hiring more teachers and staff, etc. -- will not "improve performance." If current test results show that students are lagging behind, this only indicts the government for failing to properly invest in the public schools. Improving results must begin with increasing investments.

The National Council of State Legislatures estimates that an additional $35 billion/year is needed for schools to meet the goals of the NCLB Act. The National Educational Association (NEA) and many other associations of educators have condemned the NCLB Act has a "unfunded federal mandate" and the NEA is suing the government to demand the necessary funding. This year, thousands of Chicago students were entitled to tutoring under the provisions of the NCLB Act but the Board failed to provide it.

In fact, high-stakes, standardized testing only diverts needed time and resources away from education into test-taking and record-keeping.

In sum, the politicians are using high-stakes standardized testing as a way to cover over their own crimes. Students and the public school system itself are blamed for "lack of improvement" while the government's own refusal to properly fund the schools is ignored.

The public school system is one of the great achievements of our country and rather than finding ways to condemn the schools and tear them down, the government must make more investments in public education in order to improve our schools.

VENEZUELA'S PRESIDENT DENOUNCES U.S. PRESSURE AND REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO CHANGE

On April 13, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke at a mass rally in Caracas to commemorate the failed coup of 2002.

Thousands of Venezuelans cheered as Chavez denounced the U.S. government for organizing the failed coup. Chavez reaffirmed his government's commitment to pursue the path of social reforms, including improving education, health care and the rights of the people generally.

Chavez also said that Venezuela does not recognize the current puppet regime in Haiti which is the product of a U.S.-orchestrated coup.

Chavez also denounced U.S. aggression in Iraq and expressed solidarity with the struggle of the Iraqi people.

He concluded his speech by calling on the people of Venezuela to strengthen their unity and continue the struggle because "we have no other option...we are obliged to win."

 

 

Volume 18, No. 8 April 11, 2004

IRAQI RESISTANCE GROWS

U.S. ESCALATES WAR

For the last week, U.S. military forces have been carrying out a savage assault and siege of Falluja, a city of 300,000 people.

On April 4, thousands of U.S. troops sealed off Falluja as U.S. military commanders vowed collective reprisals against the city for the killing of 4 American mercenaries. Since then, AC-130 gunships, F-16 fighter planes, helicopters and hundreds of tanks have repeatedly bombed the city. 450 Iraqis had been killed and 1000 wounded as of Saturday, April 10, according to the director of the city's hospital. Falluja remains blockaded, cut off from food, water, medical supplies and other vital necessities.

Yet the people of Falluja have not given an inch and U.S. forces have repeatedly failed to reoccupy the city.

In fact, during the last week, popular uprisings have developed in dozens of cities all across the country. In addition to Falluja, the cities of Najaf, Kufa and various neighborhoods in Baghdad and other areas remain in the hands of the popular forces. Demonstrations, strikes, public meetings, relief efforts and other actions are also being organized all across Iraq to support the popular uprisings.

The U.S. government is responding to the ever-growing resistance of the Iraqi people by escalating its war of aggression. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said that the Pentagon is prepared to send more troops to Iraq as well as extend the duty tours of those already there. Rand Beers, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, also said that Kerry would support an increase in U.S. troop strength.

U.S. imperialism's savage methods - its wholesale bombing of civilians, its use of the Hitlerite tactic of collective reprisals, etc. - and its continuing escalation are the inevitable results of the aims and character of its war against Iraq. From the very beginning the U.S. invaded Iraq in order to subjugate the people and colonize the country.

U.S. imperialism will keep escalating the war until it is defeated and forced out of Iraq. Thus, the American people must have no illusions; we must keep extending and intensifying our anti-war struggle until all U.S. and foreign troops are withdrawn and until genuine sovereignty is restored to the Iraqi people.

WORKERS' PENSIONS UNDER ATTACK

On April 8, the Senate passed a bill which will allow corporations to slash payments to employee pension funds by $80 billion over the next two years. The bill has been approved by the House and Bush is expected to sign it into law.

This law will put the retirement of millions of workers further at risk.

Today, 44 million private-sector workers have company-sponsored pension plans. These pensions, won through sharp contract struggles, are part of the workers' compensation - a form of wages which is set aside for future use, i.e. upon retirement.

But the corporations do not fully fund the pension plans. Instead, they set aside only a small portion of the monies they are contractually obligated to pay workers upon retirement. The corporations count on receiving interest income from these funds to pay workers' pensions later on.

The new law will allow corporations to use a higher interest rate to calculate the future value of monies presently in their pension funds. Corporations will immediately take billions of dollars out of their pension funds and cut back on their annual contributions, reaping billions in extra profits. An additional provision of the law grants even more relief to airline and steel companies, whose pension funds are severely underfunded.

Right now U.S. corporate pension funds are underfunded by $300 billion. Many companies have already defaulted on their pension obligations to millions of workers. The new legislation passed this week legalizes this underfunding and put workers' pensions at greater risk.

Yet more, last year, the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), created to protect workers' pensions when a company defaults, began refusing to honor its obligations to tens of thousands of retired workers.

After a lifetime of labor, workers are being robbed of their pensions by the corporations and the government.

REPORT FROM HAITI

The following is excerpted from an article by Tom Driver which appeared in Znet, April 5, 2004.

Haiti exists, but not happily. Before getting home to all my catching- up, I want to send you some news about Haiti. I have been visiting since March 23, when I came down with the first non-governmental delegation that's gone there since the United States forcibly removed Pres. Aristide on Feb. 29. The delegation was put together by "Haiti Reborn," an arm of The Quixote Center in Maryland....

One day when we returned in our van to the house where we lodged, a visitor cautioned that someone was watching the house and street - something we had not noticed and weren't sure whether to believe. Our visitor had brought with him, for an interview with us, two men who were prominent in Pres. Aristide's Lavalas political party. Since Aristide's ouster over a month ago, one of the men has not dared sleep in the same house two nights running. He quit our meeting early so as to stay on the move. Later that day we found out that his name was read out on the radio, which is like being marked for death. Every afternoon around 4 p.m. names are broadcast. Perhaps they are on a list of those whom the new government wants to arrest, or perhaps listeners call in with the name of so-and-so. All are linked with Aristide in some way. Some of those named soon disappear. Today most of Haiti's radio stations have fallen silent, while the remaining ones are owned by members of "the opposition," which of course is no longer in opposition to the government, because during the night of February 28-29 the United States brought about a regime change in Haiti.

Although there is a "transitional" President in the National Palace (we met with him), the building is mostly occupied by U.S. Marines, who also patrol the streets and the airport, and fly helicopters almost constantly over the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince night and day. U.S. forces have made many nighttime raids into some of the poorest quarters, particularly the one called Belair. In these raids they have killed an uncertain number of people, estimates going as high as 70. Occasionally the foreign soldiers venture into middle class neighborhoods, but never threaten the houses on the hills where the wealthy live.

We met with groups very loyal to Aristide and groups who hate him, but only one group, which is dominated by wealthy businessmen, failed to condemn in the strongest terms the occupation of Haiti by the U.S.-led multinational force. It is an insult to Haiti's spirit of freedom and self-worth; and it has come, perhaps not by accident, during the 200th anniversary of Haiti's declaration of independence in 1804....

There is no effort by the U.S.-led multinational force or the Haitian police to arrest the known criminals among the armed rebels who played the key role in bringing down the government. Not only are all the rebels insurrectionists who took up arms against a legitimate government, some of their leaders had previously been tried and convicted of politically motivated crimes. Upon entering Haiti from the Dominican Republic, they released about 2000 more criminals from jail. Staff at the U.S. Embassy told us that to capture and disarm them is not part of the mission of the U.S. forces. Meanwhile, the mission does include the use of lethal force against militants in the slums who were loyal to Aristide....

MORE CUTS IN ILLINOIS SCHOOLS

In March, 5 school districts in Illinois announced major cutbacks in their school budgets. As a result, curriculum will be curtailed, teachers and other staff laid off and entire schools closed down. The recently announced cuts include:

- Thornton Township District 205 (including Harvey, Dolton, and South Holland) will immediately eliminate 90 teaching positions and 20 non-teaching jobs for the coming school year, slash student and teacher support services, extracurricular activities and athletics. On top of these cuts, the district is considering closing one of its high schools altogether.

- Troy District 30-C is laying off 40 teachers and support staff and planning to increase class sizes from 20 to 25 at the elementary level and from 25 to 30 in the middle schools.

- Crete-Monee District 201-U will cut 34 teaching and staff positions and eliminate music, art, physical education and gifted programs.

- Kirby School District 140 and Thornton Fractional District 215 also announced plans for teacher layoffs and curriculum cut backs.

Many more districts are expected to impose similar cutbacks in the coming period. In fact, 75% of the state's 893 school districts have large and growing budget deficits.

A major cause of this funding crisis is the fact the state and federal government are completely failing in their responsibility to fund the public schools. In Illinois, the state pays only 37% of the total funds for public education, while the federal government contributes less than 10%. Since local school boards, especially in poor and working class communities, have extremely limited resources, the public educational system is being run into the ground.

To turn things around, the people must demand that the state and federal governments properly invest in the public schools so that everyone is guaranteed the right to a modern education.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 7 March 25, 2004; Special Edition

ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THE WARS!

On March 20, one year after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, millions of people worldwide participated in an international day of protest.

In the U.S., anti-war protests and rallies took place in over 300 cities from coast-to-coast. In New York, more than 100,000 people turned out for a march that stretched for over 45 city blocks throughout midtown Manhattan. In San Francisco, 50,000 people marched to the Civic Center. In Los Angeles, 10,000 people rallied at Hollywood and Vine, while in Chicago 5,000 turned out for a march and rally downtown despite widespread police intimidation and threats. Large protests also took place in scores of other cities, including Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Ann Arbor, St. Paul, and Crawford, TX.

On March 19, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad, defying the U.S. occupationist troops, and demanding "No to the Occupation!"

In Europe, a sea of Italian anti-war demonstrators (estimated at 2 million people) took to the streets in Rome, Italy. As many as 100,000 people took part in protests in London. In Greece, 10,000 protesters marched on the U.S. embassy in Athens. In Paris, over 2,500 marched, while in Spain hundreds of thousands marched (in over 50 separate protests) against the war while demanding the return of all Spanish troops from Iraq. Over 150,000 marched in Barcelona alone.

In Japan, an estimated 120,000 protested across the country, including two rallies in Tokyo that each drew about 30,000 people.

Anti-war protests and rallies also took place in Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Ukraine, Denmark, Jordan, Bahrain, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Egypt, Australia and South Africa.

During the protests, people also raised demands against U.S. imperialism's "international war against terrorism" and spoke out in defense of the sovereignty of countries and the right of every people to determine their own affairs free of imperialist interference. In the U.S., people also spoke out against the militarization of the country and the government's growing fascism, especially its racist attacks on immigrants, Arab-Americans and Muslims.

These demonstrations are part of a growing international front against U.S. imperialism and its war program. They are vivid proof that the people are determined to defeat imperialism and bring into being a world of peace and friendship, a world without colonialism, racism, domination and exploitation.

ANTI-WAR CONFERENCE MAPS OUT PROGRAM FOR AN INDEPENDENT, PROACTIVE MOVEMENT

On March 21, 2004 anti-war activists in Chicago held a day-long Conference Against War and Imperialism.

The Conference mapped out a political program and guidelines for building a mass, proactive, independent anti-war movement - a movement which will not rest until an end is put to all U.S. imperialist aggression, until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from other countries, until the peoples' aspiration to live in a world of peace and friendship is realized in practice.

From beginning to end, the day's proceedings were marked by a determined and vigorous spirit. The activists brought into the Conference their experiences in standing up in workplaces, schools and communities and joining with their peers, as well as in broad city-wide and national actions, to struggle against the war program of the U.S. government. The Conference achieved a high degree of political unity and clarity; everyone actively participated, contributing to the discussion and to working out a political platform and an action program to advance the movement.

The central focus which ran throughout the speeches and discussion was the need to bring anti-imperialist politics to the broadest sections of the people in order to build a proactive anti-war movement.

The Conference approved the program for a democratic foreign policy and adopted a number of resolutions (see page 4) to rally people to the main fronts of struggle against U.S. imperialism's war program.

One whole session of the Conference was devoted to an in-depth discussion on anti-imperialist politics as the key to releasing people's initiative.

The Conference mapped out a number of new programs, including initiating an area-wide Forum for A Peace Agenda. This will be a broad people's forum organized to bring the burning issues of war and peace to the center of public opinion and to rely on the people themselves in sorting out the way forward.

In addition, activists took steps to consolidate and extend the work which is already unfolding on various fronts. Everyone at the Conference was especially inspired by the reports of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy who, not only brought tremendous vigor into the Conference, but also adopted a number of initiatives to advance their work.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism was organized by the Workers Party, U.S.A.; members of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy, the Anti-Imperialist News Service and activists from many other local organizations and individuals from many walks of life, including a contingent of workers, participated.

ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THE WARS!

The keynote speech at the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism was given by Michael Thorburn on behalf of the Workers Party. Below we provide a short summary of some of the main points.

In welcoming the activists, Michael Thorburn underlined the importance of the Conference as a forum in which to sum up experience, to realistically look at the balance of forces in the struggle against war and work out the political program and guidelines for advancing the struggle. He emphasized that the Conference and other forums like it are an essential part of transforming the anti-war struggle into a conscious, systematic and organized movement.

Balance of Forces

In looking at the balance of forces, Michael Thorburn focused on 4 main points.

Firstly, U.S. imperialism, the monopoly capitalist class, is and will remain at war against the peoples. In particular, the "war on terrorism" marks a new phase in the U.S. government's aggressive foreign policy, a phase which is tantamount to a declaration of war on the world.

Secondly, the American people have already given rise to a new, nationwide anti-war movement. This movement is part of a growing international front against war and imperialism which includes the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples, the anti-war movement and popular struggles in every country as well as various governments and countries which are defending their independence and sovereignty and resisting the pressures and war program of imperialism.

The third thing that must be faced up to is that the anti-war movement is tremendously hindered by the fact that it is, to a large extent, still spontaneous and unorganized and large sections remain under the tutelage of the Democratic Party, which is a party of war and imperialism. Political opportunism works within the anti-war movement to keep it under the domination of the Democrats.

Despite these political pressures, the anti-war movement keeps gaining experience and is straining more and more towards genuine independence, towards becoming a mass, oppositional movement.

Thus the decisive practical question is for the organized, independent forces, despite their small size, to bring anti-imperialist politics to centerstage. We have a principled, clear-cut political program and all the tools necessary to assist the consciousness and independence of the movement and, within the next period of time, build a genuinely mass independent, proactive anti-war movement.

Logic of Imperialism

In analyzing the war program of U.S. imperialism, Michael Thorburn began by showing how U.S. imperialism, utilizing the most brutal methods, continues to wage and escalate the war in Iraq despite the massive opposition of the peoples in Iraq, the U.S. and the world.

Amongst other things, Michael Thorburn exploded the line which insists that the "U.S. must stay and finish the job." He underlined that the only "job" which U.S. imperialism has taken up is to colonize Iraq and suppress the Iraqi people.

While keeping the struggle against the U.S. war in Iraq sharp, we must, at the same time, never forget that this is only one front in a so-called "war on terrorism." Both Bush and Kerry openly proclaim that this war will last for years and that the U.S. already has at least 60 countries in its gunsights.

Just within the last two and one-half years, U.S. imperialism has invaded and occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia and Haiti. In each of these countries, the U.S. is using the slogan of "nation-building" to prepare public opinion for its permanent military occupation and the setting up of full-blown colonial administrations. So too, U.S. imperialism has ordered the Israeli aggressors to wage all-out war against the Palestinian national liberation movement and prepare for the permanent annexation of most of Palestine.

In addition the U.S. government is escalating counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines. It has imposed sanctions and threatened war against Syria, is planning an embargo against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and publicly threatening nuclear strikes against the country. U.S. imperialism is also carrying out a destabilization campaign against Venezuela and the constitutional government headed by Chavez, pressuring Iran, etc., etc.

Michael Thorburn summarized the "war on terrorism" as U.S. imperialism's battleplan for world domination through force of arms. He emphasized that reliance on militarism and the logic of military escalation are the inevitable result of the crisis of U.S. capitalism.

While the U.S. monopoly capitalists picture themselves as the world's sole superpower and while the inherent laws of the capitalist-imperialist system demand that they expand their empire of exploitation and plunder, all the objective developments of the contemporary world undermine the positions of U.S. imperialism.

