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
Jun 24, 2019
President Trump said he authorized, then called off, military bombings on Iran. Supposedly, the U.S. was retaliating for Iran shooting down a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, just off the coast of Iran. The Iranian government says it was in Iranian territory, while the U.S. says it was in international waters – but in any case, there is no doubt that the drone was flying very close to Iran, and that its purpose was to spy on Iran.
Trump said he called off the bombings because they would be “not proportionate.”
No shit, it was not proportionate! Neither was sending 2,500 troops and a fleet including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, and missiles into the Persian Gulf and parking it off the Iranian coast!
Imagine if Iran had flown a surveillance drone off the coast of New York City or Washington, D.C. – is there any question that the U.S. would shoot it down? Even IF it were in international waters? Yet the U.S. doesn’t think twice about sending its troops and fleets halfway around the world and camping out just outside of another country, with the sole intent of threatening that country and its people! But Iran’s SMALL defense of its own borders, in shooting down an unmanned drone, is called a provocation and an act of aggression!
No – the U.S. is the aggressor in the Gulf, just as it is around the world.
THEY destroy the Iranian economy with their trade embargoes. THEY threaten any other countries, including their allies, who want to continue to trade with Iran. And THEY are the ones who have sent a fleet and threaten to attack and invade.
The U.S. has provoked Iran’s actions, not the other way around.
Democrats have focused on the mess that Trump has made of relations with Iran, pulling out of the nuclear deal and raising threats and trade embargoes against the country. And there is no question that Trump has added a certain volatility and chaos to the situation, as he does in so many situations.
But the Democrats do not disagree fundamentally with Trump’s overall aims. The purpose of the nuclear deal was to “contain” and “control” Iran, to help support certain “moderate” elements in Iranian politics – in other words, politicians more cooperative with U.S. imperialism.
Democrats and Republicans completely agree with the perspective that Iran is the “danger” to be controlled, one way or another. And why? Not because the rulers are dictatorial, or because they are religious fundamentalists, or because they are aggressive toward their neighboring countries. Every one of those qualities describe the rulers of Saudi Arabia, which is one of the U.S.’s staunchest allies in the region. The U.S. continues to support Saudi Arabia in the bloodbath it has inflicted on Yemen, its murder of political dissidents like Jamal Khashoggi, as well as its imprisoning and executing women as part of its fundamentalism and terrorism. They disregard these crimes because what is important to the U.S. ruling class is Saudi Arabian support for U.S. corporate oil interests in the region.
That is what U.S. foreign policy is about, whether headed by Republicans or Democrats, Trump or Obama: supporting U.S. imperialism, U.S. corporate profits, around the world.
U.S. imperialism straddles the world. But in seeking to control the world for its own profits, the U.S. ruling class has created powderkegs all over the world. They invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and those conflicts have destabilized the entire region. Even now, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, they continue to occupy those countries.
Trump may have backed away from this most recent bombing threat, but the situation is still a powderkeg. The U.S. fleet is still in the Gulf. Iran is still desperate to open lines of trade for its oil. A shouting war can turn into a shooting war very quickly.
And if war does break out, who will pay the price? Who always pays the price? Not only the population of the country the U.S. attacks, but the working class right here, sent to fight and die as the footsoldiers for U.S. imperialism.
Workers here have no interest in supporting U.S. attacks on other countries. Our biggest enemy is right here at home.
Jun 24, 2019
Illinois legalized marijuana at the end of the legislative session this month, a policy that will take effect at the beginning of next year. The change came packaged along with a wide range of taxes, as well as the expansion of legalized gambling in the state.
Since the early seventies, marijuana possession has served as the pretext to snare millions into the clutches of the criminal justice system. Police have conducted countless stop-and-frisk searches on the streets for small amounts of marijuana – with the scourge of the resulting incarceration falling most heavily on the black population.
