The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 1094 — November 25 - December 9, 2019

GM Picks a Dogfight with Chrysler

Nov 25, 2019

General Motors (GM) has filed charges against Fiat Chrysler (FCA). The company charges that top Chrysler executives participated in racketeering; that they bribed certain United Automobile Workers (UAW) officials to lower labor costs for Chrysler during contract negotiations between 2009 and 2015, and to disregard the pattern agreement arrangements.

Mainly, GM execs claim that this allowed Chrysler to hire more temporaries and second tier workers at lower wages, with fewer rights and a lesser health plan for the majority of its workforce. The Chrysler contract allowed for work design systems to increase output per worker, systems that were not allowed at GM or Ford. The end result, GM claims, was a contract that cost $8.00 per hour less for Chrysler’s labor than for GM’s labor.

Clearly, GM saw an opportunity. They were able to base their suit on facts established in plea deals and convictions of Chrysler executives coming out of the federal probe into corruption.

This lawsuit, which has sent shock waves through the auto market and beyond, may signal the end of an era.

For decades, the auto giants have appeared content to coexist, to allow each other to be profitable, each in its own orbit; content to contest only behind the scenes for increased market share and profits.

But in this period of contracting markets and the financial shadows of recent bank collapses, GM appears to be adopting a more aggressive stance.

Chrysler has moved ahead of GM in its ability to wring concessions from its workers. Because it is able to run some plants at maximum capacity around the clock, it needs fewer plants. An example is Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit. It was running 47 of 52 Sundays last year.

Chrysler has fewer permanent workers; temporary workers make up 13% of the hourly manufacturing workforce, compared to 7% of all employees at GM, and compared to 6% at Ford.

The carving up of hourly workers into tiers or levels, with workers coming in at less than half the previous wages, has reached 60% at Chrysler. There are fewer of these workers at Ford and GM. And at Chrysler there is no path to the top wages that permanent workers get. Nor can these workers get a first tier health plan or other benefits.

Make no mistake. If GM officials are raising these issues now, it is not to better the conditions of Chrysler workers. GM officials may enjoy the prospect of a strike where Chrysler loses money, but in the end, they want to drive down the labor costs of all workers, including their own, by using the same methods Chrysler has been using.

Remember, GM was willing to provoke a strike over these same issues. GM executives may have decided to come for concessions a different way—maybe later on, maybe directly as a result of this lawsuit.

Let the bosses dogfight over their profit margins and their labor costs. Their focus is the wealth being transferred into the bank accounts of the rich and infamous.

For us, cost of labor means OUR wages, OUR benefits: the food we put on our table, the vehicle we drive, the health care we receive, a roof over our heads and if it’s harder or easier to live. It means more or less exploitation on the job; how long our hours, how short the breaks, how bad the work.

So, if Chrysler workers decide to fight for more, it is a fight most workers could agree to. If Chrysler workers follow the example GM workers set, who would be surprised? It can be the next step in the fight we all need to make.

Workers don’t belong to any corporation or capitalist; we are a part of the largest, most powerful of classes, the working class.

A fight of auto workers is the fight of all workers. We should take up the GM workers’ fight. Any gain can only be, in the end, a protection for us all.

Pages 2-3

Students Protest End of DACA ... and So Does Amazon

Nov 25, 2019

Hundreds of Los Angeles high school and college students walked out of their classes to demonstrate in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients on November 12, the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the program. In 2017 the Trump administration terminated DACA, and the lawsuits against the termination have now reached the Supreme Court.

DACA allows some undocumented persons, who were brought to the U.S. as children, to live and work in the U.S. legally. But DACA is not the “amnesty” that right-wing commentators like to call it. While DACA can relieve some people of the immediate threat of deportation, it actually reinforces that same threat in the long run. Recipients have to renew DACA every two years, which requires that they stay on the “good side” of the authorities—especially since they have given the federal government all kinds of information about themselves!