The very character of the imperialism system pits it in opposition to the people's struggles for independence and social progress. In addition the rivalry and competition of other imperialist powers continually undercuts the positions of the U.S. The response of U.S. imperialism both to the people's liberation struggles and to the growing inter-imperialist contradictions is to go to war.

New Awakening

But in the face of the government's war program, the American people have created a new, nationwide anti-war movement, embracing tens of millions of people.

This movement has already exposed the lies of the Bush administration and brought the agenda for peace into the public arena. The strength of the people's movement can not only be seen in the massive anti-war demonstrations but also in the struggles to defend the immigrant communities, in the growing resistance inside the army and in many other struggles which are developing in every corner of our country.

And the anti-war movement is not simply a single-issue, protest movement; it is a deep-going ideological and social movement - a new starting point in the struggle of the American people for peace and progress.

It is a movement for enlightenment in which people are awakening not only to the history of U.S. imperialist aggression but also to the hidden history of the peoples all over the world who, through earth-shaking struggles, have put the questions of national liberation and social emancipation on the agenda. People are learning that the Cuban people, the Korean people, the Palestinian people, etc., as well as their own friends and neighbors, are calling to them to stand in the struggle for progress and emancipation.

The anti-war struggle is a profound movement for political empowerment in which the people have no choice but to address the fact that the government keeps waging war despite the people's demand for peace. People are learning in real life that the Democratic party must be judged not by its empty peace slogans but by its warmongering deeds and the fact that, just like the Republicans, it serves the exploiting, colonial aims of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

Most importantly the anti-movement is a movement in which people are beginning to organize themselves.

Obstacles Facing the Movement

Michael Thorburn emphasized that the experience of the anti-war activists continually brings home the relentless question: that there is tremendous anti-war sentiment and activity but that the people need and are demanding more information, more organization, more direction. This is the question which must be addressed.

And as the anti-war movement grows, the warmakers themselves are not passive but are stepping up their efforts to sidetrack the movement.

Today, as in the past, the warmakers rely on the Democratic Party and its so-called "left-wing" to divert the anti-war struggles.

The Democrats use such slogans as "let the weapons inspections work" or "expand the multilateral military force and UN role in Iraq," or "nation-building" in Afghanistan, etc., etc. to cover over the war program. Michael Thorburn quoted extensively from the record of the Democrat Party as well as from the election platform of Kerry and the Democrats to show that their program is precisely the same as the Bush program. The role of the Democrats' phony peace talk is only to infiltrate chauvinism into the anti-war movement, prevent people from taking things into their own hands, and hide the colonial aims of U.S. capitalism under the banner of democracy.

Michael Thorburn emphasized that in the current elections the line of the "lesser evil" or "anybody but Bush" not only covers over the source of the Bush program and the grave dangers facing us but is especially aimed at preventing the growth of a genuinely independent movement of the people.

Anti-Imperialist Politics

But it is precisely the independent organization of the people which is the burning and decisive question. The slogan "Only the People Can Stop the Wars" is not something for the future. It means that right from the beginning, people must take the issue of peace into their own hands. We must face up to the government's war program in all its barbarity and we must see its source in the capitalist-imperialist system. We must envision and fight for a fundamental solution - a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. intervention and aggression, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country. We must expose the Republicans and Democrats as parties of war and unite ourselves as the force for peace. We must build our own organizations and work out all the questions of strategy and tactics.

This is the program of anti-imperialist politics.

RESOLUTIONS OF THE CHICAGO CONFERENCE AGAINST WAR AND IMPERIALISM

American People Demand Peace!

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism joins with the tens of millions of people throughout the country who, with their voices and their actions, are asserting that "The American People Demand Peace!'

Iraq

The U.S. continues to occupy Iraq and wage a war against the people. The war against Iraq is, from start to finish, an aggressive, colonial war.

The propaganda for the war itself was, in fact, an assault on the people. All the propaganda about "weapons of mass destruction" and "fighting terrorism" was not only lies but was used to justify the doctrine of preventive war. It was used by the U.S. to undermine the system of international law, to deny the sovereign right of countries, and to declare itself the judge, jury and executioner of the people.

The U.S. war against Iraq has resulted in massive civilian deaths and the destruction of Iraqi society. The number of civilians killed since the war began is estimated at more than 50,000 with many more wounded. The bombing has destroyed homes, markets, farms, roads, railroads, schools, hospitals, as well as electrical generation facilities, water and sanitation works, industrial plants, etc. The country's food supply has been disrupted and the health care infrastructure crippled. Illegal weapons, including depleted uranium (DU), napalm and cluster weapons, have been used by U.S. forces. U.S. military occupation authorities have established large-scale detention camps holding thousands of prisoners across Iraq and U.S. forces carry out daily mass sweeps and arrests.

The real motives behind this aggressive, imperialist war can be seen in the occupation. U.S. companies are grabbing Iraq's oil and putting the entire economy up for sale. The Pentagon has established permanent military bases to menace the whole region.

The Bush administration has made it clear that the goals of this war are to establish a "free market system" in Iraq and a U.S.-dictated political system. Iraq will be a base to spread U.S. influence and a "free trade zone" throughout the Middle East.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Iraq, and the restoration of the sovereign right of the Iraqi people to determine their own affairs.

Afghanistan

Today, over 12,000 U.S.-led troops remain in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is continuing to carry out offensive military operations throughout the country. Villages and airports in numerous cities have been turned into U.S. military bases, U.S. army and special forces operate extensively throughout the country, and the U.S. is setting up a colonial administration.

As a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation, over 8,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and more than 20,000 people may have lost their lives as an indirect result of the war. In addition, a long list of war crimes committed by the U.S. government during its war and occupation of Afghanistan has been documented, including the mass murder of POWs captured by U.S. forces.

According to many reports by human rights groups, a climate of fear exists throughout much of the country today due to the terrorizing activities of soldiers, police, and warlords backed by the United States. These abuses - arbitrary arrests, torture, kidnapping, rape and extortion carried out by army troops, police, and intelligence agents - are frequent and common.

The U.S. occupation aims not only at subjugating Afghanistan but at using that country as another strategic base in its struggle for world domination.

But the opposition to the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan is continuing and gaining strength.

The U.S. occupation, in addition to denying the inalienable right of self-determination to the people of Afghanistan, will only tie the knot for more wars.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan, and the restoration of the sovereign right of the Afghan people to determine their own affairs.

Haiti

On February 29, U.S. marines invaded Haiti, overthrowing the democratically-elected President of the country and imposing U.S. military rule. Bush and other White House officials have stated that the U.S. plans to occupy and colonize the country.

Throughout the 20th century, U.S. imperialism has repeatedly invaded and occupied Haiti while robbing the resources and exploiting the labor of the people. From 1915 to 1934, U.S. marines occupied and directly ruled Haiti. Before leaving the marines installed a puppet government, financed and armed by U.S. imperialism. In 1957, U.S. imperialism and the Haitian elite brought the Duvalier family to power in order to crush the rising democratic and social movements of the masses. In 1986, the Haitian people toppled the Duvalier regime, and unleashed a tremendous democratic and social movement.

In 1990, Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President based on a program of democratic reforms. But today, U.S. imperialism and its henchmen in Haiti are waging war against the people and preparing to reestablish a U.S. colonial regime.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Haiti, an end to all U.S. interference and the restoration of the constitutional government of the country.

Palestine

Since 1947 and the end of British colonial rule in Palestine, the Palestinian people have been deprived of their sacred national right to an independent state. With the creation of the state of Israel, the Palestinians became a subject people within their own country and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, their houses and villages razed to the ground.

The state of Israel was not only carved out of Palestinian territory but over the last 56 years has continually expanded by waging aggressive wars against the Palestinian people.

In 1967, Israel launched a full-scale war and occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza), again expropriating Palestinian land and forcing tens of thousands into exile.

Today, the state of Israel has not only usurped the entire historic homeland and nation of Palestine but it has also officially annexed Jerusalem and Syria's Golan Heights. Israel has imposed military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, killing the people, expropriating more land, and establishing new colonial settlements.

Over 350,000 Israelis live in hundreds of settlements established throughout the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. Although these settlements are illegal under international law, the Israeli government continues to expand and strengthen them. Settlements are part of a deliberate strategy by the Israeli government to colonize and annex the occupied territories, to undermine the sovereignty of Palestine and keep it under the military thumb of Israel.

Israel's recent construction of a wall consisting of electronic fences, razor wire, trenches and concrete barriers in the West Bank will result in the cantonization of Palestinian land throughout the occupied territories.

U.S. imperialism has always sponsored and relied on the state of Israel as its military outpost in the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. Over these years, the U.S. has sent more than $100 billion in economic and military aid to Israel (an estimated $15 million per day) and continues to support Israeli aggression and annexation of Palestine.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism supports the Palestinian liberation struggle which aims at establishing an independent Palestinian state. To this end, we call for the immediate end of all U.S. aid to Israel, the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories, the dismantling of Israeli settlements, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their area of origin.

Syria

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism opposes the increasing U.S. pressure and threats against Syria.

The "Syrian Accountability Act" imposes economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria with the aim of pressuring it to accept U.S. dictate.

Korea

Today an extremely dangerous situation exists on the Korean Peninsula.

The Bush administration has attacked the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as part of an "axis of evil" and officials have publicly announced plans for a nuclear first-strike against the country. The Pentagon is deploying more air, naval and ground troops in and around the Korean peninsula, while carrying out continuous war exercises and daily spy-flights against the north.

The U.S. is exerting all-around diplomatic, political, economic, and ideological pressure aimed at forcing other countries to join it in isolating and attacking the DPRK. Recently, the Bush administration has held a series of meetings with its allies to prepare a blockade against the DPRK. The so-called "Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)" by the U.S. is nothing short of sea and air piracy and another sign that the U.S. is dangerously stepping up its aggression against North Korea, and preparing for a possible blockade against the country.

While the Bush administration accuses the DPRK of secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program and breaking agreements, the facts show that it is the U.S. government which continues to militarize the Korean peninsula and threaten the Korean people with nuclear weapons.

The real source of tension on the Korean peninsula is not the DPRK but U.S. imperialism, which continues to occupy the south with over 37,000 troops, and which has committed untold atrocities and crimes against the Korean people.

In 1950, U.S. imperialism launched the Korean War in order to deprive the Korean people of independence, permanently partition the country and occupy South Korea. Napalm and other chemical warfare agents were used extensively in Korea during 1950-53, and the saturation bombing of population centers throughout North Korea, the wholesale murder of civilians in the south, etc., have been repeatedly documented. It was the U.S., not North Korea, which actually used "weapons of mass destruction" against the people of the region.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands the immediate end to all U.S. pressure and interference against the Korean people, including the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed in Korea.

We support the struggle of the Korean people for the peaceful reunification of their country according to the free and sovereign will of the people themselves.

Venezuela

U.S. imperialism is actively organizing counter-revolutionary and illegal forces inside Venezuela.

In April, 2002, the Bush administration tried to instigate a coup d'etat to overthrow the Chavez government and replace it with a coterie of businessmen and military leaders loyal to the U.S. Today, U.S. imperialism and the Venezuelan elite are plotting new attacks on the reform processes and the democratically-elected government.

The government of Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998 by nearly 60% of the vote and with the support of a broad range of popular organizations and political parties. Chavez has taken a stand against neo-liberal economics and IMF-dictated austerity programs and has encouraged an on-going popular movement which is bringing about important changes in the country's economic and political system.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands an end to U.S. interference in Venezuela, where the Pentagon and U.S. State Department are actively organizing against the elected, constitutional government.

We express solidarity with the Bolivarian process in Venezuela which is fighting for an independent and sovereign country free from outside intervention and interference.

Colombia

U.S. imperialism is escalating its counter-insurgency war in Colombia.

Over the last 4 years, under "Plan Colombia," the U.S. government has sent more than $2 billion in military aid to the Colombian government which has imposed martial law on most of the country; hundreds of U.S. military advisers, as well as several thousand U.S. mercenaries

- including "former" CIA and army operatives - are fighting alongside the Colombian military.

The U.S.-organized counter-insurgency war is directed against the struggles of the Colombian people for national independence and social progress. In addition, the U.S. is waging all-out war against the popular insurgent forces in the countryside. The Colombian army and paramilitary squads, spawned by the U.S., regularly assassinate trade union leaders, peace activists and oppositional political figures, trying to suppress any and every manifestation of the popular struggle.

For decades the Colombian workers, peasants and broad masses of people have been struggling against the fascist government, for the democratization of the political system, against U.S. dictate and domination, and for broad social and economic reforms.

All this century, U.S. imperialism has supported and organized the Colombian military, which is notorious as one of the most violent and repressive regimes in the world. U.S. agri-business interests have long bolstered the power of the Colombian landed oligarchy and, U.S. multi-national corporations have established themselves as the biggest foreign investor in the country.

The counterinsurgency war which the U.S. is waging in Colombia aims not only at maintaining U.S. economic and political domination of Colombia but also at militarizing the entire region - establishing military bases and dispatching U.S. advisers to Peru, to Ecuador and other countries.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands an end to all U.S. military intervention and pressure against Colombia and supports the just struggles of the Colombian people for progress and social emancipation.

Philippines

The U.S. has been increasing its military presence and direct intervention in the Philippines as part of its official "second front" of its war on terrorism.

U.S. and Philippine forces engage in regular "training exercises" and U.S. military advisers take an active role in counter-insurgency operations. More U.S. troops and military supplies have been deployed in the country and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid has been given recently to the Philippine army.

The U.S. military buildup and direct, armed intervention aims both at suppressing the independence movement and popular struggles of the people as well as strengthening the Philippines as a major U.S. military base in Asia.

All this century, U.S. imperialism has maintained a colonial and neocolonial regime in the Philippines and used it as a military base for projecting its interests throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Even after the winning of formal independence, the Philippines has remained a neo-colony in which economic and political life continue to be dominated by U.S. multinational corporations.

Behind the phony facade of the "war against terrorism," U.S. imperialism is once again interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country and waging war against the liberation struggle of the people.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands an end to U.S. interference and intervention in the Philippines.

Cuba

For more than 40 years, the U.S. government has imposed a blockade against Cuba with the goal of overthrowing the government, and restoring Cuba to the status of a U.S. colony or neo-colony.

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, first enacted in 1962, imposes a total ban on all food, medicine, equipment and raw materials from the U.S. and prohibits free travel between the two countries. In recent years, legislation has further tightened the embargo. In 1992, Congress passed the Torricelli Bill which, in blatant violation of the sovereignty of other states, imposed sanctions against all countries that trade with Cuba. The Helms-Burton legislation, signed into law 1996, extends such third-party sanctions by denying entry visas to the U.S. for foreign individuals linked to any corporations doing business in Cuba. It also seeks to cut off all international loans to Cuba.

U.S. sanctions have resulted in untold hardship on the Cuban people, denying them medical and humanitarian supplies as well as raw materials, energy and spare parts.

Today, the policy of the U.S. government remains in complete defiance of international law and the accepted principles of sovereign equality amongst nations, non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries as well as the freedom of international trade and navigation. The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly every year, for the past 12 years, to condemn the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.

Since the Cuban revolution of 1959, the U.S. government has continually organized terror against the Cuban people, including numerous acts of sabotage and assassination plots against Cuban diplomats. In 1961, the U.S. launched the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion, and during the "Cuban Missile Crisis," the U.S. even threatened the country with nuclear strikes. It is well-documented that for years anti-Cuban groups, organized by the CIA and operating from the U.S., have carried out terrorist operations and sabotage inside Cuba. Today, it is well-known that Republican and Democratic politicians in the U.S. have continually supported anti-Cuban terrorist groups operating from Florida.

The U.S. government's illegal and inhuman policy of subversion and aggression - its on-going attempt to starve a nation into submission

- must be brought to an end.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism demands an end to the U.S. embargo and blockade and insist that the U.S. government recognize the sovereign and inviolable right of Cuba to determine its own affairs, free of U.S. intervention and pressure.

Puerto Rico

For more than 100 years, Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States.

In 1898, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico. Ten thousand troops occupied the country and the U.S. imposed a colonial administration on the people. Under the Foraker Act (1900) and the Jones Act (1917), Puerto Rico was made an official "possession of the U.S."

The current Commonwealth status of Puerto Rico created in 1952, is merely a continuation of colonial status. The U.S. has established a number of military bases across Puerto Rico.

