the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Apr 29, 2019
Last week Joe Biden announced that he is running for president. That makes 20 candidates running for the Democratic Party nomination. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, a couple of candidates are challenging Trump for the nomination.
Who will win their party’s nomination? Who will win the election? Between now and November 2020, that is practically all the news media is going to talk about. For the next 19 months – or about 560 days – it will be all working people will hear. We will be bombarded with news about this or that politician, Republican or Democrat, over and over again.
And for what? So that working people wait for months and years to elect a politician who has little real power.
The real power is not in the hands of the elected officials. It is in the hands of the capitalist class. They own the big companies, the banks, military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceuticals, auto companies. They pocket those companies’ profits.
The capitalist class is connected in countless ways to the permanent, unelected officialdom, who run the military, law enforcement, the courts and all of the big government departments and bureaucracies.
So, while the politicians grab the headlines, make speeches and pass laws, the permanent government structure quietly puts forward and implements policies on a daily basis. That structure, made up of millions of soldiers, cops, agents and bureaucrats, has the power, and imposes the interests of the U.S. capitalist class, by waging wars all over the world, for example.
As for the Republican or Democratic Party politicians, their real job is to take workers’ hard-earned tax money and hand it over to the capitalist class, whether through tax breaks, or by handing out big contracts to companies, with enormous profits built in.
It’s all paid for by the working class – that is, by us.
That’s why politicians say there is no money for the things that workers need, starting with the things vital for our survival. It is why the politicians constantly cut funding for schools and health care. It is why they cut funding for infrastructure that we all depend on and is falling apart, including roads, parks and public transportation. It is why the politicians constantly cut public sector jobs, while slashing what they pay the workforce by contracting out more work to low wage companies, while using more temps and part-timers.
Given all these attacks, the politicians try to divide workers against each other, by fomenting racism against black workers and immigrant workers. And they constantly cut women workers’ rights to control their own bodies and get the health care they need.
No, working people cannot afford to play the capitalists’ waiting game. The longer we wait, the greater the toll the capitalists take on us, the more misery and despair spread and the more people die.
All working people deserve a decent standard of living and all the things that come with it. The money and wealth are there. The workers created it. But it’s in the hands of the capitalists and they aren’t giving it back.
The only way we can get it is to organize our power. Workers can build their own party, a working class party. A working class party can run workers’ own candidates in elections in order to expose the politicians’ lies. It can be used to organize workers’ fights and overcome the divisions that the capitalists and their politicians impose to weaken our solidarity.
Apr 29, 2019
The drug treatment Truvada for PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by more than 99%. By blocking the spread of new infections, it could be used to end the HIV epidemic.
But over the years the number of new HIV infections has not been reduced, and remains about 40,000 per year.
With a treatment this effective, why is HIV still an epidemic? Because the Truvada treatment is not widely available to the population due to its astronomical cost. From its manufacturing cost of $6, Gilead Science has inflated the price of the drug to $1600- $2000 per month. As a result, in 2016 1.1 million people needed to be treated with the drug, but less than 10% received it.
Usually pharmaceutical companies say their high prices are due to large research and development costs. But the research for Truvada was almost fully financed by the U.S. government.
A team of researchers with the Centers for Disease Control received more than $50 million in Federal grants to develop this drug. It was patented by the U.S. government in 2015.
Since then, Gilead Science has been ignoring the government patent and selling the drug. But the government has never seriously challenged the patent violation. As a result, Gilead has a monopoly on the drug. Sales earned it $3 billion in 2018, and not one penny has gone back to the U.S. government!
Truvada is just one example of government-funded research going to help corporate profits. The Centers for Disease Control and National Institute of Health have patented more than 2500 “inventions” since 1976. All of these were created with U.S. tax dollars. Government officials freely admit they routinely license new drug formulas to private companies, which promptly market them to maximize their profit.
Utilizing existing medical science, the HIV epidemic could be stopped in its tracks. But in this society, profits for companies like Gilead come first. Meanwhile, people are dying, deprived of the treatment they need.
Apr 29, 2019
Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor of Chicago in a landslide at the beginning of April. Many who had hopes in her as a reformer were excited when she came out saying two multi-billion-dollar development projects should be given a closer look – that there should be more affordable housing, and fewer taxpayer dollars involved.
It took just 48 hours for her to pop that illusion.
