LETTERS of October 6

Colombia ‘Election’ Scam Masks Gov’t Killings

Colombia just “elected” a new president, Juan Manuel Santos, who’s CEO of the newspaper “El Tiempo,” with the country’s largest circulation, spreading the official line of the government and the ruling class. Santos also owns 60% of the company that tallies the votes and computes statistics. He was also the Minister of Defense under Uribe, Colombia’s previous president.

Under his command the government picked up young men from poor areas, ”offered” them jobs, took them far from their homes, forced them to dress in military gear and then killed them. The government then claimed they had been guerrillas killed in fights with the army. This “proved” to the public that Uribe’s government was winning the battle against the guerillas.

In this latest “election,” by 2:00 PM on the second day of voting, the votes had already officially been counted. The winner was Uribe’s “student,” Santos. Although 57% of the electorate didn’t vote, Santos was said to have had the highest voting rate in history.

For vice-president they picked Angelino Garzon, an ex-union leader and “ex-militant” of the “communist” party. This was to clean up Uribe’s party’s image internationally. It’s been widely known that Uribe sponsored drug-trafficking and that his government assassinated more than 2,500 union leaders. Many more had to flee the country because their lives and their families were threatened. Uribe virtually destroyed the union movement.

So the ex-union leader is supposed to clean the government’s image, telling the world that what’s said about the government is untrue. But this character is a renegade from the working class, who sold us out for a plate of lentils (for nothing). He’s someone who, just like the President, has no conscience. After he was discredited by the union movement his only option was to serve the rulers. He’s a traitor to workers and is trying to demoralize the workers’ movement, feeding workers’ cynicism.       

Colombia is in a deep crisis. According to the country’s National Administrative Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate is 12% and the poverty rate 45%. Colombia also has nine U.S. military bases and gives the U.S. 82% of its mining agreements.

Now the ruling class wants to pretend to make war between Venezuela and Colombia to distract workers’ attention and use them as bait to fight for their imperialist interests. This is part of the inter-imperialist struggle to control areas with natural resources such as oil which are vital for capitalism.  

The rulers lie to the public shamelessly. The truth is that the majority of workers didn’t vote because they don’t believe in the candidates the wealthy select for election. Unfortunately they’re not organized and the movement is scattered.

But the working class has huge potential. That’s why we in PLP organize within the movement. We understand there are ups and downs. While the workers’ movement is in a lull internationally, the laws of dialectics teach us that nothing is forever. We have confidence and work patiently, but urgently. We know the workers will rise up to follow the red flag of communism and sweep away all the traitors and the bourgeoisie once and for all. We will build a communist system where the workers will be the ones to benefit.

A Convinced Comrade

D.C. Mayor’s Housing Edict: Homeless Need $50,000/Year!

Here’s a follow up to the land occupation protest in Washington, D.C. for affordable housing reported in CHALLENGE, 8/18/2010.

For six weeks, Parcel 42 remained occupied by a few students and homeless residents and was monitored by ONE DC, the community-based organization (CBO) that led the initial seizure. Discussions with city councilman Michael Brown were continuing but no concessions were forthcoming from the Mayor. There were no efforts by the city to evict the tent residents, most likely due to the upcoming primary election.

Thousands of passers-by saw the encampment during the heat of summer, observing this very visible protest against the Mayor’s policy of gentrification. Many learned how he manipulated statistics to back off his “commitment” to affordable housing by making the planned housing at Parcel 42 available only to those who make an annual income of $50,000 — a deliberately unaffordable price for displaced residents!

On August 29, ONE DC removed its tents and left its supplies for the homeless. The occupation by the community organization is over but some homeless residents remain.

The ability of a small CBO to sustain this encampment for weeks was limited by lack of support from other organizations and lack of planning for the possibility that the government would not immediately evict them. Many students and workers were on vacation in the summer and the heat was ferocious, so there was little base to expand the project.

In this sense, the project was not successful, but the visible protest and experience gives us new ideas about what it takes to build a movement. It also enables us to consider a longer, better-organized mass campaign around housing issues.

The Party members involved have talked to some of the organizers about our ideas. We’ve gotten a good response and had good discussions with our friends about the event. The mass work on housing and HIV/AIDS will intensify with the new academic year as public health workers and students continue to build mass actions while PL’ers keep the struggle for communism in the forefront of organizing efforts.