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism supports the struggle of the people of Puerto Rico to assert their sovereignty, to demand an end to U.S. colonialism, and we recognize Puerto Rico's right to self-determination and independence, up to and including the right to secession.

Hawaiian and Native Peoples

We recognize the right to self-determination, up to and including the right to secession, for the Hawaiin and Native peoples.

ANTI-IMPERIALIST POLITICS

Anti-imperialist politics fights against every aggressive step taken by the government and works to maximize the immediate struggles, relying on unity in action against the warmakers.

Anti-imperialist politics links together the many currents of the anti-war movement and keeps in the forefront of public opinion the broad ant-war demands and struggles of the peoples throughout the world.

Anti-imperialist politics targets the imperialist system as the cause of war and comes out in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war.

Anti-imperialist relies on the people as the great force for peace by continuously strengthening their consciousness and independent organization.

Anti-imperialist politics demands fundamental solutions, calling for a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. intervention and aggression, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country.

DEMOCRATIC FOREIGN POLICY

- An end to U.S. interference and aggression against other countries;

- The withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad;

- An end to U.S. participation in aggressive military alliances and support for reactionary regimes;

- Recognition of the sovereignty and equality of every nation;

- An end to the militarization of our country's economy.

Adopted by the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism, March 21, 2004.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 6 March 9, 2004

GET ORGANIZED!

The Workers Party says that there really is only one political issue facing the working class and people.

The issue is to build up the independent, organized political strength of the people themselves.

While it is obvious that our country has all the resources necessary to guarantee the rights of the people, the capitalist class and its political parties - the Republicans and Democrats - offer our country nothing but more wars, more racism and repression, more poverty and exploitation.

The fact is that people have no choice but to struggle to defend their rights; every day people are standing up against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, demanding that the government guarantee funds for education, health care and other social investments, fighting against racism and repression, etc.

To advance these struggles we need organization, organization and more organization.

Getting organized begins with giving expression to our own aims and program. The immediate program of the Workers Party calls for:

1) guarantying all the economic rights of the people, including the right to a livelihood, to health care, to education, etc.;

2) a democratic foreign policy which withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad, ends U.S. aggression and intervention in other countries and ends the militarization of the economy;

3) the democratic renewal of the political process and political system so as to break the monopoly of the Republicans and Democrats and empower the people as the real decision-makers. This includes empowering the people to nominate and select their own representatives as well as creating mechanisms -- such as referendum and recall -- to insure the direct of role of the people in governance.

Getting organized means popularizing the program and demands of the people by building the people's own press and media, such as The Worker, the Anti-Imperialist News Service, etc.

Getting organized means building forums, discussion groups, and other public spaces in which people can get together to politicize themselves - to work out their demands and the strategy and tactics of their struggles.

Getting organized means building organizations which strengthen the collective thinking and collective actions of the people.

The alternative to the capitalist program of war, racism, repression and exploitation already exists. It exists in the hearts and struggles of the people. It exists in the new thinking and new organizations of the people. Strengthening this alternative is the political necessity which demands solution.

THE ONLY REAL CHOICE

by Bill Foster

Over the last several months, I have met several anti-war activists, trade unionists and other progressive-minded people who were campaigning for Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean or Al Sharpton. These activists, although mistaken in their views about Kucinich, Dean or Sharpton, had hoped to find an alternative to the Bush program of war, racism, repression, slashing social investments, etc.

Today, of course, these activists face a decision. Kucinich, Dean and Sharpton will not be nominated. Kerry will be. And Kerry is quite open in trying to prove his credentials as a militarist and a loyalist of big business. What is more, Kucinich, Dean and Sharpton will all campaign wholeheartedly for Kerry and the Democratic Party.

In fact, the capitalist politicians have been playing this game for years. Certain Democrats are advertised as "anti-war" or "progressive" and activists are told to set aside their independent activity in order to electioneer for these candidates. When these "good" candidates do not get nominated, activists are told to stay with the Democrats, elect the "lesser evil," and hope for the future. This year, the Kerry campaign and other Democratic Party bigshots have repeatedly thanked Dean, Kucinich and Sharpton for bringing millions of "disillusioned" voters into the Democratic fold where they are expected to stay and vote for Kerry.

The game goes on and after each election, the activists who have stayed under the tutelage of the Democrats have nothing to show for their efforts. They have not helped build organizations which can be used by the people in future struggles and the so-called "lesser evil" keeps getting more and more evil every time around.

So what are the sincere anti-war activists, trade unionists and others to do? In my opinion, there is only one choice. They must denounce Kerry and the Democratic Party. They must step up their anti-war and progressive struggles, keep the initiative in their own hands and direct their activities towards strengthening a real alternative. They must join in building the Workers Party and other independent organizations -- join in building an organized opposition to the parties of war and exploitation.

The fact is that in political life, good intentions are not enough. Undoubtedly, many people will still vote for the Democrats in the hope of defeating Bush and his program. But regardless of who wins the November election, the capitalist government -- whether headed by Kerry or Bush -- will continue the Bush program. The Democratic Party, just like the Republicans, is a party of war, racism, repression and exploitation.

We simply cannot express our opposition to war, racism and exploitation through the Democratic Party. We can only express our aspirations and advance our cause by strengthening our own political party, our own mass organizations and our own struggles.

There is no other choice.

Statement of the Workers Party, U.S.A. (March 1, 2004) STOP THE U.S. INVASION AND COLONIZATION OF HAITI!

On February 29, U.S. marines invaded Haiti, overthrowing the democratically-elected President of the country and imposing U.S. military rule.

U.S. ambassador, James Foley, said that U.S. and other foreign troops (including French and Canadian soldiers) will stay in Haiti for years and rule the country.

George Bush, in deploying thousands of U.S. marines, claimed that they are needed to "prevent violence" and "restore order." But it is precisely U.S. imperialism which is imposing violence and colonialism on Haiti. Amongst other things, the U.S. army, after forcing President Aristide out of the country, allowed the armed, paramilitary gangs to enter the capital and begin murdering Aristide supporters.

In fact, for several years, the U.S. government has been working to destabilize Haiti and overthrow the constitutional government headed by President Aristide.

On the one hand, the U.S. applied economic pressure, blocking various international agencies from providing credits, loans and aid to Haiti. At the same time, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. governmental agencies encouraged, financed and organized criminal, paramilitary death squads inside the country.

Within the last several weeks, these gangs took control of various areas in the north of the country, attacking hospitals, schools, government offices and food warehouses to create panic amongst the population.

But in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian people were organizing to defend themselves and their elected President from any attacks by these fascist gangs. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians came out in political demonstrations; popular organizations began building street barricades and other defenses against a possible armed attack.

In this situation, the U.S. government, unable to bring its handpicked fascist gangs into the capital, decided to invade the country and remove Aristide. In other words, U.S. imperialism, as it has done elsewhere, played the double game of creating chaos and violence and then presenting itself as a "peacekeeper" in order to invade a sovereign country and impose its dictate.

Today, U.S. imperialism and its henchmen in Haiti are waging war against the people and preparing to reestablish a U.S. colonial regime.

But the Haitian people, who for more than 200 years have fought for their freedom, are continuing their struggle against U.S. colonialism and for democracy and national independence.

To assist this struggle, the American people must demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Haiti, an end to all U.S. interference and the restoration of the constitutional government of the country.

Support the Haitian People's Struggle for Democracy and Independence!

For Your Reference

U.S. INTERFERENCE AND AGGRESSION IN HAITI

Throughout the 20th century, U.S. imperialism has repeatedly invaded and occupied Haiti while robbing the resources and exploiting the labor of the people.

From 1915 to 1934, U.S. marines occupied and directly ruled Haiti. Before leaving the marines installed a puppet government, financed and armed by U.S. imperialism. In 1957, U.S. imperialism and the Haitian elite brought the Duvalier family to power in order to crush the rising democratic and social movements of the masses. Aided and trained by U.S. imperialism, the Duvaliers created their own fascist special police, the infamous Tonton Macoutes, to terrorize the masses and suppress any popular organization or struggle.

Through this fascist terror, the Duvaliers not only amassed huge personal wealth but also helped the U.S. multinational corporations mercilessly exploit the Haitian people. U.S. agro-businesses, producing coffee, sugar, cocoa, castor beans and other cash crops for export, all but laid waste to the fertile Haitian soil; U.S. aluminum producers completely pillaged the enormous bauxite deposits once found in the country.

After plundering the country's natural wealth, U.S. corporations poured in to set up branch assembly plants in such sectors as garments, electronics, baseballs, games, sporting goods, toys, footwear and leather. Under the special provisions of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, no tariffs are imposed on most products assembled in Haiti from U.S. components and re-imported to the U.S. Today some 150 U.S. corporations take advantage of Haiti's $1.60/day minimum wage to operate branch plants in the country.

In 1986, the Haitian people toppled the Duvalier regime. This revolution unleashed a tremendous democratic and social movement. In 1990, Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President based on a program of democratic reforms.

U.S. imperialism responded by organizing a CIA coup d'etat and bringing to power a regime of former Duvalierists and other paramilitaries linked with the Haitian elite. For 4 years, a new reign of terror was imposed on the Haitian people. Finally, under intense international and internal pressure, the U.S. allowed Artistide to return to power although he was forced to disband the Haitian army and accept an economic program of "structural adjustment" dictated by the IMF and the international bankers. This included the requirement that the government's first budgetary priority remained paying interest on an external debt of $1.2 billion, contracted mainly during the Duvalier regime.

During his tenure, Aristide carried out certain reforms, including doubling the minimum wage and investing in schools and hospitals. He also resisted the privatization of state-owned resources.

All the time, the U.S. government carried on an overt and covert destabilization campaign against the country. The U.S. government prevented Haiti from receiving some $650 million in multilateral and bilateral aid earmarked for economic development, education, health care, water and road construction, etc. For example, the U.S. government prevented the Aristide government from receiving a previously approved loan of $193 million from the Inter-American Development Bank.

And while starving the Haitian people, U.S. imperialism - through the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute - financed and organized opposition forces devoted to overthrowing the constitutional government.

The two main U.S.-organized opposition groups were the Convergence and the Group of 184.

The Group of 184 is composed of the Haitian elite and headed by Andy Apaid, a former supporter of the Duvalier dictatorship and the largest Haitian sweatshop owner.

The Convergence groups together various covert death squads, CIA operatives and paramilitary groups. These include Louis Jorden Chamblain, on the payroll of the CIA and a convicted killer of Aristide supporters, Guy Philippe, a member of the military government brought to power through the CIA-organized coup in 1991 and a leader of several armed attacks against Aristide supporters, Ernst Ravix, commander of paramilitary death squads, etc.

Since U.S. troops again invaded Haiti on February 29, these death squads have been given a freehand to hunt down and murder Aristide supporters and other social activists.

CARICOM CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF ARISTIDE'S REMOVAL

On March 3, the heads of Government of CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) called for an international investigation of the facts surrounding the removal from power of the constitutional President of Haiti, Jean Betrand Aristide.

The CARICOM statement said, in part: "the circumstances under which the President demitted office set a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments everywhere as it promotes the unconstitutional removal of duly elected persons from office. . . . These concerns were heightened by public assertions made by President Aristide that he had not demitted office voluntarily. Heads of Government called for an investigation under the auspices of the United Nations to clarify the circumstances leading to his relinquishing his Presidency."

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, responded to CARICOM's call for an investigation by claiming that there was nothing to investigate.

For Your Information THE FOREIGN POLICY OF JOHN KERRY AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Simply put the foreign policy of John Kerry and the Democratic Party is based on militarism and war.

John Kerry voted for and ardently supports the war in Iraq.

In recent policy statements, Kerry expresses his fear that "the Administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut and run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal without adequate stability is an invitation to failure . . . This could risk the hijacking of Iraq by terrorist groups and former Baathists. . . . Security must come first and that is why it is so imperative to succeed in building a genuine coalition on the ground in Iraq." (Kerry's speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 12/3/2003). On February 27, in another major foreign policy speech, Kerry reiterated this position insisting "we must stay in Iraq until the job is finished."

In fact, Kerry wants to escalate Bush's worldwide "war against terrorism." In his February 27 speech, Kerry complained that "George Bush held U.S. forces back" in Afghanistan and Kerry boasted that he advocates a "stronger, more comprehensive, and more effective strategy for winning the War on Terror than the Bush Administration has ever envisioned."

Amongst other things Kerry wants to send more U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanistan, increase overall U.S. army overseas troop strength and extend the "war on terror" to new areas, including Somalia and the Philippines.

Kerry's militarist foreign policy reflects the long-established program of the Democratic Party. Kerry is a leading member of the Democratic Leadership Council, the dominate group determining the Party's direction and policies. A recent DLC document, entitled "Progressive Internationalism" and offered as the basis of the party's 2004 election platform, outlines the DLC's national security strategy.

The DLC begins by endorsing Bush's "war on terrorism" as the focus of U.S. foreign policy: "preventing a deadly fusion of terrorism and rogue states on the one hand and mass destruction weapons on the other is one of the paramount challenges of our time" and a struggle which "is likely to last not years, but decades."

And again, echoing Bush, the key thing in waging this war is that the "Democrats will maintain the world's most capable and technologically advanced military, and we will not flinch from using it to defend our interests anywhere in the world."

The foreign policy aims of the Democrats, just like the Republicans, are to advance the exploiting, imperial interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class - to open the whole world up to U.S. capitalism in the name of blessing the world with "American democracy." Thus the Democratic Party's "Progressive Internationalism" aims to strengthen "free enterprise . . . Vibrant entrepreneurial markets, open trade" and use "unparalleled power to defend our country and to shape a world in which the values of liberal democracy increasingly hold sway."

In Iraq, the DLC, like Kerry, insists that "U.S. forces [are] stretched thin" and demands that since Iraq is the "next battleground in the war on terror," Bush must "put America on a wartime footing." The DLC promises that the Democrats "will maintain a robust military presence in Iraq for as long as it takes to help that country achieve security and stability."

In Afghanistan, the DLC again criticizes Bush for "reluctance to put more U.S. boots on the ground" and promises that Democrats "will also press for an expanding NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan."

Kerry echoes this position, saying: "We must end the Bush administration's delay in expanding NATO forces and deploying them outside Kabul. We must accelerate training for the Afghan army and police." (Kerry's speech 12/3/2003).

And so it goes. All along the line, the foreign policy of Kerry and the Democratic Party is a carbon copy of Bush and the Republicans.

Stepped Up Militarization

From the DLC: "America's Armed Forces are second to none and we will keep them that way. . . . This is no time to cut the Pentagon's budget."

"The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that we need to enhance our ability to project power with deadly accuracy over enormous distances."

Kerry: "We need to add 40,000 troops - the equivalent of two divisions - to the American military in order to meet our responsibilities elsewhere - especially in the urgent global war on terror." (Kerry's speech at Drake University, 12/16/2003).

Extending the War to More Countries

From the DLC: "America must not tolerate North Korea's bid to mass produce nuclear weapons. . . We will maintain a redline - making clear that if North Korea resumes production of nuclear weapons, the U.S. would be prepared to use force to protect its interests."

Kerry: "For today the agents of terrorism work and lurk in the shadows of 60 nations on every continent." (2/27/04 speech)

"Failed and failing states like Somalia or countries with large areas of limited government control like the Philippines need international help to close down terrorist havens." (Kerry's speech 12/3/2003).

DPRK ON SIX-WAY TALKS

The following is excerpted from the Korean Central News Agency, February 29.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK today gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA as regards the six-way talks held in Beijing.

The six-way talks on the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. took place in Beijing from February 25 to 28.

We attended the talks with expectation that a frank discussion on ways of seeking a solution to the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. would open a certain prospect of settling the issue.

Hence, we showed greatest magnanimity, clarifying our transparent will to scrap our nuclear program according to a proposal for a simultaneous package solution aimed to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and advancing fair and flexible proposals for implementing measures for the first-phase actions.

China, Russia and other participants in the talks, therefore, expressed support and understanding of our reasonable proposal.

However, the U.S. again insisted on its old assertion about the DPRK abandoning its nuclear program first, saying that it can discuss the DPRK's concerns only when it completely scraps its nuclear program in a verifiable and irreversible manner. This threw a big hurdle in the way of the talks.

It also absurdly asserted that it cannot normalize relations with the DPRK unless missile, conventional weapons, biological and chemical weapons, human rights and other issues are settled even after its abandonment of all its nuclear programs.