So, companies will certainly see DACA recipients as workers who are likely to accept low pay and harsh working conditions. And that may explain the fact that, among the supporters of DACA before the Supreme Court, are some very big companies, such as Apple and Google, but also Amazon—you know, that huge, and hugely profitable, company that needs to fill thousands and thousands of warehouse jobs, for which it pays a scarcely living wage!

Corporations like to be on both sides of an issue like this—to sow divisions in the working class, while making use of the low-wage labor those divisions help reinforce.

The Right and Their Billionaires

Nov 25, 2019

In November, more than 900 emails of Stephen Miller’s were leaked. He is Trump’s senior advisor on immigration. In them, Miller promoted white supremacist ideas, including banning immigration of non-white people. Miller spread conspiracy theories that claimed refugees would rule over white people, and he lied and manipulated facts to promote his racist ideas.

As part of the administration, Miller suppressed a report that showed immigrants lead to a net income for the U.S. economy, instead publishing a report that refugees only “cost” the U.S. government a loss of income. Then Miller sent his poisonous messages by e-mail to Breitbart News, a right-wing online network that promotes these ideas.

And where does Breitbart News get part of its funding? From multi-millionaires, or even billionaires—like Robert Mercer. Mercer made his money speculating on the stock market. And Mercer didn’t need Breitbart to find racist views. He has plenty of his own. He claims that white racists no longer exist in the U.S.—only black racists.

Mercer and Miller are not the only people promoting the idea that human beings have no value unless they are white and worth millions of dollars. They use their millions and billions to push their racist ideas out to the public, setting one group of workers against another.

These views divide working people. They are spread by our enemies.

World Toilet Day:
Capitalism Isn’t Sanitary

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

In most poor countries, people have more access to cell phones than to toilets. Worldwide, more than half of humanity lives without sewer service. This reality was announced on UN World Toilet Day, November 19. The consequences are dramatic. In the slums of Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, etc., millions of people have no alternative to defecating and urinating in outhouses or in fields where all kinds of diseases fester, like diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis.

According to the UN, this kills 432,000 people each year, including 297,000 children under five years of age. Year after year, no investment is made to stem these deaths. It’s just not profitable for private companies. Subsidiaries of the big western conglomerates have the technical means to take on the task of building sewer systems, but they do nothing.

As for governments, they mock their poorest people. The UN, created by the big capitalist powers, repeats its supposed goals each Toilet Day and laments its own inaction.

Remove “Blight”
—Who Should Pay?

Nov 25, 2019

The Detroit City Council rejected a proposal by Mayor Mike Duggan involving the city taking on 250 million dollars in bond debt for “blight” removal. Had the city council approved the measure, the city would have asked voters to approve the plan in the upcoming March primary election.

The city has already been carrying out “blight removal.” Its plans are about halfway complete, with about 19,000 homes still slated for demolition.

In rejecting the plan, the council was simply responding to complaints from residents about being asked to pay even more over the next 30 years to pay off the bonds. Residents, including members of community groups like the Charlevoix Village Association and Detroit People’s Platform, spoke out at a public hearing the council held the night before the vote.

Some residents feel that money being spent on blight removal could instead be better put to use for other purposes, such as helping people to be able to stay in homes in danger of foreclosure. In fact, much of the money spent thus far for blight removal came from the federal government’s Hardest Hit Fund, money which supposedly was meant for exactly that purpose!

The people who spoke out against the proposal are right! Both of these things should be done. Certainly, no one is happy to have boarded-up abandoned homes dotting the landscape of their neighborhoods. And people should be able to stay in their homes.

Whether money is used to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place, or to tear them down after they become too worn down to restore, who should be made to pay the cost? Not long-time residents of the city, many of whom are already low-income!

Make the banks and mortgage lenders who preyed on people pay to fix the housing crisis they created!

Iran:
The Government Shoots Protestors

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

The Iranian government’s announcement of high gas prices triggered riots in several cities on November 14. The protests spread over the following days despite a brutal crackdown that left 100 people dead, according to Amnesty International.

