T.O. Weekly 64: Mexico, the United States and the Summit of the Americas (and Counter Summit) – Brazil – Antiwar – Russia
The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter
Issue No. 64 – JUNE 10, 2022
Formatted at www.socialistorganizer.org
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IN THIS ISSUE:
• Mexico, the United States and the Summit of the Americas: A Working-Class Perspective – by Juan Carlos Vargas Reyes and Alan Benjamin
• Russia-Ukraine: “The Biden Administration Is Giving the Conflict a Momentum that May Be Impossible to Stop” — New York Times Op-Ed Piece – by Dominique Ferré and Alan Benjamin
• “NAFTA: An Instrument of Plunder and Over-Exploitation” — Presentation by Dr. Lidia Suárez
• “We Demand Citizenship for All, NOW!” — Presentation by Jofel Reyes
• Criminalization of San Quintin (Mexico) Farmworker Organizers – by Fernando David Márquez
• Open Letter to Governor of Baja California in Support of San Quintin Farmworkers Organizers
• Speech by Desirée Rojas to San Quintin (Baja California, Mexico) Farmworker Rally (March 15, 2022) — Brief Excerpts
• Brazil: From the “Party Without Bosses” to the “Federation” Without Class Boundaries?
• Background Article – Brazil: The Workers Party (PT) on the Eve of Its Dissolution – by Anísio Garcez Homem
• IWC Weekly Newsletter No. 212 – Special Antiwar Issue
• Despite the War, Workers’ Resistance Across Russia Is Moving Forward
• Appeal Hearing of Kirill Ukraintsev – from our correspondents in Russia
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Mexico, the United States and the Summit of the Americas: A Working-Class Perspective
By Juan Carlos Vargas Reyes and Alan Benjamin
This week the Ninth Summit of the Americas is taking place in Los Angeles, promoted by the U.S. government. It is a meeting of heads of State which was conceived since its inception in 1994 as a vehicle to promote across the continent the corporate “free trade” agenda initiated with NAFTA. Its first initiative was the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was pushed back in the early 2000s by the giant anti-FTAA mobilizations and general strikes throughout the continent.
On this occasion, several heads of state from the Americas are conspicuous by their absence, so great is the anti-U.S. sentiment in their home countries and across the continent. They include President Luis Arce of Bolivia; President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala; President Xiomara Castro of Honduras; President Luis Lacalle Po of Uruguay; and President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador.
The main absentee is Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who in recent weeks lobbied publicly for inviting the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, governments labeled by the U.S. administration as anti-democratic (in contrast to Biden’s announced visit to Saudi Arabia, whose reactionary monarchy he finds “democratically” acceptable).
AMLO declared on June 6: “There cannot be a Summit of the Americas if all the countries of the American continent do not participate; or there can be, but we consider that it is a continuation of the old policy of interventionism, of disrespect for nations and their peoples.”
In spite of this fiery declaration by AMLO, which was aimed at placating his base, Mexico still participated in the summit with a delegation headed by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard (one of the strongest candidates to succeed AMLO in 2024). One of Mexico’s goals, explains Mexico’s foreign ministry, is to secure funding for the assistance programs Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro [Youth Building the Future] and Sembrando Vida [Planting the Seeds of Life], which AMLO proposes to extend to the entire Central American region and to the Latino communities in the United States.
As is common knowledge, one of the main points on the agenda of this summit is to address the issue of migration — mainly migration from Central American and Caribbean countries to the United States. The Mexican government has been aligned fully with the reactionary U.S. policy since the days of the Trump administration. On behalf of the U.S. government, Mexico has deployed its National Guard to erect a military containment wall for Central American and Caribbean migrants.
Regarding the impact on Mexico-U.S. relations, AMLO and Ebrard have been clear that the absence of numerous heads of State at the summit will not modify the cooperation between both governments. AMLO announced on June 6 that as a result of meetings with senior White House officials, he has agreed to a bilateral meeting with President Biden next July.
Various Mexican media outlets have reported that this bilateral meeting will address the issue of U.S. access to Mexican energy, particularly oil exports and electricity production and distribution. This issue was under intense debate in recent months: AMLO had proposed an energy reform initiative that was defeated by the opposition parties in the Mexican Congress under sustained pressure from U.S. congresspeople and top-level U.S. State Department officials, themselves pressured by the large U.S. multinational oil corporations.
The U.S. oil lobby and top U.S. political figures argued that if Mexico were to adopt AMLO’s partial renationalization of its energy industry, it would be violating the USMCA “free trade” treaty signed by Trump, AMLO and Canada’s Trudeau. The U.S. lobby threatened to curtail U.S. foreign investment in Mexico and even impose sanctions against Mexico. Under such pressure, AMLO did not receive the two-thirds vote needed to pass his energy reform plan. This is the true face – the real content – of the corporate “free trade” agenda.