Did the politicians just discover this intolerable injustice? Are they finally waking up to the deep racism ingrained in that policy of mass incarceration? Not at all. In fact, the main motivation for legalizing marijuana is to bring more money into the state’s coffers. That is, the political class is perfectly willing to balance the budget by allowing more of the state’s population to get doped up.
We cannot pretend that marijuana consumption is harmless. Many have family members who are habitual users, and understand these users are addicted. People addicted to marijuana may not spiral downwards dramatically, as happens with heroin and opioids. But it certainly numbs people to the world – and serves as a way to get people to accept this society as it is.
The politicians could find ways to tax the wealthy and the corporations. Instead they do this – what amounts to a tax, both financial and moral, on the working population.
Jun 24, 2019
In a 2016 interview, Nixon’s advisor John Ehrlichman spelled out the reasoning behind starting the war on drugs:
"You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
Jun 24, 2019
Voters in Los Angeles rejected a ballot measure that would have increased property taxes, supposedly to help out L.A. schools. “Measure EE” got only about 46 percent of the vote – far below the two-thirds vote it needed to pass.
This “no” vote is not a surprise, considering that Measure EE would have imposed a flat tax of 16 cents per square foot on all property owners. It is a regressive tax that makes working-class homeowners pay at the same rate as wealthy property owners or big companies. Working people are no doubt quite fed up with these tax increases. Sales tax increases, property tax increases. The Los Angeles school board itself has bombarded voters with seven tax increase proposals since 1997!
But on top of that, the pretext of this tax increase was one big, obvious lie to begin with. District and county officials shamelessly claimed that the L.A. school district did not have enough money to pay for what it promised in the contract it signed after a teachers’ strike in January. Never mind that the meager “raises” and “staffing improvements” amount to no more than 175 million dollars over the next two years – less than 10 percent of the 1.8-billion-dollar cash surplus the district is sitting on!
Shamefully, school officials had the active support of the leaders of UTLA, the L.A. teachers’ union, as well as Local 99 of the SEIU, which is the largest union representing non-teaching district workers. Union leaders campaigned for a tax on working people, including their own members. Covering up for their allies, California Democrats who run the state government.
These politicians and officials reserve those big budget surpluses for handouts to their bosses, big capitalists. The education of working-class children is simply not something they want to put any money into.
Barely two weeks after the failure of Measure EE, the L.A. school board launched its next attack: it announced dozens of layoffs and at the same time added several new managers with six-figure salaries to its already top-heavy administration!
Jun 24, 2019
The FBI and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) are going after scientists of Chinese origin, who are researching to cure cancer, according to Bloomberg News. The FBI and the NIH do not care whether these scientists are naturalized U.S. citizens, have been born in the U.S., or have U.S. ancestry going back for many generations.
One example of the government target is the cancer researcher Xifeng Wu, who has been working at the research institution MD Anderson (Houston, Texas) for more than 27 years. She has been investigating the causes of cancer related to human behavior and the environment, like smoking, eating habits, environmental pollution, stress, etc. The mission of such research is to reduce risk and save lives by discovering what triggers the cancer. As such, these discoveries are not patentable, sellable, or stealable.
Such discoveries are usually published in the scientific journals and available to any person in the world who has access to these journals and fundamental training to understand what the published articles explain. That is, the discoveries of the scientists like Wu are freely available to every human being on this earth. We need such collaborative research in which scientists of the whole world participate so that we can find an effective treatment for very deadly and difficult diseases like cancer.
Both the FBI and the NIH admit that this is basic scientific research and not classified. But, this does not prevent the FBI and the NIH from branding scientists like Wu as scientific double agents, although they have not been charged with stealing anyone's ideas. Now, more than 5 million Chinese U.S. citizens, and the 130,000 Chinese graduate students and researchers who work, study, and do science in the U.S. every year, are targeted by the U.S. government for just being scientists.
One of these scientists says that the FBI agents visited his home and wanted to know, in effect, are you now or have you ever been more committed to curing cancer in China than in the U.S.? Such questioning is crazy because if a cure for a Chinese person can be developed, it can easily be applied to another human, including an American person. But, all of this is part of the bullying the U.S. government is carrying out against other countries, in particular against China.