The attitude of the U.S. side towards the talks increased our disappointment.

The U.S. side unhesitatingly said that it was not willing to negotiate with the DPRK, far from showing any sincere intention to settle the issue.

The head of its delegation only read the prepared script without stammering and showed no sincerity, giving no answer even to the questions raised.

The U.S. did not show any stand to co-exist with the DPRK in peace as it did during the six-way talks held in August last year but once again disclosed its ulterior aim to persistently pursue its policy of isolating and stifling the DPRK, wasting time behind the screen of the dialogue.

The U.S. seems to calculate that the DPRK will collapse of its own accord if it wastes time while putting pressure upon the DPRK.

The Korean-style socialist system which is guided by the Juche idea and where the entire army and all the people are single-heartedly united, true to the Songun politics, will never shake in any tempest.

The U.S. seems to waste time in a bid to attain its political purpose but any delay in the solution of the nuclear issue would cause nothing unfavorable to the DPRK.

This would give us time to take all necessary measures with an increased pace.

Any further six-way talks will not prove helpful to the solution of the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. unless the U.S. shows its will to make a switchover in its policy toward the DPRK.

In spite of this situation we consented to the time to open the next round of the six-way talks and to the issue of organizing a working group proceeding from the sincere and patient stand to seek a negotiated peaceful solution of the nuclear issue at any cost.

It is difficult to expect that any further talks would help find a solution to the issue.

The settlement of the nuclear issue will entirely depend on the change in the U.S. attitude.

THE GOLDEN RULE OF U.S. POLITICS

Folk wisdom has long known that the golden rule of contemporary American political life is: he who has the gold makes the rule..

The current electoral system is owned by the capitalist class. The Republican and Democratic parties are both financed and organized by the big capitalists and these 2 parties exercise a monopoly over the selection and nomination of candidates for office. The people are deprived of any right to choose the candidates and therefore denied any real right to vote. In fact, in many areas of the country, there is, in effect, a one-party system; for example, for decades the Democrats have completely dominated Chicago politics.

In addition, the monopoly-controlled media plays a huge role in deciding which candidates and personalities to popularize and in setting the terms of the political discussion. The concerns and demands, the struggles and organizations of the working people are completely boycotted by the monopoly-controlled media. Thus the people are written out of the equation and the political agenda of the capitalists is presented as the only agenda.

In addition to the billions of dollars in free publicity given to the Democrats and Republicans by the monopoly-controlled media, the capitalists donate hundreds of millions to these parties.

Even though the 2004 elections are still more than 8 months away, the following statistics give some idea of how the capitalists make sure that all the candidates march to their drum beat. (Statistics based on data released by the Federal Elections Commission and available, in greater detail, on-line at opensecrets.org from the "Center for Responsive Politics.").

Many capitalists have made large donations to both the Bush and Kerry Presidential campaigns. At the head of this list are the big finance capitalists. Goldman Sachs, for example, gave $270,000 to the Bush campaign and $62,000 to Kerry; Citigroup has given $154,000 to Bush and $72,000 to Kerry; Morgan Stanley donated $155,000 to Bush and $40,000 to Kerry.

Congressional Races

The same is true for Congress. While certain individual capitalists may groom and finance particular candidates, many corporations finance both parties and even candidates "competing" for the same office.

The following list shows some of the big corporations which have already made large donations to the House and Senate campaigns of the Republican and Democratic parties. (as of November 3, 2003).

Banks and Finance Capital Democrats Republicans

Goldman Sachs $814,000 $783,000

Citigroup $324,000 $467,000

Morgan Stanley $279,000 $419,000

American Bankers Assn $232,000 $349,000

Chicago Mercantile Exchange $126,000 $153,000

Bank One $144,000 $176,000

Defense

General Dynamics $205,000 $364,000

Lockheed Martin $191,000 $310,000

Northrop Grumman $183,000 $234,000

Hospitals, Drugs, Insurance

American Hospital Assn $200,000 $289,000

Blue Cross/Blue Shield $176,000 $274,000

Pfizer Inc $148,000 $262,000

Metropolitan Life $135,000 $141,000

National Assn of Realtors $340,000 $399,000

Soft Money

In addition to financing the campaigns of individual candidates, the capitalists make large "soft money" donations to the Republican and Democratic parties for general "party-building activities."

As of June 9, 2003, 724 organizations had donated $100,000 or more in "soft money" contributions to the Republicans and Democrats. Again, most capitalists give huge sums to both parties. For example:

Democrats Republicans

AT&T $1,389,000 $1,750,000

Microsoft $800,000 $1,890,000

Anheuser-Busch $732,000 $1,040,000

Citigroup $621,000 $970,000

Goldman Sachs $1,070,000 $478,000

SBC Communications $710,000 $777,000

Boeing $295,000 $405,000

Northwest Airlines $231,000 $424,000

Walt Disney $340,000 $310,000

UBS America $263,000 $370,000

General Dynamics $244,000 $302,000

Qwest Communication $272,000 $342,000

Lockheed Martin $481,000 $631,000

BellSouth $504,000 $599,000

General Electric $283,000 $450,000

GOVERNMENT PLANS NEW ATTACKS ON SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, recently called on Congress to slash future Social Security and Medicare benefits. Specifically, Greenspan called for raising the retirement age and cutting back on cost-of-living increases.

Many other government officials and agencies are again joining the chorus to create a hysteria about huge Social Security and Medicare deficits in coming years. This propaganda is also accompanied by calls for slashing benefits and/or privatizing these entitlement programs.

Of course, all this propaganda is a lie from start to finish. Right now, the Social Security Trust Funds has a surplus of $1.2 trillion. As for the future, it is obvious not only that our country has vast resources at its disposal but that every year, our productive capacity continues to grow.

The problem is not a lack of funds or resources. The problem is the government's priorities.

In fact, for several years, the government has been taking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the Social Security Trust Fund in order to pay for the huge deficits it is accumulating. These deficits are a direct result of the militarization of the economy and the robbery of the public treasury by the big corporations. In other words, the government has been helping the Pentagon arms merchants and other big capitalists steal from the funds set aside to guarantee the pensions of retired workers.

The working people should take full note of just what the capitalist government is planning.

Our country has reached a stage of development where all the economic needs and rights of the people can be met; we have at our disposal the means necessary to take a giant leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. But instead of going forward, the capitalist system and the capitalist government are throwing us backward - attacking even such elementary rights as the right to retirement after a lifetime of labor, the right to health care, the right to education, the right to a livelihood commensurate with our country's level of economic development, etc.

In other words, our country must resolve the fundamental issue: the economy for whom?

The working people must fight to insure that the very starting point of economic life and the government's program is to guarantee the rights of the people instead of the superprofits of the capitalists.

CHILDREN DENIED RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION

In Pennsylvania, state cutbacks in funding for education have become so severe that 29 state-licensed, nonprofit schools which provide education for some of the most vulnerable children are in danger of closing.

Under the Pennsylvania school system, the state government pays 60% of the costs for every child enrolled in "Approved Private Schools" which educate about 4,000 children with such problems as severe mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and emotional disorders. But Pennsylvania's Department of Education stopped paying these schools last spring and today owes $30 million.

As a result some of the schools are in danger of closing, others are going deeply into debt and many have no choice but to refuse to enroll students referred by the state government.

The net result is that thousands of children are being denied their right to an education.

CHICAGO CONFERENCE AGAINST WAR AND IMPERIALISM! (MARCH 21)

One of the most urgent questions facing the American people is strengthening the anti-war struggle and developing it as an independent, proactive movement.

More than 2 years ago, the U.S. government declared a so-called "war against international terrorism" which it said would "last for decades." Already, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and keeps escalating counter-insurgency wars in these countries.

As part of the "war on terrorism," the U.S.-backed Israeli aggressors are stepping up their war against the Palestinian people. So too, the Bush administration is preparing wars against Syria and Iran; U.S. military "advisers" are directing counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines; the U.S. is threatening war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Pentagon is spending unprecedented sums building up a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. imperialism has officially adopted the doctrine of "preventive war" including even the use of nuclear first-strikes against nonnuclear countries and proclaimed that every country must accept U.S. dictates or "be treated as terrorist." The plain truth is that the "war on terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's blueprint for world domination through force of arms.

During these 2 years, tens of millions of Americans, from many walks of life, have come out in opposition to the government's war program. In the face of the chauvinism of the government, despite the attempt of the monopoly-controlled media to ignore or slander the anti-war movement, in the face of repression and countless other obstacles, the American people are bringing their agenda for peace to centerstage. A new generation of activists is coming forward. People are looking into root causes and grappling with the question of how to organize themselves into an ongoing, proactive movement. People are linking together the many currents of anti-war, anti-imperialist struggle and standing up in support of the liberation movements of the oppressed nations.

So too, on a world scale. In more than 150 countries, people are organizing massive protest movements against U.S. imperialism's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraqi and Afghan peoples are organizing their struggles against U.S. colonialism. In Palestine, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere, the peoples are fighting for national liberation. Across Latin America and the world, the workers and peoples are rising against U.S. economic and political domination and military pressure. The peoples and governments in Cuba, North Korea and other countries are standing in defense of their sovereignty and against U.S. pressure and aggression. The peoples are creating, through their own struggles and organizations, a world front against war and imperialism, in defense of the sovereignty of countries and for the liberation and progress of the peoples.

The American people are taking and must take their place in this worldwide struggle of humanity. We have always fought against the aggressive wars launched by "our own" government - in 1898 in opposition to U.S. aggression against Cuba and the Philippines, against World War I, against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and today in Iraq and Afghanistan - and we must continue to do so as long the monopoly capitalist class and its government exploit and attack the peoples of other countries. The agenda of the American people aims at nothing less than ending militarism, war, racism, colonialism and imperialism altogether.

We are convening a Conference Against War and Imperialism in Chicago, Illinois on March 20-21, 2004 to take up the urgent tasks facing the anti-war movement.

The Conference will present in-depth analysis on the features and causes of the so-called "war on terrorism" with the aim of strengthening our struggles and further developing the political independence and program of the anti-war movement. The Conference will be organized to insure maximum discussion and participation so that everyone can sum up their experience, contribute their views and work out guidelines for future work.

We call on the workers, anti-war activists and everyone concerned about the cause of peace to take part in the Conference Against War and Imperialism and join in the work of preparing for it and popularizing it.

Only the People Can Stop the Wars!

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism was initiated by the Chicago Branch of the Workers Party, U.S.A. For more information, contact the Organizing Committee, P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The Worker (Special Edition) is also available at the Workers Party, USA home page: www.workersparty.org

 

 

Volume 18, No. 5 March 2, 2004

Statement of the Workers Party, U.S.A. March 1, 2004

STOP THE U.S. INVASION AND COLONIZATION OF HAITI!

On February 29, U.S. marines invaded Haiti, overthrowing the democratically-elected President of the country and imposing U.S. military rule.

U.S. ambassador, James Foley said that U.S. and other foreign troops (including French and Canadian soldiers) will stay in Haiti for years and rule the country.

George Bush, in deploying thousands of marines, claims that they are needed to "prevent violence" and "restore order." But it is precisely U.S. imperialism which is imposing violence and colonialism on Haiti. Amongst other things, the U.S. army, after forcing President Aristide out of the country, allowed the armed, paramilitary gangs to enter the capital and begin murdering Aristide supporters.

In fact, for several years, the U.S. government has been working to destabilize Haiti and overthrow the constitutional government headed by President Aristide.

On the one hand, the U.S. applied economic pressure, blocking various international agencies from providing credits, loans and aid to Haiti. At the same time, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. governmental agencies encouraged, financed and organized criminal, paramilitary death squads inside the country.

Within the last several weeks, these gangs took control of various areas in the north of the country, attacking hospitals, schools, government offices and food warehouses to create panic amongst the population.

But in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian people were organizing to defend themselves and their elected President from any attacks by these fascist gangs. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians came out in political demonstrations and popular organizations began building street barricades and other defenses against a possible armed attack.

In this situation, the U.S. government, unable to bring its handpicked fascist gangs into the capital, decided to invade the country and remove Aristide. In other words, U.S. imperialism, as it has done elsewhere, played the double game of creating chaos and violence and then presenting itself as a "peacekeeper" in order to invade a sovereign country and impose its dictate.

Today, U.S. imperialism and its henchmen in Haiti are waging war against the people and preparing to reestablish a U.S. colonial regime.

But the Haitian people, who for more than 200 years have fought for their freedom, are continuing their struggle against U.S. colonialism and for democracy and national independence.

To assist this struggle, the American people must demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Haiti, an end to all U.S. interference and the restoration of the constitutional government of the country.

SUPPORT THE HAITIAN PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY AND INDEPENDENCE!

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The Worker (Update) is also available at the Workers Party, USA home page: www.workersparty.org

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

 

 

Volume 18, No. 4 February 19, 2004

Chicago Teachers Say: NO LAYOFFS! NO PROGRAM CUTBACKS!

The following article is from a newsletter published by Chicago teachers and educational workers.

On February 12, Arne Duncan, head of the Chicago Public Schools, announced plans to eliminate as many as 1,000 jobs, including teachers, teacher aides and other school employees. CPS officials also said they are preparing to cut several educational programs, including math, science and reading initiatives, and after-school programs.

The proposed layoffs and curriculum cutbacks are an outrage. They are an attack on our children's right to an education, an attack on the livelihood of teachers and other school employees, an attack on the right of the people to a modern educational system. Teachers, parents and concerned people must not let these attacks pass.

Everyone knows that the Chicago public schools, like schools in working class cities and towns across the country, are already drastically underfunded. Buildings are in disrepair, classes are overcrowded, educational materials are in short supply, staff is underpaid, etc., etc. Rather than cutting funds, government, at all levels, must meet its responsibility and increase investments in the schools.

Duncan claims that these cuts are necessary because the CPS faces a $100-$200 million deficit. Duncan said that the size of the deficit depends on how much aid the city receives from the state budget. But while Duncan claims he does not have the money to hire enough teachers, the CPS budget allocates hundreds of millions of dollars in for-profit contracts to private janitorial companies, food service companies, etc. Last year, the banks alone received $274 million in interest payments from the CPS. We ask: what is the first priority of the CPS budget - to guarantee profits for the bankers or to provide education for Chicago's children.

Nor should we fall for the trick of letting one governmental authority shift the blame to another in order to avoid responsibility.

We charge every level of government with criminal and conscious neglect of the public schools. The CPS defrauds the public of hundreds of millions of dollars in "administrative overhead," in sweetheart contracts, contracting out, etc. As for Blagojevich and the state government, it ranks 48 out of the 50 states in financial support for the public schools. The federal government provides almost no support for the schools.

The issue is not a lack of funds. The issue is that the government refuses to use the vast public funds at its disposal to meet its responsibilities to the people. The issue is not one of economics but of politics.

In other words, we are faced with a straightforward struggle. We must come out together - teachers, parents and working people throughout the city - and demand that government "find" the money, i.e. use the money already taken from us in taxes to meet the needs of the people.

Teachers and other schools employees have an important role to play in this struggle. As we learned in the recent contract battle, we cannot sit back and wait but must take the initiative into our own hands:

1) We must immediately begin to organize regular union meetings in our local schools.

2) We must step up our struggle to demand strict enforcement of contractual guarantees on class size, caseloads, space, prep periods, etc. so that the CPS is not able to shift even more impossible workloads on fewer and fewer employees.

3) We must make plans to reach out to parents, students and local communities to join together in the struggle to defend Chicago's schools.

No Layoffs!

No Program Cutbacks!

More Funding for the Schools!

YSDFP INITIATES CAMPUS SPEAKING TOUR

The Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) recently started a speaking tour on the campuses of several Chicago-area colleges.

The speaking tour aims at generating discussion on the government's war program and, in particular, bringing more people into the struggle against the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.

As part of the speaking tour, members of the YSDFP, at the invitation of instructors, have lead several classroom discussions.

In every class, students spoke out against the war.

In one class, students zeroed in on the lies of the Bush administration and were outraged that Bush went to war claiming that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction," yet none were found. In the same class, the "logic" of Bush's doctrine of "preemption" was exposed when a supporter of the war was asked: "Since the U.S. has weapons of mass destruction, do other countries have the right to invade the U.S.?"