Returning to the summit, Biden stated at its opening session that among the broad agenda items (energy transition, climate change, healthcare), the issue of the economy stands out above all others. Hence his proposal to create a “Partnership of the Americas for Economic Prosperity” that involves a series of treaties to regain U.S. influence in the region and enable it to better compete with the growing expansion of Chinese businesses in the continent, particularly in South America. “Depending on how the hemisphere goes, so go we,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
The BBC quoted a senior White House official as saying:
“We really hope that participation will in no way be an obstacle to doing meaningful business at the summit.” BBC continued, “The White House expected this week the presence of 23 heads of government from the continent and planned to sign agreements even if they were just with the foreign ministers representing the absent guests.” Despite appearances to the contrary, the absence of the heads of State of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bolivia and Uruguay does not imply a boycott of the summit; the “free trade” projects of the Biden administration will continue, with or without the participation of these presidents.
On the other hand, the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have called for a boycott of the Summit on the Americas on the grounds that its main objective is to align the countries of the continent behind a new “free trade” agreement beneficial to the United States in its economic confrontation with China and in the context of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Clearly, there is a contradiction between the sovereign interests of all Latin American countries – in particular the conquests of the Cuban Revolution – with the U.S.-sponsored regional integration, this time around with an updated and revamped version of the initial FTAA.
What is needed is a true summit of the workers and peoples of the Americas that calls for respecting the sovereignty of the peoples. A summit that proposes as its first point an end to the sanctions against Venezuela and a halt to the criminal commercial blockade against Cuba. What’s needed is a summit that calls for respecting the self-determination of the nations and peoples of the continent. A summit that calls for a halt to the plundering of natural resources and the renationalization of everything privatized by this policy of “free trade.” A summit that calls for the free movement of persons across borders and an end to the anti-immigration policies promoted by U.S. imperialism.
Responding to this situation, a Workers Summit of the Americas will be held in Tijuana on June 10-12. It is a space of convergence where an alternative platform of struggle to that of U.S. imperialism is being proposed for discussion.
The alternative proposed by the organizers of this Workers Summit is concentrated in the following 12 points:
1. Denounce the Summit of the Americas, as a gathering that seeks to exploit the countries of the South with neoliberal measures that promote the corporate interests of North America (USA and Canada).
2. To denounce the policy of economic blockade against Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
3. To denounce the kidnapping of the diplomat Alex Saab by the U.S. Treasury Department.
4. To denounce the shameful border wall between Mexico and the United States, which constitutes an anti-immigrant and racist policy of the United States against the peoples of the South.
5. Denounce the necro-politics in which the U.S. government has embarked that threatens the future of our planet.
6. Establish direct relations with advanced political actors in Mexican, U.S. and Canadian society, who are fighting for a new world where the environment, nature and human beings are the priority.
7. Twinning with trade union organizations in Mexico, the United States and Canada.
8. Denounce police brutality in the United States.
9. Regional integration (CELAC vs. UNASUR).
10. Promote the struggle of the indigenous peoples of our America.
11. Denounce NATO, a disgrace in our continent.
12. Denounce the sanctions that kill the peoples.
For our part we are in favor of a broad discussion of these points, with the objective of clarifying and refining some of them. For example, NATO is much more than a “disgrace” – it is an instrument of war and massive destruction against the peoples of Europe and beyond. Also, in the case of regional integration, can we limit ourselves to a discussion involving only CELAC [all countries minus the United States] and UNASUR [the trade bloc launched by Venezuela]? Is it not necessary to have a more in-depth discussion that encompasses all the points of a policy of national and regional clean break with U.S. imperialism?
We will be present at the Workers Summit of the Americas. In future issues we will report on the developments of this counter-summit.
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Russia-Ukraine: “The Biden Administration Is Giving the Conflict a Momentum that May Be Impossible to Stop” — New York Times Op-Ed Piece
By Dominique Ferré and Alan Benjamin
Has Ukraine become the new production ground for the “latest” weapons coming straight off the production lines of the multinational arms companies? One is entitled to ask the question.
On the French side, we learn that,
“For several days, the sound of Caesar fire has been echoing in Ukraine. France has in fact delivered six examples of these artillery pieces produced by Nexter. This gun is considered to be one of the most effective in the world” (BFMTV, May 31). Effective for what? To destroy.
On the U.S. side, Biden has just delivered M142 Himars multiple rocket launchers: “A long-awaited delivery,” writes Le Figaro on June 1. “While the Russian army is stepping up the pressure on the ground in the Donbass with the help of powerful artillery, the United States has announced that it is ‘providing the Ukrainians with more advanced missile systems and ammunition that will enable them to hit key targets more precisely’.”
On the Russian side, on May 28, “the Russian army announced that it had successfully carried out a new test firing of the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, at a time when Moscow is intensifying its offensive in Ukraine.” And like “the hypersonic Kinjal ballistic missiles, the Zircon cruise missiles belong to a family of new weapons,” described as “invincible” (Le Point, May 28).