The U.S. government wants to rule over China, economically, socially, technologically and scientifically; and is waging a war to achieve it. This war can be in the form of trade war, or can have another form, like in the case of the scientist Xifeng Wu, outright racial discrimination. It can be a war of weapons in the future. These are the wars of the rich people. We are working people. We are the ones who can cure this cancer.
Jun 24, 2019
Detroit had 1,884 reverse mortgage foreclosures from 2013 to 2017, the highest number of any city in the country. It was certainly not alone; Chicago, Baltimore, Miami and Philadelphia rounded out the top five.
These types of foreclosures just add to the ways poor, and most frequently black, homeowners in Detroit have been forced out of their homes in huge numbers over the last couple of decades. The rate accelerated even more after the financial crisis of 2008. It’s a big reason behind the drop in Detroit’s population during this period.
Mortgage companies target homeowners having financial problems to offer them reverse mortgages. They claim they are a way to allow a homeowner to stay in their homes and borrow money based on equity they have accumulated over the years after paying down a portion of their mortgage loans. The arrangement “allows” the homeowner to stop making mortgage payments, so long as they continue to maintain the home and keep up on property taxes and mortgage insurance payments.
That’s the catch, however. One missed payment for property taxes or insurance can trigger a foreclosure. Also, when a homeowner moves out, whether because of death, financial difficulties or any other reason, they, or their families, are responsible for whatever is still owed on the mortgage. Some of this can be made up by the sale of the home, but with home prices in cities like Detroit declining, that doesn’t always help much. In addition, mortgage lenders add on fees of up to $15,000 to start the reverse mortgage process.
At one time, property taxes and insurance payments, at least in some cases, were simply rolled into the outstanding mortgage balance. This decreased the likelihood of a missed payment. This is no longer the case, however.
Reverse mortgages are just one more way financial institutions profit off of poor and working class people who start off hoping to own a home and pass something on to their children. With the wealth that working people create, we shouldn’t have to depend on these types of scams to know we and our families will have a place to live.
Jun 24, 2019
Democrats in the U.S. Congress have introduced a bill to form a commission to study authorization of reparations or compensation to descendants of slaves for all the suffering imposed throughout the period of U.S. slavery. This includes its lingering effects, peonage and institutional racism and violence. They have also included a demand for a public apology to the descendants of slaves.
In fact, a reparations bill has little chance of passing, since the Republican-controlled Senate will block anything the Democrats present this year.
Nor does it seem reasonable that the Democratic Party, which historically was the party of slavery, the party that fought to reimpose slavery on freed slaves in the South, will ever be the party that frees society from the stigmas of slavery.
The current Democratic Party has had its foot on the necks of black and white workers for the 150 year period following the Civil War. When they were not the majority party in office, still they maintained the rights of the most bigoted, racist, exploitative capitalists to rule, hand-in-hand with the Republicans.
They have had plenty of time and opportunity to pursue and secure reparations – especially when they dominated both houses of Congress and the White House. It never happened. Why should we believe it will happen now?
This year marks an important anniversary. Exactly 400 years ago, in 1619, the first black people were ripped out of Africa and brought to Jamestown, in what was then the colony of Virginia, to work as slaves.
Thus, the birth of the capitalist class in North America represented a human catastrophe on two continents, in America and Africa.
The institution of slavery was at the very basis of wealth and power, and not just for the slaveholders. By 1860, that is, the start of the Civil War, almost the entire U.S. economy revolved around slavery. This wealth came first of all from what the slaves themselves produced. To the capitalists, the value of the slaves themselves was worth “more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together,” wrote Yale historian David W. Blight. On top of that, the capitalists profited from mortgages on the purchase of slaves. They sold insurance policies against the untimely death of a slave and the loss of potential profits. Slavery also helped finance government operations, since slave sales were taxed and notarized.