D.C. Red

Founder’s Greeting to PL Convention

(Here is a statement from a Chicago comrade, one of the founders of the Party, who asked it be conveyed to our recent convention. He is in declining health, but still committed to our goals and to the organization.)

“We must... fight against this racist system and build the organization. The only way to have any kind of future is to make this fight primary, because we cannot do what we need to do without fighting racism with working-class, multiracial unity and international solidarity. I cannot do much these days, and I wish I could do more. I did lead a struggle to keep a black worker on his job and led a struggle to allow some of the residents of my retirement area to have the right to sing songs in the common area. So, even if I can’t be with you, I send you greetings in the name of all the comrades from the old movement who did many great things, even though they did not lead to the revolution we dreamed of. Fight for communism, power to the workers!

Capitalism’s Horrors and Class Consciousness Spark for Red Fires

Nothing demonstrates the bankruptcy of capitalism more than the Chinese boss who, knowing the terrible working conditions in his factory, is making all new hires swear that they will not commit suicide (CHALLENGE 8/18)! For the vast majority of workers around the world, starvation wages are only part of capitalism’s horrors. Oppressive speed-ups, racist and sexist exploitation, and unhealthy heat and air quality are the norm, not the exception, under capitalism.

The vast majority of workers in factories and fields are forced to endure long days of monotonous and repetitive tasks. Workers are treated as replaceable machines with little connection to the final product that they have labored to build and that most can’t afford to buy. Teenage women with nimble fingers are forced to work 12-hour days on factory assembly lines for minimum wages until the grueling wear and tear of their labor weakens their hands and profit-hungry bosses discard them into a growing army of unemployed workers.

Even workers who have jobs that look as if they should be satisfying (like teachers) find their work frustrating and demoralizing. Boards of Education enforce “teaching to the test” — emphasizing rote memorization instead of the creative thinking that our working-class children need to learn to overthrow capitalism. The racist, sexist and nationalist content of public “education” around the world is an insult to the creativity of teachers and students alike.

The process of work that should be a source of pride and accomplishment is turned by capitalism into its opposite — dehumanizing drudgery where the boss steals the lion’s share of what is produced by pocketing the profits off our labor (what Marx identified as surplus value).

Communist organization of production, though, can turn this all around. Workers in Shanghai, China, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, seized their factories in an attempt to reverse the capitalist road that Chinese leaders had taken and move toward a communist system of production. Workers took time every day to meet to discuss developments around the world and to reorganize work in the factory to gain greater satisfaction and control over their daily labor.

Building communist consciousness and understanding of what is necessary to create an egalitarian society and communist forms of production became the goal, instead of maximizing production and profits. This example of workers uniting together in the struggle for communism is a beacon of light for the world’s workers and a lesson for what we have to do today.

Worker suicides are a great tragedy for our class, but they should only strengthen our resolve to struggle against capitalist oppression. We can begin to overcome our alienation by uniting with even just one other worker in a fight against the oppression that we all face. A spark of mutual support and collective action can, as Chinese communists were fond of saying, start a prairie fire. We have a world to win where capitalist alienation will be only a bad memory. Join us in struggle for a communist future.




Letters - 22 September 2010

PLP Convention Report Stirs Airport Workers

At the airport there was a short, multi-racial meeting after work with airport workers from El Salvador, Mexico and the U.S. (mostly black) who wanted to hear a report on the PLP convention. Many were pleased that Party comrades from
Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico are leading the fight against fascism. On following days we had political discussions with Ethiopian airport workers who were also glad to know PLP revolutionaries are in Ethiopia and Tanzania working to destroy capitalism.

These reports emphasized the Party’s commitment to becoming an international, multi-racial, mass party, and our renewed efforts to fight the fascist bosses and racism even harder. It was also stressed at the airport how we industrial workers are a key force in the class struggle, along with our brother and sister workers in auto, mass transit, aerospace, etc. We will be able to destroy capitalism with communist revolution, since the bosses cannot run capitalist society without our labor.

On a personal note, the convention was a life-changing meeting. It was like May Day on steroids! I learned so much in the workshop for industrial workers and from meeting and talking with fellow comrades from around the world.

The convention truly opened up my eyes to the potential for communist revolution and the building of a communist future. I also liked how women comrades gave much inspiring political leadership. It was lots of fun making new friends and, most importantly, to know we all have a role to play as leaders in the Party to build PLP. into a multi-racial, working-class, mass Party for communist revolution to overthrow capitalism and establish communist society globally for billions of workers. From Los Angeles to Oaxaca, Mexico, to Ethiopia, the class struggle goes on!

Airport Red

‘Barbarism or Communism: I Choose Communism’

When I was 15 years old I joined PL. After about 10 years of organizing — some successful and some not — I moved away from PL.

It is difficult to explain why simply, so I won’t try. I will only say that my own cynicism and the imperatives of surviving in capitalist society moved me in a different direction.

I am now in middle age and, aside from some minor activity, have been outside of PL.

Recently, however, I was involved in the Party’s convention. Perhaps quantity has changed into quality.

I was not especially moved by any one great speech or speaker. I was also not excited by any specific single moment. I was, however, moved by the entire weekend.

I housed young militants at my house, an integrated group of marvelous young people that touched me. I was impressed by the number and types of faces that I did not recognize. I was affected by the international nature of the event, particularly the picture of Israeli and Palestinian Party members and friends, side by side, and singing the Internationale in Arabic and Hebrew.

Where else but in PLP could this happen?

The convention gave me something I have not had in a long time: a sense of possibilities. It is true, there is a long hard road ahead, but for the first time in a while I feel some potential.

I do not know exactly where this feeling will ultimately lead me, but I do know that I am willing to rejoin a Party club and find out.

A comrade at the convention quoted an old leftist who said that the world has only two choices: barbarism or communism.

I choose communism.

A “Returning” Red

Protest KKKops’ Racist Attacks

During the Summer Project, I took part in a sale and rally in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island, N.Y. As CHALLENGE has reported, this neighborhood was and is like an armed camp. There were squad cars passing every few minutes, a mobile command truck and a raised surveillance tower. The politicians say the KKKops stop the racist attacks on immigrants from continuing. The truth is that the KKKops function to terrorize this working-class neighborhood. As we sold CHALLENGE, many white, black and Latino workers beeped as they drove by in support of a sign that said “HONK if you hate racism!”Some workers also stopped to talk to us.

One of them was a Latino worker who was beaten by the cops. He was defending himself against an attacker when the KKKops came. Instead of helping, the KKKops beat the already-beaten worker severely, arrested him, and then released him without charge. This is racism!

Now, he is unable to lift his left arm and therefore unable to work. It is clear that the cops serve the bosses, not the workers. They only spread fear and attempt to disorganize the workers from uniting and fighting back against the fascist state! 

Project Volunteer


Letters - 08 September 2010

Workers’ Fight vs. Joblessness Can Become ‘School for Communism’

As CHALLENGE has repeatedly explained, capitalism breeds unemployment, which produces a “reserve army of the unemployed.” The bosses use this reserve army to threaten employed workers with loss of their jobs if they don’t accept lower wages and speed-up. This lowers the wages and conditions of the whole working class and keeps them subservient. It also leads to increased sexist wage differentials for women workers.

Because of racism, black and Latino workers in the U.S, and immigrant workers worldwide, suffer twice the jobless rates of white workers. This is used to divide and weaken the entire working class.

Full employment is impossible under a profit system. Only communism can achieve full employment, in a society without bosses and profits, with their resulting recessions/depressions.

Even the capitalists’ media is reporting that massive unemployment will be continuing for years, having reached 33 million in the U.S. and into the hundreds of millions in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, with no end in sight. This affects working-class families in every sector of the economy, including first-job-seekers, students and returning vets.

Unemployment is, along with imperialist war, probably the capitalist evil that relates to every aspect of a communist analysis of the system. So it becomes vital to unite the employed and unemployed, and help organize a working-class fight-back. The potential exists to recruit many workers and youth to PLP. The unity of the working class is a prerequisite for making a communist revolution.

Therefore, it would be extremely important to raise this issue in every mass organization and win them to set up committees in unions, shops, schools and campuses, in communities and churches, which would provide the opportunity to explain a communist analysis of the roots of unemployment and therefore why capitalism must be destroyed.

If committees on this issue could be organized in any or all these areas, it might be possible to use this as a springboard to launch a larger movement against the ravages of unemployment. These committees could reach out to the unemployed in the communities. Teachers could ask who’s unemployed by polling their students on unemployed family members and/or their friends, bus drivers  could distribute committee literature to their passengers, and so on.

Such a movement could raise demands like: unemployment benefits for all (currently a huge percentage of workers are ineligible) and for the full period of unemployment. Also benefits for jobless returning vets (after World War II all jobless GIs received $20 a week, equal to hundreds in current dollars, for 52 weeks, the “52-20” program); unity with workers threatened with layoffs; organizing the unemployed to support strikers’ picket lines and push the demand for jobs in the strikers’ demands.

This occurred in the Great Depression when communists organized a National Unemployment Council of 800,000 that put millions of the jobless on the streets in protests, supported strikes and which is what won unemployment insurance in the first place.

But we should not make the mistake those communists did, of not tying unemployment to the need to destroy capitalism with revolution.

A Brooklyn Reader


Letters - 18 August 2010

Airport Workers Fight Nazi ‘English-only’ Law

This is a follow-up letter in regards to copycat fascist attacks on Latino immigrant workers (CHALLENGE 8/4). On July 27, a metro area suburb passed a racist vindictive law prohibiting Spanish-speaking in immigrant dealings with city government. This is pure anti-Latino racism because new immigrants applying for city jobs, public housing, public schools for their children, and city services will find themselves marginalized by the English-only law.

Many states and cities like Fremont, Nebraska have followed the lead of Apartheid Arizona. This is historically similar to fascist Germany’s Nuremburg Laws.

This local racist law was passed 4-1, angering many anti-racists. One white anti-racist was thrown out of the city council meeting by the police. 

The multiracial airport workers are responding to this latest racist anti-working-class attack by taking extra copies of CHALLENGE for family and friends. Also, we will pressure our union to respond to this fascist law and work in collective mass struggle to overturn it.

Only communist revolution can liberate the international working class from fascist capitalism. Capitalism needs racist nationalism to guarantee super-profits for the bosses by super-exploiting Latino workers, which lowers the wages of all workers. Communism will eliminate divisions like nationalism and borders. WE HAVE A WORLD TO WIN!

Airport Red

AFT Backs Rulers’ Latest Ploy to Keep Afghan Bases

Gareth Porter, in “CounterPunch,” reports that Richard Haass — president of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2003 — has written a Newsweek article on Afghanistan entitled “We’re Not Winning. It’s Not Worth It.” He has concluded that the insurgents cannot be defeated and it would be better for the U.S. to allow the Taliban to run southern Afghanistan and for U.S. forces to withdraw to the north (where it can work closely with the Northern Alliance warlords and the corrupt Karzai regime in Kabul).

This view is apparently gaining support among ruling-class thinkers, and may gain even more traction with the recent release of thousands of pessimistic reports from the military and popular despair over the war. Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he withdraws troops next year, and the Taliban and other insurgent groups gain ground, he’ll be blamed for “losing Afghanistan,” even though influential ruling-class thinkers say Afghanistan is already lost (barring a favorable deal with the “enemy.”) If he continues to keep roughly 100,000 troops (plus tens of thousands of intelligence agents, state department functionaries and contractors) in Afghanistan, and another 50,000 in Iraq, he won’t have enough troops to occupy Iran. Iran, with its huge reserves of oil and gas, has gained tremendous influence in Iraq and is an important supplier of Chinese energy needs.

Obama will likely draw increasing fire from both sides — those who think U.S. resources are being wasted, and those who think failure is unacceptable. Groups like U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) take a side in this ruling-class debate by stressing that a military victory is not possible while saying virtually nothing about U.S. imperialist aims in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, or how withdrawal from Afghanistan wouldn’t mean peace, but only preparation for more war.

At the recent AFT convention, USLAW representative Michael Zweig went so far as to introduce and support the AFT leadership’s resolution on Afghanistan. It takes the Haass position that a military victory is no longer possible. It calls for a timetable for withdrawal, but also supports the “defeat of terrorist conspiracies” with the “limited, careful and precise use of armed forces.” This endorses continued U.S. bombing and missile attacks on villages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and many other countries of strategic importance.

Pro-worker Resolution Defeated

What was particularly vile about the USLAW role at the convention was that another local had submitted a resolution declaring the occupation “not a war in the interest of working people.”  They argued that the “war on terror” was a cover for “the real reasons for the war, which include control over wealth and resources,” and told delegates that the U.S. military had killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. USLAW reps opposed that resolution and supported the leadership motion that contained no criticism of U.S. actions or its imperialist aims.

USLAW works with that section of the Democratic Party (including the AFT leadership) who worry that Afghanistan is a quagmire that will bog U.S. forces down and prevent it from carrying out the tasks necessary for its coming conflicts with China, Russia and other rivals to U.S. world dominance. USLAW will claim that the AFT endorsement of a resolution calling for withdrawal is a “victory” for the anti-war movement, when in fact it is a victory for U.S. capitalists who want to keep teachers and all workers in the dark about the truth that capitalist rivalry always leads to war.

In Afghanistan, the only profitable way out for U.S. imperialism is to strike a deal with the Taliban and other insurgent groups. The insurgents would be given a lucrative share of profits from mineral concessions, foreign aid and transit fees from the TAPI gas pipeline. In return they would approve the U.S. permanent bases and large garrison force, would help the U.S. effort against Iran, and would provide security for the TAPI pipeline. Will the Taliban hold out for a larger share or accept the deal? Neither outcome offers a better life for the Afghan people.

Anti-imperialist teacher


Letters - 04 August 2010

Oscar Grant: A Brother to Us All

I sometimes wonder if the conversations I have with people at work in transit; the sale of CHALLENGE and discussion of articles; the arguments with hacks at my union meetings; really have any effect on my fellow workers.

I was deeply moved when, a few days after the trial of the cop who murdered Oscar Grant, I received a poem as a text message from a young transit worker in L.A. I think it puts the murder of the 22-year-old black worker in a context we can all understand. And proves to me that workers are listening, are interested in our ideas, are angry at what they witness. 

Here is an excerpt:

100 and One

“You have 100 and One

ways to kill my brother;

With your rabid-dog police force and

your endless wars for capitalist gains.

You have 100 and One

ways to erase him from my sight.

Your son, my brother, Oscar.”

Oscar Grant was murdered New Year’s day 2009, by the BART Transit Police, shot in the back while he lay face down on an Oakland train platform. City officials and the attorneys moved the cop’s trial to Los Angeles because they feared public outrage in the Bay Area.

But there is really no place to hide. Here in Los Angeles, there were demonstrations outside the courthouse and people were not at all surprised when the cop who killed him was convicted only of involuntary manslaughter, a slap on the wrist.

After all, who was Oscar Grant? A young black man who worked in the butcher’s dept. of a market in Oakland; father to a young daughter; a much beloved son.

LA Transit Worker

Arizona to Metro Airport: Same Enemy, Same Fight

For the past month a few airport workers have been involved in an antiracist campaign against the fascist Arizona anti-immigrant law due to go into effect shortly. We have written letters to fascist Arizona Governor Brewer’s office condemning this move toward Apartheid-like conditions which is an anti-working-class racist attack on all workers. We have also written to Obama condemning this law and demanding that there be humane, comprehensive immigration reform which is not linked to getting more military recruits to defend U.S. oil interests. 

This campaign is reformist, but one of its purposes is to show airport workers that any kind of mass anti-racist reform struggle can be turned around and taken back by U.S. bosses because they have state power and we don’t. In the face of Arizona’s fascism and many other states wanting copycat racist anti-Latino measures, it’s important now more than ever that we intensify the entire multiracial international working-class fight for a communist revolution to liberate workers globally from capitalism and its evil helpers, imperialism, racism, and sexism.

Our efforts at the airport have involved immigrants and citizens, with Ethiopian and African-American workers helping to distribute copies of the letters to our fellow airport workers. This is extremely important because there have been a few backlash incidences of racist anti-Latino verbal harassment by airport supervisors. In the metro area racist cops target Latino-looking motorists. Recently the Metro Transit Police carried out a police operation at a train stop in a predominately Latino neighborhood.

This train station serves mostly Latino, African immigrant, and black workers. This is the second busiest train station in the city. There were 16 transit cops harassing mostly Latino workers, asking to see their paid train tickets before they could board trains, making some miss trains and be late to work. The transit cops called this Apartheid-style harassment “saturation,” a military term used as if they are looking for an “enemy,” in this case Latino workers! This is nothing but Apartheid-like racism and all workers must fight this fascism with multiracial unity and a communist revolution against our fascist, racist oppressors from Arizona to Kyrgyzstan to France!

Airport Red