The governments of the great powers have found, thanks to the war, the opportunity to pour astronomical sums into military budgets, to the great benefit of the arms industry.
The massive sums are being spent on weapons of mass destruction while Macron’s government is closing down hospital emergency rooms, while Biden’s administration is unable to solve the shortage of powdered baby milk in the United States, and while Putin’s government is making it necessary for millions of pensioners to struggle just to survive.
But by playing with fire, Biden and NATO risk creating the conditions for the war in Ukraine to become a global conflict between nuclear powers.
New York Times Issues Warning
This concern is now being expressed in the most authoritative circles at the top of U.S. imperialism.
On June 4, The New York Times featured a long opinion piece by Christopher Caldwell titled, “U.S. Helps Prolong Ukraine War.” Caldwell is a neoconservative who opposes the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Since 2018,” Caldwell wrote, “Ukraine has received U.S.-built Javelin anti-tank missiles, Czech artillery, Turkish Bayraktar drones, and other NATO-interoperable weaponry. The United States and Canada have lately sent up-to-date M777 howitzers that fire GPS-guided Excalibur shells. President Biden has just signed into law a $40 billion military [additional] aid package.”
Much of the new weaponry, including long-range missiles, is becoming so sophisticated, Caldwell stated, that the Ukrainian army doesn’t know how to use it. To deploy these weapons, it is likely that NATO troops would have to be deployed.
In fact, Caldwell noted, NATO troops – including U.S. troops – are already on the ground.
“The United States may be playing an even more direct role. There are thousands of foreign fighters in Ukraine. One volunteer spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May of fighting alongside ‘friends’ who ‘come from the Marines, from the States’.” …
“Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, warned that the war must end soon, ‘before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome’.”
Caldwell concluded in a similar vein:
“Just as it is easy to cross the line between being a weapons supplier and being a combatant, it is easy to cross the line from waging a proxy war to a secret one.
“[T]he United States has helped turn this tragic, local and ambiguous conflict into a potential world conflagration. … The Biden administration is giving the conflict a momentum that may be impossible to stop.”
Workers everywhere have no interest in this war.
• No support for war-mongering governments!
• No Putin, No Biden and his NATO allies!
• Withdraw all foreign troops from Ukraine, Africa, Yemen and elsewhere!
• Dismantle NATO!
• Requisition all military budgets for public works and jobs useful to humanity!
These are the demands of those who refuse capitalist barbarism.
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“NAFTA: An Instrument of Plunder and Over-Exploitation” — Dr. Lidia Suárez
[Note: Following is the presentation delivered by Dr. Lidia Suárez to the online April 24 Forum titled “Forced to Flee: Capitalism and the Refugee Crisis.” Dr. Suárez is a professor of Social Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Baja California – Mexicali in Mexico. The first part of this forum report-back can be accessed at T.O. Weekly no. 63. It is posted to our website at: www.socialistorganizer.org.]
In the current context of war, we want to make it clear that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and NATO aggression is only one form of war that the peoples of the world are experiencing. There is a political, economic, and social war against all the peoples of the world that takes different forms in each country and region and whose objective is to favor the owners of Big Capital.
In the case of Mexico, after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994 and with the deepening of this treaty with the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, [promoted and signed by Donald Trump], we have seen that an economic, political, and social war against the peoples, and mainly against women and families, has been slowly developing over the past 28 years. All the while, we have seen profits soar in the stock market of the companies that “have known how to take advantage of the treaty” – such as those in the maquila (sweatshop), automotive, and the agricultural industries, all of which export primarily to the United States.
It is well known that Mexico is attractive for investment due to its natural resources, low cost of land, energy and water, and the most precious thing: qualified and cheap labor.
Some of the consequences of NAFTA and the subsequent USMCA can be listed here:
– Migration of more than 12 million people crossing or attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. They abandon their families, cultural roots, and precarious jobs to seek better options because they now lack real opportunities in Mexico.
– The signing of NAFTA imposed the agri-food hegemony of the U.S. neoliberal model. The result for the Mexican countryside was 4.9 million displaced peasants, 1.9 million unemployed, and the loss of food self-sufficiency with Mexico now importing 89% of its soybeans, 79% of rice, 67% of wheat and 35% of corn. The entry into NAFTA devastated Mexican agriculture – and the rural population was forced to migrate to survive (Mirador Universitario UNAM. (June 12, 2018) Food sovereignty in Mexico and NAFTA renegotiation [Video file]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/Idtra9NDfZU).
– The Mexican regime’s guidelines towards the countryside were manifested in the withdrawal of public investment and credit, neglect and abandonment of irrigation districts, along with other consequences. Deregulation and modifications to Article 27 of the Constitution – regarding the communal ownership of the land, the “ejidos” – opened the countryside to privatization, a requirement demanded by U.S. capitalists during the NAFTA negotiations as a condition for continued foreign investment. This situation brought about the weakening or destruction of peasant organizations, and “freed” the labor force.