The Civil War might have ended slavery. But to uproot slavery, the capitalist class would have had to impose a major land reform, by breaking up the old plantations and turning them over to small farmers, both black and white. It also would have entailed enormous investments in infrastructure and social spending, such as public education and health care, that is, what was being done in the North.
Instead, in the decades that followed the Civil War, the political representatives of the capitalist class in the North eventually allowed the former slaveholders to control most of their old landholdings and gain their profits by keeping a large labor force to work the land as cheaply as possible. That fell to the ex-slaves, who were pushed into a system of sharecropping and forced convict labor. To keep that labor force on the land, another system of terror was established, that went by the name of Jim Crow, which depended on lynching and terror, imposed by both law enforcement authorities and the KKK.
Beginning a little more than a century ago, black people began the Great Migration, when a big part of the black workforce made its way out of the South and migrated into all the big urban centers in the North and West. Government officials, civic associations, and banks pushed black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. They were awarded the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets.
This discrimination was rooted in federal law. The laws that were enacted during the New Deal of the 1930s excluded farm and domestic labor from Social Security old age retirement benefits, which meant that 70 per cent of all black workers were not covered. Nor were most black workers eligible for unemployment insurance. Through redlining, the federal government, banks, and insurance companies excluded black people from federal subsidies for home mortgages and loans, while they were charged more for insurance. And starting in the 1990s, when finance companies finally opened up the mortgage market to black people, the banks and mortgage companies ripped black people off with sub-prime and reverse mortgages that led to record numbers of foreclosures and homelessness.
Thus, the greatest poverty and the most unemployment continues to be concentrated amongst the black population. And so has the greatest violence, from police shootings to mass imprisonment.
Other parts of the working class have certainly been brutally exploited and oppressed. And certainly, immigrant groups that have come to this country were slated to work the worst jobs and often had to endure virulent discrimination. The difference was that their children and grandchildren were able to gain the legal and social status that black people have been historically excluded from.
So, the greatest violence is still reserved for the part of the working class which is made up of black people. The repercussions from America’s history of slavery continue to strike the black population right up this day.
But in the process of imposing these brutal and barbaric conditions in order to increase their profits, the capitalist class has also produced its own grave diggers, those who have every reason to not just oppose, but to overthrow capitalist society.
History is filled with the organizing of black people to revolt, despite the harshest, most impossible conditions. The history of slavery is the history of slave revolts, including the raising of slave armies under Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey. During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands escaped the plantations in what was a mass general strike by the slaves, and fought in the Northern armies. Lincoln recognized that the ex-slaves were the key to the defeat of the Confederacy.
After the Civil War, it was the ex-slaves who led the way, forging an alliance with the poor white farmers to impose sweeping reforms on the ex-planter class, including public schools for the first time in the South.
And, though the capitalist class brought this brief period of radical Reconstruction to a close through terror and Jim Crow, the black population continued to fight back, including during the populist movements in the South of the late 19th century.
During the 20th century, the black migration reached into the cities of the North and West, that is, the very heart of the modern capitalist system, the centers of economic and political power. And while the capitalists and their government tried to segregate them into ghettos, it only led black people to organize, whether in the form of the Marcus Garvey movement, or in the decades during and after World War II against segregation and racism.
These movements culminated in the urban rebellions of the 1960s. No other movement in U.S. history achieved the scope and depth of these rebellions. Their revolutionary potential was illustrated by the fact that the revolts extended into the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, through smaller rebellions, such as by the fragging of officers and outright mutinies.
These revolts illustrated that the most oppressed layers of the working class could bring other parts of the working class behind them. That meant they might not only have been able to impose temporary reforms, but might have overthrown capitalism itself.
The potential for revolution was there. But what was missing was a revolutionary organization for black workers, that could transmit to those fighting a clear understanding of where their actions were taking them, that in reality their fight was part of a broader class-wide fight against the capitalist class, a fight that could only end with the victory of either the capitalists or the workers.