The embargo imposed in the summer of 2018 by the U.S. deprives Iran of its main product to sell, oil. Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. For Iranian people, the embargo causes cruel suffering: the price of meat has doubled and prices of other essentials have shot up. The collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial, against the dollar increases the price of all imported products. More and more Iranians now eat only one meal a day. And these deprivations can be attributed to the U.S., not to the Iranian government.

The increases of 50% and 300% in the price of gas were based on the decision by the three main heads of the government to bail out the government budget by dipping into the pockets of the population. This decision triggered the revolt against the political authorities. Symbolic places such as police stations or regional legislatures were set on fire in Isfahan and elsewhere. Portraits of Ayatollah Khamenei or monuments to the glory of his predecessor, Khomeini, were ransacked in Tehran. Protestors denounced the millions spent each year by the Iranian regime to financially support Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

The announcement that profits made on gasoline sales would be used to raise the minimum wage of 60 million poor Iranians did not stop the revolt. All the dignitaries of the regime are deeply discredited because of the corruption that plagues the whole society, and the gap between the religious hard line they preach and the privileged way they actually live. This feeling seems to be shared by all social categories of the country. At the beginning of 2018, working people especially in the provinces had already rebelled against the high cost of living, the scarcity of water, and unpaid wages. But at that time they were not joined by the petty bourgeoisie, small merchants, or intellectuals. This time, the capital, Tehran, is affected, and several universities are occupied by students.

Faced with this revolt, the regime has unleashed its forces of repression. Before the internet was shut down across the country, opponents of the regime had recorded ten deaths. Recently released labor activists, including Ismael Bakhshi and Setideh Ghaliyan, who have been fighting for months for workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar factory, were put back in prison. The regime is obviously afraid that the revolt against gas prices will draw all social classes to oppose the government.

Pages 4-5

GM Strike:
Challenging the Policy of All the Bosses

Nov 25, 2019

The following is from a speech by Gary Walkowicz, long-time UAW militant, at the November SPARK public meeting.

In the days since the strike by GM workers ended, we have seen articles written and posted that questioned whether the 6-week strike was worth it for the GM workers. The articles expressed doubts about what the strike achieved. They repeated claims that the strike was called by UAW leaders only to distract attention from the charges of corruption against some union leaders. They said that GM workers didn’t get enough to make up for what they lost.

Seeing these negative articles was not a surprise to GM workers, because during the strike itself they saw firsthand how some of the media and others tried to demoralize the GM workers and weaken the strike. Some of the media went to the picket lines and tried to get GM workers to say that they didn’t want to be on strike, that they were suffering too much. But much as they tried, they had a hard time finding any GM workers to say this. Because that is not how most GM workers felt about their strike.

The Union Is NOT Corrupt!

We can expect that we will continue to see propaganda about the strike and about the union. Coming from the media, coming from politicians, coming from those trying to use right-to-work laws to convince workers to leave the union. They will continue to try to convince workers that the whole union is corrupt.

I say the union is not corrupt. A few union leaders are not the union. The union is all of us. The GM workers showed what the union is. We are not corrupt. And we can be the ones to police our own union.

If there are a few union leaders who put money in their own pocket, is anyone surprised? We live in a society filled with corruption. We see it every single day. Businessmen, bankers, politicians all the way to the White House are corrupt, pocketing money every day. And they are taking a lot more money than anything that happened in the UAW.

GM Strike: A Threat to All the Bosses

But people in the government and the media were using charges of corruption against UAW leaders in order to weaken the strike.

Why were they attacking the strike? They were attacking the strike because the strike was a threat to the interests of the corporate bosses and all those who defend the bosses.

The fact that workers themselves stayed on strike for 40 days was a threat to the whole capitalist class. It was something we haven’t seen in decades, a strike in auto, in heavy industry, which is still the center of the productive economy.

After years of concessions, the striking autoworkers certainly did not gain back all that they have lost. They did not put an end to all 2-tier pay and all temporary jobs.

