Saturday, July 02, 2005

Black August

Hip Hop artist Mos Def will join with Dead Prez, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Pam Afrika, Romona Afrika, Nappy Tongues, The Black Panther F.U.G.I.T.I.V.E.S., F.T.P., WARCLUB, Cichuatonali, Rico and more for the Black August Weekend in Oakland, California on August 7. The show is the largest annual Hip Hop benefit concert and the proceeds will go towards benefiting HIV/AIDS awareness in Africa and within the Hip hop community.

Events will also be held in Atlanta, from August 26-28.

“Black August consistently bridges the gap between Hip Hop communities all over the Diaspora and the world,” Mos Def said. “The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Hip Hop community is a serious issue and I am proud to be a part of Black August’s efforts to help bring awareness to it.”

The Black August Organizing Committee says:

“Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, “is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice, of repression and righteous rebellion, of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”

“Black August International not only honors our national freedom fighters in the “belly of the beast,” it celebrates all of Afrikan resistance, such as the Haiti Revolution. That revolution began in August of 1791 and ended in victory over Napoleon’s crack troops in 1803 and the celebration of independence in January 1804. Nat Turner’s slave rebellion began on Aug. 21, 1831, and Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad started in August. As Mumia stated, “Their sacrifice, their despair, their determination and their blood has painted the month Black for all time.”

“Black August was first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters Jonathan and George Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas and the sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee, it is still a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training in martial arts, and resistance.

“The concept, Black August, grew out of the need to expose to the light of day the glorious and heroic deeds of those Afrikan women and men who recognized and struggled against the injustices heaped upon people of color on a daily basis in America. Black August represents the defining of socialist economics and ethics as applied to transforming the decadent social values of capitalist America and the people who suffer under and from the ill effects of these destructive values. The OGs (original guerrillas) who initiated this annual tribute to our fallen comrades became known as the Black August Organizing Committee, many of whom are still active today.

“One cannot tell the story of Black August without first providing the reader with a brief glimpse of the “Black Movement” behind California prison walls in the ‘60s led by George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Hugo Pinell, Kumasi and many other conscious, standup brothers.

“As George Jackson wrote: “(W)hen I was accused of robbing a gas station of $70, I accepted a deal ... but when time came for sentencing, they tossed me into the penitentiary with one to life. That was 1960. I was 18 years old. I’ve been here ever since. I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me. For the first four years I studied nothing but economics and military ideas. I met black guerrillas George “Big Jake” Lewis, and James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson and many, many others. We attempted to transform the Black criminal mentality into a black revolutionary mentality. As a result, each of us has been subject to years of the most vicious reactionary violence by the state. Our mortality rate is almost what you would expect to find in a history of Dachau. Three of us (Nolen, Sweet Jugs Miller and Cleve Edwards) were murdered several months ago (Jan. 13, 1969) by a pig shooting from 30 feet above their heads with a military rifle.”

“In what has been described by witnesses as a setup, eight White prisoners and seven Blacks were sent to the yard in Soledad Prison, whereupon the Whites attempted to take the basketball court from the brothers already on it. Nolen was known as the Marvin Hagler of the prison system. Fearless and skilled, he was rarely challenged one on one. But on this day, one of the Whites attacked him and before Nolen could even hit back, he was shot. When Miller and Edwards tried to aid him, they were likewise shot by the lone White tower guard and left to bleed to death from wounds they could have survived.

“The Black Movement prisoners demanded the guard be tried for murder but were met with resistance. Upon their continued insistence, the administration held a kangaroo court, and three days later, the Monterey grand jury returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” Shortly after this was announced on the prison radio, a White guard was found beaten to death and thrown from a tier. Six days later, three prisoners were accused of murder. They became known as the Soledad Brothers.

“I am being tried in court right now with two other brothers, John Clutchette and Fleeta Drumgo, for the alleged slaying of a prison guard. This charge carries an automatic death penalty for me. I can’t get life. I already have it.”

“On Aug. 7, 1970, just a few days after George was transferred to San Quentin, his younger brother, Jonathan Jackson, 17, invaded Marin County Courthouse single-handed, with a satchel full of handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun hidden under his raincoat. (We have since learned he was not supposed to go it alone.) “Freeze!” Jonathan commanded as he tossed guns to William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee. “We’re taking over.”

“Magee was on the witness stand testifying for McClain, on trial for assaulting a guard in the wake of a guard’s murder of another Black prisoner, Fred Billingsley, beaten and tear gassed to death. A jailhouse lawyer, Magee had deluged the courts for seven years with petitions contesting his illegal conviction in 1963. The courts had refused to listen, so Magee seized the hour and joined the guerrillas as they took the judge, prosecutor and three jurors hostage to a waiting van.

“To reporters gathering quickly outside the courthouse, Jonathan shouted, “You can take our pictures. We are the revolutionaries!” Operating with courage and calm even their enemies had to respect, the four Black freedom fighters commandeered their hostages out of the courthouse without a hitch. What they failed to anticipate was the state’s willingness to sacrifice its own people to stop the escape. Jackson’s plan was to use the hostages to take over a radio station and broadcast the virulent, racist, murderous prison conditions and demand the immediate release of the Soledad Brothers.

“But before Jonathan could drive the van out of the parking lot, the San Quentin guards had arrived and opened fire. When the shooting stopped, Jonathan, Christmas, McClain and the judge lay dead. Magee and the prosecutor were critically wounded, and one juror suffered a minor arm wound. Magee survived his wounds and was tried, originally with codefendant Angela Davis. Their trials were later severed, and Davis was eventually acquitted of all charges.

“Magee was convicted of simple kidnap and acquitted of the more serious kidnap-for-extortion charge by a jury whose acquittal was buried. Magee has challenged this cover-up for decades with a notarized declaration from the jury foreman, Bernard Suarez. He is also challenging the California Department of Corrections regarding parole. After 40 years of unjust incarceration, he wants nothing short of discharge so he can return to his home state of Louisiana.

“International capitalism cannot be destroyed without the extremes of struggle. The entire colonial world is watching the blacks inside the U.S., wondering and waiting for us to come to our senses. Their problems and struggles with the Amerikan monster are much more difficult than they would be if we actively aided them. We are on the inside. We are the only ones (besides the very small white minority left) who can get at the monster’s heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on. If we fail through fear and lack of aggressive imagination, then the slave of the future will curse us, as we sometimes curse those of yesterday. I don’t want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different brands of untruth, and licentious, usurious economics,” George Jackson wrote in “Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson.”

“In the latest edition of the 1970 bestseller, Jonathan Jackson Jr. wrote in its forward: “Failure to understand the radical, encompassing viewpoint in the sixties led to reformism. In effect, the majority of the left completely deserted any attempt at the radical balance required of the politically conscious, leaving only liberalism and its narrow vision to flourish.”

“Nobody comprehended the radical dilemma more fully than George Jackson. He writes in “Blood in My Eye”: “Reformism is an old story in Amerika. There have been depressions and socioeconomic political crises throughout the period that marked the formation of the present upper-class ruling circle, and their controlling elites. But the parties of the left were too committed to reformism to exploit their revolutionary potential.”

“We witnessed the so-called healthcare reform of the first Clinton administration. In a nutshell, there were approximately 37 million people without health insurance in 1992; there are currently well over 44 million and climbing as the insurance industry continues to profiteer from our most basic need for medical care, while Medicare and Medicaid are threatened with privatization and prescription drugs are out of control.

“Welfare reform” has resulted in “Welfare DEform” as the social safety net is unraveled and homelessness is institutionalized. While our taxes are spent lavishly for a bloated military ($400 billion plus!), health care, housing, child care, food stamps and jobs disappear; and factories and plants are located behind prison walls. California spends about $49,000 per year to incarcerate one prisoner. It spends about $7,000 to educate one student.

“It all falls into place. I see the whole thing much clearer now, how fascism has taken possession of this country, the interlocking dictatorships from county level on up to the Grand Dragon in Washington, D.C. Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise of reform,” wrote George Jackson.

“And so we have it today, more obvious, much more blatant in the ghettoes and barrios - a form of fascism that has replaced gas ovens and concentration camps with death rows and control-unit torture chambers. Plantations with prison industrial complexes deployed in rural white communities to perpetuate white supremacy and Black/Brown exploitation. An obscene concentration of wealth at the top with 1 percent owning more wealth than 95 percent of the U.S. population - individuals so superrich their wealth exceeds the total combined budgets of scores of nations, as they plunder the globe in a quest for more.

“The fascist must expand to live. Consequently he has pushed his frontiers to the farthest lands and peoples. This is an aspect of his being, an ungovernable compulsion. This perverted mechanical monster suffers from a disease that forces him to build ugly things and destroy beauty wherever he finds it. I just read in a legal newspaper that 50 percent of all the people ever executed in this country by the state were black and 100 percent were lower-class poor. I’m going to bust my heart trying to stop these smug, degenerate, primitive, omnivorous, uncivil ... and anyone who would aid me, I embrace you,” George Jackson wrote.