Without that revolutionary working class organization, that movement could only be thrown back.
Today, we have been living through a long period of retreat and demoralization. But the worsening attacks of the capitalist class that fall most heavily on black workers will eventually provoke new revolts. What must be done to prepare for those revolts is to build what was missing before: a revolutionary party of the working class.
Jun 24, 2019
This article is translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers group of that name.
On Sunday, June 12, 2 million out of 7.4 million people in Hong Kong came out in the streets. They demanded the withdrawal of a proposed law that would allow the extradition of people living in Hong Kong.
The demonstrators demanded first of all the resignation of Carrie Lam, head of the government body of this special administrative region, a former British colony that returned to China in 1997 with a special legal code.
Carrie Lam’s announcement on June 15 that she was suspending this law, after a first massive demonstration on June 9, and then conflicts between demonstrators and the police on June 12 leading to 32 arrests, only reinforced the determination of her opponents. People on the street forced Carrie Lam to apologize for the arrests, and probably to definitively abandon the legal project.
Hong Kong’s middle class has mobilized a number of times since 1997, like in 2014 in the “umbrella movement,” to fight the interference of China and to defend the particular legal status of the city, but also to defend its privileged material situation vis-a-vis the rest of China.
It is certainly true that Carrie Lam is under the guidance of Xi Jinping, China’s leader, and that the Chinese state is a dictatorship with no pity for its opponents. But Hong Kong has little to offer in the way of democracy, no more when it was a British colony than since it has returned to China. It is run by a legislative council where only half the members are elected by universal suffrage, and the others are appointed by organizations of the bosses and professionals. Hong Kong is marked by profound social inequalities, the rich classes rule semi-officially, and not only because of their capital but also their political privileges; privileges that the democratic current mobilized these last days doesn’t even talk about contesting.
As for the law on extraditions, Hong Kong is regularly invoked by the World Bank and the IMF as a center of financial crimes and money laundering. On the other hand, the special legal system of Hong Kong, along with the maintenance of British rights, its role in the international financial system with its particular money, the Hong Kong dollar, and the great freedom it offers for the circulation of capital, serve the Chinese rulers well. Hong Kong serves as an entry point for foreign capital into China, and for Chinese capital to access the international financial markets. Two-thirds of the foreign investments in China pass through Hong Kong, while many Chinese businesses are listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, where they can absorb capital. The Chinese government has no interest in weakening or destabilizing this financial center.
It is legitimate that the Hong Kong population, including its privileged layers, mobilize to defend their democratic rights. But the Hong Kong population’s lot is directly linked with that of the Chinese population, and especially its millions of harshly exploited workers. No democratic right can be solid for the people of Hong Kong as long as the immense Chinese working class remains deprived of all rights.
Jun 24, 2019
Ten cops and a lieutenant surrounded a family in their car in an apartment complex parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I’m going to f___ing put a cap in your f___ing head!” the officer yelled with his gun drawn and aimed at Dravon Ames. Iesha Harper, pregnant, was in the back seat with her one-year-old in a car seat and her four-year-old daughter.
Apparently the 4-year-old shoplifted a “Barbie-like doll” from the Dollar Store. Millions of people have seen the video of this outrageous incident. The police pointing guns at the family, kicking Dravon, handcuffing him, forcing Iesha out of the car. She was forced to hand her babies to total strangers. Even after explaining she was pregnant, the cops still forced her to the ground and handcuffed her. The whole time, guns were aimed at this family.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued an apology, calling the police action “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional.” Those words do not even begin to describe what happened to this family on May 27th of this year. The police threatened their lives. They terrorized and traumatized this family. This is not new to black communities and goes back to the time of slavery.
The police function like an armed occupation force in working class and poor neighborhoods. Their intent is absolutely to control, subdue and intimidate. And no apology or excuse given by authorities can justify its existence.