– More exploitation in the agricultural fields that export to the U.S. and Canada in the name of competitiveness, even using child labor, since it costs less to employ more cheap workers than to use machines which could replace child labor and provide adult workers with better wages, better working conditions, and full labor rights as required by law. Child labor in the fields of San Quintin and the Mexicali Valley is not a secret. Entire families are “hooked” into this system. Most of them are indigenous peoples – mainly Triquis from the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero, where their ejidos were dismantled, many of them who only speak their native language and are hired at near-slave labor wages to increase the profits of companies such as “Driscoll’s” and others.
– Initially men and young people left Mexico to try the “American Dream.” Women who stayed in Mexico experienced the precariousness of living conditions and the decrease in real wages, pushing more and more family members to work. In the name of increasing productivity, the level of income and the working conditions of the working population are sacrificed. Employers know that the people most willing to accept these conditions are women with greater family responsibilities. It is not surprising that the maquiladora companies that have been set up along the border thanks to NAFTA are becoming “feminized.” What until yesterday was an obstacle to accessing work – lack of training, being a young and inexperienced woman and being a mother – has become a comparative advantage, thanks to a perverse relationship that turns women’s lack of options into an opportunity for overexploitation and greater profit for employers.
– This precariousness has dragged the whole society to a growing wave of violence on a large scale, where it has exacerbated the one carried out against women not only in the personal-domestic sphere but also in the labor sphere. There has been an increase in the rate of femicides (increase of 85% of cases reported in Mexico between 2000 and 2015) and an increase in forced disappearances to feed the trafficking networks.
– This does not include the mistreatment of migrant women and children in the U.S., which is the subject of a different presentation. After the expansion of the border wall began, deportations increased and the conditions for greater exploitation in the U.S. increased.
According to Priego, a professor and researcher at the Autonomous University of Baja California, NAFTA was the result of an entire history and legacy of interventionist policies of the United States, beginning with the Monroe Doctrine (1823), the idea that “the entire American continent belongs to the U.S. Americans.” This doctrine considers that any European or other foreign intervention is an act of colonialist aggression, while at the very same moment the United States imposes its interventions in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Not only are NAFTA and TMEC -USMCA based on this policy, so are the policies of the United States and its NATO allies in the current Ukraine-Russia conflict and its commercial pressure towards China.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, to conclude, is one of the instruments of globalization and has served to exploit Mexican labor and plunder the natural resources of Mexico and Canada.
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“We Demand Citizenship for All, NOW!” — Jofel Reyes
[Note: Following is the presentation delivered by Jofel Reyes to the online April 24 Forum titled “Forced to Flee: Capitalism and the Refugee Crisis.” Reyes is an organizer with Papeles Para Todos (Citizenship for All) based in San Jose, California.]
Good afternoon. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to address you and to vent. I say this because, like so many others, I am angry about so many things that are happening in the world today. My name is Jofel Reyes and I am one of the leaders and organizers of the Papeles Para Todos [Citizenship For All] movement here in San Jose, California.
I am from Mexico. I had to leave my country like thousands of other Mexican families who were forced to emigrate to find a place to survive, many times leaving their children behind, leaving behind the places they love. We were forced to emigrate because everything in our country has been taken away from us. Our bad governments allowed this country, the United States, to enter Mexico and strip us of our lands and jobs. They have left us without options.
But that does not make us “criminals,” as we have been accused.
I had to emigrate in 1996. It was for many reasons. The first reason was the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. We were expelled from our lands and our communities. Many fled to the Mexican side of the border in northern Mexico, millions more went across into the United States.
Add to NAFTA the bad governments in Mexico, violence, femicide, climate change and the destruction-privatization of health insurance, preventing access to health care for the working class. The consequences of all this were 10 million displaced Mexican peasants – peasants whose land was taken from them to line the pockets of large U.S. agribusiness corporations.
Women suffered the most. They were left without a livelihood, without work. They no longer sold products made with their own hands: their handicrafts, their weavings, food. The women had to go out to work for such minimal wages that they could not support their families. Many of the women were single mothers. Many were murdered and disappeared, without any justice.
The rulers of the United States knew that millions of us had no choice but to come to this country. Such was the degree of organized destruction of our country. That is why both Democrats and Republicans adopted anti-immigrant laws.
We are now more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We are demanding that we be respected, that an immigration law be enacted that gives us all papers, with no exceptions, because we are all essential workers. We contribute to this country, we are owed a truly just legalization.
The Democrats had a great opportunity to pass an immigration bill. We were hoping that at least the Democrats would give us something, even though we knew very well that they were not going to do anything for us.