A whole drama unfolded in the city council, with a lame-duck Rahm Emanuel bowing to her wishes by postponing a city council vote for a massive tax handout to the developers. He pushed back the vote . . . by 48 hours.
Is 48 hours enough time to thoroughly go through hundreds of pages of complicated financing? To do what they call “due diligence?” Is it long enough to see that 1.6 billion in property taxes is well spent? Obviously – no.
But it IS enough time for the developers to get a meeting with Lightfoot, and to impress on her how much money is in this project. And to give a small increase in the amounts dedicated to “minority and women contractors,” so Lightfoot can say she got something. By the end of the 48 hours, Lightfoot changed her tune, followed promptly by the vote.
The lightning turnaround showed that just like Emanuel, Lightfoot wants Chicago open for business – and that means opening the city’s coffers to every developer that comes calling.
Apr 29, 2019
California would collect 16 billion dollars more in taxes this year if it weren’t for corporate tax breaks, according to the California Finance Department.
Out of this amount, 6.6 billion dollars alone go to companies’ coffers as a result of corporate tax loopholes. The so-called “water’s edge provision,” for example, which allows certain companies to choose their method of taxation, amounts to a 2.2-billion-dollar gift to multinational corporations. Another big gift to big business is the research and development tax credit, to the tune of 1.6 billion dollars.
Then there are the sales tax exemptions – like the one on animals and plants used for food, which adds up to 634 million dollars; or the 172-million-dollar one for farm equipment; or the exemption for computer software, which state officials estimate is more than 100 million dollars a year. All together, the Finance Department says, state sales tax exemptions add up to 9.6 billion dollars.
But that’s only the beginning. The state’s income tax loopholes amount to 49 billion dollars this year! How much of it is gobbled up by big business? We are not told a figure. But we know that only about 8 percent of it, or four billion dollars, goes to homeowners – which indicates, no doubt, that tens of billions of dollars more in handouts are also ending up in the coffers of some big companies.
It takes a simple majority vote in the California legislature to pass a tax break, but a two-thirds vote is needed to cancel it – which, by itself, tells you what your elected representatives do in Sacramento. They shovel billions of dollars of tax money to big capitalists, while they starve the state’s public schools, neglect the maintenance of the state’s infrastructure, and cut back on practically every service the state is supposed to provide to the population.
Apr 29, 2019
Boeing has been shoddily manufacturing its technologically most advanced plane, the Dreamliner, with weak oversight that can cause serious flight safety problems, according to the New York Times. The 787 Dreamliner was the first airliner manufactured with a lightweight carbon fiber fuselage and many other technological innovations intended to make it one of the most advanced aircraft in the world.
Because the plane was designed to be 20% more fuel-efficient mainly due to high-tech lightweight construction, the Dreamliner became a hit with carriers. When Boeing started to manufacture the Dreamliner in its plant in Everett, Washington in 2007, airlines ordered hundreds of the planes, which cost more than $200 million each. To respond to this high demand, Boeing constructed another plant near Charleston, South Carolina in 2009.
But, because of many manufacturing and supplier issues, the delivery of Dreamliners to the airlines was delayed by four years to 2011. And with Boeing's delivery of Dreamliners delayed, its commercial rival Airbus developed a new plane, the A350, to compete. Facing that competition, Boeing pushed its work force to quickly turn out Dreamliners by cutting many different corners, including manufacturing defective planes, leaving debris in planes that can cause lethal safety issues during flights, and pressuring its workforce not to report manufacturing and safety violations. At the same time, Boeing said it was eliminating about a hundred quality control positions in its Charleston plant!
“They're trying to shorten the time of manufacturing. But are you willing to sacrifice the safety of our product to maximize profit?” asked a former Boeing mechanic.
The answer to this rhetorical question was obviously YES. Maximizing profit trumped everything else for Boeing bosses, endangering the lives of the passengers and crew.
Apr 29, 2019
Drawing electoral districts to deliberately discriminate against voters of one party or another was just ruled unconstitutional by a 3-judge federal panel in Michigan. When redistricting was last done – after the 2010 Census – by the Republican controlled legislature and Governor’s office, the results went way beyond what was normal bias. One political scientist testified at trial that Michigan Senate maps “have more pro-Republican bias than 99.7 percent of all state Legislature maps across the country in the last 45 years.”