Jun 24, 2019
The following article is the editorial from The SPARK’s workplace newsletters for the week of June 17, 2019.
Trump is a master of distraction and deception. Whatever it takes to grab a headline, he’ll do it: threats, misstatement of fact, outright lies. He lies as readily as some people blow air out of their behinds.
In the other corner are the Democrats – who talk about impeachment, and talk about it, and then talk about it some more. More smoke blown in the air, more distraction!
And none of it is real.
Here’s what’s real: The capitalist economy is in the tenth year of a so-called “recovery,” but working people haven’t recovered.
Two generations of people are living less well than their parents did, and they won’t ever catch up. Temporary jobs replace permanent jobs. Part-time jobs push out full-time jobs. Wal-mart wages pull down auto wages, and Amazon wages pull down Wal-mart’s. Older people who saw pensions evaporate are working at McDonald’s. Veterans of this country’s wars beg on street corners and live in make-shift tents under expressways.
The capitalist class calls this a “recovery.” Let’s call it what it is: a class war carried out by the capitalist class against all the people who work for their living.
For ten years, the capitalist class kept wages low, took the money stolen from our labor, used it to live in enormous luxury. They accumulated ever more wealth. They speculated, threatening the whole economy. They used their government and its military to steal wealth from other countries.
It’s a disaster, but it’s not natural. It comes from the way the economy is organized, from the way the capitalist class runs society.
We need a different kind of society, a society the working class could organize.
Working people can do this. There are more than two hundred million of us in this country who are part of the working class. We spend our days making things run in the factories, the offices, the stores, the warehouses, the restaurants, the little work shops. We are the ones on the building sites or running trucks over the road. We fix the electric lines and sewers. Our cousins are still on the farms, producing food. Some of us are retired. Some teach or care for children. Some are the children who, next year, will be the ones who work.
Taken all together, we are the majority, the very big majority. Our work is vitally necessary if the economy is to run. Let us be the ones who decide how it will run, who it will serve.
But capitalist society is not organized to let the majority decide. Yes, we can vote – in an election every four years. We can choose between candidates put up by two old parties that don’t represent us, choose between people funded by the millionaire class. We’ve been doing it for more than a hundred and fifty years. And it doesn’t work.
This is no democracy.
We do the work. We should decide how to organize it, what to produce, how to distribute what is produced so everyone shares in the wealth our labor creates.
The only way that working people will be able to make the decisions is when we bring our forces together to fight. And when we organize, we need all of us together: black, white, Latino, immigrants from countries all over the world.
Yes, maybe workers haven’t made a real fight lately. But working people will fight again. When we do, it won’t be enough just to fight. We must organize ourselves to take over and run the economy, the whole society, so it serves the population.
The capitalist class that runs the country today is an old worn-out used-up class, good for nothing other than to steal and to destroy.
Working people can fight, not only to bring up our standard of living. We can fight to get rid of a parasitic capitalist class. It’s the only way to defend ourselves.
We can organize society in our image, reflecting this multitudinous class we are. The future can belong to our class, the working class.
Jun 24, 2019
The Huffington Post has reported that a draft business plan it obtained shows that the USPS wants Congress to help it cut employee benefits!
Their plan would go after paid leave by combining vacation with sick days and shrinking the total number of days off.
It would raise the workers’ share of contributions to pension plans. And it would completely get rid of pensions for the newer workers, shifting them to a more unstable 401(k)-type system. Employees almost always end up paying more and more of the share of the 401(k) contributions, and they can be wiped out in a stock market downturn like we saw in 2008.
This is a planned attack on wages and retirement income. We can fully expect Congress to help the Post Office do it. The only thing that will protect workers is for us to make clear that these attacks will not be accepted.
Jun 24, 2019
Right as he was launching his 2020 re-election bid, Donald Trump tweeted out a threat to deport “millions” of immigrants. He announced a new planned raid for the weekend of June 23rd that would target undocumented families living in major cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, and Miami.