Some students showed how U.S. intervention was not motivated by any "humanitarian" concern but rather by the interests of the U.S. corporations. Others firmly defended the Iraqi's people's sovereign right to determine their affairs by themselves without any foreign intervention. One student pointed to the experience of the people of Vietnam, China, and other countries to show the tremendous progress made by peoples after the foreign colonizers and occupiers were thrown out. Several students signed up to find out more about the YSDFP and its program of struggle against war and imperialism.

In the course of the speaking tour, students joined with the YSDFP in firmly refuting various pro-war arguments. The few diehard supporters of the war refused to address the facts or the issues of right and wrong. When one of Bush's lies was exposed the diehard supporters of war either tried to keep asserting the same lie in a louder voice or went on to try another lie. In the end, they resorted to racism and militarism, saying that the Iraqi people are not entitled to their sovereign rights and that U.S. military power gives it the "right" to make war.

So far, this anti-war speaking tour is a big success and the YSDFP is looking forward to speaking at more classes and campuses in the coming period. The speaking tour is releasing the initiative of many students, providing new space in which the issues can be discussed and further isolating the pro-war trend. It is helping to bring anti-war politics to the center of student life.

GOVERNMENT ATTACKS ON THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT

In early February, the U.S. Justice Department issued subpoenas to several individuals who attended a fall anti-war forum in Iowa. The government also subpoenaed membership lists and other files of the organization which sponsored the forum, the Drake University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The Justice Department says that the subpoenas are part of an investigation into an anti-war demonstration organized at a Iowa National Guard base one day after the forum.

The subpoenas and investigation are nothing but a political witch-hunt and part of the growing government surveillance, harassment and repression against the anti-war movement.

In November, the New York Times reported on a classified FBI intelligence memorandum, sent to local law police agencies across the country, calling on police to infiltrate and monitor demonstrations against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Already, anti-war activists in several cities have uncovered local police units organized to infiltrate, spy on and disrupt anti-war organizations.

Such police-state tactics are even more in use against Arab-American and Moslem communities where tens of thousands of people have been subjected to arbitrary detentions, where religious services have been invaded by the FBI, where charitable organizations have been raided and closed down by the government, etc.

These attacks against the rights of the people are part and parcel of the government's so-called "war on terrorism." In the name of "national security," the government is usurping more arbitrary power, criminalizing political dissent, building up its apparatus of repression and suppressing such fundamental rights as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, etc.

But these repressive tactics show the great weakness of the government and its fear of the growing anti-war struggles. Anti-war organizations and activists must not only resolutely defend their democratic rights to speak out and organize but also continue to bring ever-wider sections of people into the struggle against the government's war program.

U.S. MILITARY EXERCISES IN THE PHILIPPINES

This week hundreds of U.S. marines began landing in the Philippines to prepare for joint "combat exercises" with the Philippine army. Altogether, 2,500 U.S. troops will participate in these "live-fire" war maneuvers from February 23 to March 7.

The exercises aim at improving the combat readiness of U.S. and Philippine troops as part of a counter-insurgency war directed against the New People's Army and other anti-government groups.

Over the last 2 years, the U.S. has steadily increased its military presence and direct intervention in the Philippines as part of its so-called "war against terrorism." U.S. and Philippine forces engage in regular "training exercises" and U.S. military advisers take an active role in counter-insurgency operations. More U.S. troops and military supplies have been deployed in the country and more than $100 million in military aid has been given to the Philippine army.

The U.S. military buildup and direct, armed intervention aims both at suppressing the independence movement and popular struggles of the people as well as strengthening the Philippines as a major U.S. military base in Asia.

 

 

Volume 18, No. 3 February 10, 2004

Break the Political Stranglehold of the Republicans and Democrats

THE WORKING PEOPLE MUST LEAD THE WAY OUT OF THE CRISIS

The Democratic Presidential primaries are in full-swing.

It is tempting to simply write these games off as a travelling circus of lying, capitalist politicians and sycophant "journalists." But the game they are playing is far too serious.

The Democratic primaries - and the capitalist elections generally - are a real assault, an all-out political campaign, against the working class and people of our country.

The entire process aims at degrading the consciousness, undermining the struggles and demands of the people and thwarting the rising independent political initiatives of the people.

The Democrats, of course, present themselves as the alternative to George Bush and the "special interests" which stand behind Bush and the Republicans.

But the real deeds of the Democrats show, again and again, that they endorse the entire Bush program.

To begin with, look at the war program of the U.S. government. Kerry, Edwards, Clark, Dean, etc. all supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And they continue to do so. True, the TV picks up a few sound bytes in which these candidates "criticize" Bush's handling of the U.S.-Iraqi war. But scratch the surface and one sees that the Democrats only want to strengthen the U.S. occupation. Dean has called for sending thousands more troops to Iraq. Kerry expresses the fear that the Bush administration may "cut and run," withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq too soon. Kerry also wants to expand the U.S. army and deploy at least 40,000 more troops in the "war against terror." Furthermore, all the Democrats insist that the Bush administration needs to send more troops and more war materials to Afghanistan in order to strengthen the U.S. colonial regime in that country. And the list goes on and on - in Palestine and Colombia, in Korea and the Philippines, etc., etc. The Democrats, if anything, are trying to outcompete Bush as a militarist and defender of the world empire of U.S. capitalism.

On the economic front, the Democrats may haggle with Bush over this or that detail but in all the essentials they support the Bush economic program - the program of militarizing the economy, helping the rich rob the public treasury while slashing vital social programs. Every time Bush asks for more money for the military, the Democrats dutifully agree. The Democrats in Congress helped lead the way in pushing through Bush's latest attack on the public schools - the "No Child Left Behind Act." Democratic Governors, along with the Republicans, are in the forefront of slashing funds for Medicaid and public health programs. And let us not forget that it was the Democratic administration of Clinton which - with the support of Kerry, Lieberman and others - passed NAFTA and the so-called welfare-reform which has deprived millions of Americans of jobs and vitally needed income-support programs.

No, the Democrats are no different than the Republicans because both these parties are financed and controlled by the very same billionaires and corporations.

In this year's elections, the Democrats have a specially important role to play on behalf of the capitalists. Their role is to undermine the growing opposition to the Bush program and thwart the growth of a genuinely independent political movement.

The nonstop propaganda about the "lesser evil," "anybody but Bush," etc. aims at forcing the people to surrender their own demands and shut their mouths. Instead of continuing to organize against war and imperialism, activists are told to campaign for the Democrats. Instead of fighting contract battles against rising health premiums or organizing the political struggle for universal, free health care, workers are told to register and vote for the Democrats. Instead of getting to the roots of things and building up our own organizations, people are told to "return to the fold" of the Democratic Party.

Anyone who is willing, even for a minute, to acknowledge reality knows that the current political system and political process is completely monopolized by the rich. The Republicans and Democrats are official government-supported parties, financed by big business and unabashedly devoted to the program of the capitalist class and U.S. imperialism. The big business media monopolizes the political discussion deciding which candidates and which issues get air time. The entire political agenda has been scripted by the monopoly capitalist class.

Our country is at a crossroads. The capitalist political parties have repeatedly and openly declared that they are preparing more wars. They are bankrupting the public treasury, destroying our economy and attacking even the most elementary economic rights of the people. The capitalist government keeps increasing its apparatus of repression and attacking the democratic rights of the people.

What will our future be? Will the capitalist parties lead us into new wars or will the people find the path to peace? Will the capitalists impose more poverty and repression on us or will the people claim their inalienable economic and political rights?

With such urgent and fundamental things at stake, we cannot let the capitalist parties keep monopolizing the political arena. We cannot let the agenda be narrowed and the real demands of the people excluded. We cannot let our voice be silenced or our struggles diverted.

The most important, vital thing about the present situation is that during the last 2 years, the people of our country have begun to create something new - a mass, nationwide oppositional movement. Literally tens of millions of people have started to come into active political life especially in opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the entire "so-called war against terrorism."

We must not let these new struggles - this new awakening - be suppressed. We must not let the capitalists use the elections to return to "politics as usual" in which the people have absolutely no voice and no role to play.

We must channel our energies into strengthening our own independent political movement. This means asserting our own aims and program for society and rallying people in the struggle for peace, economic rights and democratic renewal.

Strengthening our independent political movement means building our own independent newspaper and media, such as "The Worker" and the Anti-Imperialist News Service. It means creating new space in which people can get together to sort out the issues and decide on the strategy and tactics of our struggle. It means strengthening our own mass organizations, including the trade unions, anti-war and anti-imperialist organizations and especially our own political party

- the Workers Party.

The capitalist parties offer our country nothing but a future of war, repression and growing poverty.

Only the working class and people themselves can find the way out of the crisis and lead our country onto the road of peace and the emancipation of the people.

U.S. IMPERIALISM, GET OUT OF IRAQ, NOW!!

By Bill Foster

Perhaps the reader has had the same experience as myself in talking to people who declare their opposition to the war yet, at the same time, say: "But now that we're there, don't we have to stay?"

The "need" to stay is justified with various arguments such as "if the U.S. pulls out, there will be chaos," or that the U.S. must "bring democracy to Iraq."

But it is precisely the U.S. occupation which is causing chaos, murdering thousands of Iraqis, imprisoning tens of thousands, preventing normal economic development and the rebuilding of the infrastructure, and plundering the resources of the country. The U.S. is waging a war of colonial occupation against the people of Iraq.

And again, it is precisely the U.S. occupation - the presence of a foreign army which makes the law - which denies the sovereignty of the Iraqi people. Yet sovereignty is the very starting point of democracy.

In other words, the line of "I opposed the war but now that the U.S. is there, it must stay" is nothing but another way of denying reality.

This thinking reflects the influence of the politics of the Democratic Party. The Democrats supported and continue to support the war against Iraq. But in the face of the massive opposition of the people to the war, the media likes to run a few sound bytes in which the Democrats criticize Bush. The Democrats may point out that Bush invaded Iraq for the "wrong reason" (since even the Bush administration has been forced to admit that there were no weapons of mass destruction) or criticize the Pentagon for not planning enough for the long-term occupation and pacification of Iraq. But the Democrats are the first to insist that "Now that we're there, we must finish the job." For example, the Democratic Leadership Conference

(DLC) , whose members include Presidential contenders Kerry and Edwards, writes: "What the U.S. needs now is not an exit strategy but a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. The key elements of such a strategy are more supple military tactics, more money, and more allies. . . . More troops, not fewer, and it means deploying them in ways that could raise the risk of U.S. casualties." (see Will Marshall's article "Stay and Win in Iraq" published in the DLC's "Blueprint Magazine," 1/8/04).

In short, the entire line of "Now that's we're there . . ." Is nothing but a continuation of very same chauvinist logic and imperialist aims that have driven the war from the beginning. It is a reflection of the program of U.S. imperialism to colonize Iraq at any cost.

In opposition to this attempt to perpetuate chauvinism and deny the savage methods and colonial aims of U.S. imperialism, we must reply to the query: "But now that we're there, what can we do?" With a resounding: GET OUT, NOW!

THE PEOPLE HAVE FIRST CLAIM ON THE PUBLIC TREASURY!

On Monday, February 2, Bush announced his federal budget for fiscal 2005.

The government's budget plays a decisive role in the economic life of our country. The federal budget alone will amount to $2.4 trillion next year; altogether federal, state and local governments account for more than 20% of the Gross Domestic Product.

With such vast sums at its disposal, the government has way more than enough resources to guarantee the economic rights and well-being of everyone - to insure that everyone has free, comprehensive health care, the best possible education from preschool through the university, modern housing, a secure retirement and a secure standard of living commensurate with our country's high level of economic development.

But today, far from carrying out these responsibilities, the government keeps slashing social programs while the economic situation of tens of millions of Americans becomes literally desperate. Nearly 50 million people have no health insurance whatsoever, while tens of millions more are have insufficient coverage. Our schools are overcrowded and falling down. Public housing has been all but destroyed. Income-support programs for the unemployed, disabled, retired and poor have been slashed to the bone.

And everyone knows why. In the manner of the feudal Kings, the Republican and Democratic parties use the economic power of the government to help the Pentagon arms merchants, the Wall Street bankers, the monopoly corporations and the billionaires rob the public treasury. Next year the federal government will allocate more than $600 billion for the military and military-related projects. This militarization has created a huge deficit, mortgaging the future of the country to the big bankers. Already, the government is paying $200 billion/year in interest to the banks. Already the government is robbing the Social Security Trust Fund to cover the deficit and pay for the militarization. And the Republican and Democratic politicians never stop crying about the deficit when the people demand vitally needed investments in the schools, in education and other social services. And make no mistake about it. As bad as the situation is, things are going to get worse as the rich are literally plundering and destroying the economy.

The Workers Party says that this robbery must be stopped!

The working people must demand an end to militarization of the economy and an end to the government robbing the public treasury on behalf of the rich.

It is the labor of the working people which produces all the wealth of society. Thus, we must insist that the very aim of economic life must be to secure the livelihoods and well-being of the people and that, as a decisive starting point, the government must guarantee the economic rights of the people.

WHAT WE COULD DO WITH THE MONEY --

The government spends about $600 billion on the military ($420+ billion for the DOD; $17 billion for nuclear weapons; $8 billion hidden in NASA; $16 billion in Department of Homeland Security; $50 billion in supplemental funds for the war in Iraq, etc.).

Instead this could pay for:

- health insurance for the 45 million uninsured ($225 billion);

- increasing per pupil funding for every school student K-12 by $4,000/year ($185 billion);

- free tuition at state universities for all 15 million students currently enrolled in two and four year colleges. ($75 billion);

- $3,000 in income-support for every person in a household below the poverty line ($105 billion).

COMPANIES SLASHING HEALTH BENEFITS FOR RETIREES

Millions of retired workers and their families are losing health insurance as a result of cutbacks by companies in benefits for retirees.

A recently released survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that last year 10% of the country's largest companies eliminated subsidized health benefits for new retirees and that another 20% of companies plan to do so over the next 3 years. In addition, companies are raising copremiums and other costs imposed on retirees.

Employer-subsidized retiree health benefits fall into 2 groups.

For workers who retire before age 65 and are not yet eligible for Medicare, employer-sponsored group plans are virtually the sole source of health insurance. Due to employer cutbacks the percentage of pre-Medicare workers covered by retiree plans has dropped from 50% to 36% over the last 10 years. Thus, millions of retirees and their families are without any health insurance while others pay premiums as high as $2,000/month.

For retirees past 65, employer-sponsored plans help pay the cost of Medi-gap insurance which pays bills not covered by Medicare. Medi-gap premiums average $200/month and millions of seniors are facing real hardships as companies eliminate subsidized retiree coverage or raise copremiums.

The Kaiser study found that last year 71% of surveyed firms raised the copremiums required from retirees and 86% plan to raise premiums within 3 years. In addition, companies are imposing higher copayments and deductibles on retirees.

These costs fall especially hard on seniors who already have trouble trying to make ends meet on meager Social Security benefits.

It is a national disgrace that tens of millions of workers and their families - after a lifetime of labor - are deprived of health insurance altogether or forced to pay more than they can afford. We must demand full health care coverage for all retirees as part of the struggle for comprehensive, free health care for all.

ON WHOSE SHOULDERS DO WE BUILD THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT --

During the last few weeks, Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker" participated in a number of discussions with anti-war activists on the need for anti-imperialist politics. The following article summarizes some of the main points from these discussions.

Introduction

The entire orientation and program of the Workers Party in the struggle for peace is based on the great truth that: Only the People Can Stop the Wars.

This issue - the issue of identifying the real motive forces in the struggle against war - is the first and decisive issue facing all who ardently desire a world of peace.

Today, all the propaganda about "Anybody but Bush," about the so-called "split in the ruling class" and the need to elect "more moderate" capitalist politicians, about the need for more big power "diplomacy" and negotiations over the fate of the Iraqi people - all this propaganda aims at diverting the people from the fundamental truth that only the people can stop the wars.

This propaganda is a variant of the biggest lie of all - that the history of the world is the deeds of the Kings and "Great Men." Its corollary is that the masses of people have no independent role to play in shaping their lives and their world, that the working and oppressed classes are only the object of history, that the most we can do is wait with folded arms while the movers and shakers - the exploiters and warmakers - decide where, when and how many of us will be sent to the slaughter in their wars for profit and empire.

What History Teaches

The ruling class in our country was born dripping with the blood of war. The primitive accumulation of capital came about through the kidnapping and enslavement of the African peoples, through genocide against the Native peoples, by ripping the Southwest from Mexico through war.