“At the time Jackson wrote those words, in 1970, he was facing a mandatory death sentence even though only convicted of assaulting a guard (California Penal Code section 4500) and was already in solitary confinement, where he spent most of the 11 years of his incarceration. Although that particular law and the indeterminate sentence are no longer on the books, the spirit of the law is being implemented through the no-parole policies of Republicrat Gov. Gray Davis and a death row that now totals over 600 human beings slated for state murder. Nationwide, the number on death row is about 3,600.

“On Aug. 21, 1971, in what was described by prison officials as an escape attempt, George Jackson allegedly smuggled a gun into San Quentin in a wig. That feat was proven impossible, and evidence subsequently suggested a setup designed by prison officials to eliminate Jackson once and for all as they had tried to do numerous times. However, they didn’t count on losing any of their own in the process.

“On that fateful day, three notoriously racist prison guards and two inmate turnkeys were also killed. According to an eyewitness, when Jackson was shot while running on the yard, he got up instantly and dived in the direction of some bushes. He was subsequently murdered while lying on the ground wounded.

“Six Black prisoners were put on trial - wearing 30 pounds of chains - in Marin County Courthouse charged with murder and assault. Fleeta Drumgo, David Johnson, Hugo L.A. Pinell (Yogi), Luis Talamantez, Johnny Spain and Willie Sundiata Tate. Only one - Johnny Spain - was convicted of murder. The others were either acquitted or convicted of assault. Pinell is the only one remaining in prison; all the others were released years ago. But Yogi has suffered prolonged torture in lockups since 1969 and is currently enduring his 13th year in Pelican Bay’s SHU. He remains amazingly strong and revolutionary.

“Let us continue to build uncompromising unity and resistance through spiritual renewal and revolutionary inspiration this Black August as we honor all those who have fought and died for our freedom and self-determination.

In George Jackson’s words: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution.”

“Free all political prisoners! Long live the guerrillas! Venceremos!”
Sources: Black August Organizing Committee, Bay View,,

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fundamentalist Jew Attacks Gay Pride Marchers in Jerusalem

The call it The City of Peace. They call it The Holy City. Well, you’d never guess it by what goes down there.

An Ultra-Orthodox (read fundamentalist) Jewish man stabbed three participants in a gay pride parade in Jerusalem yesterday. Two men and one woman were attacked by the man who ran into the midst of the parade.

Police took the stabber into custody. They also arrested 13 other religious protesters, for disturbing the peace. The police reported that some 200 religious protesters (others put the number of protesters at closer to 1000) gathered at the parade's starting point, the downtown offices of the Jerusalem Open House, the gay and lesbian community center that organized the fourth annual parade. The fundamentalist Jews threw stink bombs, bottles of urine and bags of feces into the crowd and shouted insults in an attempt to halt the parade.

The march proceeded despite the violence. "It took many years for Jerusalem to have a Gay Pride parade," participant Moshik Toledano, 39 told Haaretz, "but once it happens, it makes no difference if the ultra-Orthodox come here and try to stop it." says Hagai El-Ad, Jerusalem Open House Executive Director, linked the attack with the recent public comments from the city's Mayor. “This heinous attack is a direct result of Mayor Lupoliansky’s ongoing campaign of incitement. Yesterday’s Pride events focused on a message of love and tolerance – and these values cannot be obstructed by violence.”

The march itself included more than 5000 persons. The parade started on Ben Yehuda Street at 6:30 p.m. with a stream of colorful balloons and music. For the marchers in the parade, the dress code was anything rainbow.

"It's hard to be gay, but this event is about making people feel proud about themselves and about who they are as a gay individual," said a young gay Palestinian man from Ramallah. "It's surreal," he said. "That I cross over the checkpoints to come here. It's as though, as a Palestinian, many people don't consider me human, and then as a gay man many people here don't consider me human."

"It's not easy to be gay and part of a group that doesn't approve," a member of Lesbian Religious Females told the Jerusalem Post. "Whether you are Palestinian or a religious Jewish female, it's equally hard to not be accepted by your peers."

In a message read during the rally, Israel's Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz said the Parade was vital not only to lesbian and gay people, but all of society. “Jerusalem Pride is part of the struggle for human rights and freedom for all sectors of society," Pines-Paz said in a message relayed to the crowds. "The heads of the Jerusalem Municipality should self reflect on their contribution to the incitement leading up to today’s violence.”

In January conservative rabbis, Muslim clerics, and Christian fundamentalists in a rare show of solidarity began efforts to thwart World Pride celebrations. At that time Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi said gays were "creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable." Not to be outdone, Sufi sheik Abdel Aziz Bukhari said, "We can't permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem."

"In light of the violence we have seen here today, it goes to show how much farther we have to go to turn Israel into a liberal and tolerant state," MK Roman Bronfman told the Jerusalem Post. Sources: Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, (UK), 365, Advocate


Join ProLibertad on our annual Freedom Cook Out to HighLands Pool in
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Enjoy the sun, fun and relaxation of HighLands Pool!! Bring your swimming
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Bring a cupcake, candle or musical instrument as we celebrate the life of
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Saturday July 16th, 2005 at 9am!! Get on the Bus!! Support ProLibertad!!
Meet at the corner of w179th St. and Broadway at 9am to catch one of our
Freedom Vans to HighLand Pools!!

Transportation from NYC ($10), Entrance to HighLand Pools ($5) and Food
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For more information on the ProLibertad Freedom Picnic, please contact
ProLibertad at ProLibertad@..., Bronx 718-601-4751, Manhattan
212-927-9065, New Jersey 201-435-3244. Check out the website:

“Venezuela From Below”

“Venezuela from below” - The voice of the rank and file of the Bolivarian Revolution - By Jorge Martin

This article was taken from the web site of Hands Off Venezuela.

Thursday, 30 June 2005

Dario Azzellini is the co-director of the new documentary film “Venezuela from below”. Jorge Martin interviewed him for Hands Off Venezuela about the film and his views on the Bolivarian revolution.


Jorge Martin How did you get the idea for the film and what are your links with the Bolivarian revolution?

Dario Azzellini Well, since the end of the 1980s I have been travelling and working in Latin America and I became interested in its political and social issues. Furthermore, since I was 12 and I am now 37, I have been active in left wing politics. Before making the documentary I visited Venezuela a few times. The thing that impressed me most about the rank and file was their enormous strength and the capacity for self organisation, of taking matters into their own hands, in the process of transformation that is taking place in Venezuela.

There are a number of very good documentaries on Venezuela, but what they are lacking (in the opinion of myself and my co-director Oliver Ressler) was the people themselves talking about how they see the process, how their lives have changed since the beginning of the process. The other documentaries focus more on explaining the framework and what happened during the coup. If there is anything about the programmes that are being implemented it is usually politicians or “representatives” who are talking about what is happening.

We wanted to present the people themselves explaining what is happening, how they feel, how they live, so that at least some of this strength for change coming from the people can be conveyed. We also wanted to show that the people are very conscious of what is happening. They know what they want and what needs to be done, and that they do not need anybody to talk for them. They are perfectly capable of talking themselves.

JM Yes, this is one of the most striking things and in our opinion it is the aspect that defines a revolution, precisely the fact that people have organised themselves in tens of thousands of revolutionary organisations of different kinds, and have taken their future into their own hands. This is what we found interesting in your documentary; that it is based mainly on explaining the experiences of the rank and file community, workers organisations and so on.

DA This is a very important aspect. In fact, with all the different left wing organisations that exist, each one with its own analysis of revolution, we were left with our eyes open wide in amazement at what is happening in Venezuela. It is a process that has to be organised in a concrete way, because it is not following any preconceived analysis. We cannot forget that what saved the process, at the time of the coup, at the time of the oil lock out, and in all decisive occasions in which it was under threat, was the massive mobilisation of the rank and file in a self organised way. This must not be underestimated. I think that in this lies the only hope that the process will go forward, will deepen and survive.

JM The other aspect which is shown clearly in the documentary is the participation of the labour movement. There are interviews about Venepal, the CNV, and the role of the oil workers in the defeat of the bosses’ lock-out.

DA Yes, this aspect is important too. One of the central questions in a process of deep social transformation is that of the ownership of the means of production. Who controls them? There has to be redistribution of wealth but the problem must be dealt with at root level. Therefore questions of land and labour are fundamental. They are not the only ones. There are also the issues of the Indians, culture, community etc, but if the question of the ownership and control over production is not dealt with, there cannot be a genuine process of transformation. That is why it is important to show the struggle of the occupied factories. We can also gauge the capacity of a government that wants to be revolutionary from its ability to respond to these demands of the workers and peasants.

