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Solidarity with Haiti’s people — a Workers World statement

Published Jan 14, 2010 5:25 PM

The earthquake that flattened Haiti’s capital and brought a new calamity to millions of people in that heroic but impoverished country has awakened calls for solidarity and aid from the vast majority of the world’s people. The number one priority is to provide food, drinkable water and emergency medical care to the approximately 3 million Haitians affected by the disaster to try to limit the deaths, injuries and illnesses to the people.

All reports from Port-au-Prince, located 14 miles from the epicenter of the devastating 7.3 earthquake and whose un-reinforced buildings nearly all collapsed, are that casualties are already in the tens of thousands. Even the main hospital and the national palace have collapsed, as has the hotel housing the U.N. occupation force. One Haitian minister said he expected 100,000 deaths.

Anyone feeling solidarity with fellow humans is moved by this tragedy. One is especially moved if aware of the world’s debt to the Haitian people for their historic contribution: they carried out a successful slave rebellion and liberated their island from French colonialism.

We know that many of our readers want to offer their own personal aid to show solidarity with Haiti. There will be a myriad of private charities asking donations for aid to Haiti. Many of the most powerful charities, like the Red Cross, are closely tied to the imperialist establishment that has no desire to promote Haitian sovereignty.

We would suggest that those who wish to support the sovereignty of Haiti as well as get aid directly to the Haitian people donate to Fanmi Lavalas. This was recommended at a Jan. 13 Boston meeting hosted by the mostly Haitian-origin Steelworkers Local 8751 (School Bus Drivers), local Haitian organizations and others.

Fanmi Lavalas is the party associated with former Haitian President Bertrand Aristide, the most popular of recent Haitian leaders who was twice removed by military coups supported by the U.S. In the last instance, in February 2004, Aristide was expelled from the country by U.S. troops and agents in collaboration with French and Canadian imperialism.

Governments will provide the bulk of aid to Haiti. Some of these governments — mainly the old colonial powers and U.S. imperialism — will attempt to use the disaster as a way to increase their own dominance over the Haitians, even as others freely aid in solidarity.

It was predictable that the U.S. government, while delaying any actual delivery of aid, put its military foot forward. Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said that the U.S. would send the Aircraft Carrier Carl Vinson along with the U.S. Bataan, an amphibian ship with an expeditionary unit of 2,000 Marines to police the Haitians in Port-au-Prince, claiming that security was “a serious concern.” (New York Times blog, Jan. 13)

In addition, while much of the U.S. media reports alleged looting, few mention that many Haitians barely survive from day to day and breaking into a shop may be the only way they are able to obtain food. No one can forget how the U.S. federal and local governments handled the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. There police, National Guard, army and mercenary guards from Blackwater focused on control and repression, not on aid and rescue.

In contrast Socialist Cuba, with the experience of sending medical brigades to meet emergencies in Pakistan, Bolivia, China, Guatemala and Indonesia, sent a team of 403 people to Haiti, 344 of them health care workers. On the first day they treated 800 Haitians and performed 19 surgical interventions. (TeleSur, Jan. 14) Cuba already had hundreds of medical doctors providing care in the Haitian countryside and provincial towns.

Chile, Nicaragua, Spain, Guatemala, France, Mexico and Russia all rushed aid, mostly food and water, to Haiti on Jan. 13, while the U.S. was still discussing how the Marines would land. China sent a 60-member search-and-rescue team with sniffer dogs.

Venezuela immediately sent 19 doctors and 10 firefighters who specialize in search and rescue along with 20 other experts and material aid. The Bolivarian government of Venezuela has always recognized South America’s debt to Haiti, which in the 1820s gave the aid to Simón Bolívar he needed to help free some of the South American countries from rule by Spain.

French imperialism especially — and the U.S. too — owes a great portion of its early wealth and subsequent development to its looting of the natural resources and super-exploiting the labor of Haiti, though they both refuse to acknowledge the reparations they owe to the Haitian people for that and for their continued role in preventing Haiti’s development.

The progressive movement in the U.S., while joining in providing aid and solidarity to the Haitian people, should also demand that the U.S. government stop deporting Haitians, allow the return of Aristide and provide reparations so the new Haitian government can establish a functioning system and stop military intervention and subversion of Haiti.