Damning emails submitted as part of the League of Women Voters lawsuit exposed the contempt for ordinary people that went into the redistricting process. One Republican email talked about jamming Democrats into only four Congressional Districts. This “makes it easier to cram ALL of the Dem garbage in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties into only four districts.” Another email said the goal was to “increase the black population in the black districts.”
The judges ordered the Republican legislature to produce new voting maps before Aug. 1, 2019 – meaning new voting districts would be in place before the 2020 elections. Republicans say they will appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This order for immediate redistricting is separate but somewhat parallel with a measure passed in 2018 by 61 percent of Michigan voters. That referendum aimed to set up a new system for redistricting that would lessen the control of political parties – starting in 2021.
Yes, gerrymandering is wrong and needs to be addressed. Yet it is an illusion to believe that drawing up “fair districts” will lead to “fair elections.”
The massive sums of money the owners of capital pour into elections will continue to allow them to wield political power. The gerrymandering that has become routine across the U.S. – with abuses by Democratic and Republican politicians alike – won’t be stopped for as long as the two party system predominates.
The old joke that the rich have, “the best democracy money can buy”, is funny because it is true!
Apr 29, 2019
The following is reprinted from the Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter of April 15, 2019, put out by the French revolutionary group of the same name.
Over the last few weeks, in Algeria and Sudan, the population has mobilized massively and with determination, to the point of shaking long-established dictatorships.
In Algeria, the protests began in February and the population has managed to make Bouteflika resign. He had been in power for 20 years. The new government has promised to hold a presidential election on July 4. They hope to channel the population’s desire for change, and to have someone elected who will ensure the regime continues on.
The demonstrations that took place throughout the country on April 12 make it clear that the majority of the population will not be content with just a cosmetic change – and that they have no trust whatsoever in the men who, running the country with Bouteflika, repressed opposition systematically.
Their distrust is more than justified: not only is the clique of privileged people and wheeler-dealers at the head of the state still in place, but so is the whole repressive apparatus of the dictatorship, starting with the army. And even if the army has chosen not to repress the protests so far, its leaders have shown on many occasions in the past that they are ready to fire at the population.
In Sudan, over the past four months, demonstrations have been held against rising prices for basic necessities, such as sugar and bread, whose prices have tripled. Despite the repression, protests continued to grow. Finally, on April 11, the army decided to abandon the dictator who had been in power for 30 years and organized a coup to establish a “Transitional Military Council.”
Thousands of demonstrators continued to take to the streets, protesting against what they considered “a photocopy of the regime.” They defied the curfew established by the new authority and forced the newly-installed head of the military council to resign. The Sudanese demonstrators chanted proudly, “We’ve overthrown two presidents in two days.”
The workers and the poor who have mobilized so massively against the dictatorships in Algeria and Sudan have shown that, when they fight collectively and with determination, they represent a huge force.
But what is happening in Algeria and in Sudan also shows us that this force can only be effective if it is guided by a policy corresponding to the class interests of the exploited. To do this, the exploited need to have an organization that represents those interests and provides a perspective for the whole of society.
The bourgeoisie and the privileged classes at large have a political arsenal and repressive forces at their disposal to defend their domination. Those political and military agents have the means to invent all kinds of tricks to deceive the poor and lead them into dead ends.
And if those tricks don’t work, they’ll use repression. Right now the army is taking the lead in order to offer a solution to the ruling class. It does this in a more roundabout way in Algeria and a more brutal way in Sudan.
The main lesson in this for the exploited classes, and above all for the proletariat, is that they must have organizations that are equally capable of playing such a leading role. This begins by building a party that the workers and the poor can identify with, a party capable of setting a working-class policy against the political choices of the bourgeoisie.
The other lesson is that the privileged class never gives up without a fight. “Who has iron, has bread” said Blanqui, a French revolutionary of the 19th century, explaining why the oppressed need to take arms. What happened in Egypt in the years following 2011 is an illustration of what oppressors do to an unarmed people.
The struggle that the workers in Algeria and Sudan are waging today is also ours. We, the workers of France, will have to engage in a similar struggle to overthrow the political and economic power of the privileged class, to put an end to the stranglehold of capital over our lives.
Apr 29, 2019
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the French revolutionary workers’ group of that name.