Yet, Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security secretary objected that the agency doesn’t know the addresses of most of these families, doesn’t have the resources to carry out the raids, and even if they did, once Trump put out his tweet, those targeted know when they have to hide.
Trump knows he can’t deport “millions” right now. In fact, in 2018, the Trump administration deported 256,000 people, compared to 410,000 under Obama in 2012.
Trump calculates that he can win votes by harping on the supposed threat that immigrants pose, and acting tough against them.
In reality, workers born here and immigrants have the same enemy: bosses like Donald Trump! They’re the ones who pay as low as possible, move jobs wherever wages are lowest, and drum up nationalist and racist rhetoric to set us against each other.
Jun 24, 2019
Trump loves to talk about violent gangs like MS-13 coming from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, to make it seem as if Central American migrants to the U.S. are a threat to us. In fact, the U.S. has been directly supporting the violent gang running Honduras ever since it took over in a coup ten years ago.
On June 28, 2009, the Honduran army kidnaped President Manuel Zelaya and whisked him out of the country, stopping at a U.S. air base to refuel. This put in power the traditional right-wing party, linked to the country’s richest businesspeople, the army, and the United States.
Already, Honduras was an impoverished, underdeveloped country dominated by businesses linked to the U.S. – especially agriculture and clothing manufacturing. But since the coup, the country has endured an increasingly repressive and corrupt regime. The economy has been systematically looted, and working class living standards destroyed. Violence and poverty have increased to the extent that, for a large portion of the population, the situation is unliveable.
The post-coup government has murdered union leaders, protestors, journalists, and opposition politicians, often with soldiers trained in the U.S. In 2017, a rigged election resulted in opposition demonstrations which were met with state violence that killed at least 22 civilians and one cop. Yet the U.S. continues to call Honduras a “democracy.”
The violence of the state has fed the violence of the whole society. According to the U.N., post-coup Honduras has by far the highest murder rate in the world. U.S. politicians, including both Obama and Trump, blame this violence on drug gangs, and these brutal gangs have indeed flourished. But they are linked top to bottom with the state apparatus that carried out the coup – and that is itself linked with the U.S. state apparatus.
A 2014 Honduran Internal Affairs investigation found that at least 202 officials with the national police were linked to the gangs – some even leading gangs from within the police. A 2016 report found 81 police were working with the notorious MS-13 gang that Trump loves to talk about, even participating in massacres. The Minister of Security originally charged with “cleaning up” the Honduran police was himself accused of preparing drug shipments during a 2017 drug trafficking trial in New York. So U.S. funding for the Honduran police actually funds the same gangs Trump invokes to make us fear Honduran migrants!
In spite of the repression, Hondurans have organized a series of large protests against the coup leaders and their policies. Farmworkers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and others have gone on strike to resist the degradation of their situation. Hondurans have built networks to hide and protect people threatened by death squads. And in the most desperate situations, large numbers have fled the country together, in an organized fashion, protecting each other on the difficult and dangerous journey across Guatemala and Mexico, hoping to apply for asylum in the United States.
Under both Obama and Trump, the U.S. government has backed the coup leaders, because the coup leaders have promoted “U.S. interests” in Honduras and the region – that is, the interests of U.S. corporations to maintain their domination over all of Latin America.
Jun 24, 2019
Translated from La Voix des Travailleurs (Workers Voice), journal of the Organisation des Travailleurs Révolutionnaires (Revolutionary Workers Organization) active in Haiti.
The rise of criminal activity by armed men in poor neighborhoods affects workers’ commutes.
Workers and tradespeople are forced to leave home for work extra early, in the darkness before dawn. They are easy prey for thugs who lie in wait by the roadside.
Alerted to the dangers they face after ambushes in some areas, workers began commuting in groups. These groups grew as workers figured out to join them to better resist thugs and muggers.
Workers organized spontaneously for protection against the thieves who poison street life. This approach will have to spread throughout working class areas for the masses to put an end to the cycle of violent robbery.