JM We have also seen with a lot of interest in the last few months in that Chavez has said clearly that the problems of misery, inequality and poverty cannot be solved within the framework of capitalism. He has pointed out that the path to be taken is socialism and that a debate must be opened about socialism of the 21st century.

DA Well, of course, I have always been convinced of this. Everything that has happened to date has increased my confidence in Chavez. There is the skilful way in which he has led and deepened the process, giving space to rank and file movements and always being open to new ideas. Now we have to see how this debate about socialism is handled in Venezuela.

We all know that it is a very broad movement, with sections from the social democrat left to those openly identified with the revolutionary left. I think these will make very interesting contributions. There have been European leaders who have talked about a “new socialism” who actually embraced neo-liberalism. I do not think that this will be the case with Chavez in Venezuela.

Indeed now that Chavez’s position has been strengthened we see how many, like Zapatero in Spain, recognising that Chavez is going to be around for some time, are trying to influence this process with their own vision of “socialism”.

I think it is also very interesting to observe that had the declarations they are now making about socialism been made six years ago, the process would have never been able to reach the point it is now.

What gives me a lot of confidence is that this is one of the few processes I have known anywhere in the world that has actually deepened. It started with promises far less radical. In the course of time it has managed to deepen social transformation.

JM I think it was down to their own experience. Chavez started with the idea of introducing a number of social improvements, which were not necessarily very radical, but found open opposition and even armed insurrection from the oligarchy and imperialism.

DA Of course, we can say that the first measures introduced by the Chavez government were neither revolutionary nor communist, but rather of an old social democratic kind (new social democracy does not even introduce reforms). However this clashed with the empire, the multinationals and the IMF, who thought that it already went too far.

I think this it is partly because after the end of this clash opportunity for social democracy no longer existed. Social democracy and reformism used to work because they “threatened” Capital. If the limited reform measures they proposed were not conceded the movements could take a “worse” path, like that of the Soviet Union (Let us leave to one side our personal opinions about whether what was found in that country was socialism or not). This “threat” has no effect any more. It is only too obvious that Capital is not the slightest bit interested in even the smallest of reforms proposed by social democracy. The opportunity for reformism has disappeared.

In the last few years the Venezuelan process has also realised this. At the beginning, although they only attempted a few reforms, they were attacked with all the violence and all the propaganda apparatus of Capital, transnational companies and empire. Therefore they saw they might just as well choose another path.

JM What do you think are the main dangers that threaten the Bolivarian revolution now, internal and external?

DA Starting with the external threats, I think they are, on the one hand the danger of a contra. I do not think that in the short or medium term there is any danger of direct intervention on the part of the US, but what they are already doing, and this is going to increase, is building an army of counter-revolutionaries, like the contras in Nicaragua. (Today they have announced they have captures five Colombian paramilitaries in the Amazonas). They do not aim for military victory, but for political destabilisation. They would like to take this to the point where the next elections gave people a choice between war and bourgeois capitalism as against between a process of social transformation and bourgeois capitalism.

They are going to activate groups from Colombia and will try to infiltrate them into Venezuelan territory. They will have the support of cattle ranch owners and landowners (particularly now that the government has begun to expropriate and distribute land in a serious way). This will build the army of contras.

They will also continue with their propaganda campaign. Accion Democratica, I think, will go back to the political arena, playing the role of a “reasonable” opposition, ready to open a dialogue with the government (so that it can influence it) and will receive the support of international social democracy.

Another foreign threat is the promotion and financing of the development of a regionalist movement in Zulia. This is already being talked about and there are historical precedents for it. Zulia is a region under opposition control. From the economic point of view, it is one of the most important regions in the country, because of its oil reserves and its geographically strategic position in the border with Colombia.

Another danger I have already hinted at in relation to Zapatero and international social democracy is that, having realised that they cannot easily get rid of Chavez, they will try to give him ‘the embrace of the bear’. They will penetrate the movement with their “foundations” and advisors, in order to divert the course of the process.

From the internal point of view I think that one of the main enemies of this process is corruption. Amongst the politicians in Venezuela there are too many who jumped on the bandwagon in order to get money and personal benefit. Everybody knows this. Chavez himself has denounced it. There is a lot of corruption and there are many people who cannot manage their roles, but who do not step aside for fear of losing their element of power.

Another internal problem is the need to give real power to the rank and file, to create peoples’ power. There are those within the bureaucratic structures who do not want to do this because they know they will lose out personally. Therefore they are putting a break on the process, against the pressure coming from below.

In general terms I think that these are the dangers, difficulties and tasks that the Venezuelan revolutionary process is facing in both the short and medium term.

There are other aspects which show positive development; the economy, the beginning of the real land reform - there is a ministry of agriculture which is finally carrying out what should have been started in 1999 (not by chance has it been changed many times over). Also the government is progressively learning how to do things. We should not forget that it was catapulted into power with little previous experience of how to run things.

My last question would be what you think are the main tasks of the international solidarity movement? And what message would you give to the people who are organised in Hands Off Venezuela, other solidarity organisations, international Bolivarian Circles, etc.

DA I think there are different tasks. The process in Venezuela survives because it has a very broad basis and this is something from which we must learn. We might have different analyses but we have to work together if we want to achieve something. I think that the Venezuela solidarity movement has certain differences with the movement in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Nicaragua had nothing, and the solidarity movement had also to contribute from the purely economic point of view. In Venezuela we can go back to the genuine meaning of solidarity, which is to develop ones’ own struggles in common with the struggles of others. It is a very political solidarity, very political; a political exchange of discussions.

We need to do a job of work in spreading information. We must clarify in Europe what is happening in Venezuela. What is on the European news and in their media about Venezuela has little to do with reality.

I think it is also very important to penetrate further into academia. Although we have made advances in the political field, the academic field is still very much dominated by the right wing (if sometimes disguised as the left wing) and there are almost no academics in Europe who have a positive vision, or even a correct appraisal of the process taking place in Venezuela.

It is also important to get this information to the population within the European trade unions. They must understand what is happening in Venezuela and build direct links. Venezuela is a very large and diverse country, and so anybody who is active in Europe, be it an engineer, chemical trade unionist, university professor, student or homosexual, can find a counterpart in Venezuela who is a part of the process.

It is important that Venezuela does not just become about Venezuela but serves as an example for the rest of the world as well. Things are being done in relation to health, social security and education, which those in Europe, in richer countries, are being told are unaffordable. University fees are being introduced “because the state cannot pay for universities - they are too expensive”. They want to make us pay for health care “because the state cannot afford it”, etc. Yet all the things said to be unaffordable in Europe are being implemented in Venezuela despite the fact that it is a poorer country. It is very important to explain this to unmask the whole lie of the neo-liberal discourse in Europe.

JM Thank you very much.


The film is available in Spanish, with English or with German subtitles, you can get order details from Dario Azzellini ( or from Oliver Ressler (

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Aussie Workers Take to the Streets

All hell is breaking loose on the labor front down under. Yesterday more than 250,000 Australians took to the streets to protest the Government’s workplace laws agenda. And they did it despite that fact that many large companies manufacturers obtained orders in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission preventing their workers from marching. Workers who ignored those orders faced potential fines of $6600.

The Government of John Howard takes control of the Senate on July 1 and plans to use its new powers to push through changes to Australia's workplace laws that include according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU):

• A wage freeze for 1.6 million award workers. Employment Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed that Government changes to the way minimum wages are set will mean low paid workers will not receive a pay rise for at least the next 18 months.

• Removing protection from unfair dismissal for 3.6 million workers. All people employed in companies with less than 100 staff will lose protection from unfair dismissal. This will particularly affect Australians working in rural and regional communities.

• Allowing employers to push workers onto individual contracts that cut take-home pay and reduce employment conditions to only 5 minimum standards.

• Effectively abolish State industrial relations systems and the award safety net(Note:The Workplace Relations Act 1996 (WR Act) prescribes the employment conditions e.g. annual leave, personal and carer's leave and other entitlements and rates of pay attached to classifications, which may be included in federal awards. The aggregate of these awards, their prescriptions on employment conditions or entitlements and wage and salary rates, constitute the federal award safety net). The award safety net will be replaced with just five conditions - a minimum hourly rate of pay (currently $12.75), sick leave, annual leave, unpaid parental leave and a 38 hour working week. Many workers will lose conditions like weekend, shift and public holiday rates; overtime; redundancy pay; and allowances and loadings.