The Bail Out the People Movement has the right idea with its demand to use the $18 billion Wall Street now wants to pay its undeserving executive bankers in bonuses as a down payment on reparations to Haiti. It’s hard to imagine a similar transfer of wealth that could be more effective in establishing justice.


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Filed under: Fighting oppression, International solidarity

Sign the Petition to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Please sign the petition to President Obama, supported by Mumia
Abu-Jamal and by his attorney, calling on the president to speak out
against the death penalty and support a new, fair trial for Mumia
Abu-Jamal. As you can see from the email below, this matter is about to
enter a critical new phase in which Mumia’s execution may be imminent.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: [NLGAnnouncements] Mumia & the death penalty – Petition to
Pres. Obama
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 17:13:58 -0500
From: Heidi Boghosian

From Robert R. Bryan, lead attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal:

Today I put online a petition for President Barack Obama regarding Mumia
& the death penalty. I ask that you & your colleagues sign it as soon as
possible. The link to the Petition is:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Mumialaw/petition.html

Signers within the first few hours include Günter Grass, Nobel Prize
winner in literature, Madame Danielle Mitterrand, former First Lady of
France, Fatima Bhutto, Noam Chomsky, Ed Asner, etc.

I expect a decision next week from the U.S. Supreme Court on the
question of the death penalty. Mumia & I are very concerned, because
earlier this week the court denied relief in a similar case, /Smith v.
Spisak/. Either we get a green light to proceed with the new jury trial
we previously won on the question of death or life, or we are closer to
an execution.

Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, CA 94123-4117
[Tel: (415) 385-8159 cell]

/Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal/

Filed under: Fighting oppression, Justice, justice

Avatar: my not-short-enough review

I went to see Avatar yesterday…and accepted the invitation to review it for the website where I bought my tickets. Sadly, visitors to the site will see only a much truncated version because they limit their comments to 750 characters – barely more than a twitter to me, gentle reader. But you get the benefit of the Director’s Cut, as it were:

James Cameron sets a new high water mark for the seamless integration of real and virtual imagery. The scary soullessness of Polar Express and slightly wooden Beowulf are now artifacts. Avatar offers computer-generated images so vivid that (even in 2D) the line between camera and computer is obscured.

The action is lively, the images beautiful, and tale is a great mythic story. The Exile, the wounded man who is taken in by a people not his own, must prove his loyalty to them in order to find a place for himself. Cameron has studied these stories and found a way to relate the myth to a modern reality: oppressed people fighting a ruthless oppressor that measures the world in profit and firepower.

So why *not* five stars? This the story of our times, of women and men who choosing between serving the greedy and the bloodthirsty, and serving the people. Where Cameron fails is as classic as the story. Jake Sully, the ex-marine from our world, a world devoid of green life, not only becomes one of the Na’vi but in the process he becomes their leader . . . presented as the only one who can save them. It is, sadly, another version of the White Man’s Burden. Here, the white hero is not the bringer civilization but the protector of the tribal people of Pandora from it. Cameron’s telling is true to the myth but misses the mark as a modern story. It does not account for the racist myth in which a white man can do what an entire race of people cannot do for themselves.

With that criticism, I loved this movie. I saw it with my daughter, who is 13. It helped us to have a discussion about the parallels to American history: the genocide of Native Americans as well as Vietnam and other U.S. wars of conquest. The story of Avatar is a spiritual introduction to the fundamental principle of anti-imperialism: the power of the people is greater than the Man’s technology.

Filed under: Fighting oppression

Change that cannot be believed

So let me get this straight. The Democratic Party-controlled House, Senate and White House are going to pass and sign “historic health care reform.” Only it is now a done deal that it won’t cover everyone, won’t include a public option, won’t take away the anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry, will include a mandate that will force people who currently don’t have health insurance to buy it whether they can afford it or not, may include a tax on insurance benefits workers currently get from their employers, may include or extend prohibitions on access to health care by *legal* immigrants, will absolutely exclude immigrants who are not legal, and may or may not break new ground in even further limiting a woman’s access to abortion. And we’re supposed to consider this a victory?

It’s not that it isn’t single payer or even public option. This is reform that extends the insurance company monopoly and transfers money from the pockets of working and poor people into the coffers of the insurance industry.