With the dawn of the 20th century, U.S. capitalism entered the stage of monopoly capitalism, forcing the U.S. ruling class to export its capital to the four ends of the earth, continually seeking new markets, new sources of raw materials, new economic territory to exploit. Thus U.S. imperialism joined the other "great powers" in wars of colonial conquest, imposing its dictate in Latin America with gunboat diplomacy, waging war against the Filipino people, etc. In the 20th century, U.S. and world imperialism imposed the horror of two world wars on the peoples, slaughtering tens of millions.

With the end of WW II, U.S. imperialism asserted itself as the number one imperialist power and since then waged hundreds of counter-insurgency wars against the liberation struggles of the peoples - in Korea and Vietnam, in El Salvador and Nicaragua, in Palestine and Iraq, etc., etc. Today, the so-called "war on terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's battlecry to create a unipolar world through force of arms.

But this has never been the vision or aspiration of the working and oppressed classes of our country. From the very beginning the laboring people sought to build this country as a refuge for all the exploited and oppressed and throughout our history, we - the people - have fought against the aggressive wars of our "own" government and supported the just liberation struggles of the peoples everywhere.

In this century alone, millions of Americans came out to oppose WW I, to take up the struggle against the nazi-fascist aggressors and force the U.S. government to join that fight. We came out in tens of millions against the war in Vietnam, against the counter-insurgency wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, just as today tens of millions of Americans are rallying against the war in Iraq and the entire "war against terrorism."

Thus the first great motive force in the struggle against war and imperialism is the working class and people's movements in the U.S. and every country.

Side-by-side with this struggle, over the last 100 years, the nations and peoples oppressed by imperialism have brought their anti-colonial, liberation movements to centerstage. This is the second great motive force in the struggle for peace and against imperialism.

The oppressed peoples - in China and India, in the Congo and throughout Africa, in Latin America - who were called "backward" and "uncivilized," whose sovereignty and freedom were trampled on, who were subjected to the most brutal oppression and exploitation by the colonial powers rose, in their hundreds of millions, to fight for their liberation.

The unity of these 2 movements - the working class and popular movement in every country and the liberation struggles of the oppressed and dependent countries - is the key to winning the peace and defeating imperialism.

This unity is based on common struggle against the common enemy.

When people in Iraq or Palestine stand and fight against U.S. occupation and U.S. colonialism, they strike hammer blows against imperialism and undermine its war plans. When the colonized people win liberation and defend it, they deny imperialism another base from which to launch wars and oppress others. When Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea defend their sovereignty, they expose the pressure, blackmail and demagogy of imperialism. Every people who rise in the struggle for liberation inspire others to stand against the forces of oppression, racism, capitalism and domination, to fight for freedom and emancipation.

These movements arise from the very social being of the working and oppressed peoples. Racism, chauvinism, colonialism and war come from the capitalist class because this is a class which lives by the exploitation and domination of the peoples. But the peoples, who live and work and aspire to a better life and better world, ardently desire a world of peace and friendship, a world which recognizes the sovereignty and rights of all. This is our nature, our aspirations, our struggle.

Anti-Imperialist Politics

Within the last 2 years, tens of millions of Americans have spoken out against the government's war program. We have rallied and demonstrated. And the government has only escalated its wars. Anyone who has breathed in the new spirit arising amongst our people, who is part of the new awakening, feels and knows that the people are again coming onto the scene. The burning question - in fact, the only real question facing us - is giving an independent political expression to these aspirations and this program for peace. This is the politics of anti-imperialism.

Anti-imperialist politics is the politics of opposition to and struggle against the parties and government of war.

Anti-imperialist politics is the politics of empowering and organizing the masses of people as the only reliable force for peace.

Anti-imperialist politics aims, through the continuous mobilization and activation of the people, at fighting the war program every step of the way and staying the hand of the warmakers. Its most immediate demands include the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The goal of anti-imperialist politics is to bring to power an anti-war, anti-imperialist government - a government of the people. Such a government will implement a genuinely democratic foreign policy which:

- ends U.S. intervention and aggression in all its forms;

- withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad;

- ends U.S. participation in aggressive military alliances and support for reactionary regimes;

- ends the militarization of our country;

- recognizes the sovereign equality of all nations.

Intense Pressure

The current political set-up exerts tremendous pressure against the people to suppress their anti-imperialist politics.

Right now, one concentrated expression of this pressure is the election circus which demands that the people give up their own convictions and give up their independent movement in order to vote for the "most electable, lesser evil."

Another form of this pressure is the continuous attempt to keep the working people and anti-war activists under the thumb of the Democratic Party through "coalitions" based on the "lowest common denominator." Such coalitions demand that in order to cater to the prejudices of the capitalist politicians, in order to not scare them away, people must renounce their anti-imperialist demands and program.

The Workers Party works to mobilize the widest sections of people against each and every aggressive step taken by U.S. imperialism. We work for the broadest unity in action of everyone opposed to the war program of the U.S. government.

And we recognize that in the course of these struggles, the only reliable basis upon which to consolidate and advance our movement is the ever-growing consciousness and organization of the people themselves. Thus we call on everyone to:

1) seriously look into what are the social forces - the classes - behind the war program and to take up the political struggle against the parties and government of war; and

2) to take up the fundamental question of strengthening the independent organizations of the people themselves - the real motive force in the struggle against war and imperialism.

U.S. ARMY KEEPS INCREASING TROOP STRENGTH

On January 28, the U.S. Army announced that it will increase its size by 30,000 troops as part of a government-authorized "emergency authority."

The Army is already nearly 500,000 strong due to Congressional emergency provisions and Pentagon orders. The so-called "stop-loss" orders recently issued by the Pentagon have prevented soldiers from leaving or retiring from the military until at least the spring of 2005. Over the past year, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers. Over 16,000 National Guard and reservists, who were eligible to leave the service last year, now must remain as part of the U.S. combat force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were blocked from retiring or departing the military. The Pentagon is also offering bonuses of up to $10,000 to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan if they agree to reenlist for three years or more.

Many U.S. government and Pentagon officials are openly admitting that U.S. troops are overextended and that there is a drastic shortfall of available personnel, especially since many troops are now engaged in combat. On February 4, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told members of Congress there was a serious manpower shortage and vowed "we will not hesitate to increase force levels even more, using those emergency authorities provided by Congress." General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, also told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee last month "There is no question that the Army is stressed." The U.S. Army's current deployments include about 130,000 troops in Iraq, 11,000 in Kuwait, 11,500 in Afghanistan, 37,500 in South Korea and 44,000 in Japan.

These new moves to expand the ranks of the military show how U.S. imperialism uses the youth of this country. They are forced into service - to be used as canon fodder in foreign wars of aggression. As of early February, 2004, 531 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and 3,003 have been wounded, many seriously. An additional 6,500 "non-hostile" injuries have occurred in Iraq since the beginning of the war. In Afghanistan, over 100 U.S. troops have been killed in combat during the past two years. Several independent investigators charge that the Pentagon is keeping the true casualty figures from the public and that the actual number of soldiers killed and injured is much higher.

Many U.S. lawmakers want to further increase U.S. troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, for example, has criticized the Bush administration for "neglecting Afghanistan" and wants to increase the overall size of the U.S. military by at least 40,000. Other senators, such as Hilary Clinton, have called for the immediate deployment of thousands of more troops to the Middle East region. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, recently testified before Congress arguing for a permanent higher level military force. She is pushing legislation to increase the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps for five years at an estimated cost of up to $4 billion. Last year, Democratic congressmen John Conyers and Charles Rangel introduced a bill calling for reinstatement of the draft.

In opposition to these imperialist demands for more canon fodder, we must further organize ourselves and strengthen our independent, anti-imperialist movement in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war. More than ever, we need to develop a broad popular front with the aim of bringing to power a peace government. Such a government will withdraw all U.S. troops stationed abroad, end the militarization of our country, and recognize the sovereign equality of every nation.

U.S. PREPARES AFGHAN OFFENSIVE IN SPRING

The Bush administration is preparing a U.S. military offensive in Afghanistan this Spring that would involve cross-border raids into neighboring Pakistan.

Citing sources familiar with details of the plan, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that the Pentagon is assembling a team of military intelligence officers and special forces that would be posted in Pakistan ahead of the operation. The offensive would involve Special Operations forces, Army Rangers and Army ground troops. A Navy aircraft carrier would also be deployed in the Arabian Sea.

A series of planning orders for the offensive were issued in recent weeks. The plan is characterized within the Pentagon as "a big effort." Thousands of U.S. forces would be involved, according to the Tribune. Some of the U.S. troops now in Afghanistan would be shifted to the border region as part of regular troop movements, while others would be deployed within Pakistan.

Many leading government officials throughout the region stressed that such plans by the U.S. were an open violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and would face stiff opposition from the people.

U.S. officials have been trying to keep the facts hidden from the public eye, but in truth they are deeply worried about the inability of the U.S. military to maintain stability in occupied Afghanistan. The Pentagon has admitted that U.S. troops are coming under attack on a daily basis and that it has no control over areas outside of the capital of Kabul. In the south and southeast of the country, recent U.S. military offensives have failed to stop the growing insurgency. Despite occupation by nearly 12,000 U.S.-led troops, and thousands of additional NATO troops, the resistance forces are expanding their ranks and include a broad front of Afghan political and religious groups.

The Bush administration plans to spend billions of additional dollars for fighting the war in Afghanistan, and many leading Democratic party spokesmen have called for increased military escalation while criticizing Bush for "not being aggressive enough" in fighting the war.

Make no mistake about it -- the Pentagon is continuing its war and occupation in Afghanistan because U.S. imperialism wants to secure the country as a strategic base in Central Asia and the Middle East, a base from which it can oust its competitors and threaten and bully the entire region. The U.S. aims not only at subjugating Afghanistan but at using that country as another strategic base in its struggle for world domination.

We must keep the demand "U.S., Out of Afghanistan" in the forefront of the people's anti-war movement.

CHICAGO CONFERENCE AGAINST WAR AND IMPERIALISM! March 20-21

One of the most urgent questions facing the American people is strengthening the anti-war struggle and developing it as an independent, proactive movement.

More than 2 years ago, the U.S. government declared a so-called "war against international terrorism" which it said would "last for decades." Already, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and keeps escalating counter-insurgency wars in these countries.

As part of the "war on terrorism," the U.S.-backed Israeli aggressors are stepping up their war against the Palestinian people. So too, the Bush administration is preparing wars against Syria and Iran; U.S. military "advisers" are directing counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines; the U.S. is threatening war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Pentagon is spending unprecedented sums building up a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. imperialism has officially adopted the doctrine of "preventive war" including even the use of nuclear first-strikes against nonnuclear countries and proclaimed that every country must accept U.S. dictates or "be treated as terrorist." The plain truth is that the "war on terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's blueprint for world domination through force of arms.

During these 2 years, tens of millions of Americans, from many walks of life, have come out in opposition to the government's war program. In the face of the chauvinism of the government, despite the attempt of the monopoly-controlled media to ignore or slander the anti-war movement, in the face of repression and countless other obstacles, the American people are bringing their agenda for peace to centerstage. A new generation of activists is coming forward. People are looking into root causes and grappling with the question of how to organize themselves into an ongoing, proactive movement. People are linking together the many currents of anti-war, anti-imperialist struggle and standing up in support of the liberation movements of the oppressed nations.

So too, on a world scale. In more than 150 countries, people are organizing massive protest movements against U.S. imperialism's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraqi and Afghan peoples are organizing their struggles against U.S. colonialism. In Palestine, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere, the peoples are fighting for national liberation. Across Latin America and the world, the workers and peoples are rising against U.S. economic and political domination and military pressure. The peoples and governments in Cuba, North Korea and other countries are standing in defense of their sovereignty and against U.S. pressure and aggression. The peoples are creating, through their own struggles and organizations, a world front against war and imperialism, in defense of the sovereignty of countries and for the liberation and progress of the peoples.

The American people are taking and must take their place in this worldwide struggle of humanity. We have always fought against the aggressive wars launched by "our own" government - in 1898 in opposition to U.S. aggression against Cuba and the Philippines, against World War I, against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and today in Iraq and Afghanistan - and we must continue to do so as long the monopoly capitalist class and its government exploit and attack the peoples of other countries. The agenda of the American people aims at nothing less than ending militarism, war, racism, colonialism and imperialism altogether.

We are convening a Conference Against War and Imperialism in Chicago, Illinois on March 20-21, 2004 to take up the urgent tasks facing the anti-war movement.

The Conference will present in-depth analysis on the features and causes of the so-called "war on terrorism" with the aim of strengthening our struggles and further developing the political independence and program of the anti-war movement. The Conference will be organized to insure maximum discussion and participation so that everyone can sum up their experience, contribute their views and work out guidelines for future work.

We call on the workers, anti-war activists and everyone concerned about the cause of peace to take part in the Conference Against War and Imperialism and join in the work of preparing for it and popularizing it.

ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THE WARS!

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism was initiated by the Chicago Branch of the Workers Party, U.S.A. For more information, contact the Organizing Committee, P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625

UNITE THE PEOPLE CAMPAIGN AND SPEAKING TOUR

The Organizing Committee for the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism has initiated a "Unite the People Campaign and Speaking Tour."

Already an extensive program is underway which includes:

- organizing teams to reach out to schools, neighborhoods and workplaces to initiate discussion and bring people into the anti-war struggles.

- speaking in homes, churches, schools and elsewhere to popularize the Conference and the program of struggle against war and imperialism.

- getting together with anti-war organizations and activists to initiate new actions.

To contact the OC and/or find out about speakers, literature and other resources: P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625.

U.S. GOVERNMENT PREVENTS CUBAN ARTISTS FROM ATTENDING GRAMMY AWARDS

The following item is excerpted from an article in "Granma."

Ibrahim Ferrer, Manuel Galvan, Barbarito Torres, Guillermo Rubalcaba, Moises Hernandez, conductor of the National Concert Band, the youth and veterans of the Ignacio Pineiro Septeto Nacional, will not be in the U.S. city of Los Angeles on Sunday for the 40th Grammy Awards ceremony. For the U.S. State Department they are terrorists.

Allowing sufficient time and in line with requirements, the island's musicians nominated for the gold disc awarded by the Academy for the Recording Arts and Science, which expressly invited them to the event, applied for entry visas to the United States.

The U.S. Interests Section in Havana has not only communicated that they have been refused visas, but that its decision is based on the Section 22 (f) migratory prerogative applied in that country to terrorists, assassins, drug traffickers and persons seen to constitute a threat to U.S. national security.

Last September, when Miami became the venue for the Latin Grammys, the same thing happened. But on that occasion the political maneuver was cooked up by the anti-Cuban mafia of South Florida, while this time the real master of the intrigue is blatantly and overtly the U.S. government....

The cultural apartheid being practiced by the Washington authorities cannot prevent the citizens of that country from respecting, admiring and enjoying Ibrahim's boleros, the Septeto Nacional's songs, Galvan's improvisations with Ry Cooder, and Chucho Valdes prodigious art at the piano.

With this refusal, the U.S. government is merely reaffirming a profound anti-cultural vocation.

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The Worker (Update) is also available at the Workers Party, USA home page: www.workersparty.org

- +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

 

 

Volume 18, No. 2 January 26, 2004

MILITARIZATION IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY

On January 23, the Defense Department proposed a $402 billion military budget for fiscal 2005, an increase of $27 billion over this year.

This does not include funds for the war against Iraq which can be expected to cost an additional $150 billion. Another $80-100 billion in military spending will be included in the Energy Department's budget for nuclear weapons, in the budgets for NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, etc. Altogether, in the next year, the American people will pay more than $600 billion (more than $8,000/family) for the military.

The fact is that as part of its war program against peoples throughout the world, the U.S. government has put the entire economy on a war footing. This militarization is bankrupting our country and destroying the livelihoods of the American people.

While the government has unlimited funds for the military, it shamelessly tells the people it has no money for the public schools, for health care, for public housing, for income-support for the poor, retired and disabled, etc., etc.

We say enough is enough! We say: "No!" To the militarization of our country. Our country's resources must be used to guarantee the economic rights and well-being of the people, not to make superprofits for the capitalists and prepare wars against the people of other countries.

HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED

Over the last few months, a number of anti-war activists joined the election campaign of Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich was advertised not only as a "peace" candidate but as a person of principle.