On April 22, Trump announced the end of the exceptions to the U.S. embargo against Iranian oil that had been granted to eight countries last November. Immediately, the price of oil shot up, reaching $74 a barrel.
Under the pretext of weakening the regime of the Islamist mullahs, Trump further squeezes the Iranian population and takes aim at the European and Asian competitors of the U.S. capitalists. Ever since he renounced the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, his administration has imposed, step-by-step, a series of embargos.
While the Iranian regime that Trump affirms he wants to make fall is the direct target of these measures, they also hit the companies of the other western powers. All of those who do business with Iran and who use the dollar and the U.S. banking system for this business are threatened with giant fines. These threats have pushed many firms, including Total, British Airways, and Air France, to suspend all business with Iran.
On November 4, when he put in place the second phase of sanctions, Trump granted exemptions to China, India, Turkey, and South Korea. He was trying not to shut off the flow of Iranian oil too quickly – it went from three million barrels a day at the start of 2018 to 1.5 million today – in order to avoid a spike in prices. In parallel, he tried to haggle over commercial compensations for these countries. Trump demonstrated his strength not just to the Islamist mullahs who rule Iran, but also to all the political leaders of the planet.
This time once again, in addition to promoting the interests of U.S. oil companies that have increasing amounts of oil and gas to export, Trump is undoubtedly looking to force China or India to accept an unfavorable trade deal, in return for access to Iranian oil.
As always with embargos, it is the Iranian population that is paying the highest price. They already suffer from the dictatorship of the mullahs, corruption, and the permanent privileges of the regime’s dignitaries. The embargo has already caused 25% inflation and aggravated the shortage of food. And on top of these problems, for several weeks the country has been hit by enormous rainstorms that have caused massive flooding and destruction in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces. More than 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes and two million are in need of humanitarian aid. But the embargo on financial transactions prevents this aid from arriving. A payment from the Red Cross to the Iranian Red Crescent was blocked. Many countries have sent shipments of material aid, but they are tiny compared to the massive needs of the population.
Trump’s embargo is such a huge attack on the population that if the Islamist regime of the mullahs was not so hated and weakened, he might even reinforce it.
Apr 29, 2019
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
Ukraine’s economy and social conditions became so bad that more than three million of its 45 million people moved permanently to other countries to work. Another seven to nine million moved temporarily. Workers moved to nearby countries or other countries speaking similar languages, like Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. They work in construction, cleaning, retail, nursing, day labor, or as taxi drivers, technicians, and so on.
Half a million Ukrainians work in Poland, according to a Polish bosses’ association. But the real number is probably double that, because of undocumented workers and those on very short-term contracts.
However, Polish bosses are worried about running out of workers! After two decades of rhetoric, the European Union finally decided to allow Ukrainians to enter its member countries without getting visas.
Many Polish and other Eastern European workers have moved to countries in the European Union to find work with pay not as low as back home. So, all throughout the economy Polish bosses have had to replace Polish labor with Ukrainian labor. For the bosses it would be a catastrophe if this until-recently captive but skilled and low-paid workforce chooses to move nearby to Germany instead! After all, Germany also needs workers, and the pay is three times higher. And German bosses got Berlin to change the law to make it easier for them to hire workers from outside the EU.
So Polish bosses are pressuring their government to make it easier for Ukrainian workers to stay in Poland, to become citizens, and maybe even to get raises!
This has nothing to do with respect for workers. The Polish bosses are like the Czech and Slovak bosses who pushed similar reforms. They need labor, the source of all their profit.
They do not care that their need for labor undercuts the nationalistic speechifying of their own politicians. For years, politicians in Warsaw have churned out xenophobic rhetoric to deny admitting as many refugees as European officials demand, and hypocritically claiming they already host one million Ukrainian refugees.
Apr 29, 2019
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the French revolutionary workers’ group of that name.
On April 10, a team of astronomers released the first image ever obtained of a black hole, situated at the center of another galaxy 50 million light-years away.
The image shows a bright halo around the black hole, which is itself invisible. A black hole is an object so massive and dense that light cannot escape from it. But by showing all the material around it, the black hole appears in contrast and is rendered visible. You can see a ring with a very particular form created in the extreme conditions around a black hole, which curves light rays.