Filed under: Uncategorized

How should we confront Rell’s proposed budget cuts? A question for my friends in the non-profits

So Gov. Rell wants to cut $4.25 million from Operation Fuel, the program that provides fuel energy assistance to Connecticut’s working poor…it’s among a couple of dozen cuts that she has proposed for “budget reconciliation” that will seriously harm working people and the most vulnerable in Connecticut.

Which brings me to a question.  I’m in awe of you guys – my friends who work in the non-profits and public agencies – who “get” the legislative process and can decipher the tons of paperwork and the vatican council-type decision-making that ultimately determines the budget and who gets what.  But I have to ask: Why are these outrages not being turned into some large-scale highly embarassing public manifestation for Rell?

You represent, directly or indirectly, the interests of tens of thousands of people in Connecticut who are in danger.  Real danger.  The danger of not being able to heat their homes in the winter.  The danger of not being able to get desperately needed mental health treatment in a safe environment (or at all).  The danger of losing access to job training programs or legal aid assistance or even to sources of food aid so that families don’t go hungry.

I understand that there are appropriations hearings and lobbying efforts and special meetings with key legislators and number-crunching and bill writing to be done.  But this process, as vital as it is, will not engage the people who are in danger.  It will not help them to be heard as people and not just as budget line items or as “programs.”  It will not give them human faces that the politicians must confront.  It will not give them the faces of neighbors and friends and loved ones that will force those of us not directly affected by the budget to care and to act.

Why are we not organizing a visible, public, angry rebuttal to the suggestion that Connecticut should continue as a state where the answer to poverty is “You’re so good at doing without, certainly you can do with less.”

I can’t speak for the people in your community programs or who use your shelters or get food from your food pantries or who depend on the mental health or daycare or counseling services your agency provides.  I’m just one outraged individual.  But I have to ask: Why aren’t we organizing a tent city on the sidewalk in front of the governor’s mansion?  Why aren’t we organizing people to challenge and embarrass Rell every place that she shows her face in public?  Why aren’t we confronting politicians who refuse to raise taxes on the rich even to save the lives of the poor?  Why aren’t we organizing hunger strikes and picketlines and protests?  And why, oh why, do I keep hearing about how this program or that program is too critical to be cut but no unified voice saying WE refuse to allow ANY MORE programs to be cut?

Those of us on the outside of the process do not understand the complexity of grant-writing and budget-writing and program administration and everything that goes in to making these vital social services available on a day to day basis.  But I see and hear your anger and disgust over these cuts and your deep concern and fear for the people that you serve.  And you and I know that your fear is only a shadow of the fear felt by the people who need these services and don’t know what they will do if they don’t get them.

But I wonder if you know how invisible all of this is to the media, to so many of the politicians, to so many millions of people who don’t know what these services are or why they are so vital.  And I wonder why we are relying on meetings in committee rooms rather than bold public acts that will confront the complacency of those in power.

Filed under: Economic crisis

Must Read: The crisis & the prospects for resistance

An article by Fred Goldstein, author of the recent book Low Wage Capitalism, sums up both the key elements of the economic crisis and the first inklings of real resistance. With respect to the economic crisis, the point that Fred hammers home time and again is that claims of economic recovery from the global crisis are false on two fronts. First, there are strong indicators that we are only in the early stages of this crisis, and that it resembles the Great Depression of the 1930′s in more ways than just high unemployment. Second, even mainstream pro-corporate analysts agree that “recovery” for Wall Street and the banks does not mean more jobs – that any recovery will be a “jobless” one. In fact, the most optimistic predictors of recovery concede that there will be no increase in jobs for at least another year, while many economists say that we can expect continued double-digit unemployment until 2012 or 2013!

In discussing resistance to this crisis, Fred correctly points out that so far what we have seen is scattered, local, and often spontaneous. Many of us have a gut feeling that this crisis is long-term…that rising Dow Jones averages or 4th quarter corporate profits will not translate into more jobs or into relief for our communities, where vital social services are overwhelmened by demand. We are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall: that things won’t get better for working people until we organize and fight in our own interests. But that has not yet translated into any kind of national movement. Fred points to two exciting developments that give an inking of what is possible: the April 10, 2010 national march on Washington that will demand a Works Progress Administration-type national jobs program on a massive scale, and the rumblings in the West Coast labor movement about a call for a Solidarity III march on Washingtonto be initiated by the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations.