Today we want to achieve what was achieved in 2006: a nationwide work stoppage – a work stoppage to make this country realize how much we contribute to this country, and that when we stop working it dries up the economy.
We are demanding a path to citizenship without inhibitions and divisions. We must not only provide a solution for the children, but also for the parents. This is what we want.
We also know that the same thing is happening to us is happening in other countries where millions of people are displaced from their communities. This is what’s been happening to the Palestinians, for example. It’s what’s been happening to the Ukrainians. They are all looking for a safe place to live. We all have the same stories and suffer the same pain.
We invite you to join us in Papers For All. We invite you to support us. We want to accomplish what we did in 2006 with the nationwide strike. It is a task in which we all can and must participate. It is in this way that we will be able to impose the change we all long for.
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Criminalization of San Quintin (Mexico) Farmworker Organizers
By Fernando David Márquez
The struggle to win agricultural workers’ rights in San Quintín (Baja California, Mexico) has been continuous since March 15, 2017, when tens of thousands of agricultural workers began a massive strike and march to demand better working conditions, an increase in their hourly wages (raising their salary to the minimum wage), access to health services, and the right to bargain collectively. The overwhelming majority of these farmworkers are part of the indigenous Triqui community who came from southern Mexico (mainly Oaxaca and Guerrero) after NAFTA forced them off their land with the end of the ejidos.
Their employer – the Driscoll’s Corp. – is the world’s largest berry distributor. It controls one-third of the $6 billion U.S. berry market. The corporation develops proprietary breeds of berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries) and licenses them exclusively to growers, the largest is BerryMex in San Quintin.
Even though the San Quintin farmworkers won the recognition of their union (the SINDJA) by the federal and state authorities, the predominantly U.S.-based agricultural corporations, beginning with Driscoll’s Corp., refused to sign a collective-bargaining agreement with the new independent union.
Not surprising, the San Quintin workers have come under attack time and again by politicians in the right-wing PRI and PAN political parties.
In recent weeks, the powers-that-be have targeted two of the main farmworker organizers in San Quintín: Octavio López and Bonifacio Martinez, both leaders of the Alianza de Organizaciones Nacional, Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social and the Frente Independiente de la Lucha Triqui. They are accused of carrying out an illegal occupation and sale of a farm property in the San Quintin valley — a charge that has been vehemently rejected by both farmworker leaders.
The trumped-up charges, all of them concocted by the growers, are very serious and dangerous. López and Martinez are being threatened with long jail sentences.
It is important that all activists, workers, militants, and pro-labor individuals and organizations join the campaign in support of Octavio López and Bonifacio Martinez, demanding that the Governor of the state of Baja California immediately drop all charges against them.
[See more about the case below as well as the endorsement coupon of a letter to be sent to Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda.]
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Open Letter to Governor of Baja California in Support of San Quintin Farmworker Organizers
Dear Governor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda,
My name is Desirée Rojas. I am the president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Sacramento, California Chapter. I am writing to you because our chapter’s executive board is very concerned about the persecution in San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico, against labor organizers Octavio Lopez and Bonifacio Martinez, both of the Alianza de Organizaciones Nacional, Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social and the Frente Independiente de la Lucha Triqui. Both Octavio López and Bonifacio Martínez are labor organizers for the Driscoll’s Boycott campaign and leaders in the Triqui community.
Octavio Lopez and Bonifacio Martinez have recently come under attack in a case that we believe is an organized campaign to discredit them and to set back the union organizing drive in San Quintin. We ask you, Governor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda, to drop all charges in this case.
For the past 30 years, my father Al Rojas – co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and legendary farm worker labor leader who created a strong labor bridge between the United States and Mexico – devoted his efforts to supporting labor organizing inside Mexico. After his death, his memory was honored in the Mexican Congress by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. My father’s last campaign was the Driscoll’s Boycott.
For these reasons, our organization, LCLAA Sacramento Chapter, has continued our support for the farmworkers and community organizers of San Quintin. We continue the work that my father led in the labor arena both in the United States and in Mexico for the civil and human rights of the poorest, most oppressed and overworked workers in Mexico; in this case, the farmworkers of San Quintin, Baja California.
We request that the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) intervene and establish an independent commission to look into this case in order to obtain an impartial and fair judgment.
An independent investigation is necessary given that – according to an April 21, 2022 article in Punto Norte – there are simply too many holes in the accusations. The actual owner of the property, for example, has stated publicly that he not only owns the land, but is also selling it himself.
It is quite apparent to us that Octavio López and Bonifacio Martinez are being made to take the blame for a crime they did not commit. This is a very serious matter.
This is why we urge you, once again, to drop all charges in this case against Octavio Lopez and Bonifacio Martinez.