But after 14 straight years of giving up major concessions and after almost 40 years of continued takeaways, the strike by GM workers stopped the company from taking even more. The GM workers didn’t give up anything major, including their health care, which is a big deal. And they gained a few things, small steps toward full pay and permanent jobs for 2-tier and temporary workers. Those gains might not seem like much, but they go against the tide of everything happening in the economy today. The strike took up issues important to the whole working class. And it meant something that many of the higher paid, higher seniority GM workers on the picket lines said they were fighting, not for themselves, but for the lower paid, younger workers. That’s the real meaning of solidarity. That’s why the strike was important.

A Strike that Challenged the Mood of Defeat

The GM strike was the longest companywide strike in the auto industry in 49 years. It comes after a long period in which workers throughout the economy have been quiet and have not been fighting for their own interests. The last decades have seen few strikes. And, as a direct result, the corporate bosses had a free hand as they set about to reduce the standard of living of the whole working class.

Every statistic shows how things have gotten worse over the past 40 years. But we don’t need statistics to look at our lives and those of our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and we can see how things have gotten worse. Lower-paying jobs, when you can get one. Schools, roads, infrastructure falling apart. More desperation, more crime.

After years of things getting worse and nobody fighting back, the mood in the working class has been that nothing can be done. Most believed that we can’t stand up for ourselves,

But the strike by the GM workers broke through that. They did something important. They showed that some workers are ready to fight. They acted because they believe that by fighting you can accomplish something.

And they did. They brought other workers out to join their fight.

Solidarity—Real Solidarity

Many other workers recognized the importance of this strike, and not only supported it, they joined the picket lines. Workers from Ford and Chrysler were on the picket lines. And so were workers from many other workplaces. They also brought food, water and money. In some cases, this support was organized by union leaders from other workplaces. Many workers also just came on their own. They didn’t need to be told to go to the picket lines. They knew by class instinct that “Their Fight Is Our Fight.” This was an example of real workers’ “solidarity.”

If other workers looked at the GM strike and saw that “Their Fight Is Our Fight,” it is because millions of other workers are facing the same problems that the GM workers were fighting against. Losing jobs, 2, 3, and 4-tier pay, temporary work, paying more for their health care. Other workers have a reason to fight, just like the GM workers did. The strike by the GM workers showed other workers that a fight is possible. So the question is, will other workers take up the same fight?

That’s the real issue. If no one else picks up the fight, we will continue to go backwards.

A Long-term Economic Crisis

There was a period from WWII through the early 1970s where the working class in this country regularly went on strike and made gains in their standard of living. It was a period where the capitalist class was expanding their ability to make profits around the world and they were willing to give the workers something to keep their fights from getting even bigger.

But things changed in the early 1970s. The capitalists’ economy went into a long-term crisis, which was made even worse by depressions they caused themselves, like the crisis of speculation on the U.S. dollar in 1970, the savings and loan crisis in 1986, the high tech bubble bursting in 2000, and the mortgage crisis of 2008. The capitalists could now only maintain and expand their wealth by reducing the standard of living of the whole working class. And the standard of living of the working class began to be steadily reduced, year after year. Low pay and lost jobs is now a cornerstone of the capitalists’ whole economy.

Needed: A Fight Against the Whole Capitalist Class

A fight by any group of workers is going to be a fight against, not only their own bosses, but it will be a fight against the whole capitalist class. It is going to take a bigger fight, many more workers fighting together, a fight of the whole working class, to start to solve these problems.

We will have to do what we did before, like in the 1930s, where the working class seemed to be fighting everywhere at the same time. A factory occupation by autoworkers in Flint spread not only to rubber workers in Ohio but to department store workers in Detroit.

We will have to do what we did in the 1950s and 60s, when movements of the black population for democratic rights spread throughout the South, from Montgomery to the Mississippi Delta to New Orleans to Memphis. When rebellions in the big cities spread from Los Angeles in 1965 to Newark and Detroit in 1967 to almost every city in 1968.