What seemed like science fiction has become reality. One hundred years ago, Einstein’s theory of relativity predicted the existence of black holes, but for a long time they were considered hypothetical curiosities. Then, scientists discovered indirect evidence of their existence. Astronomers observed particularly intense emissions of x-rays coming from the centers of galaxies, including ours, and thought that they were probably evidence of giant black holes. In 2016, scientists detected the gravitational waves emitted by the collision of two distant black holes. But this is the first time we have a direct image.
This is very important for scientists because black holes are still very mysterious objects that give us access to conditions that are impossible to reproduce in the laboratory.
This project was made possible by the collaboration over many years of sixty teams of scientists in twenty different countries, of work in common of 200 researchers and other indispensable teams supporting their work. Their work was like building a device so precise that it would allow you to read a newspaper in New York while standing in Paris. This was done by synchronizing with extreme precision a network of eight observatories spread out over four continents, in Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Hawaii, and near the South Pole, forming together a sort of telescope at the scale of the earth. It was necessary to load the data on specially made hard drives, transported on airplanes, because there was too much information to transmit over the internet.
Social media gave this discovery the face of Katie Bouman, a young, enthusiastic scientist who wrote one of the computer programs that made it possible to build the image. One only has to share her joy in this success to see the forward march of humanity, and gain a perspective of a world without borders that could be ours today. Capitalism, with money and individualism as its sole ideals, its injustices and its barbarity, can only appear more shocking by contrast.
Apr 29, 2019
In 2017, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, asked to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. She said these were carried out by all sides, including the U.S. and the U.S.-backed government.
She said, “There is reasonable basis to believe that, since May 2003, members of the U.S. armed forces and the CIA have committed war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by U.S. authorities.” And she submitted more than 20,000 pages of evidence to back up her charges.
But no surprise – the U.S. blocked this investigation. First, they revoked Bensouda’s visa, effectively kicking her out of the country. Then, in April of this year, the judges at the court rejected her request to investigate. They noted that they have been unable to get the U.S. to cooperate, and said the ICC should “use its resources prioritizing activities that would have a better chance to succeed.”
Yes, the ICC has a better chance of “success” – but only if its investigations fit the interests of U.S. imperialism!
Apr 29, 2019
Seniors testify repeatedly before congressional committees about high drug prices. Sixty million people are receiving Medicare, but Congress still blocks the program from getting lower drug prices.
It took 40 years to get drug coverage for seniors, yes, 40 years after Medicare began. Then Congress allowed the Veterans Administration to negotiate for the lowest-possible drug prices for veterans. Yet Congress blocked negotiations to help lower prices for seniors or disabled people.
Congress lets for-profit companies, so-called pharmacy benefits managers, negotiate these prices. Did drug prices go down? Of course not! Big pharmaceutical companies raised their prices more slowly due to some bad publicity. Meanwhile, pharmacy benefits managers continue to “lower” prices by taking some drugs off prescription plans. Too bad for those who need a certain drug.
Pay up or die – say elected politicians. They get more than 200 million dollars a year from Big Pharma’s lobbying. Those dollars keep drug prices high, too high for millions of people who need them to live.
Apr 29, 2019
The measles outbreak in the U.S. continues to spread, striking around 700 people in 22 states. Some localities have finally started to recognize its seriousness and begun instituting strong measures to combat the threat of a broader epidemic.
Los Angeles County, for example, took the step of quarantining more than 900 students and staff at two universities there, UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles. People can remain quarantined for up to three weeks or until they are able to prove they’ve been vaccinated. The county is also offering free measles vaccines at its 14 public health clinics.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered residents of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood to get vaccinated or face a fine of $1,000. The neighborhood has a large Hasidic Jewish community, and has been the target of a campaign falsely telling people the measles vaccine contains pig DNA, which would make it off-limits for religious Jews. The city has offered vaccines at “no or low cost.”
Even Donald Trump has found it necessary to walk back his previous false claims linking vaccines to autism to now tell people to get vaccinated.
It’s good that some of these measures are finally being taken, but it’s little bit too little, too late. It’s like putting one’s finger in a dike while it’s bursting at the seams. What measures are taken, including requirements for vaccination, vary by state and locality, as does the availability of free vaccines. And what are those who wind up quarantined supposed to do about jobs and school?