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Sacramento Chapter
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Speech by Desirée Rojas to San Quintin (Baja California, Mexico) Farmworker Rally (March 15, 2022) — Brief Excerpts
Thank you for this great honor to be with you today [March 15]. My name is Desiree Rojas, and I am the daughter of Al Rojas and Elena Jamila Rojas, co-founders of the United Farm Workers (AFL-CIO and longtime labor organizers. I am also the president of the Sacramento Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the historic uprising of the tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintin – an uprising to demand better wages, respect, and an end to the abuses of women and workers. My father, Al Rojas stood on this very location with you, and today I am proud to stand with you.
I would like to ask you to observe a minute of silence for my dad, Al Rojas, who passed away last year.
Today you have a farmworkers’ union. It was a bitter struggle to win union recognition. This is a big step forward! Having said that, I must also say this: You can have 1,000 unions, but until you secure a union contract — with farmworkers controlling their own union, with farmworker representation at the negotiating table — farmworker justice will be delayed, if not compromised. That’s the task ahead.
This seventh-year anniversary is a reminder that the farmworker demands have not been met and that the struggle continues. The workers of San Quintin are demanding a decent wage of 500 pesos (US$25.68). Even this sum is insufficient.
Only with a union contract will you be able to protect workers, protect women, end child labor, have the right to organize, secure payment of benefits (sick and vacation leave), and win respect. Yours is a fight for a collective-bargaining agreement. It’s a fight for trade union rights, for civil rights.
Many years ago, you who are gathered here at this rally issued a call to boycott Driscoll’s Corp. the main corporation in San Quintin, and we in the U.S. supported your call – and we will continue to support your call.
I feel my dad at my side when I shout out to you:
Vivan Los Trabajadores de San Quintin!
Long Live the San Quintin Workers!
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Brazil: From the “Party Without Bosses” to the “Federation” Without Class Boundaries?
[Note: In four months the presidential election in Brazil will take place. The ultra-reactionary Bolsonaro, who is running for a second term, is in difficulty against former president Lula. Sectors of the bourgeoisie have “let go” of Bolsonaro; they no longer trust him to carry out the attacks on the working class. Meanwhile, the workers, the peasants, and the youth are rallying around the Lula vote to drive out Bolsonaro and all his policies. It is in this context that the PT leadership has just announced two extremely grave decisions, which our correspondents in Brazil explain below.]
CURITIBA, Brazil, April 27 — On April 13, the national leadership of the Workers Party (PT) announced an electoral alliance between Lula and Geraldo Alckmin, who will be a candidate for the vice presidency alongside Lula. Formally, this alliance had to be validated by the PT national congress on June 4 and 5. But everything already had been decided and set into motion: The Lula-Alckmin candidacy was launched on May 7. The PT leadership justified this decision as follows: “The PT must seek to broaden support for Lula in other political and social sectors of the democratic camp.”
But who are these “other sectors” of the “democratic camp?”
Geraldo Alckmin is a bourgeois politician. When he was governor of the state of São Paulo, where he privatized in droves, he violently confronted the workers and their organizations.
Then came another thunderous announcement by the PT leadership. On April 18, the Workers Party, the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and the Green Party (PV) officially formed a “Brazil of Hope Federation.” A recent federal law makes it possible to register such “party federation,” which is renewable every four years. The federation then presents candidates in the elections, which gradually replace the parties that make them up.
Here again, PT militants had no say in the matter, just as they will no longer have a say in the “Federation.” Its leadership (made up of the leaders of the three parties) will designate the local leaderships “from above.”
What is the purpose of the “Brazil Federation of Hope?”
What is the purpose of this “Federation?” First and foremost, its purpose is to replace the two parties of the working class: the PT and the PCdoB , and, in the long run, to make them disappear.
The PT was born out of the great workers’ strikes of 1978-1980 against the military dictatorship and its policy of subordination to imperialism. When it was founded in 1980, it affirmed its intent to be “a party without bosses” – “a true political expression of all those who are exploited by the capitalist system … , to conquer freedom so that the people can build an egalitarian society, without exploiters and exploited.”
But the Green Party, with which the PT merges in the “Federation,” is a bourgeois party that, according to its program, “does not follow the canons of the traditional left.” The Federation includes in its program the acceptance of capitalism. It wants to be “a great political instrument of the people, of the democratic and progressive forces.” In other words, a “cross-class” party with a vocation to bring together, side by side, workers and peasants as well as bosses and “democratic” and “progressive” landowners.
In 2016, the Green Party, like Alckmin, supported the coup that deposed former president Dilma Rousseff (PT) on behalf of U.S. imperialism, paving the way for Lula’s imprisonment and the fraudulent elections that brought Bolsonaro to power. Since then, some Green Party deputies have voted in favor of the labor and social security counter-reforms adopted by the Temer and, later, the Bolsonaro governments.
“Workers Need Their Own Party!”