If you are concerned about unemployment in your community, if you are one of the millions of people who have lost their jobs or are underemployed or working two or more jobs just to make ends meet, or if you are one of the tens of millions more who know that their own jobs are in jeopardy, I recommend Fred’s analysis to you. One thing is certain: corporate America has a plan to weather the crisis by putting it on our backs, so we need a strategy and a plan to fight back.

Filed under: Economic crisis, Must read

Important new blog: New Student Left Review

Here’s a new blog making an important contribution to building of a radical student movement in the U.S. New Student Left Review’s most recent post addresses “Lessons to learn from California Student Strikes and Occupations.” Definitely worth your time to read.

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Decline: The Geography of a Recession

Go here to see this in full screen.

 

more about “The Decline: The Geography of a Reces…“, posted with vodpod

 

Filed under: Economic crisis

Protest in Washington, D.C. to Demand the Right to a Job for All

Sept 20 March for Jobs in Pittsburgh at G20 Summit

 

National Call for Sat April 10, 2010, The 75 Anniversary of the WPA

 

Joblessness is as bad today as it was during the 1930s –It’s time to take the fight to D.C.

On April 8, 1935, Congress passed the legislation creating the largest public works program in history. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) created 8.5 million jobs during the depression of the 1930s.

Let’s mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the WPA by telling the government that today’s jobless crisis is as bad today as it was back then and that we need the same kind of bold, sweeping jobs program that the people demanded in the 1930s – Now!

Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated the final months of his life to starting a movement for the right of all to a job or a guaranteed income – we need that movement now more than ever.

It’s time to say no: to a jobless recovery – to an economy based on permanent high unemployment and low wages – to trillions of $ for Wall St., and trillions of $ for war but nothing but joblessness, foreclosures, evictions, layoffs, low wages, union busting, hunger and homelessness for workers and the poor.

There are more than 20 million unemployed and underemployed people in the country today. We need a real WPA-type program that is big enough to insure that those who need work get work – work that is socially useful that pays union wages and benefits.

Call issued by
the Bail Out the People Movement

To endorse this call
go to http://www.bailoutpeople.org/apr1010endorse.shtml

To volunteer or organize transportation from your area
go to http://www.bailoutpeople.org/apr1010volorgcent.shtml

to donate
go to http://www.bailoutpeople.org/donate.shtml

Filed under: Economic crisis

From the Department of Insults: Wall Street employees get flu vaccine, you can just die.

In the last year, I have probably used some variation on the phrase “adding insult to injury” more than at any other time in my life.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.  The capitalist economic meltdown means joblessness, foreclosure, eviction, homelessness, poverty and misery to millions of workers here in the U.S., and poverty, starvation and death to millions around the world.  So there’s plenty of injury to go around.

But it seems there is no shortage of insults to dish out to the victims of the global collapse either.  Here in the U.S., the same banks that received billions in bail out money are foreclosing on mortgages and putting working people’s belongings out on the curb like it was trash.  Workers with decades of service are being laid so that their bosses – who created the crisis with their greed and arrogance – can continue to rake in huge bonuses and lucrative golden parachutes.  Politicians are fawning over the insurance companies and pharmaceutical giants, careful to ensure that any health care reform doesn’t hurt their profits, while lack of access to health care kills 45,000 Americans every year.

But some insults to working people seem so gratuitous that it is hard to imagine that they don’t have a special bureau somewhere that thinks this stuff up.  In that category is the news that the Center for Disease Control authorized the allocation of H1N1 flu vaccines to some of the largest firms on Wall Street even while millions of Americans who are in high risk categories, such as youth and the elderly, are unable to get the flu shot.  As the website of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington points out, several states have already expressed concern that those that need it most will not be able to get the vaccine, or that it will be available too late:

  • The head of Alabama’s Department of Public Health testified that 62% of the vaccines ordered by the state will not be available until after December 1, 2009
  • The director of Minnesota’s St. Paul Ramsey County Department of Public Health said he is expecting only 7,800 doses for more than 20,000 children
  • Los Angeles County’s three public hospitals ordered 110,000 vaccines, but have received only about 18,000 doses, and UCLA’s two hospitals received 1,000 doses for 10,000 staff and 35,000 patients
  • We already have heard, ad nauseam, that these companies are “too big to fail,” while the rest of us are too unimportant to bail out.  Now it seems that the Wall Street giants must be protected from the flu while children and seniors die from it.

    Filed under: Economic crisis, They're Not Like Us

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