From the beginning, the Workers Party pointed out that Kucinich supported the war in Afghanistan and that his alleged opposition to the war in Iraq only boils down to calling for more multinational troops to help the continuing occupation and colonization of the country.

Moreover, we pointed out that Kucinich, like every Democratic official, has to bear responsibility for the fact that his party has consistently supported the war program of U.S. imperialism, from the days of WW I up to the present "war against terrorism." We insisted, and continue to insist, that any genuine peace candidate must first of all denounce and leave the Democratic Party, this sworn party of war and imperialism.

Kucinich's tactics in the recent Iowa caucuses reinforce this lesson. On caucus day, Kucinich called on his supporters in precincts where he did poorly to throw their support to Senator Edwards, an unabashed proponent of war and a darling of the notorious right-wing Democratic Leadership Conference. Kucinich's support was one of the factors propelling the Edwards' campaign into the limelight. Kucinich explained this deal by calling Edwards his "good friend."

This, in fact, is how the game is played. The so-called "left-wing" of the Democratic Party is used to keep peace activists, trade unionists, and others under the tutelage of the Democrats. First, Kucinich and others create the illusion that the Democrats "may change," that activists must "wage the good fight inside the Democratic Party." But in the end, the "left-wing" collapses and those sincere activists who have been kept in the fold are told: "Well, at least Lieberman or Edwards or Kerry are a 'lesser evil.'" Dennis Kucinich has long been a supporter of U.S. imperialism and its war program. His open assistance to Edwards only proves this again.

The only real way to oppose the war program is to escalate the mass struggles of the people and to strengthen a genuinely independent political movement.

ILLINOIS SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS

The following article is excerpted from a newsletter published by Chicago teachers.

Governor Blagojevich's recent attacks on the Illinois State Board of Education dodge and divert the real issue: the severe funding crisis facing Illinois public schools.

Three-fourths of the state's 893 schools districts have large and growing budget deficits. These deficits translate into overcrowded classrooms, curriculum cutbacks, shortages of educational materials, deteriorating buildings, low pay for teachers and other educational workers, etc.

A major cause of this funding crisis is the fact that Illinois ranks 48th out of 50 in state funding for education, providing only 37% of the funds for the public schools. In fact, public school funding is so low that the Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board officially recommended that the state legislature immediately increase per pupil funding to $5,665/year (a $1,000/year increase). To date this recommendation remains unfulfilled.

The lack of state funding means that most of the cost of public education must be paid by the cities and towns. But inner city and poor rural areas have substantially less resources than richer suburban school districts. The end result is a dual school system under which children in rich areas receive the best education while working class students are condemned to overcrowded classrooms, reduced curriculum, outdated facilities, etc.

The inequality in Illinois' schools is so great that while some districts spend less than $4,000/pupil, others spend more than $15,000/pupil. This inequality is made worse because even within school districts, schools in poorer neighborhoods often receive less funds. For example, a study by Chicago's "Save Our City Coalition" reported that during the 1998-99 school years, some elementary schools received an average of $5,978/pupil while others received as little as $1,875/pupil....

Across the country, parents, educators, students and concerned people have been fighting to reform state funding formulas. They are demanding increased funding and an equitable distribution of monies which guarantees poorer districts sufficient educational resources to provide the highest quality of education for all.

In Illinois, as in states across the country, the lack of funding for public education has reached crisis proportions. Parents, educators, students and concerned people are demanding that government, at all levels, fulfill its responsibility to properly fund the schools. Amongst other demands, they are fighting to reform state funding formulas so that monies are distributed equitably and working class districts are guaranteed sufficient resources to provide the highest quality of education.

YSDFP BEGINS ANTI-IMPERIALIST DISCUSSION MEETINGS

On January 19, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) began a series of discussions on the strategy and tactics of the struggle against war.

Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker," lead the first meeting. In introducing the discussion series, Michael Thorburn began by congratulating the YSDFP for their bold and vigorous work of standing up and speaking out against the U.S. government's war program.

Michael Thorburn pointed out that millions of young Americans, refusing to give in to the chauvinism and militarism of the government, the big political parties and monopoly-controlled media, are coming into active political life to demand peace and a say-so in the direction of our country.

The YSDFP has an important role to play in this movement. The YSDFP works to link together the many fronts of anti-war struggle and develop a proactive program which can carry the struggle for peace through to the end. The anti-imperialist politics of the YSDFP -- by correctly targeting the monopoly capitalist class and the imperialist system as the source of war and by working to strengthen the independent consciousness and organization of the people -- offers youth and students an independent program.

Michael Thorburn also congratulated the YSDFP for its seriousness in taking up vital questions of theory, history and politics. He pointed out that today in the U.S., the youth face tremendous pressure from the dominant culture to not be serious or responsible. This is even reflected in the anti-war movement where, all too often, politics is brushed aside and the people are offered no alternative except to electioneer for imperialist politicians or engage in one action after another without building up a conscious and organized movement.

Michael Thorburn emphasized that to win the peace, people must not only go to the root causes of war in the capitalist-imperialist system but organize themselves into an independent political movement capable of making real changes. Looking into the laws of motion of the capitalist-imperialist system and studying the contemporary balance of political forces is a vital part of the struggle.

After this introduction, the group took up its first topic: "The Capitalist-Imperialist System is the Cause of War."

Future issues of "The Worker" will carry further reports on these discussions.

U.S. WAR IN COLOMBIA

Over the last 2 years, 3,593 people "disappeared" after being taken into custody by the Colombian state, according to a new report from the Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared (ASFADDES). A "disappeared" person is one whose whereabouts and fate remain concealed by the government. Many of the "disappeared" have undoubtedly been murdered by the government.

In another recent report, the Colombian organization "Human Rights and Displacement Consultancy" (CODHES) records that in 2002, 412,553 Colombians were forcibly displaced from their lands. These displacements are part of the program of the Colombian army and paramilitary terrorist squads to uproot villages in areas "suspected" of supporting liberation forces and as a means of grabbing lands with valuable resources. Commenting on the report, Harvey Suarez Morales, director of CODHES, said "Displacement.... is a central strategy of the war."

These fascist atrocities are part of a counterinsurgency war being by U.S. imperialism against the Colombian people. Over the last 4 years, the U.S. government has sent $2 billion in military aid to the Colombian government which has imposed martial law on most of the country; at least 400 U.S. military advisers, as well as several thousand U.S. mercenaries -- including "former" CIA and army operatives -- are fighting alongside the Colombian military.

 

 

 

Volume 18, No. 1 January 13, 2004

EXTEND AND ORGANIZE THE OPPOSITIONAL MOVEMENTS!

On New Year's Day, the Chicago Branch of the Workers Party organized a political and social evening to usher in 2004. During the evening, Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker," gave a talk reviewing some of the major political developments of 2003 and outlining the perspectives and tasks of the Party for the coming year.

Below we summarize some of the key points from this talk.

War Program and the Crisis of the Capitalist-Imperialist System

Of course, one of the first things that stands out about 2003 is the war waged by the U.S. against Iraq. And this war is continuing. The U.S. keeps escalating its counter-insurgency war against the Iraqi people even while U.S. corporations are looting the country and setting up a colonial administration.

The war against Iraq, along with the continuing war and occupation in Afghanistan, mark a new phase in the aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. capitalist class.

The capitalists themselves consider these wars only as "battles" in a worldwide "war against terrorism." U.S. imperialism wants to suppress the liberation movements of the oppressed peoples; U.S. imperialism wants to impose its dictate on any and every state which "dares" to stand up for independence and sovereignty; U.S. imperialism wants to assert its hegemony over Europe and the other big capitalist powers. The "war against terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's blueprint to establish a unipolar world by force of arms.

And the war program is only the most visible fault line of the all-sided crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system. It is accompanied by an unprecedented militarization of the economy which in turn is only intensifying the offensive against the economic rights of the people - the slashing of social investments and attacks on workers' wages and livelihoods. The war program is accompanied by pogroms against immigrants, attacks on civil liberties and the build up of the government's apparatus of repression through the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security and other means. The war program includes an all-sided ideological assault against the American people marked by unrestrained militarism and racism.

These problems are not going to go away; they will only get worse because they are inevitable results of the contradictions of the capitalist-imperialist system - contradictions which are breaking out in full fury.

Capitalist-imperialism is a system based on the exploitation of the working class. And today, the monopolies, desperately working to maximize their profits, are not only intensifying the exploitation of the workers but demanding that the entire country be put at their disposal - privatizing vital public services, plundering the public lands, and trying to undermine the standards of wages and rights gained by the workers over decades of struggle.

Capitalist-imperialism is a system based on colonial domination. Today, U.S. imperialism is trying to reverse the verdicts of the 20th century by launching wars against the struggles of the oppressed nations for independence and liberation.

Capitalist-imperialism is a system characterized by rivalry and competition amongst the big powers and capitalist states. Today, U.S. imperialism is trying to bludgeon its competitors and expand its empire and profits through war.

In other words, all the basic contradictions of the contemporary world - the contradiction between the workers and the capitalists, the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, the inter-imperialist contradictions - are undermining the dominant position of the U.S. monopolies. In crisis and desperation, the U.S. capitalists seek to suppress these contradictions by force, by resorting to war and fascism.

In short, U.S. imperialism has placed itself in opposition to all of humanity. The intensity of its program can be seen in the ideology of the capitalist class. In trying to win public opinion to its side, the U.S. government can only resort to lies. U.S. imperialism has openly adopted the ideology of racism and is trying to impose the law of jungle - whereby it will launch military strikes at any time against any country in the way of its global domination.

The barbarity of U.S. imperialism today can be seen in the methods of its war program - in the savage bombing of civilian targets, in its collective reprisals and Hitlerite repression against the Iraqi people, in its open program to liquidate the Palestinian nation, in its threats and preparations to launch nuclear war against the peoples....

The toll of the crisis is borne by senior citizens who are denied needed health care, by children who are deprived of the right to an education, by workers who do not get a living wage - all so that the capitalists can maximize their profits.

After discussing in some detail how the line of "anybody but Bush" is being used to cover over the intensity of the problems and the source of the crisis, Michael Thorburn emphasized that we must face up to the reality that only the people can create an alternative and find the way out of the crisis of capitalism.

Extend and Organize the Oppositional Movements!

In the second half of his speech, Michael Thorburn focussed on the need to develop the consciousness, organization and independent political initiative of the workers and people.

In 2003, millions of Americans came out in struggle against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This struggle is continuing; people are fighting for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, this struggle has already developed into more than a single-issue protest movement. A new, nationwide, mass oppositional movement is emerging. Growing numbers of people see the need to build a proactive movement and are grappling with the question of how to organize themselves on an independent basis.

And again, while the anti-war movement is the most visible expression of the growing activation of people, the same basic polarization is unfolding on other fronts. We can see the seeds of much larger struggles in the recent struggles against state budget cuts in Illinois, in the demand of seniors for real prescription drug insurance, in the Chicago teachers' recent contract battle, etc.

While saluting these movements, Michael Thorburn emphasized that these struggles are ONLY JUST BEGINNING, that they are barely organized, and that a tremendous amount of work must be done to consolidate and extend these struggles.

During the past year, the Workers Party has been in the thick of the popular struggles and worked to strengthen their political independence. The Party itself took several new initiatives and gained invaluable experience and new organizational strength. The Party's analysis has been further tested and deepened. The Party has extended its political presence and organizations as well as helped to initiate and consolidate such organizations as the Anti-Imperialist News Service (AINS), the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP) and others. The mass workers' press has, more or less, become regularized.

In short, as we begin the new year, the Party has all the tools necessary to make 2004 a year for politicizing, mobilizing and organizing the people on a broad basis.

We must work on a daily basis amongst our peers at the workplaces, schools and communities. We must bring our independent politics into the broadest public forums. We must create new space in which people can discuss their problems and organize themselves. We must work to continually broaden and deepen the consciousness of the people by providing clarity, clarity and more clarity. In the course of this politicalization, in the course of mobilizing people into actions to defend and advance their interests, it is necessary to assist the people to organize themselves on an independent basis.

In concluding, Michael Thorburn discussed the upcoming Conference Against War and Imperialism.

In preparing for the Conference, the Party, the AINS, the YSDFP have the opportunity to reach out to tens of thousands of people, initiate wide-ranging discussion, join in new struggles, deepen the unity of the anti-war movement and strengthen anti-imperialist politics and organization. This entire work takes on special importance as an alternative to the capitalist program of using the election circus to liquidate the independence of the anti-war movement and return to "politics as usual."

"ANYBODY BUT..."

by Bill Foster

I.

My experience shows that George Bush is one of the most hated people in recent American history.

And with good reason.

Bush is hated because he stands for war, racism, repression and poverty.

Hatred for Bush and his program is certainly an excellent starting point for orienting and activating ourselves in the political struggle.

But it is only a starting point. Everyone must seriously look into and answer the question: where does the Bush program come from? It is not the work of George Bush alone. As with any serious political program, it reflects the interests of a definite class. In fact, Bush himself continually reminds us that he is nothing but a mouthpiece for the big capitalists; Bush's program of war, racism, repression and poverty is the program of the monopoly capitalist class.

Thus the hatred for Bush must be channelled into a program of struggle against the monopoly capitalist class.

We cannot afford to let this struggle be sidetracked; we cannot afford to have soft ears for the Democrats who advertise themselves as an alternative to Bush. Aren't the Democrats financed by the very same corporations that finance the Republicans? Can there be such a thing as monopoly capitalists who don't seek to increase the exploitation of the workers at home or who don't seek to expand their markets and empire abroad? And the political facts show that every step taken by the Bush administration has been supported by the Democratic Party.

The opposition to George Bush must not be diverted into supporting a party which embraces the very same program and very same class interests as Bush himself; the opposition to Bush must be channelled into building up the independent organization and independent political movement of the workers and people.

II.

In order to prevent the growth of such political independence, a chorus of politicians, reaching from the highest echelons of the Democratic Party to the "official left," keeps chanting the slogan: "Anybody but Bush."

This slogan is used to read the riot act to members of the Green Party who advocate running an independent Presidential candidate in

2004. The slogan "Anybody but Bush," is even used to marginalize Democratic Party candidates who are considered "too left" and therefore "unelectable." Of course, the greatest abuse is reserved for those - like the Workers Party - who take a principled stand of opposition to the capitalist parties and in defense of the rights of the people.

The fact is that regardless of the intentions of this or that individual, the objective content of the politics of "Anybody but Bush" is to cover over the dangers which Bush represents and to facilitate the victory of the Bush program.

Obviously a literal interpretation of the slogan "Anybody but Bush" means that any fascist, other than George Bush, is acceptable. And in the real world of American politics, doesn't this slogan mean precisely this? It means support for Clark or Lieberman or Dean or any other Democrat despite the fact that all these politicians support the wars and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped Bush, in the name of the "war on terrorism," loot the treasury of hundreds of billions of dollars, support the U.S.A. Patriot Act, etc., etc.

The line of "Anybody but Bush" not only covers over the deeds of the Democratic Party. It covers over the roots of the Bush program, and, in turn, the gravity of the dangers confronting the American people. The Bush program is the program of the monopoly capitalist class which seeks to shift the whole burden of the crisis of its system onto the backs of the people by turning to fascism and war.

Recognizing the bipartisan character of the Bush program is part of facing up to the need for the American people to create a real political alternative capable of defeating the capitalist program.

But the political opportunists, who insist that any criticism of the Democrats undermines the "historic imperative" of "Anybody but Bush," are really taking aim precisely at the emerging movements for political independence.

During the last 2 years, a new, mass nationwide anti-war and oppositional movement has emerged. This movement marks a new political awakening. People are already denouncing the bipartisan war program of the Republicans and Democrats and looking into root causes. People are trying to take things into their own hands and build a proactive movement capable of fighting for and winning the people's agenda of peace, democratic renewal and economic rights. This movement is the real opposition to the Bush program and it is this struggle which must be strengthened and extended. This is the only way to stop the Bush program and reclaim the future of our country.

The entire election circus, which began earlier than ever this time around, is an attempt to silence the new and return to "politics as usual" in which the Republicans and Democrats completely monopolize the agenda. The line of "Anybody but Bush" is an attempt to carry out a preemptive strike against the anti-war movement and against every manifestation of independent political thought and action.

BUSH PROPOSES TEMPORARY WORKER PROGRAM

On January 7, George Bush proposed new legislation to provide temporary work permits to undocumented workers and expand a "guest worker" program which would recruit immigrants for temporary jobs in the U.S.