Workers will have to challenge the bosses’ assumptions that they should make a profit off our labor. We should take the fruits of our labor, every penny of it, to use for our needs, for the needs of everyone in the society. The greed of a few multi-billionaires should not come before the needs of the people who do all the work.

Workers fighting for their own needs can open the door for everyone. That’s why we saw all those small business people from restaurants and party stores bring support to the GM picket lines. They saw that they were dependent on what the workers did.

The working class has the power to make such a fight. But that fight doesn’t just spring up like that. It has to start somewhere. And it has to spread. The strike by GM workers does not automatically lead to a bigger fight. But they opened the door.

I likened it to a 15-round fight, and the GM strike was just the first round.

The GM workers took the fight as far as they felt they could. Now it is up to the rest of the working class to start Round Two.

Steel Tariffs, Job Cuts and Plant Closings

Nov 25, 2019

It is not a surprise that many steel workers thought, when Trump slapped 25% tariffs on foreign steel in March 2018, that tariffs would increase the number of jobs in steel by keeping out imports. For decades, workers had been told that the loss of jobs in steel was due to foreign imports. Company executives, politicians, economists and union officials all said it. It was a unanimous verdict. No one questioned it.

And it was a great big lie.

Trump’s Tariffs

After Trump’s dramatic increase in tariffs, the big steel manufacturers in this country cashed in. They boosted steel prices by more than 40%, and the share price of their stock shot sky high. But steel production hardly increased, and few new jobs opened up.

By the beginning of 2019, because of a global economic slowdown in manufacturing, some big steel buyers cut their orders. So, steel prices plunged, as did the price of the shares of steel company stock. This set the stage for steel companies to slash “costs,” that is, cut jobs, close plants, etc.

In June, U.S. Steel announced it was laying off 200 workers at two blast furnaces, near Detroit and in East Chicago, Indiana. Other steelmakers announced closing mills, laying off workers and cutting back hours, in Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. As Brenda Deborde of Ashland, Kentucky, a steel worker who had recently gotten her layoff notice, told the Washington Post (October 25), “We really thought the tariffs were going to turn us around—that things would go back to being the way it was.”

Behind the Massive Job Losses

For close to half a century, between 1962 and 2005, 400,000 jobs were eliminated or destroyed in the steel industry. That was 75% of the work force—gone!

Those jobs weren’t destroyed by waves of imported steel, because U.S. steel production didn’t decline in that period. The same amount of steel was produced by 75% fewer workers. In 2005, as much steel was being produced in this country as in 1962—according to a recent study published in the American Economic Review. That meant that all those jobs had been stolen by the big steel companies in this country. The more steel each worker produced, the more steel companies cut workers’ jobs.

When the 2008–2009 global recession hit, it was a true catastrophe in the steel industry. Production fell by almost half. Ever since, steel production has only partially recovered. The main reason is the relatively weak recovery in manufacturing, construction and capital goods—the big customers for steel.

So, in order to increase their profits, despite the weak recovery, the steel companies again cut jobs. Thus, in 2018, companies produced the same amount of steel in the U.S. as they did in 2011—this time with a workforce that was another 10% smaller! These companies had managed to squeeze the same amount of production out of 10,000 fewer workers.

Meanwhile, the loss in jobs was blamed on steel imports, especially from China. No, the problems for steel workers were not caused by imports—but by the insane workings of the capitalist system, which drives more workers into poverty, even as the workers produce ever more wealth.

Pages 6-7

Impeach Them All, Dump Their System

Nov 25, 2019

The following article is the editorial from The SPARK’s workplace newsletters, for the week of November 18, 2019.

Democrats say that Trump is using the instruments of government to further his own personal and political interests. Republicans say the Democrats are using the impeachment process to feather their own political nests.

Tell us something we don’t know!

Trump every day proclaims for the whole world to see that he is still a self-serving, money-grubbing real-estate speculator, with the morality of a predatory alley cat. He ran one company after another into collapse, stuffed the money into his own pockets, then used bankruptcy courts to stiff everyone he owed money to: employees whose paychecks bounced; undocumented workers paid less than minimum wage; banks he borrowed money from; “investors” who foolishly fell for his big-time gambler’s reputation.