In Melbourne, the Herlad Sun says around 100,000 rallied and promised a sustained fight against proposed new work laws. The massive demonstration there shut down ports, city building sites and dozens of manufacturing businesses. The crowd, a cross-section of blue and white-collar workers, many with children, chanted "Shame Howard, shame." Others chanted: "What do we want? Howard's head!"One marcher held up a large doll, wearing a fairy costume and a John Howard mask, prompting calls of "Burn, Johnny, burn" from the crowd.Banners and purple Heath Services Union balloons bearing the slogan "Stronger together" dotted the crowd, which stretched as far as the eye could see.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said the changes were an attack on workers' rights and they would fight to overturn them. "We are going to fight for as long as it takes to ensure that workers' rights are respected in this country," Combet told the crowd.

Workers and their families were joined in Melbourne by representatives from church, ethnic and community groups. Jesuit Social Services director, Father Peter Norden, said government reforms would not help those living in poverty.

Victorian Industrial Relations Minister Rob Hulls also spoke, saying the Howard Government wanted a return to the "master and servant" times of the 18th century.

Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Brian Boyd said the march was one of the biggest trade union actions Melbourne had seen. "John Howard is as welcome in Melbourne as a redback spider on a dunny seat," he told the crowd.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary Dave Oliver said he had a message for employers."We'll continue to fight this. We'll down tools, we'll go out into the street," he said. "Don't use these laws, or else."

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that in Adelaide about 5000 workers marched on the Adelaide offices of federal Liberal MPs to protest. The Morning Herald says workers workers stopped traffic in Adelaide's central business district as they marched on the offices of Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, Defence Minister Robert Hill, and senators Alan Ferguson and Jeannie Ferris.

"This is the biggest fight the community has ever had," South Australia's Industrial Relations Minister Michael Wright told those gathered in the streets of Adelaide. "This is about a fair go for people at work, this is about decency for working class Australians. What we need to do is make sure that we apply the public pressure to John Howard, we need to make sure that this is the biggest fight that John Howard has ever had."

In Perth more thousads marched through the streets. ACTU president Sharan Burrow told the crowd the Howard Government’s plan was a sop for employers, "They are not the friend of working Australians. They're the friend of the bosses."

"This is very serious," Burrow later told Austrailan radio. "This is about whether or not working people will be treated like commodities and that is the international principle - no worker should be treated like a commodity."

In Hobart, there were more than 3000 in the street in front of the city hall. The Morning Herald reports that, Unions Tasmania secretary Simon Cocker told the crowd in Hobart their rights as workers were on the line and at risk of disappearing forever."We must send a message to those who want to dismantle the institutions of a fair and decent society that we care," he said. "To those we elect to represent us, we must say if you vote to take away our rights, we will work to throw you out."

Unions Tasmania senior vice-president David O'Byrne said in Hobart, "This (agenda) is the biggest attack on workers' rights in 100 years.”

In Brisbane close to 50,000 turned out.

In Darwin, there were nearly 5,000 more.

And tomorrow (which has already arrived in Australia) New South Wales is scheduled to have what is expected to be overflow stop work meetings across the state.

In Sydney workers will march 'The Hungry Mile' before gathering at the Town Hall where a Sky Channel TV hook-up starting at 8.30 am will be beamed to hundreds of meeting places throughout the suburbs of Sydney and in small and large country centers across the state.

Further actions will take place for another five days.

The ACTU says, “An important focus of the national week of activities will be to inform people that are not union members about the Government's new workplace laws. The new laws will affect all Australian workers whether they are in a union or not. In fact it is those workers who do not have the protection of a strong union who will be most vulnerable to their negative impacts.”

Unions Tasmania’s Cocker declared, "We must be strong, we must be loud and we must be clear. Workers' right are worth fighting for." Sources: Liquor, Hospitality, and Miscellaneous Union, UnionsWA, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Herald Sun (Australia), Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Education Union

UC Nurses Aren't Buying It

Several dozen nurses picked University of California Irvine (UCI) Medical Center yesterday demanding the revocation of the suspension of four other nurses. The day before the California Nurses Association (CNA) filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board over the suspensions accusing University of California of, “...unlawfully retaliating against the nurses for their participation in union activities.”

The nurses were handed a weeklong suspension because they refused to cross the picket line of striking hospital workers last April.

The union’s chief negotiator Joe Lindsay told the LA Times that nurses Tam Nguyen, Lilliam Triana, Maureen Berry and Cathryn Montgomery had notified their managers that they would honor the picket lines that day. "We had nurses at other UC facilities and other UC employees from other unions who joined the strike that day, and no one was disciplined except for these four," Lindsay added.

The CNA points out that the nurses who were suspended just happen to be union leaders at UCI.

What else is interesting here is the timing of the suspensions. It seems the suspension was announced Friday, just one day after the CNA called for a statewide vote on a contract offer which the university system said was its final offer. "This is an obvious and outrageous attempt by the university to punish and silence registered nurses for speaking out," said Rose Ann DeMoro, the union's executive director.

Ralph Cygan, UCI's chief executive claims the suspensions are for "insubordination." He said the suspended nurses violated their contract by walking out in sympathy with a strike by another union.

The CNA isn't buying that explanation.

"They've clearly targeted CNA nurse leaders at that facility," Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the CNA told the Orange County Register. He noted that the suspensions occurred one day after the UC strike-vote announcement. "You'd have to be extremely naive to think there was no connection," he said. Idelson said the CNA contract does allow nurses to honor other unions' picket lines.

“This is an obvious and outrageous attempt by the University to punish and silence RNs for speaking out on behalf of their patients and their colleagues in their effort to win a collective bargaining agreement that enhances safe staffing, improves the quality of care, and promotes the retention and recruitment of high quality registered nurses,” said CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. “This unlawful, discriminatory behavior by the University will not stand. CNA will not let the University treat its RNs with such high-handed disrespect.”

Negotiations between the UC system and the nurses have been going on for five months. The Times says the main sticking point has been disagreement over nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. The union wants the UC system to commit to one nurse for every five patients under a 1999 law.

However, there are other issues as well including wages and health benefits. "UC nurses across the state are some of the lowest paid nurses in each of their (geographical) areas," CNA's Lindsey said. Lindsey says this is one key factor in the nursing shortage in the UC system. "We've come to agreements on a number of issues, but wages are a key issue," Lindsey told KCRA. UC is refusing to address nurses' pension and health plans in its contract proposal, Lindsey adds. "Nurses are looking for guarantees that the pensions won't be cut, that the health plans won't be cut,'' he said. Sources: KCRA (Sacramento), CBS5 Bay City News Wire, LA Times, Orange County Register, CNA

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

6th Declaration of the Selva Lacandona - EZLN

6th Declaration of the Selva Lacandona

Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona

This is our simple word which seeks to touch the hearts of humble and simple people like ourselves, but people who are also, like ourselves, dignified and rebel. This is our simple word for recounting what our path has been and where we are now, in order to explain how we see the world and our country, in order to say what we are thinking of doing and how we are thinking of doing it, and in order to invite other persons to walk with us in something very great which is called Mexico and something greater which is called the world. This is our simple word in order to inform all honest and noble hearts what it is we want in Mexico and the world. This is our simple word, because it is our idea to call on those who are like us and to join together with them, everywhere they are living and struggling.

I - What We Are
We are the zapatistas of the EZLN, although we are also called "neo-zapatistas." Now, we, the zapatistas of the EZLN, rose up in arms in January of 1994 because we saw how widespread had become the evil wrought by the powerful who only humiliated us, stole from us, imprisoned us and killed us, and no one was saying anything or doing anything. That is why we said "Ya Basta!," that no longer were we going to allow them to make us inferior or to treat us worse than animals. And then we also said we wanted democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexicans although we were concentrated on the Indian peoples. Because it so happened that we, the EZLN, were almost all only indigenous from here in Chiapas, but we did not want to struggle just for own good, or just for the good of the indigenous of Chiapas, or just for the good of the Indian peoples of Mexico. We wanted to fight along with everyone who was humble and simple like ourselves and who was in great need and who suffered from exploitation and thievery by the rich and their bad governments here, in our Mexico, and in other countries in the world.

And then our small history was that we grew tired of exploitation by the powerful, and then we organized in order to defend ourselves and to fight for justice. In the beginning there were not many of us, just a few, going this way and that, talking with and listening to other people like us. We did that for many years, and we did it in secret, without making a stir. In other words, we joined forces in silence. We remained like that for about 10 years, and then we had grown, and then we were many thousands. We trained ourselves quite well in politics and weapons, and, suddenly, when the rich were throwing their New Year's Eve parties, we fell upon their cities and just took them over. And we left a message to everyone that here we are, that they have to take notice of us. And then the rich took off and sent their great armies to do away with us, just like they always do when the exploited rebel - they order them all to be done away with. But we were not done away with at all, because we had prepared ourselves quite well prior to the war, and we made ourselves strong in our mountains. And there were the armies, looking for us and throwing their bombs and bullets at us, and then they were making plans to kill off all the indigenous at one time, because they did not know who was a zapatista and who was not. And we were running and fighting, fighting and running, just like our ancestors had done. Without giving up, without surrendering, without being defeated.