The Bush administration is advertising this plan as an important "immigration reform" but the truth is that Bush's plan is nothing but a blueprint for creating a permanent underclass of superexploited immigrant workers.

Cheap Labor

From start to finish, Bush's proposal is designed to serve the interests of the capitalist class, especially in such low-wage sectors as hotels, agriculture, construction, etc. In announcing the plan, Bush said: "Our nation needs an immigration system that serves the American economy . . . Reform must begin by confronting a basic fact of life and economics: some of the jobs being generated in America's growing economy are jobs American citizens are not filling. Yet these jobs represent a tremendous opportunity for workers from abroad who want to work and fulfill their duties as a husband or wife, a son or a daughter." In other words, immigrant workers, especially from poorer and dependent countries, can be recruited as a source of cheap labor to fill the lowest-paid and most backbreaking jobs.

Under Bush's plan, undocumented workers, as well as newly recruited temporary workers, would be allowed to obtain work permits for 3 years. The permit could be renewed, at most, for another 3 years. Bush emphasized that after that: "This program expects temporary workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."

In order to obtain a work permit, an undocumented workers must have their employer petition the government. Of course, this puts the fate of undocumented workers entirely in the hands of the capitalists. This will give the employers free reign to impose arbitrary rules on the workers and increase their exploitation to the maximum. This superexploitation will be supervised by the government which will not only help recruit temporary workers but keep strict control over them. Employers will regularly report on the status of their temporary workers and "participants who do not remain employed, who do not follow the rules of the program, or who break the law will not be eligible for continued participation and will be required to return to their home." (Bush speech, 1/7/04). Bush emphasized that this tracking system will also help the government keep better control over the millions of undocumented workers who are already here: "instead of the current situation in which millions of people are unknown, unknown to the law. Law enforcement will face fewer problems with undocumented workers..."

The capitalist class has long used immigration policy as a tool for creating a large pool of low wage workers who are denied the rights of citizenship. This, in turn, is a lever for forcing down the wages of the entire working class.

Today, 14 million undocumented workers, largely concentrated in such low wage sectors as hotels, restaurants, agriculture, and construction, suffer intense exploitation, discrimination, and persecution. Granting a small percentage of these workers, temporary work permits and, in turn, keeping them directly under the thumb of the employers and the government will not change things. Temporary workers will still find such rights as the right to unionize, to speak out, even to change jobs or demand a living wage, denied at every turn. The very fact that the government will establish a legal caste of second-class workers will put even more downward pressure on the wages of citizens and legal immigrants.

Already the trade union movement as well as immigrant rights groups and others have come out against Bush's proposed temporary worker program and are stepping up the struggle to win equal rights and full citizenship for all undocumented workers.

The demand for equal rights for everyone living in the country is an elementary principle of democracy. It is also a vital condition for advancing the working class struggle for emancipation. When everyone is guaranteed equal rights and workers have the same standards of wages and working conditions, they are in a better position to overcome competition and division in their ranks and advance their common interests.

CHICAGO CONFERENCE AGAINST WAR AND IMPERIALISM, MARCH 20-21, 2004

One of the most urgent questions facing the American people is strengthening the anti-war struggle and developing it as an independent, proactive movement.

More than 2 years ago, the U.S. government declared a so-called "war against international terrorism" which it said would "last for decades." Already, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and keeps escalating counter-insurgency wars in these countries.

As part of the "war on terrorism," the U.S.-backed Israeli aggressors are stepping up their war against the Palestinian people. So too, the Bush administration is preparing wars against Syria and Iran; U.S. military "advisers" are directing counter-insurgency wars in Colombia and the Philippines; the U.S. is threatening war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Pentagon is spending unprecedented sums building up a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. imperialism has officially adopted the doctrine of "preventive war" including even the use of nuclear first-strikes against nonnuclear countries and proclaimed that every country must accept U.S. dictates or "be treated as terrorist." The plain truth is that the "war on terrorism" is U.S. imperialism's blueprint for world domination through force of arms.

During these 2 years, tens of millions of Americans, from many walks of life, have come out in opposition to the government's war program. In the face of the chauvinism of the government, despite the attempt of the monopoly-controlled media to ignore or slander the anti-war movement, in the face of repression and countless other obstacles, the American people are bringing their agenda for peace to centerstage. A new generation of activists is coming forward. People are looking into root causes and grappling with the question of how to organize themselves into an ongoing, proactive movement. People are linking together the many currents of anti-war, anti-imperialist struggle and standing up in support of the liberation movements of the oppressed nations.

So too, on a world scale. In more than 150 countries, people are organizing massive protest movements against U.S. imperialism's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraqi and Afghan peoples are organizing their struggles against U.S. colonialism. In Palestine, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere, the peoples are fighting for national liberation. Across Latin America and the world, the workers and peoples are rising against U.S. economic and political domination and military pressure. The peoples and governments in Cuba, North Korea and other countries are standing in defense of their sovereignty and against U.S. pressure and aggression. The peoples are creating, through their own struggles and organizations, a world front against war and imperialism, in defense of the sovereignty of countries and for the liberation and progress of the peoples.

The American people are taking and must take their place in this worldwide struggle of humanity. We have always fought against the aggressive wars launched by "our own" government - in 1898 in opposition to U.S. aggression against Cuba and the Philippines, against World War I, against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and today in Iraq and Afghanistan - and we must continue to do so as long the monopoly capitalist class and its government exploit and attack the peoples of other countries. The agenda of the American people aims at nothing less than ending militarism, war, racism, colonialism and imperialism altogether.

We are convening a Conference Against War and Imperialism in Chicago, Illinois on March 20-21, 2004 to take up the urgent tasks facing the anti-war movement.

The Conference will present in-depth analysis on the features and causes of the so-called "war on terrorism" with the aim of strengthening our struggles and further developing the political independence and program of the anti-war movement. The Conference will be organized to insure maximum discussion and participation so that everyone can sum up their experience, contribute their views and work out guidelines for future work.

We call on the workers, anti-war activists and everyone concerned about the cause of peace to take part in the Conference Against War and Imperialism and join in the work of preparing for it and popularizing it.

ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THE WARS!

The Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism was initiated by the Chicago Branch of the Workers Party, U.S.A. For more information, contact the Organizing Committee, P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625.

UNITE THE PEOPLE CAMPAIGN AND SPEAKING TOUR

The Organizing Committee for the Chicago Conference Against War and Imperialism has initiated a "Unite the People Campaign and Speaking Tour."

Already an extensive program is underway which includes:

- organizing teams to reach out to schools, neighborhoods and workplaces to initiate discussion and bring people into the anti-war struggles.

- speaking in homes, churches, schools and elsewhere to popularize the Conference and the program of struggle against war and imperialism.

- getting together with anti-war organizations and activists to initiate new actions.

To contact the OC and/or find out about speakers, literature and other resources: P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625.

ISRAEL TO EXPAND SETTLEMENTS IN OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS

On December 31, the Israeli government announced plans to dramatically expand Israeli settlements in Syria's Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights comprise 625 square miles which Israel occupied by force of arms in 1967. The Golan is considered a strategic military site; it also includes the major source waters of the Jordan River and, in turn, the Sea of Galilee.

Already, more than 18,000 Israeli settlers have moved on the Golan Heights and in 1991, Israeli formally announced its annexation of the territories despite universal condemnation by international public opinion. The new expansion project will cost $56 million and include the building of nine new settlements as well as the expansion of existing ones. Altogether Israel plans to move 9,000 more settlers on to the Golan over the next three years. Israel also plans to expand several tourist projects in the Golan which receives 2.5 million visitors every year.

Commenting on the new settlement plans, Israeli Agriculture Minister Israel Katz said: "The aim is to send an unequivocal message: the Golan is an integral part of Israel and we will continue to develop the settlements." On the same day, the Israeli Interior Ministry admitted that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have grown by 16 percent since March 2001 when the Sharon government took power.

U.S. Pressure

The expansion of Israeli settlements is part of the program of U.S. imperialism and its police dog, Israeli zionism, to increase pressure against Syria.

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed into law the "Syrian Accountability Act" which imposes economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria. The bill demands that Syria 1) end "the development and deployment of medium and long range surface to surface ballistic missiles and cease the development and production of biological and chemical weapons"; 2) "halt support for terrorism" (which includes support for various Palestinian organizations); 3) "halt the illegal imports and transshipments of Iraqi oil and illegal sales and supplies of weapons and military-related equipment to Iraq." And 4) withdraw its 20,000 troops from Lebanon.

Until the U.S. President certifies that the above demands have been met, the new law bans the export of weapons to Syria as well as so-called "dual-use items," those which the U.S. alleges have both civilian and military applications. The law also allows the U.S. President to impose a number of other sanctions, including banning all U.S. exports except food and medicine, freezing Syrian assets in the U.S., banning all U.S. investments, restricting the movement of Syrian diplomats in the U.S., forbidding Syrian-owned planes from entering U.S. airspace.

The Syrian Accountability Act follows the same Big Lie logic which the U.S. used to prepare its war against Iraq. Syria is branded as a "supporter of terrorism" because it does not accept U.S. dictates and domination and because it speaks out in defense of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Syria is accused of building "weapons of mass destruction" to cover over the reality that it is the U.S. government which has militarized the Middle East, flooded it with hundreds of thousands of troops, carried out the savage bombardment of Iraq, threatened nuclear first-strikes against Syria, etc. The Syrian Accountability Act is a dangerous step on the road to yet another U.S. war.

In voting for the law, Senator Lugar emphasized: "Syria shares a 400-mile border with Iraq. With more than 135,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq, Syria needs to reconsider where its future security interests lie." Similarly, Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle said the time "to sit back and hope for Syria to change course has passed ... it simply has failed one too many times to live up to these obligations."

Make no mistake about it. The U.S. government is preparing yet more wars in the Middle East and Syria is one of its next targets. U.S. imperialism aims at nothing less than recolonizing the entire region.

JOBLESS RECOVERY

The official unemployment rate fell in December from 5.8% to 5.7%. But the government admitted that this decline in the number of workers counted as unemployed was only due to the fact that some 300,000 workers became so discouraged that they stopped looking for work and, according to the government no long count.

The December figures again confirm that we are in another "jobless recovery." The U.S. economy has been in a period of economic growth since November 2001. And indeed, during these 2 years, corporate profits and the gross domestic product keep going up. Yet nearly 1 million jobs have been lost during this time. In terms of job creation and employment, the current economic "recovery" is the worst in 60 years.

Nor are the employed workers getting any benefits from the recovery. For example, in the third quarter of last year, while worker productivity increased by 9.4%, real wages fell by .7%. In other words, the capitalists are tremendously increasing the intensity of labor and the rate of exploitation even while workers are getting paid less and less. Again the economic recovery is for the capitalists only.

This "jobless recovery" and the dramatic increase in the rate of exploitation of the workers reveal the depth of the crisis of the capitalist system. Capitalism has always gone through "boom and bust" cycles of economic expansion followed by economic contraction. But formerly, during the expansion phase, unemployment would go down and wages would generally go up. But today, even in the "best of economic times," unemployment keeps rising and wages keep falling.

In other words, even at the peak of its performance, the U.S. economy, advertised as the "strongest" capitalist economy in the world, is incapable of providing a livelihood for tens of millions of workers and their families.

But guarantying a livelihood for everyone must be the starting point for any genuinely humane economic and social system.

CRIMINALIZING THE YOUTH

Across the country, thousands of public school students are being arrested, jailed and charged in juvenile courts for dress code violations, cursing, being loud, and similar minor "offenses."

According to a recent article in the New York Times: "In Toledo and many other places, the juvenile detention center has become an extension of the principal's office. In 2002, for example, 1,727 students in Toledo and Lucas County schools were brought before juvenile court in school-related cases. The court's intake officer reported that only about 2% of these cases were for serious incidents while the rest amounted to nothing more than "unruly students." Even Lucas County judge, James Ray, admitted "We're demonizing children."

Judges in other states, including Virginia, Kentucky and Florida, have also complained that the courts are being filled with student misconduct cases that formerly were handled in the schools. In Miami-Dade County, for example, 2,345 students were arrested at school in 2001. Again the overwhelming majority of cases involved only minor misbehavior.

In many cases, students with mental health and other disabilities are being charged as criminals simply because school officials are not spending the time and resources to properly educate these students. According to Dr. Laurence Steinberg, director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice: "In the past a lot of these kids would have been referred to specialists within the school or the school district. The juvenile justice system has become the dumping ground for poor minority kids with mental health and special education problems."

Our children are being criminalized but the real criminals are the government and school authorities who refuse to make the needed investments in the public schools and instead are turning them into prisons.

STRUGGLES DEMAND INCREASED STATE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION

On January 6, school districts representing one-third of Missouri's public school students took the state to court to demand more money for the public schools.

The lawsuit holds that Missouri's school financing system distributes funds inequitably, thus denying students equal opportunities to education. Some districts in the state spend more than $13,000/pupil while others spend as little as $4,800/pupil.

Similar struggles to demand equitable and increased state funding for education are developing all across the country.

In Maryland, a statewide coalition has been building a powerful grassroots movement through a petition campaign, county-wide and city rallies and meetings, etc. The coalition, which is demanding increased funding for the schools, is planning a large statewide rally on January 26 in Annapolis.

In Kansas, a trial court ruled in December that the state's education finance system is unconstitutional because of "its failure to provide equity in funding for all Kansas children." Funding disparities under current law now exceed 300%. Urban schools receive the least per-pupil funding and minority students and students with learning disabilities are especially hard hit. Educators are demanding smaller class sizes, more teachers, preschool, and other educational investments. (see The Worker, September 16, 2003 for reports on ongoing struggles in other states).

The plain truth is that at present the government operates a dual school system with the children of the working class and oppressed minorities condemned to separate and unequal schools. To begin with, the federal government refuses to take up the responsibility to properly fund the public schools, providing only 9% of total monies for elementary and secondary schools. Thus the financial burden falls on the states and local communities. But school districts in poorer communities simply lack sufficient resources. And the state governments, in many cases, use funding formulas which favor richer districts over poorer ones (in other words, communities which need the most, get the least).

Thus, across the country, a major demand of the school reform movement is for an equitable and increased distribution of state funding for education. Reform advocates are demanding that states provide sufficient investments to guarantee a genuinely modern education for every student.

FOOD WORKERS EXTEND STRIKE ACTIONS IN DEFENSE OF HEALTH BENEFITS

Seventy thousand (70,000) supermarket workers in 860 stores across southern California are extending their struggle and initiating new actions to defend their health care benefits and wages.

The workers have been on strike or lockout for three months. Their struggle is gaining support from workers across the country.

In Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, thousands of workers from other sectors have joined rallies organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Teamster truck drivers and warehouse workers are honoring the UFCW picket lines at supermarket distribution centers. In December the UFCW launched a nationwide campaign of informational picketing at Safeway-owned food stores in many cities. Plans have been drawn up to force a complete shutdown on targeted stores in the southern California area.

This ongoing struggle dates back to mid-October when workers at the Safeway-owned Vons and Pavillon grocery chains, went on strike, rejecting a master contract offered by several regional companies. The new contract would have slashed workers' health insurance by 50% to 75% and dramatically cut wages for new hires. The next day, the Kroger-owned chains of Ralphs groceries and Albertsons markets, also parties to the master contract with the UFCW, illegally locked out their workers.

The proposed cuts would both gut workers' health benefits while making them unaffordable for most supermarket workers who earn between $12-$14/hour. The new insurance package would eliminate dental care, vision, well-baby care and preventive office visits while forcing workers to pay as much as $10,000 on a $20,000 hospital bill.

The UFCW workers need the support of workers everywhere.

For one thing, the supermarket capitalists are working together in their attempt to practically eliminate health insurance for their workers. Trying to emulate the example of Wal-mart, which provides virtually no insurance to its nonunionized workforce, a group of capitalists led by Safeway concluded a mutual-aid pact. By creating a special revenue-sharing fund, the companies aim at reducing the effects of the strike and as a result, the Albertsons and Kroger's chains even locked out their workers.

Not only in southern California but all across the country, workers are confronting attempts by the capitalists to drastically cut health insurance. A fundamental change is taking place. Every year 2 million workers are losing health coverage while millions more are paying more while getting less and less care.

Since we can see that the capitalists are sticking together as a class to force a general cut in workers' health insurance and wages, shouldn't the workers stick together and come out on a ever-broader basis in the struggle to defend our health benefits and wages?