Well, he did the same thing with the federal government, pretending the tax bill he pushed through Congress would produce “good times.” All it produced was an even more staggering federal debt, cuts in public services, and big money in the pockets of wealthy people like himself. As for the Republican Party, they go along to get along.

The Democrats act shocked by Trump’s behavior—as though there has never been a Democrat who used government for his own purposes. But what about those Democrats so venal they got caught stealing money from cities, counties, states and even schools? What about tax bills they pushed through when their man was in the White House and their party controlled Congress?

Just like the Republicans, their policies served the banks, insurance companies and biggest companies in the country—at the expense of seniors who have to wait longer to draw Social Security payments; at the expense of the unemployed who are cut off unemployment benefits; at the expense of veterans who became homeless after leaving service.

The impeachment process is a diversion—nothing but a piece of “reality” television.

But while it drags on, real life continues behind the scenes. And real life for working people is getting worse.

For the third year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has gone down. The last time something like this happened in the U.S. was during the great influenza epidemic that killed millions of people at the end of World War I.

But there is no contagious disease epidemic today. The only epidemic is the one created by a capitalist class rushing to increase its wealth at the expense of the population.

Life expectancy decreases in countries ravaged by war. Well, we have been ravaged by a war carried out against the working population by the capitalist class, a war reinforced by politicians, Democrat and Republican, who serve that class.

Both parties should be “impeached,” along with the capitalist class they serve.

But Congress won’t do it, elections can’t do it. It won’t happen just because we talk about it.

It won’t happen until workers in every part of the country take up the road that has been laid down in recent months by workers ready to start a fight for their own interests. Workers at GM broke through the barriers that seem to hold everyone back. So did Verizon workers and teachers in Chicago and Appalachia. But one group of workers fighting by themselves, no matter how determined, can’t change what happens to everyone.

There are periods when our lives improved—when workers in many different workplaces took up struggles started by other workers.

We can do the same thing today. In our workplaces, we hold the reins of the economy in our own hands. We have the means not only to stop what is happening, but to use the power that comes from running everything.

We can’t do that, fighting just in one workplace. But picking up the fight, extending it, bringing more people into it—that’s what holds out the possibility of real power. The working class, fighting for itself, can change the way the whole society functions to make it serve everyone.

“Gig Economy” Exploitation

Nov 25, 2019

Increasing numbers of workers have turned to apps on their phones for work. Though most had other jobs, Uber alone had more than 800,000 people drive for it in the U.S. at some point last year—almost as many as worked in the entire auto manufacturing industry. These jobs are not just for young people. An analysis by Retirement Equity Lab in New York found workers over age 55 are three times more likely than those under 35 to work in the “gig economy.”

These jobs come without benefits like healthcare or retirement. They make workers take care of their own costs, like maintaining the car used for work. But whether driving for Uber or Lyft, or delivering groceries or meals for Postmates, Instacart, or Grubhub, these apps are one of the few places people can find work.

These companies are in fact not profitable: Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, DoorDash—they have all been losing money. Uber now promises to become profitable ... by 2021! But these companies attract huge amounts of capital. Most is pure speculation—investors put money in, hoping others will invest after them and the stock price will go up.

Like any employer, these “gig economy” companies make money by paying their workers less than the value they produce. But because workers don’t get an hourly wage, the companies that run the apps can manipulate how much workers make by changing a computer algorithm. The employers have been on the war path, driving down wages to the breaking point.

Postmates workers reported they are making 30% less than they did a few months ago, after the company changed the way it calculated pay and got rid of a $4 per job guarantee. Instacart workers report a similar reduction, especially after the company took off their automatic tips. Uber began reducing their bonus structure in 2016, and reduced it further by 2017. Lyft has made similar changes to bonuses. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, average pay for Uber drivers after expenses like car maintenance and self-employment taxes now comes in at just $10.87 an hour—with no benefits.