And then the people from the cities went out into the streets and began shouting for an end to the war. And then we stopped our war, and we listened to those brothers and sisters from the city who were telling us to try to reach an arrangement or an accord with the bad governments, so that the problem could be resolved without a massacre. And so we paid attention to them, because they were what we call "the people," or the Mexican people. And so we set aside the fire and took up the word.

And it so happened that the governments said they would indeed be well-behaved, and they would engage in dialogue, and they would make accords, and they would fulfill them. And we said that was good, but we also thought it was good that we knew those people who went out into the streets in order to stop the war. Then, while we were engaging in dialogue with the bad governments, we were also talking with those persons, and we saw that most of them were humble and simple people like us, and both, they and we, understood quite well why we were fighting. And we called those people "civil society" because most of them did not belong to political parties, rather they were common, everyday people, like us, simple and humble people.

But it so happened that the bad governments did not want a good agreement, rather it was just their underhanded way of saying they were going to talk and to reach accords, while they were preparing their attacks in order to eliminate us once and for all. And so then they attacked us several times, but they did not defeat us, because we resisted quite well, and many people throughout the world mobilized. And then the bad governments thought that the problem was that many people saw what was happening with the EZLN, and they started their plan of acting as if nothing were going on. Meanwhile they were quick to surround us, they laid siege to us in hopes that, since our mountains are indeed remote, the people would then forget, since zapatista lands were so far away. And every so often the bad governments tested us and tried to deceive us or to attack us, like in February of 1995 when they threw a huge number of armies at us, but they did not defeat us. Because, as they said then, we were not alone, and many people helped us, and we resisted well.

And then the bad governments had to make accords with the EZLN, and those accords were called the "San Andrés Accords" because the municipality where those accords were signed was called "San Andrés." And we were not all alone in those dialogues, speaking with people from the bad governments. We invited many people and organizations who were, or are, engaged in the struggle for the Indian peoples of Mexico, and everyone spoke their word, and everyone reached agreement as to how we were going to speak with the bad governments. And that is how that dialogue was, not just the zapatistas on one side and the governments on the other. Instead, the Indian peoples of Mexico, and those who supported them, were with the zapatistas. And then the bad governments said in those accords that they were indeed going to recognize the rights of the Indian peoples of Mexico, and they were going to respect their culture, and they were going to make everything law in the Constitution. But then, once they had signed, the bad governments acted as if they had forgotten about them, and many years passed, and the accords were not fulfilled at all. Quite the opposite, the government attacked the indigenous, in order to make them back out of the struggle, as they did on December 22, 1997, the date on which Zedillo ordered the killing of 45 men, women, old ones and children in the town in Chiapas called ACTEAL. This immense crime was not so easily forgotten, and it was a demonstration of how the bad governments color their hearts in order to attack and assassinate those who rebel against injustices. And, while all of that was going on, we zapatistas were putting our all into the fulfillment of the accords and resisting in the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

And then we began speaking with other Indian peoples of Mexico and their organizations, and we made an agreement with them that we were going to struggle together for the same thing, for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture. Now we were also being helped by many people from all over the world and by persons who were well respected and whose word was quite great because they were great intellectuals, artists and scientists from Mexico and from all over the world. And we also held international encuentros. In other words, we joined together to talk with persons from America and from Asia and from Europe and from Africa and from Oceania, and we learned of their struggles and their ways, and we said they were "intergalactic" encuentros, just to be silly and because we had also invited those from other planets, but it appeared as if they had not come, or perhaps they did come, but they did not make it clear.

But the bad governments did not keep their word anyway, and then we made a plan to talk with many Mexicans so they would help us. And then, first in 1997, we held a march to Mexico City which was called "of the 1,111" because a compañero or compañera was going to go from each zapatista town, but the bad government did not pay any attention. And then, in 1999, we held a consulta throughout the country, and there it was seen that the majority were indeed in agreement with the demands of the Indian peoples, but again the bad governments did not pay any attention. And then, lastly, in 2001, we held what was called the "march for indigenous dignity" which had much support from millions of Mexicans and people from other countries, and it went to where the deputies and senators were, the Congress of the Union, in order to demand the recognition of the Mexican indigenous.

But it happened that no, the politicians from the PRI, the PAN and the PRD reached an agreement among themselves, and they simply did not recognize indigenous rights and culture. That was in April of 2001, and the politicians demonstrated quite clearly there that they had no decency whatsoever, and they were swine who thought only about making their good money as the bad politicians they were. This must be remembered, because you will now be seeing that they are going to say they will indeed recognize indigenous rights, but it is a lie they are telling so we will vote for them. But they already had their chance, and they did not keep their word.

And then we saw quite clearly that there was no point to dialogue and negotiation with the bad governments of Mexico. That it was a waste of time for us to be talking with the politicians, because neither their hearts nor their words were honest. They were crooked, and they told lies that they would keep their word, but they did not. In other words, on that day, when the politicians from the PRI, PAN and PRD approved a law that was no good, they killed dialogue once and for all, and they clearly stated that it did not matter what they had agreed to and signed, because they did not keep their word. And then we did not make any contacts with the federal branches. Because we understood that dialogue and negotiation had failed as a result of those political parties. We saw that blood did not matter to them, nor did death, suffering, mobilizations, consultas, efforts, national and international statements, encuentros, accords, signatures, commitments. And so the political class not only closed, one more time, the door to the Indian peoples, they also delivered a mortal blow to the peaceful resolution - through dialogue and negotiation - of the war. It can also no longer be believed that the accords will be fulfilled by someone who comes along with something or other. They should see that there so that they can learn from experience what happened to us.

And then we saw all of that, and we wondered in our hearts what we were going to do.

And the first thing we saw was that our heart was not the same as before, when we began our struggle. It was larger, because now we had touched the hearts of many good people. And we also saw that our heart was more hurt, it was more wounded. And it was not wounded by the deceits of the bad governments, but because, when we touched the hearts of others, we also touched their sorrows. It was as if we were seeing ourselves in a mirror.

II. - Where We Are Now
Then, like the zapatistas we are, we thought that it was not enough to stop engaging in dialogue with the government, but it was necessary to continue on ahead in the struggle, in spite of those lazy parasites of politicians. The EZLN then decided to carry out, alone and on their side ("unilateral", in other words, because just one side), the San Andrés Accords regarding indigenous rights and culture. For 4 years, since the middle of 2001 until the middle of 2005, we have devoted ourselves to this and to other things which we are going to tell you about.

Fine, we then began encouraging the autonomous rebel zapatista municipalities &endash; which is how the peoples are organized in order to govern and to govern themselves &endash; in order to make themselves stronger. This method of autonomous government was not simply invented by the EZLN, but rather it comes from several centuries of indigenous resistance and from the zapatistas' own experience. It is the self-governance of the communities. In other words, no one from outside comes to govern, but the peoples themselves decide, among themselves, who governs and how, and, if they do not obey, they are removed. If the one who governs does not obey the people, they pursue them, they are removed from authority, and another comes in.

But then we saw that the Autonomous Municipalities were not level. There were some that were more advanced and which had more support from civil society, and others were more neglected. The organization was lacking to make them more on a par with each other. And we also saw that the EZLN, with its political-military component, was involving itself in decisions which belonged to the democratic authorities, "civilians" as they say. And here the problem is that the political-military component of the EZLN is not democratic, because it is an army. And we saw that the military being above, and the democratic below, was not good, because what is democratic should not be decided militarily, it should be the reverse: the democratic-political governing above, and the military obeying below. Or, perhaps, it would be better with nothing below, just completely level, without any military, and that is why the zapatistas are soldiers so that there will not be any soldiers. Fine, what we then did about this problem was to begin separating the political-military from the autonomous and democratic aspects of organization in the zapatista communities. And so, actions and decisions which had previously been made and taken by the EZLN were being passed, little by little, to the democratically elected authorities in the villages. It is easy to say, of course, but it was very difficult in practice, because many years have passed &endash; first in the preparation for the war and then the war itself &endash; and the political-military aspects have become customary. But, regardless, we did so because it is our way to do what we say, because, if not, why should we go around saying things if we do not then do them.

That was how the Good Government Juntas were born, in August of 2003, and, through them, self-learning and the exercise of "govern obeying" has continued.

From that time and until the middle of 2005, the EZLN leadership has no longer involved itself in giving orders in civil matters, but it has accompanied and helped the authorities who are democratically elected by the peoples. It has also kept watch that the peoples and national and international civil society are kept well informed concerning the aid that is received and how it is used. And now we are passing the work of safeguarding good government to the zapatista support bases, with temporary positions which are rotated, so that everyone learns and carries out this work. Because we believe that a people which does not watch over its leaders is condemned to be enslaved, and we fought to be free, not to change masters every six years.