Within the PT, among the many initiatives opposing the formation of this federation, we note a call by PT activists titled: “No to the PT Federation with the PV [Green Party]! Workers Need Their party!” They explain:
“Alckmin, the Green Party and other sectors of the bourgeoisie know that Bolsonaro has no chance of winning the elections. That’s why they let him go. That’s why they are trying to disfigure Lula’s campaign, to obtain guarantees in advance that a workers’ government will not be formed, to obtain guarantees that the interests of finance capital will be preserved.”
And they conclude:
“We PT activists do not accept the authoritarian decision of the PT leadership to create this new ‘political grouping,’ which in practice undermines and destroys the party founded in 1980 by the working class … . We call on PT activists to meet and regroup to defend the existence of a Workers Party on the basis of its founding Manifesto of 1980, the fruit of the independent action of urban and rural workers in their strikes and demonstrations for democracy and for their demands.”
— From our correspondents in Brazil
 The PCdoB was once linked to the Albanian regime. It should be noted that the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) – which claims to be “to the left” of the PT – also will join the federation along with Rede, a political party linked to the Itaú bank. Thus, the three main parties claiming to be working class (PT, PSOL and PCdoB) will disappear, merged into a political “federation” without class boundaries.
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BRAZIL: The Workers Party (PT) on the Eve of Its Dissolution
By Anísio Garcez Homem
On February 11, Lula – the historic leader of the Workers Party (PT) and a candidate in the October 2022 presidential election – met again with Geraldo Alckmin. Lula all but officially announced that Alckmin would be his vice-presidential running mate, even though the national leadership of the PT had not made a decision.
Who is Alckmin? He’s a reactionary bourgeois politician. He led the São Paulo state government for 11 years as a privatizer, an enemy of public services. He ordered extremely brutal police operations against poor and Black populations in neglected neighborhoods. Ten years ago, he had the army dismantle a homeless camp in São José dos Campos. The land belonged to a millionaire: it has remained unused until today.
In 2016, Alckmin defended the coup that toppled President Dilma Rousseff of the PT. At the time, he said, “Brazil cannot further postpone the implementation of structural reforms … , we need action, not inaction.” In 2018, as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic, Alckmin declared: “I have always been opposed to the PT. … The PT is not the way forward, it is the way backward.”
In mid-February, Alckmin had not yet decided on which party ticket he would run alongside Lula: PSD or PSB. The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is an openly right-wing party that is part of the reactionary Bolsonaro government. As for the Socialist Party of Brazil (PSB) – contrary to what its name might suggest – it is also a bourgeois party. In 2016, of its 32 deputies, 29 voted for the impeachment of President Rousseff. And 11 PSB deputies voted for Bolsonaro’s counter-reform of the social security and healthcare systems.
Why this unholy alliance?
The Brazilian bourgeoisie and imperialism know that the workers and a large segment of the population are preparing to vote for Lula, the PT’s historic candidate, to defeat Bolsonaro and his policies of unemployment, poverty and famine. Neither Bolsonaro nor any right-wing candidate has any chance of beating Lula. So, important sectors of the bourgeoisie are looking for ways to guarantee their interests by negotiating in advance a “national unity” government with Lula and the PT leadership.
Thus, when Lula mentioned that his future government would repeal the Temer government’s labor counter-reform, Alckmin was the first to say that it was out of the question to repeal anything.
But that’s not all. A recent law allows parties to “merge” into “party federations.” For the PT this would mean entering into a federation with the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and, especially, two bourgeois parties: the Green Party and the PSB. This “federation” would have its own program and would be the only one entitled to stand for election. Its leadership would consist of a “federation council” in which the former PT leadership would have 27 seats, with the minority having veto power.
In other words, the Workers Party (PT), founded by the Brazilian working class at the fall of the military dictatorship, would be dissolved into a federation without class content or boundaries alongside representatives of the bosses.
When it was founded 42 years ago, the PT’s motto was “A party without bosses” – an independent working-class party. The cross-class federation and the alliance with Alckmin are its opposite. In its founding Manifesto, the PT set out to “be a true political expression of all those who are exploited by the capitalist system. We are a workers’ party, not a party to deceive the workers.” This still remains the position of many PT activists.
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IWC Weekly Newsletter No. 212 ‚ June 4, 2022
SPECIAL ANTIWAR ISSUE
Despite the War, Workers’ Resistance Across Russia Is Moving Forward
Despite the repression of any and all expressions of protest against the war in Ukraine, one of our correspondents in Russia reports: “It is extremely significant that several groups of soldiers have refused to go to Ukraine. For an enlisted man, refusal means immediate and permanent dismissal from the army and possible legal action.”
Among the collective refusals of soldiers to go to Ukraine were 12 members of the Russian Guard from Krasnodar (March 1), 80 sailors from a Crimean regiment, 60 enlisted men from a Pskov regiment, 11 members of the special forces of the Ministry of the Interior from Khakassia, 58 enlisted men from a Kaliningrad regiment (March 29) and the bulk of a South Ossetian regiment (March 31). These enlisted soldiers often come from the poorest regions, where the only employer is the army
Thousands Shout: “Fuck the War!”