The technology behind these apps could be used to make all our lives easier. But that will not happen until the control of these apps—and of all of society—is in the hands of the working class.

Page 8

American Troops Kept in Syria

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Trump confirmed U.S. troops remain in Syria, near the Iraqi border. He said this during his meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey in Washington earlier this month. “We left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump said.

His statement set off a new arms race ... between Trump and the Pentagon. A military official preferred a more diplomatic formula: “I would be cautious with saying that ‘the mission [is] to secure the oil fields.’ The mission is the defeat of ISIS. The securing of the oil fields is a subordinate task to that mission.” Trump talks like a hired gun, and senior officers are forced to spin the story to make it look right for U.S. soldiers to be sent wherever U.S. imperialism demands.

Around 600 U.S. soldiers, some coming from Iraq with armored vehicles, were stationed around oil and gas fields in Syria. At the same time, U.S. special forces were abandoning the YPG Kurdish militias. While the Kurds faced an offensive by the Turkish army, and Syrian dictator al-Assad had the opportunity to strengthen his positions in northern Syria, there was no question of the United States withdrawing entirely from Syria. In fact, the U.S. military presence was even strengthened.

Apart from air operations against ISIS, U.S. troops have already carried out large-scale actions in Syria. In February 2018, U.S. aviation and artillery crushed a column of Syrian soldiers and Russian mercenaries attempting to seize a gas field, killing 200 Russians.

Absorbed in his re-election campaign, Trump has suggested many times that U.S. soldiers would leave Syria. But the military presence on the ground allows the U.S. to continue to bear influence in this strategic region and particularly to defend the interests of U.S. oil companies. With his characteristic cynicism, Trump perfectly represents the politics of imperialism.

Hong Kong:
Cop Shoots Real Bullets

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Combat Ouvrier (Workers’ Combat), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in the French Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

A Hong Kong cop shot a protester at close range on November 11. The video on social media exacerbated the anger of protesters and people in general. For two days they showed this anger, setting up barricades and fighting with police. The Chinese government supported the cops and congratulated them for their so-called restraint.

But really, those with the most restraint—for now—are the workers who undergo capitalist exploitation every day. That is, until the day their revolt explodes everywhere in Hong Kong and in China!

Bolivia:
The Right Wing Appropriates the Presidency

Nov 25, 2019

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

The resignation of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales and his departure to Mexico caused a cascade of resignations by his political allies who could have succeeded him. A very conservative senator was quick to fill the void.

Jeanine Añez proclaimed herself president in front of a rump legislature, since the majority, deputies from the MAS, the party of Morales, had boycotted it. The Constitutional Court found nothing wrong in her power grab. And, of course, she was greeted by the army, the right wing, and Washington.

The senator entered the presidential palace with the Bible in her hand, declaring, “God let the Bible enter the palace again. Our strength is God, our power is God,” delighting the reactionary right wing all over Latin America. It was also a provocation against the secular constitution put in place by Morales.

She repeated that she will announce new elections, but she may not be in a hurry to do so. She has already insisted that if the MAS presents a candidate, it cannot be Morales.

Añez also claims she will pacify the country. But her arrival fans the fires. She is known for racist statements in the past against Bolivians of indigenous origin, including Morales. She stirs the anger of the outgoing president’s supporters, who refuse to be governed by a racist.

The right wing and the bourgeoisie of the Santa Cruz region, led by Fernando Camacho, stopped their own demonstrations. But the population favorable to Morales continues to demonstrate. Signs saying “No to the coup” and indigenous flags are numerous. On independence day, the city of La Paz was blocked, stores and schools were closed, and daily life slowed down. In Cochabamba, there were violent clashes with the police and calls for civil war. The tensions are far from being appeased.

The next day, protesters from the Altiplano began a march toward La Paz. Even though the leaders of the MAS made statements to appease the right wing, the party’s base is aware that the right wing will try to unravel the social programs that significantly improved living conditions for the poor. This base intends to fight.