The EZLN, during these 4 years, also handed over to the Good Government Juntas and the Autonomous Municipalities the aid and contacts which they had attained throughout Mexico and the world during these years of war and resistance. The EZLN had also, during that time, been building economic and political support which allowed the zapatista communities to make progress with fewer difficulties in the building of their autonomy and in improving their living conditions. It is not much, but it is far better than what they had prior to the beginning of the uprising in January of 1994. If you look at one of those studies the governments make, you will see that the only indigenous communities which have improved their living conditions &endash; whether in health, education, food or housing &endash; were those which are in zapatista territory, which is what we call where our villages are. And all of that has been possible because of the progress made by the zapatista villages and because of the very large support which has been received from good and noble persons, whom we call "civil societies," and from their organizations throughout the world. As if all of these people have made "another world is possible" a reality, but through actions, not just words.

And the villages have made good progress. Now there are more compañeros and compañeras who are learning to govern. And &endash; even though little by little &endash; there are more women going into this work, but there is still a lack of respect for the compañeras, and they need to participate more in the work of the struggle. And, also through the Good Government Juntas, coordination has been improved between the Autonomous Municipalities and the resolution of problems with other organizations and with the official authorities. There has also been much improvement in the projects in the communities, and the distribution of projects and aid given by civil society from all over the world has become more level. Health and education have improved, although there is still a good deal lacking for it to be what it should be. The same is true for housing and food, and in some areas there has been much improvement with the problem of land, because the lands recovered from the finqueros are being distributed. But there are areas which continue to suffer from a lack of lands to cultivate. And there has been great improvement in the support from national and international civil society, because previously everyone went wherever they wanted, and now the Good Government Juntas are directing them to where the greatest need exists. And, similarly, everywhere there are more compañeros and compañeras who are learning to relate to persons from other parts of Mexico and of the world,. They are learning to respect and to demand respect. They are learning that there are many worlds, and that everyone has their place, their time and their way, and therefore there must be mutual respect between everyone.

We, the zapatistas of the EZLN, have devoted this time to our primary force, to the peoples who support us. And the situation has indeed improved some. No one can say that the zapatista organization and struggle has been without point, but rather, even if they were to do away with us completely, our struggle has indeed been of some use.

But it is not just the zapatista villages which have grown &endash; the EZLN has also grown. Because what has happened during this time is that new generations have renewed our entire organization. They have added new strength. The comandantes and comandantas who were in their maturity at the beginning of the uprising in 1994 now have the wisdom they gained in the war and in the 12 years of dialogue with thousands of men and women from throughout the world. The members of the CCRI, the zapatista political-organizational leadership, is now counseling and directing the new ones who are entering our struggle, as well as those who are holding leadership positions. For some time now the "committees" (which is what we call them) have been preparing an entire new generation of comandantes and comandantas who, following a period of instruction and testing, are beginning to learn the work of organizational leadership and to discharge their duties. And it also so happens that our insurgents, insurgentas, militants, local and regional responsables, as well as support bases, who were youngsters at the beginning of the uprising, are now mature men and women, combat veterans and natural leaders in their units and communities. And those who were children in that January of '94 are now young people who have grown up in the resistance, and they have been trained in the rebel dignity lifted up by their elders throughout these 12 years of war. These young people have a political, technical and cultural training that we who began the zapatista movement did not have. This youth is now, more and more, sustaining our troops as well as leadership positions in the organization. And, indeed, all of us have seen the deceits by the Mexican political class and the destruction which their actions have caused in our patria. And we have seen the great injustices and massacres that neoliberal globalization causes throughout the world. But we will speak to you of that later.

And so the EZLN has resisted 12 years of war, of military, political, ideological and economic attacks, of siege, of harassment, of persecution, and they have not vanquished us. We have not sold out nor surrendered, and we have made progress. More compañeros from many places have entered into the struggle so that, instead of making us weaker after so many years, we have become stronger. Of course there are problems which can be resolved by more separation of the political-military from the civil-democratic. But there are things, the most important ones, such as our demands for which we struggle, which have not been fully achieved.

To our way of thinking, and what we see in our heart, we have reached a point where we cannot go any further, and, in addition, it is possible that we could lose everything we have if we remain as we are and do nothing more in order to move forward. The hour has come to take a risk once again and to take a step which is dangerous but which is worthwhile. Because, perhaps united with other social sectors who suffer from the same wants as we do, it will be possible to achieve what we need and what we deserve. A new step forward in the indigenous struggle is only possible if the indigenous join together with workers, campesinos, students, teachers, employees…the workers of the city and the countryside.

(To be continued…)

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee &endash; General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, in the sixth month of the year 2005.

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers

The fight to stop the Wal-Martization of everything everywhere moves to the streets of Staten Island Saturday. Workers from markets across the area will circulate anti-Wal-Mart petitions in front of their stores. According to the Statin Island Advance members of Local 342 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) will be seeking petition signatures from shoppers in front of Island supermarkets such as Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Stop & Shop and King Kullen. The petitions will be handed over later to Borough President James Molinaro and other local leaders.

Wal-Mart is trying to open its first New York City store over intense opposition.

Mike Mareno, secretary treasurer of UFCW Local 342, says the workers will use coffee breaks and lunch hours and set up tables outside their stores as part of the Stop Wal-Mart effort. "This is just keeping everyone's awareness on the issue and to let Staten Islanders know the issue has not gone away," Mareno said of the weekend petition drive. "People who care about the quality of life on Staten Island should remain vigilant on the issue."

Brian McLaughlin, President of the New York City Central Labor Council told Workers Independent News,”The legacy of Wal-Mart is not lower prices. The legacy of Wal-Mart is really lowering the living standards for working people.” He said, “When you put a Wal-Mart into a community – anywhere in the ring of that community – and you were to study it five years later you would find that revenues are down, that jobs are down. Net jobs, not the promise of the four hundred Wal-Mart’ll bring in – but net jobs are down in the retail industry.”

It is interesting to note that according to Wal-Mart documents CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr. total compensation last year was 871 times that of the average US Wal-Mart Worker and as much as 50,000 times that made by Wal-Mart sub-contracted workers in some parts of the world.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reports that figures provided by Wal-Mart indicate full-time U.S. employees earn on average $9.68 per hour. “The firm,” IPS notes, “has not released pay figures for the 26 percent of its employees that, according to Wal-Mart, work part-time.”

IPS also reports, Wal-Mart’s full-time pay rate of $9.68 is about 37 percent lower than the national average wage of $15.35 for production and non-supervisory workers. As a result of Wal-Mart’s low wages, many employees of the world’s largest company must rely on government healthcare, food, housing and other aid. A study by Congressional Democratic staff estimated that Wal-Mart workers receive on average $2,103 per year in federal subsidies alone.

Over the last two years 13 states disclosed information about employers that were major users of health insurance programs which help low income families. Wal-Mart topped the list in every state, except Massachusetts where it was second, and Wisconsin which did not disclose the usage of employers other than Wal-Mart. Wake-Up Wal-Mart reports, that, “Combined, the 13 states disclose that at least 55,000 Wal-Mart employees, children, and spouses are covered by state health insurance programs. A total of 480,000 Wal-Mart employees work in these 12 states meaning that on average for every nine Wal-Mart employees, at least one Wal-Mart family member is getting state-provided health care” (A total of approximately 505,000 Wal-Mart employees work in the 13 states).

"When Wal-Mart opens, communities suffer," RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said earlier this year. "The question for New Yorkers is this - What are our real values? Wal-Mart's promise of low prices comes at too great a cost. Wal-Mart's business practices drive down standards for workers putting pressure on all employers to compete at their level. Low wages and high premiums and deductibles keep more than two-thirds of Wal-Mart employees from participating in the company health plan. Nearly 700,000 Wal-Mart workers are forced to get health insurance coverage paid for by other taxpayers. Wal-Mart shifts the cost of health insurance to taxpayers and other employers driving up health care costs for all of us." Sources: Statin Island Advance, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Wake-Up Wal-Mart, RWDSU, Workers Independent News

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Women in Saudi Arabia would just like to be able to drive any car.

Today two women journalist submitted a petition signed by 102 men and women in support of that right to the Saudi National Association for Human Rights. According to Arab News, one of the journalists said the impetus for the petition was the raising of the issue for discussion within the Shoura Council. The matter was raised by Mohammad al Zulfa, a member of the Majlis-i-Shura Council, who submitted a resolution to the body's secretariat calling for a debate on the issue. The secretariat turned down the request.