Measles was declared eradicated in 2000, but not enough was done to prevent its return. Public health education campaigns to combat the various misinformation efforts could have been carried out long before the current outbreak. Vaccines could have been given cheaply and conveniently for everyone, and “mandatory” requirements more strictly enforced.
Measles’ return is a symptom of a society moving backward instead of forward.
Apr 29, 2019
On April 20, the FBI arrested Larry Hopkins in New Mexico. He is the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots, one of the vigilante groups that patrols the U.S. border with Mexico. He was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
The United Constitutional Patriots attracted particular scrutiny after posting videos to Facebook showing armed men stopping and holding people trying to cross. One video posted on April 16 shows a large group of migrants with a number of children, huddled on the ground in the darkness, guarded by unseen armed men, before Border Patrol agents arrive to take them all away. These videos went viral, revealing the reality of the border, prompting Hopkins’ arrest.
Vigilantes like Hopkins have no doubt been emboldened by Donald Trump’s recent attacks on migrants. But, in fact, both political parties advocate “border security” and both have and still do carry out policies that kill migrants.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 7,216 people died crossing the border between 1998 and 2017. At least 260 died in 2018 alone. And these official numbers vastly undercount the number of deaths. A CNN report in May 2018 found 564 additional deaths that the border patrol did not count. And this excludes all those who die on the Mexican side, or who die in the desert and are never found.
Today, the majority of border-crossers seek to find a U.S. agent to surrender to and legally apply for asylum. Yet they are blocked from getting to border crossings by Mexican police who are cooperating with the U.S. to prevent asylum-seekers from even being able to file. And the safe places to cross are also blocked by walls and agents.
As a result, migrants are forced deeper and deeper into the desert. U.S. border patrol agents have had a policy for decades now of destroying food and water left out for migrants in the desert. So migrants die of exposure and thirst, or they are forced to turn to violent smugglers to find a way across – smugglers who sometimes kidnap them for ransom or abandon them, increasing the risk.
And even as migration from Mexico has slowed, increasing numbers of women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador keep coming, despite these dangers, because their situation at home is intolerable.
Apr 29, 2019
The situation faced by workers and the poor in Honduras is intolerable. Grinding poverty and violence were bred by the U.S. wars of the 1980s. In 2009, the U.S. supported a right-wing military coup. Since then, a bad situation has gotten even worse.
Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The U.S.-backed Honduran government is implicated at every level. Government-linked gangs rape, torture and murder with impunity. In June, an agent in charge of investigating the killings of women was herself murdered, and the Honduran equivalent of the FBI tried to cover it up as a suicide. It turned out she had discovered that the head of the agency was working with the gangs.
This is why so many flee – and will continue to push toward U.S. borders in hopes of a chance to live away from the violence.
Apr 29, 2019
The Trump administration will issue 63,000 H-2B visas this summer – nearly twice as many as the 33,000 it had initially planned for.
The H-2B visa, also called a “guest visa,” is a temporary work permit. Typically, businesses such as hotels, amusement parks and landscapers use H-2B holders as seasonal workers, and so companies apply to the federal government for the number of visas they want. Last year, about 80 percent of the H-2B visas were issued for workers from Mexico and Central America.
This surge in H-2B visas comes in the middle of a massive propaganda war against immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America, led by the same Donald Trump whose administration is issuing these temporary work permits.
But it’s not just Trump. Congress, with bipartisan support, authorized the Trump administration to issue 135,000 H-2B visas this year, more than twice as many as the yearly quota of 66,000.
U.S.-based companies have always used temporary workers from across the border to fill low-paying jobs; and the politicians who run the federal government have always obliged, by providing legal cover to the companies’ vicious exploitation of migrant workers. One well-known example is the “Bracero Program,” which ran between 1942 and 1964 (bracero means “one who has arms to do work” in Spanish).
This isn’t really a contradiction for Trump or any other politician. Republican and Democratic leaders don’t really want to stop the flow of immigrant workers across the border – because big business, whose interests both big parties represent, benefits from the exploitation of this low-wage work force. But the attack on immigrant workers is useful for the bosses, because it increases the pressure on immigrant workers and makes it easier for companies to pull down wages – for ALL workers, immigrant as well as native-born.
The ONLY solution for workers is to insist on the free movement of ALL workers everywhere they want or need to go – with FULL citizenship rights, wherever they go. We have no interest in being pitted against our fellow workers from any country.