WW photo: Bryan G PfeiferPeople rallied Sept. 8 in solidarity with members of Steel Workers Local 5668 of Ravenswood, W.Va., who have been on strike since Aug. 5. The aluminum company, Constellium Rolled Products, offered an unreasonable health care, wage and pension plan, which was rejected by over 95 percent of the workers.Among other issues, the union is objecting to changes the company wants to make to health care coverage that will significantly increase costs to employees and their families. The changes could more than wipe out any wage increases the company has proposed.The rally featured speakers such as Leo Gerard, international president of the USW, as well as local leaders from other unions such as the Mine Workers, the Communication Workers and the Service Employees. Speakers were followed up with live music from rock, folk, blues and bluegrass performers.People traveled from other parts of the state, as well as Kentucky and Ohio, to donate food and water. Members of Students for Appalachian Socialism of Marshall University also attended and made a large donation.Strikers carried banners and wore T-shirts with the slogan, “One Day Longer … Again,” a reminiscent reference to the lockout USW Local 5668 faced from November 1990 until July 1992, when the aluminum plant was known as the Ravenswood Aluminum Corp. Inc., owned by a robber baron named Marc Rich, a convicted criminal who later received a presidential pardon from Bill Clinton. Now, just as during that strike 20 years ago, the strikers have had to physically defend themselves against attacks from company goons and provocative scabs.Talks between the company and the union are scheduled to occur this week. The strikers have made it clear they are determined to fight until they win a contract.The union has held various rallies and other solidarity events at Fort Unity, the latest one being a benefit concert on Sept. 8.Bryan G. Pfeifer, an organizer of the Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement, stopped by the Local 5668 union hall called “Fort Unity” and the picket lines on Sept. 4 on his way home from Charlotte, N.C. He had spent the summer as a volunteer organizer with the March on Wall Street South and the Southern Workers Assembly.Pfeifer dropped off donations and United Electrical Workers union signs and buttons gathered in Charlotte. He told WW, “It is inspiring to see the Steel Worker sisters and brothers and their families standing up to corporate greed and the bankers. They are standing firm but still need lots of support to win their justified demands.”For more information and how to support Local 5668: fort-unity.sctp.us/ or call 304-273-9319.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Clarence ThomasPhoto: Delores ThomasThis lightly edited article was written for the Port Workers United newsletter in Oakland, Calif. Thomas is a third-generation member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, and co-chair of the Million Worker March movement, who actively supported ILWU Local 21 in their battle with the new high-tech grain export terminal in Longview, Wash.As a consequence of the January 2012 negotiated Export Grain Terminal contract for International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 in Longview, Wash., dockworkers and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association negotiations are headed for a showdown. In fact, the Grain Handlers are expected to lock out longshore workers on October 24 at six Northwest grain terminals in Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Wash.These grain negotiations are setting the stage for the 2014 longshore contract negotiations, which will impact big money issues like pension and welfare.The Northwest grain terminal employers are demanding EGT concessions like the 12-hour shift, bypassing the union hiring hall, ability to fire any longshore worker without cause, and more than 700 other union busting demands.The employers have retained JRG Services Inc., a division of Gettier Security, a replacement workforce and special operations firm. This is not the first time Gettier has been used against ILWU members. In the 2010 Boron, Calif., three-and-a-half-month lockout of more than 500 ILWU Local 30 borate miners, Gettier provided security and transported scabs for the internationally notorious Rio Tinto corporation, a global mining and metals giant.The Grain Handlers include some of the largest agribusinesses in the world, such as Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Commodities Inc. They control and monopolize the world’s food supply chain. They have a global strategy which is driving the grain negotiations in the Pacific Northwest. Their aim is to cut costs and increase production at the expense of hard fought longshore working conditions.Nearly half of the grain in the U.S. expected to be exported — including wheat, corn and soybeans — will be handled by Northwest terminals.To win this struggle, it will take ILWU rank-and-file unity along with an unprecedented alliance such as that which was formed during the ILWU struggle against EGT. That alliance included Occupy, labor, community and grassroots social justice movements.Plans are underway to organize boat pickets on the Columbia and Willamette rivers during the lockout.