The journalist also said, “The petition was signed by housewives, businessmen and businesswomen, men and women teachers, men and women government and private sector employees and even all members of some Saudi families.” She also told Arab News that while Recommendation 13 of the Third National Forum for Dialogue held in Madinah to discuss women’s issues was: “Specialized bodies are to be authorized to study public transportation that is suitable for women and to suggest suitable means of transportation to enable women to travel or commute with ease,” nothing has been done to implement it.

The petition points out that many Saudi women who ask for the right to drive or who support women driving feel humiliated because they feel they are not trusted. This, it says, violates what Islam teaches about sexual equality and the responsibilities of both sexes.

It also says that in order to carry out their normal lives, women often have no choice but to rely upon foreign men to transport them. Making a none too progressive argument the petition tells, “…those who are against women driving that they should fear God and look at the consequences of letting foreign drivers into our homes, consequences they are responsible for and will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.”

Whatever the case may be with those “foreign” drivers, the possibility of women driving in the Kingdom any time soon does not look great.

Over the weekend, Interior Minister Prince Naif questioned why a member of the Shura Council had raised the issue at all. Prince Naif said, “We consider (the question) to be secondary, not a priority." The Prince babbled on, "These matters are decided according to the general good and what is dictated by women's honor, but I urge everybody to put a stop to this and not make an issue out of it that pits one group against another.”

Speaking of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, did you notice that on her recent middle east swing, our glorious Secretary of State, didn’t!

Why didn’t Ms. Rice bring up the lack of women’s rights in the Kingdom? Well, the Times of London reports, she offered this explanation to reporters traveling on the plane with her from Riyadh to Brussels, 'It's just a line I've not wanted to cross ...The United States has to recognize that even after democratic processes have taken place, places are not going to look like the United States ... I think it's important that we do have some boundaries about what we're trying to achieve.”

Boundaries? Fundamental human rights, Condi, ought not to be outside the "boundaries.” But then I forget this is Saudi Arabia we’re talking about here.

The Secretary’s comments were sharply criticized by Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian feminist who won the 2003 Nobel Peace prize. Ebadi accused Rice and the Bush Administration of absolute hypocrisy. “Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women’s rights, by close allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration’s focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests,” Ebadi said.

And finally, this.

Asharq Al-Awsat reports the startling (to the Saudi Royal Family anyway) news that the first Saudi female rally driver has successfully completed a three-day training session in preparation for the BMW Formula race. The training took place in Bahrain and was sponsored by the BMW Center for Professional Drivers.The driver is the first Arab woman to join the driving school. She received a certificate for her participation and her excellent skills. She says she hopes to become a role model for other Arab women who are interested in taking part in rally driving.

And so it goes…Sources: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), AKI (Italy), Capital Hill Blue, Times of London, Asharq Al-Awsat

Sign the National Petition on Cuba Travel

Make your voice heard!
Sign the national petition on Cuba travel

For the past 5 years the House of Representatives has voted to end the ban on travel to Cuba. Each year, the bill is changed behind closed doors and the Cuba provision gets taken out. This is partly so that President Bush won't have to make a tough decision about signing or vetoing. As citizens, we're tired of this subversion of democracy.

Below you'll find a petition to U.S. lawmakers on Cuba travel policy. It demands that after they pass the amendments to end the travel ban, the bill must reach the President without changes. We'll be delivering it twice: once before the votes happen in the summer (this is soon, so act now!) and again in the fall, when they usually try to take the amendments out.

The more people we have on the petition at each stage, the more impact the petition will have. So...recruit all your friends, colleagues, and family to sign!

We'll keep you updated through our email listserv about the outcome of the vote.

Thanks for your help,

Mavis Anderson
Philip Schmidt

No Fish Left Behind

We live in a bizarre country in a bizarre time. It’s a time when science is discounted by millions because it doesn’t square with religious beliefs (something I’d thought incorrectly that we’d left behind a long, long time ago).

We live in a time when the government thinks it’s a-ok to distort scientific studies for political ends and few seem to care.

Anyway, now it’s happening at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration where PEER Media reports, “…agency science is suffering under political manipulation and inappropriate influence of special interests.” According to a just released survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), that agency is being hampered in carrying out its charge to protect fish, seal and whale populations from extinction.

"Scientists are struggling against a strong political current at NOAA Fisheries," said UCS Washington Representative Lexi Shultz. "From global warming to fish and wildlife, we’ve seen that the Bush administration has little regard for scientific findings that don’t support its predetermined policies. And compromised science here can only be bad for fish, bad for fishing interests, and bad for the taxpayers who pay for and expect an honest process.”

The survey of nearly 500 NOAA Fisheries scientists in offices all across the country found:

• More than one third of respondents positioned to make such recommendations (37 percent) have “been directed, for non-scientific reasons, to refrain from making findings that are protective” of marine life and nearly one in four (24 percent) of those conducting such work reported being “directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a NOAA Fisheries scientific document;”

• More than half of all respondents (53 percent) knew of cases where “commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention;” and

• More than half of the scientists (58 percent) knew of cases “where high-level U.S. Department of Commerce administrators and appointees have inappropriately altered NOAA Fisheries determinations.” A substantial minority (42 percent) also cited incidents where members of Congress “inappropriately influenced NOAA Fisheries determinations.”

• Nearly two in three (64 percent) did not agree that the agency was effectively protecting populations and habitats of federally listed species, and more than two in three (69 percent) also doubted the agency could effectively aid in recovering threatened and endangered species;

• More than two-thirds of agency scientists (69 percent) did not “trust NOAA Fisheries decision makers to make decisions that will protect marine resources and ecosystems.”

• Two out of five (40 percent) said they could not openly express “concerns about the biological needs of species and habitats without fear of retaliation” in public, while more than a quarter (29 percent) did not feel they could do so even inside the confines of the agency;

• Almost a third (31 percent) felt they are not allowed to do their jobs as scientists; and

• A significant minority (18 percent) of scientists reported having “been directed by NOAA Fisheries decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public, media or elected officials.”

• More than four in five (81 percent) thought that NOAA Fisheries lacked sufficient resources “to adequately perform its environmental mission;”

• Three out of five scientists (60 percent) did not feel the agency “is moving in the right direction. This is consistent with a response from 46 percent that job satisfaction has decreased over the past few years, compared with half as many (23 percent) who reported an increase in job satisfaction; and

• More than two out of five (42 percent) scientists described morale as poor or extremely poor and more than half (56 percent) do not feel that “upper-management will stand behind” an employee with a scientifically solid, yet politically controversial position.

The scientists were also asked to submit essays on how to improve scientific integrity at the agency. The response was also eye opening.

One biologist wrote, “It seems that we are encouraged to think too much about the consequences and how to get around them, rather than just basing our recommendations on the best available data.”

Another said, “ . . . it is not uncommon to be directed to not communicate debates in writing. I have also seen written documents that include internal discussions/debate purposefully omitted from administrative records with no valid reasoning.”

“The Bush administration seems to have a ‘No Fish Left Behind’ policy,” said PEER Program Director Rebecca Roose, who recruited current and former NOAA employees to develop the questionnaire. “These scientists are trying to serve the public and fulfill the agency mission to protect fisheries and marine animals, but they feel the science is being undermined at every turn, directly through manipulation and indirectly through cuts to scientific resources.”

But it ain’t just fish that have to worry.

A couple of months ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists released the results of another survey. This one concerned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the High Country News, that survey found that: 44 percent of those questioned said they have been told, "...for non-scientific reasons," to refrain from making findings that actually protect endangered or threatened species. Eighty-nine percent of managers knew of cases where U.S. Department of the Interior political appointees "have injected themselves" into scientific determinations; 69 percent of scientists say the Service is not effective in its recovery of protected species; and 32 percent say "they are not allowed to do their jobs as scientists."

By the way, in case you were worried about Philip Cooney, the guy who altered the global warming report, he managed to find himself a good job with Exxon Mobil. Deputy spokeswoman for the White House, Dana Perino commented, "Phil Cooney did a great job and we appreciate his public service and the work that he did, and we wish him well in the private sector." Sources: High Country News, NOAA Fisheries Service, ENS,, PEER Media, Union of Concerned Scientists

Latest Communiqué from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Originally published in Spanish by the CCRI-CG of the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Taken from Chiapas Indymedia

Communiqué from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.


June 26, 2005.

To the People of Mexico:
To the Peoples of the World:

First - The CCRI-CG of the EZLN is informing you that it has finished consulting with tens of thousands of support bases. Between June 20 and June 26, meetings and assemblies were held in more than one thousand indigenous communities in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Second - Participating in these assemblies were only 100% indigenous and 100% Mexican men and women, adults, EZLN support bases, who listened to reports from the zapatista leadership. There was also an analysis of the national situation and of the proposal for a new step in the struggle.

Third - After analyzing and discussing the advantages and disadvantages, the dangers and the risks, everyone expressed themselves, through individual, free votes, concerning the proposal.