Despite the “patriotic” brainwashing, rejection of the war is being expressed whenever possible. On May 20 in St. Petersburg, thousands of young people were attending a concert by the rock group Kis-Kis. Suddenly, a chorus arose from the crowd, chanted and repeated by hundreds and thousands of voices: “Fuck the War!”
The war has provoked an unprecedented crisis in the Communist Party, whose leaders, according to one of our correspondents, “not-surprisingly took a chauvinist position in supporting the war.” A leader of the Komsomol (Communist Youth) in one region explained: “In the CP organization in our town, all the young people without exception, but also some middle-aged people and a very small part of the leadership are against the war, defending Marxist positions. Conversely, all the older members, party officials and almost all the leaders support the war.”
In Surgut (Central Siberia), 57 CP activists collectively returned their party cards, protesting “against the anti-people and reactionary positions” of the leadership. Their decision was taken after Nikolai Kolomeitsev, Member of Parliament and CP leader, made a speech demanding that Putin bomb intensively the Ukrainian capital.
“We, the Men of the Third Rifle Battalion…”
Unbelievable, but true. A video has gone viral on anti-war Telegram channels: In front of at least 200 students and workers in paramilitary uniforms enlisted in the pro-Russian militias of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in Ukraine, a man reads an address to Denis Pushilin, the head of the DNR, on behalf of all those enlisted. He demands that all the draftees be demobilized and returned home immediately. Challenging Pushilin, he reads,
“Contrary to your statements that mobilized reservists do not take part in combat, but only in maintaining public order, we, the men of the Third Rifle Battalion of the 105th Regiment, were sent into combat in Mariupol and have remained there since March 13, 2022. And this despite the fact that, before being mobilized, most of us were students or workers in various businesses and industries, with no connection to the army, and that many of us should have been exempted on medical grounds. We are physically and morally exhausted, and 60 % of the forces are no longer fit to fight!”
From the courts of justice to the schoolyards, from concert halls, and even in the army, a cry rings out loud and clear: “No to War!”
Strikes Continue to Break Out
Among the working class, the war and the Kremlin’s patriotic propaganda have failed to prevent strikes from breaking out, while sanctions have led to a 20% rise in food prices and a wave of layoffs.
An activist states:
“In Novosibirsk, 200 workers of the rubbish collection company EkoTrans-N have been on strike since April 19, 2022 against deteriorating working conditions. On May 9, the general assembly decided to form a trade union, and two days later the union was declared. On May 16, the union proposed to open negotiations.”
Another activist informs us that in the Kolomna locomotive factory in the Moscow region, “the workers have just elected a new leadership of the union, and they chose the new leaders from among their comrades. The union is now actively fighting against the arbitrariness of the management. The factory management has tried to intimidate the activists with police methods, but it has not succeeded.”
— From and with our correspondents
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Appeal Hearing of Kirill Ukraintsev
An activist involved in the campaign for the release of trade unionist Kirill Ukraintsev tells us about the appeal hearing he attended in a Moscow court on May 23:
The lawyers of Kirill Ukraintsev, the head of the Kurier trade union (kurier means “deliveryperson” – translator’s note) and left-wing activist, had appealed the court’s decision to remand him in custody. His lawyers had appealed the pre-trial prison sentence, requesting that he be placed under house arrest pending trial.
Currently in pre-trial detention until June 25, Kirill risks being sentenced to five years’ imprisonment under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code, an ultra-repressive and arbitrary article that punishes alleged “repeated violations of the legislation regarding public gatherings.”
But we know that the real reason for the criminal prosecution is quite different: The only “crime” of our comrade Kirill is that he helped found the delivery workers’ union and organized the victorious struggle of these workers for their rights.
It is to be noted that on April 25 (the day of Kirill’s birthday!), he was arrested at his home, in the small flat which he rents as a tenant. By decision of the Savelovsky court, he was sent to prison.
About 30 activists came to the court to support our comrade, including human rights activist Elena Rokhlina (daughter of the famous Soviet general Lev Rokhline); the Communist Party MP in the Moscow City Duma; Yevgeny Stupin [one of the few elected members of the CP to have protested against the war – Ed. Note]; Mikhail Lobanov, head of the University Solidarity trade union at Moscow State University; Kirill’s colleagues; the correspondent of the Stalingrad channel, Alexander Evdokimov; activists from the Working Russia movement; and the Marxist organization Novye Krasnye.
It is important to note that Kirill, who spoke at the trial via video conference from his detention center, was very confident and defended his positions in a well-argued and articulate manner.
Judge Martynova, however, was uncompromising: Kirill Ukraintsev will remain in pretrial detention until June 25.
The fight goes on: Freedom for Kirill Ukraintsev! Trade unionism is not a crime!