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Leo RobinsonLeo Robinson, a working-class fighter on the West Coast docks and in the community, and an internationalist, succumbed to cancer on Jan. 14 at the age of 75. He is survived by his spouse and partner, Johnnie, six children and by militant rank-and-file longshore workers who learned how to fight from the bottom up from Leo’s example.The ILWU was established when the port bosses were forced to recognize the union after the 1934 San Francisco general strike and the famous pledge by strike leader Harry Bridges ensuring that Black workers would have an equal place in the union and for waterfront jobs.In his 20 years on the Local 10 Executive Board and throughout a lifetime of union activism, Leo Robinson lived and breathed internationalism and class struggle.In the 1970s and 1980s, Leo’s leadership exercised the power of the U.S. working class on the side of the South African liberation struggle and against the racist apartheid regime. In July 1976, after the Soweto youth uprising was massacred, Leo introduced a resolution to Local 10 for a boycott of goods to and from South Africa.In April 1977, he put that resolution into action. A 5,000-person strong community picket was honored by ILWU Local 10 members stalling South African cargo at San Francisco’s Pier 27 for two days — at a time when then imprisoned Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress were slandered as terrorists by the U.S. government. South African cargo sat on the Dutch ship, Nedlloyd Kimberly, for 11 days in 1984 when longshore workers from Locals 10, 34 and others honored the community protest. Mandela recognized the pivotal role of the ILWU when he spoke at the Oakland Coliseum at the end of his 1990 U.S. tour. What started as a union resolution became part of a global struggle that helped to change U.S. policy.Leo used his experience and these precedents to politically defend the Occupy movement’s Dec. 12, 2011, West Coast port shutdown that began shaping a new way for the working class to fight in the high-tech age.Promoted speaking in our own nameOn Oct. 17, 2004, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — just a couple of months before the U.S. presidential elections — the Million Worker March called on labor to mobilize in its own name. The MWM pulled against the capitalist election frenzy. Robinson, a convenor and the largest benefactor, drafted the now iconic T-shirt front and back with the MWM program that stands as a working-class agenda today: Bring the troops home, now; Universal health care; Enforce all civil rights; Stop dismantling public education; Slash the military budget; National living wage; Hands off social security; Workers’ right to organize; Repeal Taft-Hartley; Stop corporate greed and offshoring jobs; Repeal corporate free trade agreements; Amnesty for all undocumented workers; Truth in media; Preserve and restore the environment; and Tax relief for the working class.Although his concern was international — writing the ILWU position paper on Palestine calling for recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization, opposing the Colombia free trade agreement, leading Coalition of Black Trade Unionists delegations to Cuba and a first labor delegation to Nicaragua — and national with the MWM and pushing forward the ILWU to be the first union to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and founding the Northern California CBTU, he also strengthened the union. He founded the African American Longshore Coalition “in March 1992 to address the racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination of the Longshore Division up and down the West Coast for the purpose of resolving such problems internally,” without relying on the capitalist state so often used against the working class. (tinyurl.com/ad76oz5)Brenda Stokely, MWM Northeast co-organizer, said: “My first recollection of Leo Robinson was during a Coalition of Black Trade Unionists convention. He was a force that was able to move progressive resolutions through the CBTU process and garner the needed support in spite of strong opposition.“He embodied the courage and commitment to his class and always stood unwaveringly on the side of the desires and aspirations of that class. His skills as an effective working-class strategist, tactician and organizer encouraged others to never falter in the face of vicious opposition.“He was vigilant in ensuring that Local 10 ILWU maintained its revolutionary character; remained capable of stopping their employers’ attacks to weaken their contracts; and was able to exercise their right to successfully carry out both political and economic strikes.“He led a Local 10 delegation to the Labor Party’s founding convention. … Leo will forever be an inspiring model of revolutionary leadership for me and many others.”“Leo was an extraordinary person, worker, intellectual, trade union activist, freedom fighter, thinker, organizer, orator, movement builder and teacher — and a superior domino player — ruthlessly committed to being a fighter for the working class, active in community as well as being an internationalist. He gave generously of his time and money in the fight for economic and social justice for the oppressed and working class,” said Clarence Thomas, fellow ILWU Local 10 member and MWM co-chair.A tribute to Leo Robinson’s life at the San Francisco International Longshore and Warehouse Union Hall is planned for March.Condolences can be sent to Mrs. Johnnie Robinson, 25110 Patricia Lane, Raymond, CA 93653.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines held a vigil in New York’s Union Square on Sept. 21 to honor three people executed by paramilitaries in Mindanao, in the southern Philippines. Emerito Samarca, founder of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, was found hogtied and murdered on school grounds Sept. 1, along with two leaders of the local Lumad community, Dionel Campose and Bello Sinzo.“Lumad” refers to 18 ethnolinguistic Indigenous tribes from Mindanao. Oplan Bayanihan, the name for President Benigno Aquino’s U.S.-funded “counterinsurgency plan,” has targeted the Lumad, together with Mindanao’s large Muslim population. Mindanao is the agricultural center of the Philippines and is rich in mineral wealth.The Philippine military has denied involvement in the massacre. But activists pointed out that it fits the pattern of systemic killings under Aquino’s rule. They called on people in the U.S. to demand the closing of Pentagon bases and an end to Washington’s funding of repression in the Philippines.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Target workers win union representationPharmacy workers at a Brooklyn, N.Y., Target store have made history with the first ever successful union drive in the company’s more than 100-year history. On Sept. 8, the workers voted 7 to 2 in favor of joining the Food and Commercial Workers. Their major concern was job security, given CVS Health’s pending acquisition of Target’s pharmacy operations. “We were all happy with our jobs at Target. … It’s more that we didn’t like being thrown into uncertainty,” said a worker quoted anonymously. (nasdaq.com, Sept. 16)This union drive is especially significant due to Target’s notorious union-busting scare tactics, including anti-union propaganda videos that all new employees are forced to watch. (Gawker.com, March 19, 2014) By proving that it’s possible to organize in even the most anti-union workplaces, these workers have set the stage for more Target and other low-wage workers to win union representation.Capitol service workers strike against low wagesOn Sept. 22, just two days before Pope Francis’ speech before the U.S. Congress, 1,000 federal service workers walked off the job to demand fair wages and a union. Organized by “Good Jobs Nation,” the workers who cook, clean and perform other essential services in the Capitol and other federal buildings struck for 24 hours, calling on Pope Francis to join their cause. ”We want you to know that even though we serve the wealthy and the powerful in the Congress, we earn so little that we live in utter poverty,” read the workers’ open letter to the pope. (TheHill.com, Sept. 22)Although President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 in February 2014, workers say it isn’t enough. This wage — $21,000 yearly — still falls several thousand dollars short of the federal poverty line at $24,250 for a family of four. (TheNation.com, Sept. 22)UFW wins EPA pesticide worker protectionsOn Sept. 28, United Farm Workers celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding in the fields of California with an announcement of long-fought-for rules protecting farmworkers nationwide from pesticide poisoning. In Washington, D.C., UFW President Arturo Rodriguez applauded the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules that end decades of exclusion of farmworkers from when labor laws were first enacted in the 1930s. In those days, most farmworkers were African Americans in the South or Mexican and Filipino immigrants or Mexican Americans in California and Washington state.The EPA estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings occur each year among about 2 million farmworkers. Over the years, farmworkers have fought for and won regulations in individual contracts against pesticides in Washington state, Texas and California. The first was with a California grape grower in 1967. The new EPA rule requires all pesticide applicators to be at least 18 years old, upgrades pesticide training requirements, enacts whistleblower protections and allows improved access to important health records.“The same rules that have protected other American workers from dangerous cancer and birth-defect causing pesticides are finally going to protect farmworkers,” noted Rodriguez. “Our families and communities will now be able to work with reassurance that [their] work … will not unknowingly harm themselves or their families. It’s been a long time coming.”Peanut CEO gets 28-year jail sentence for fraudOn Sept. 22, Stewart Parnell, CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America, was sentenced to 28 years in jail for fraud and deliberately shipping tainted food. Nine people died and over 700 others became ill during a national outbreak of salmonella poisoning in 2008-2009 traced to the Georgia factory. Calling this sentencing “groundbreaking” and “a victory for consumers,” food safety lawyer Bill Marler said, “This sentence is going to send a stiff, cold wind through board rooms across the U.S.” (CNN.com, Sept. 22) If only it would put people before profits!In a more typical scenario, corporate giant General Motors got a slap on the wrist on Sept. 16: a $900 million fine and a three-year deferred prosecution agreement after its Cobalts and Saturn Ions led to 124 deaths and 275 injuries between 2003 and 2008. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera advocated on Sept. 26 for prosecution for corporate executives as “the most powerful deterrent imaginable.” Under capitalism at a dead end? Not likely. Only with a socialist revolution!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Philadelphia Detroit Workers held a National Day of Disruption for $15 and a Union across the United States on Nov. 29, marking the fourth anniversary of the continuing Fight for $15 movement. The most exploited and lowest-paid workers launched this battle in 2012 when some 200 workers boldly walked out at several fast food restaurants in New York City.The movement has gained momentum ever since, as millions of workers struggle to survive on a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and on low wages in almost every sector of the workforce. Fight for $15 and a Union now involves workers far outside the fast food industry, including health care, child care and home care workers, airport baggage handlers, other airport workers, Uber drivers, university adjuncts, education workers, bank tellers and numerous others. Many are workers who used to have a decent job, but who are now getting lower wages, reduced benefits, fewer hours or have no job at all.The Service Employees Union, representing many low-wage workers, has backed the movement and poured resources into the national campaign. SEIU members are seen at most demonstrations, along with members of many other unions. Fight for $15 workers have had strong connections that overlap with Black Lives Matter and immigrant rights organizations. Locally and nationally FF15 has broad support from community groups, clergy and faith-based organizations, progressive activists and a few politicians.A Fight for $15 press release states what the struggle has won: “All told, the Fight for $15 has led to wage hikes for 22 million underpaid working families, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15/hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay. The movement was credited as one of the reasons median income jumped last year by the highest percentage since the 1960s.”This workers’ battle is likely to become much fiercer when the anti-worker, anti-poor policies of the Trump administration, which are surely coming, take effect.From sun up to sundownThe FF15 demonstrations began Nov. 29 before the sun came up, starting in the East and moving westward as fast food outlets and other workplaces began opening for the day. Organizers say walkouts and protests occurred in over 340 cities. Disruptions and protests, including strikes, took place at 20 major airports, including Chicago O’Hare and Boston Logan international airports, with hundreds of workers being arrested throughout the day. These mass arrests included 100 people in Kansas City, Mo., 40 in Los Angeles, more than 50 in Durham, N.C., and 34 people in Cambridge, Mass.Following are reports from several cities where Workers World writers and activists took part.In Philadelphia, more than 100 workers and supporters came out in driving rain to demonstrate. Participants included members of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, Fight for 15 Pennsylvania, Working Educators Caucus of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, National Association of Letter Carriers and Coalition of Labor Union Women. Low-wage workers, other union members and supporters joined in. They marched and chanted from a McDonald’s restaurant in North Philly to Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall.After several workers and organizers spoke about their struggle, the crowd walked to a nearby McDonald’s store. They carried placards with slogans and demands like “We won’t back down” and “Stop structural racism and police killings of Black people.”Police blocked off the street in front of the store and eventually arrested 13 activists for “refusing to disperse.”Super-exploited workers speak outIn Rockville, Md., the seat of Montgomery County and part of the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, political activists and religious people joined unionists to rededicate themselves to the fight for $15 and a union. They gathered outside the Montgomery County Council offices despite rain and fog.Unions with members present were UFCW locals 1994 and 400 and SEIU locals 500 and BJ32. Carlos Jimenez, the new president of the D.C. Metro AFL-CIO Council, spoke briefly.The most poignant remarks were made by several Latinx and super-exploited workers organizing on their jobs. A young Safeway grocery clerk in Local 400 described how poor people shop for food. At the checkout she sees the way they have to put things aside or back on the shelf and the pain on their faces as they see the price has gone up on what they used to be able to buy.A Latina brought the crowd to tears and to raise angry fists. Her landlord raised her rent $100 a month. She and her spouse don’t believe they can make the rent increase, despite working three jobs. Eight dollars an hour is the “best” of their jobs. Now even the small comforts and joys in their life have to go, like the birthday party for their third-grader which they had to cancel.Marchers order ‘Number 15 combo’Low-wage workers in the metro Detroit area staged several militant actions. Before sunrise, an estimated 1,000 workers gathered in front of a fast food restaurant on the city’s west side, blocking a major street and sustaining 39 arrests.Around noon, in an action organized by SEIU Local 1, more than 300 workers picketed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in support of low-wage airport workers, demanding $15 hour.Later in the day, more than 600 workers gathered at another fast food eatery. They marched past the drive-through window, ordering the “Number 15 combo” as they shouted for $15 an hour.Pastor W.J. Rideout III, spokesperson for D15 as the local Fight for $15 affiliate is known, promised more actions in the coming year. He summed up: “The minimum wage is not enough. People can’t survive off of it. They can’t afford to pay their phone bills, their rent, their lights, their gas. That’s bad that they need three or four jobs in order to survive.”‘Justice can’t wait!’San Diego showed powerful community solidarity on Nov. 29. More than 1,000 people rallied downtown outside the Federal Building and then marched through the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, a tourist district. The message was “Justice can’t wait! We won’t back down!”Many people, representing a variety of organizations, spoke at the beginning rally. “An injury to one is an injury to us all” was a major theme. Speakers noted, “If one of us is homeless, it is an injustice to all. If one person is killed by police, it’s an injustice to us all.” Many issues were raised in this manner.Indigenous people brought participants up to date on the thousands resisting at Standing Rock in North Dakota. There was a die-in where people lay on the ground while Chris Wilson from Alliance San Diego recited words from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.” It was a profound, dramatic expression of how human lives matter little in a society that places profits over people.As the marchers surged through the streets, mini-rallies were conducted at several major intersections, halting traffic and alerting hundreds of bystanders to the marchers’ concerns. Drummers, led by Ground Zero Players and Indigenous drum circles, drew more people into the streets.The march concluded in the middle of Park Boulevard, with San Diego City College on one curb and a McDonald’s restaurant on the other. The huge throng was slow in dispersing, with spontaneous speakouts addressing political questions and plans for future actions.The National Action Network, Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, the Alfred Olango family, Alliance San Diego, San Diego 350, the San Diego Light Brigade, Workers World Party, the Committee Against Police Brutality, Unión del Barrio, UHURU, several labor unions and many churches were some of the organizations and groups represented. People Over Profits was one of the sponsoring groups.Joe Piette, Kermit Leibensperger (a steward in Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994 in Maryland), Mike Shane and Gloria Verdieu contributed to this article. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this San Diego, Calif.
The Committee to Mobilize Against Dictatorship in Haiti (Komokoda) protested Feb. 4 at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, N.Y., against the “installation of U.S.-supported indicted money launderer Jovenel Moïse as the next president of Haiti.”“We are not going to accept this electoral coup d’etat,” Jacqueline François told Haïti-Liberté. “We are going to keep on demonstrating as long as necessary for the truth to come out and the people regain their authority.”The leaflets that Komokoda distributed entitled, “Haiti Will Rise Again,” got a good response from passersby and shoppers at the local farmers’ market.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Statement by the Cuban revolutionary government in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s June 16 announcement that he was unilaterally reversing some of the steps taken by the last administration to improve relations.Havana, June 16. Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure.On June 16, 2017, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech full of hostile rhetoric, which recalled the times of the open confrontation with our country, pronounced in a Miami theater, announced the policy of his government to Cuba that reverses progress achieved in the last two years, after the Presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama on Dec. 17, 2014 announced the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations and begin a process towards the normalization of bilateral ties.In what constitutes a setback in relations between the two countries, Trump made a speech and signed in the same meeting a policy directive called “Presidential Memorandum of National Security on Strengthening U.S. Policy towards Cuba,” in which is established the elimination of individual “people-to-people” educational exchanges and a greater oversight of U.S. travelers to Cuba, as well as the prohibition of the economic, commercial and financial transactions of U.S. companies with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and intelligence and security services, all with the aim of depriving us of incomes.The U.S. president justified this policy with alleged concerns about the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously apply the laws of the blockade, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvement in bilateral relations, for our country to make changes inherent in its constitutional order.Trump also repealed the presidential policy directive “Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations,” issued by President [Barack] Obama on Oct. 14, 2016, which, while not obscuring the intrusive nature of U.S. policy, nor the goal of advancing its interests in the pursuit of changes in the economic, political and social order of our country, had recognized the independence, sovereignty and self-determination of Cuba and the Cuban government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor, as well as the benefits it would bring to both countries and peoples, a relationship of civilized coexistence within the great differences that exist between the two governments. He also admitted that the blockade was an obsolete policy and should be eliminated.Again, the United States government resorted to coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to intensify the blockade, in force since February 1962, which not only causes damage and deprivation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, inciting international rejection.Measures impose additional obstaclesThe announced measures impose additional obstacles to the very restricted opportunities that the U.S. business sector had to trade and invest in Cuba.In turn, they further restrict the right of U.S. citizens to visit our country, already limited by the obligation to use discriminatory licenses, at a time when the United States Congress, as a reflection of the broad sectors of that society, calls not only for an end to the travel ban, but also for the lifting of restrictions on trade with Cuba.President Trump’s announcements contradict the majority support of [U.S.] American public opinion, including that of Cuban emigration in that country, to the total lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.Instead, the U.S. president, again badly advised, makes decisions that favor the political interests of an extremist minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida, who for petty reasons do not give up their claim to punish Cuba and its people for exercising the legitimate and sovereign right to be free and to have taken the reins of their own destiny.Later we will do a more thorough analysis of the scope and implications of this announcement.The Cuban government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the past, and which will not achieve their purpose of weakening the Revolution or bending the Cuban people, whose resistance to aggressions of any type and origin has been proven over almost six decades.The government of Cuba rejects this manipulation for political purposes and double standards in the treatment of human rights issues. The Cuban people enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms, and exhibit achievements of which they are proud and are a chimera for many countries in the world, including the United States itself, such as the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, children’s rights, and the right to food, peace and development.Cuba contributed to human rights worldwideWith its modest resources, Cuba has also contributed to the improvement of human rights in many parts of the world, despite the limitations imposed by its status as a blockaded country.The United States is not in a position to give us lessons. We have serious concerns about the respect and guarantees of human rights in that country, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, particularly against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as a result of gun deaths; child labor is being exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination; there are threats to impose more restrictions on health services, which would leave 23 million people without health insurance; there is wage inequality between men and women; migrants and refugees are marginalized, particularly those from Islamic countries; there is an intent to erect walls that denigrate neighbors; and the government is abandoning international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change.Human rights violations committed by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detention of dozens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba, where they have even been tortured, are also a matter of concern; extrajudicial executions and the deaths of civilians caused by bombs and the use of drones; and the wars unleashed against various countries like Iraq, based on lies about the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with dire consequences for the peace, security and stability of the Middle East region.We recall that Cuba is a state party to 44 international instruments on human rights, while the United States is party to only 18, so we have much to show, speak up about and defend.In confirming the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States ratified their intention to develop respectful and cooperative ties between the two peoples and governments, based on the principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. In its declaration, issued on July 1, 2015, the Cuban revolutionary government reaffirmed that “these relations must be based on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, without interference in any way; and sovereign equality and reciprocity, which are inalienable principles of international law, “as endorsed by the Latin American and Caribbean Proclamation as a zone of peace, signed by the heads of state and government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at its II Summit, in Havana.Cuba has not renounced these principles and will never give up.The government of Cuba reiterates its willingness to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the United States government. In the last two years, it has been demonstrated that the two countries, as the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz, has repeatedly expressed, can cooperate and coexist civilly, respecting differences and promoting everything that benefits both nations and peoples, but it should not be expected that Cuba will make concessions inherent in its sovereignty and independence, nor will it accept any kind of conditionality.Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure.The changes that are necessary in Cuba, such as those made since 1959 and those that we are undertaking now as part of the process of updating our economic and social model, will continue to be decided sovereignly by the Cuban people.As we have done since the triumph of Jan. 1, 1959, we will assume any risk and continue to be firm and secure in building a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, Oct. 2.My son Jeremiah Boykin called me from school on Friday, Feb. 16, to tell me that he was dismissed from class because he did not stand for the pledge of allegiance. His constitutional rights were violated. He was verbally and almost physically assaulted by the person supposed to teach him anatomy.The teacher, a Mr. Himes, showed anger and hostility while shouting: “My father fought in the war for the anthem. Respect the anthem! Do you understand?” while pointing in my son’s face to the point where he was scared and had to back up.People think we don’t like the song, and that is true! It doesn’t match up with most Black people’s lives in America, where Black children and adults young or elderly are shot down by police who act as judge and jury on behalf of the system of racism and the thin blue line.I say: No more abuse that whittles away at you to make you feel ashamed to be Black. It is my duty to take on the system for my Black children. They don’t know their own strengths yet. I am here to tell the world that you are worthy, loving, charismatic, smart and a pleasure to raise.I propose taking police out of the schools to stop the school-to-prison pipeline. Give the extra money in pay to the teachers and set up proper vetting of these teachers so that every Black child can get a proper, dignified education.Sit out the pledge of allegiance. The Supreme Court of the United States, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), already stated you have this right:“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.“We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power, and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.”Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the nationnal anthem to shed light on the fact that our Black children are being killed and beaten down by police. He is now a vilified person by the white media and masses and has been targeted by the NFL for exercising his constitutional rights while Black. He is now blacklisted by the NFL.I stand with Colin Kaepernick and Jeremiah Boykin. Both asserted that the actions of whiteness and white America caused them to sit out the anthem.Fighting racism is not a crime. My daughter Takiyah Thompson proved that, when all charges were dropped against her for allegedly taking down a Confederate statue in Durham. Racism in schools and elsewhere is the true crime. Teachers who carry out acts to demean and demoralize young Black people are the true criminals that must be dealt with swiftly.Mikisa ThompsonDurham, N.C.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
This goes all the way back to the sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898, which was used to justify the Spanish-American war. A U.S. Navy inquiry in 1974 commissioned by Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded that the Maine sunk, not because of a Spanish mine, but because munitions stored aboard caught fire and exploded.U.S. military corporations have an enormous stake in continued war. But it goes wider than that. The big imperialist corporations and banks fear the defeat of all U.S. strategic plans for the region. So once again military, corporate and media forces are dragging out the same playbook they have used time and again to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, south Korea, Syria and the more than 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world.It is especially ominous that Russia was immediately blamed, along with Syria. Russian and Iranian assistance to Syria has helped frustrate U.S. plans for the overthrow of the Syrian government. In their constant drumbeat of nonstop demonization, U.S. opinion molders don’t even bother to present facts or motivation when making charges against Russian President Putin.They also paint a dire picture that a U.S. military pullout from the region would lead to chaos and benefit Russia, Iran or China, while also leading to a resurgence of the Islamic State group in Syria. What the war planners really oppose is a unified, sovereign Syrian state.Progressive forces opposed to endless U.S. wars must confront these criminal charges against Syria and demand of the U.S. warmakers: “Hands off Syria!”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this U.S. wars are based on lies and staged provocations. This is hardly news.Now comes the charge that on April 7 someone — the imperialists are saying it was the Syrian government, although there is no proof of that — killed dozens of Syrians with a poison gas attack on the town of Douma, which had only recently been liberated from anti-government forces.The brutal seven-year war against Syria had been winding down after the failure of every effort by U.S. imperialism to overturn the Syrian government.The last groups of reactionary, Saudi-backed military units were defeated this month. They had relentlessly shelled the civilian population of Damascus, the Syrian capital, for years. Thousands of these fighters have finally surrendered and were forced out of the hills of East Ghouta province overlooking Damascus. They are due to be bused out of the area to Idlib, a rebel-held area in the far north of Syria.The Syrian government has also established humanitarian corridors enabling more than 150,000 civilians to be evacuated by its forces.The town of Douma, where the supposed gas attack took place, was the last to be liberated. The Army of Islam or Jaysh al-Islam had agreed to an evacuation. The Syrian Arab Air Force had destroyed more than 300 positions of Jaysh al-Islam in the Douma district, including its main headquarters, communication networks and ammunition depots, over the last 24 hours before the supposed gas attack.Syria has no motiveThe idea that the Syrian government would choose this moment of victory to suddenly unleash a gas attack is incredible and ridiculous. But it is a charge that serves as an excuse for the U.S. and NATO to renew their bombing, especially since only a week earlier Trump had talked about getting the U.S. out of Syria.The gas attack, which is said to have killed at least 42 people, was top-of-the-news, front-page coverage in the U.S. media along with Trump’s tweets. While the charge that Syria did it was met with contempt and ridicule throughout most of the world, NATO members France and Britain dutifully chimed in with immediate threats to bomb Syria.The Israeli regime beat them to it and immediately seized the opportunity to attack Syria. Two Israeli F-15 fighters fired missiles into Syria’s Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs province before dawn on April 9.It is beyond belief to accept that Israel — whose troops have killed 28 unarmed Palestinian civilians and injured more than 1,500 over the past two weeks, in addition to the thousands it has killed in its past bombings of Gaza — was attacking Syria over the deaths of civilians.Charges with no proofThe imperialists’ blatant assertion of Syrian guilt is not only totally unfounded, it is unprovable and totally implausible.Syria has repeatedly denied allegations of chemical weapons use, underscoring that it has no weapons of mass destruction. This was confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.The Syrian Foreign Ministry points out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorist groups.Last year on April 7, the Pentagon, without waiting for any evidence, attacked Syria’s Shuaryat Air Force base with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, supposedly in response to chemical weapons being used at Khan Shikhoun, a town in southwestern Syria. The sudden attack, orchestrated with immediate photos and a coordinated campaign of war propaganda by a compliant media, reached new heights.Protecting civilians is the claim made by the imperialists to justify their massive bombings, destabilizations campaigns and starvation sanctions — resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.Wider war threatenedA wider war exploding from a confrontation in Syria is a growing danger. Most dangerous right now is that it coincides with the installation of extreme right-wing war hawk John Bolton as Trump’s new national security advisor.When the U.S. ruling class wants a war, the corporate media fall into line. Whether it was the phony claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002, which U.S. officials knew to be a lie, or the phony “attack” by Vietnamese PT boats on a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, the U.S. media have repeated the government’s lies to justify its wars.