Fourth - The results were that more than 98% approved the new step, and less than 2% decided not to support the proposal.

Fifth - In this manner, with the approval and backing of the wide majority of its members, the EZLN shall undertake a new political initiative that is national and international in nature.

Sixth - In order to report on what was analyzed and discussed in the internal consulta - in addition to explaining and calling for joining in with the new initiative which has been approved - the CCRI-CG of the EZLN will, over the next few days, make public a series of texts which are part of the "Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona."


From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, in the sixth month of 2005.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Very Deep

"I think that the film Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness." - Alicia Silverstone, Actress

An Odd Montage Confront Nazis at Yorktown

About 125 members of the neo-nazi National Socialist Movement gathered to shout white supremacists messages at mostly empty woods and fields.

The only people in ear shout, in fact, were about 500 anti-racists not too far away.

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the commander of the neo-Nazi group, Jeff Schoep of Minnesota, declared in his speech that America was being controlled by Jews and ruined by racial integration. He vowed his group would resist such "occupation" and likened them to the patriots led by George Washington who won America's freedom at Yorktown.

"If being proud of your race is hate, then we are a hate group," Schoep shouted over the pounding rotors of a police helicopter.

And they are!

A spokesman for the nazis, Bill White of Roanoke, said attendees had come from as far away as California and that the gathering included members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations and two skinhead groups.

A counter rally was organized by Messianic Christian “Rabbi" Eric Carlson of "Synagogue" Zion's Sake in Newport News and attended by members of nearly a dozen other synagogues and churches from Moyock, N.C., to Richmond. Zion’s Sake is a “synagogue” made up of Christians who like to pretend they are Jews.

One group of about 30 counter-demonstrators, Anti-Racist Action, marched in carrying a pink and red banner with black lettering that said, "Smash racism now."

"All we want to do today is to get as close as we can and let them know they're not welcome to organize anywhere," Rob Conner, of Philadelphia told WAVY. He said members had come from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

A smaller group carrying signs bearing such slogans as "Death to fascism," would identify themselves only as militant anti-racists from Washington, D.C. Their anti-Nazi shouts were too far away to be heard at the NSM rally.

A little further down the road was yet another group the Pennsylvania-based Center for Education Rights Ltd., who held a low-key gathering to promote tolerance.

Richard Luzinski, 59, who wasn’t with any group commented, "It's kind of frightening when you see Nazis jump out of a car in front of you.” Sources: WAVY (Portsmouth, VA), Jewish Telegraph Agency, Richmond Times Dispatch

Give a Kick in the Butt to SOS

The Danza Indigenas monument at Ramona Boulevard and Downing Avenue in Los Angeles County has become a scene of controversy. The controversy stems from quotes on the monument which reads, “This land was Mexican once, was Indian always and is, and will be again."

Those words stirred up members of the racist Ventura, California based Save Our State (SOS) who alleges the words are seditious. So SOS protested at the site recently. At that demo some people were struck by a car driven by one of the anti-immigrant types by the name of Nat Hetkin.

SOS wants the words removed and threatens “something” but who knows what if they are not.

Lots of folks don’t agree with SOS and want them sent packing. Monument supporters say Danza Indigenas speaks of the heritage of Baldwin Park's nearly 80 percent Latino population.

Over the weekend more than 500 people showed up in counter demonstrations. About 100 police officers, mostly from Baldwin Park but also from surrounding law enforcement agencies, were on duty Saturday. More than 20 arrests were made.

According to the Pasadena Star News about 25 monument supporters split from the larger group to confront SOS members and white supremacists from White Pride World Wide a few blocks away. SOS and their racist allies waved American flags and carried signs that read "Deport All Illegal Alien Terrorists,' "Illegal Aliens Bring Terminal TB' and "This land was Mexican once and will be American forever.'

The anti-racists chanted, "Hitler rose-Hitler fell-SOS go to hell," "SOS! KKK! Racist scum, go away!' and "United workers will never be defeated." Also heard were chants of, "Fuera racista!' ("Get out of here, racists!'), and seen were banners reading "Queremos un mundo sin fronteras' ("We want a world without borders').

Amongst those protesting against SOS and friends were members of the Mexica Movement a group of indigenous people against white racists. Nelyollotl Toltecatl, 35, of Los Angeles said 70 million to 100 million indigenous people from Mexico, Central America and Canada have been decimated over the past 500 years and the only reason why others survived, he told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, was because Europeans needed slaves. "I want to drag out our history to the light of day. Europeans are here on our land without our permission," he said.

Members of the International Socialist Organization held a red banner that read "A World Without Borders" in Spanish. Yasser Giron of Los Angeles, one of the group's organizers, said they joined the monument supporters because the capitalist system is the cause of economic imbalances that lead to illegal immigration, he said.

Also, present were members of the ANSWER Coalition.

Alvaro Maldonado brought 15 people from Alhambra-based San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice. "We are calling people from the working-class community to mobilize and expel SOS from our community. This is the only way in massive number to counter their nascent, fascist movement.” Sources: Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, One People’s Project

Legacy of Nuclear Tests in the Pacific Should Haunt the US

On July 19th the “Changed Circumstance Petition for the Republic of the Marshall Islands” ( will be brought up yet again before the US Senate Energy Committee and the Senate Foreign Affairs Pacific Committee.

These hearings are essentially a legacy of US nuclear testing in the Pacific.

As Jonathan M. Weisgall speaking on behalf of the peoples of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrok explained to the US House Resources Committee on May 25, the US conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests on a few small islands in the Marshall Island chain between 1946 and 1958. The total yield from these bomb tests was 98 times greater than the total yield of all such testing in Nevada. .

During these years, the Marshall Islands was a United Nations Trust Territory administered by the United States, which had pledged to the United Nations to “protect the inhabitants against the loss of their land and resources.” That protection of the inhabitants included forcing the people of the Bikini Islands from their homes. The protection also included the explosion of the equivalent of 7200 Hiroshima bombs.

That protection included, for example, the “accidental” irradiation on March 1, 1954 of inhabitants of Rongelap and Utrok Atools. President Eisenhower told a press conference that U.S. scientists were “surprised and astonished” at the test, and a year later the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) admitted that about 7,000 square miles downwind of the shot “was so contaminated that survival might have depended upon prompt evacuation of the area. . . .” As Weisgall says, “Put another way, if Bravo had been detonated in Washington, DC, and the fallout pattern had headed in a northeast direction, it would have killed everyone from Washington to New York, while near-lethal levels of fallout would stretch from New England to the Canadian border.”

That test led to an international controversy and eventually to the U.S. moratorium on atmospheric nuclear testing and the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The Bikinians who were pushed aside have been in exile since 1946. Well, there was a brief period in 1968 which followed an announcement from President Johnson that the atoll was safe where the island returned home. They lived in their homeland until 1978 when medical tests revealed that the people had “ingested what may have been the largest amounts of radioactive material of any known population…” They were then taken away again. Scientists explained that they had made a “careless” mathematical error which threw off by a factor of 100 the radioactive dose the Bikinians would receive.

Meanwhile, Weisgall told the committee, “Approximately half the Enewetak population cannot return to their home islands in the northern part of the atoll, where radiation still renders the islands too radioactive.”

And, the tests, by the way simply vaporized all or part of four islands at Bikini and five at Enewetak.

Weisgall also told the Committee, “Although they were over 100 miles from Bikini, the people of Rongelap received a radiation dose from Bravo equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero at Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

”The people of Utrok were returned to their home atoll a mere three months after Bravo (test) and were exposed to high levels of residual fallout in the ensuing years. This unnecessary exposure led to thyroid problems and other cancers.”

”The inhabitants of Rongelap and Utrok were the subjects of a medical research program designed to understand the effects of ionizing radiation, and they continue to suffer from radiation-related diseases. Indeed, recent Department of Energy whole body counting data has shown that the people living on Utrok are still exposed to radioactive cesium-137.”

Marshall Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Gerald Zackios told a May 25, 2005 Joint Hearing of the Full Committee Resources and International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the United States House of Representatives, "We experience the broad-reaching effects of the testing program on the most intimate and personal levels: from our home islands that we can no longer inhabit, to the sickness and death of our friends and family."

Congressman Dale Rohrabacher (R-California) noted that the Marshallese had paid a tremendous price for the ultimate security of the US compared to the average American citizen.

The United States has a moral obligation to the Marshall Islands, said Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, (D-American Samoa) at the same hearing. Rep. Faleomavaega who questioned the Administration's position, objected in what he felt was comparison of the US dollars to the tremendous sacrifice of Marshall Islanders.

For further information, please read Indigenous Presentation to the Delegates of the Seventh Review of the Non-Proliveration Treaty. Sources: PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT, YokweOnline, Waging, Marianas Variety, Olekoi PALAU, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice