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[Spanish] [Economics] [ULK Issue 37]
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Aumentar el salario Mínimo a $2.50

Aun usando el PPP para ajustar salarios mínimos, todos los países en esta gráfica excepto México tienen salarios mínimos que están por lo menos un orden de magnitud más alto que esos en los países más pobres.

Recientemente la pequeña ciudad de SeaTac, Washington, pasó un voto de medida para aumentar el salario mínimo a $15 por hora. A lo ancho de Estados Unidos la Union de Trabajadores SEIU ha encabezado un esfuerzo para exigir $15 por hora para todos los trabajadores en restaurantes de comida rápida. En la huelga del 28 de Noviembre, 2013, organizadores dijeron que hubo demostraciones en más de 100 ciudades.(1)

En 2014 el salario mínimo aumentará en muchos estados. El liderato en el camino lo lleva Washington ($9.32) y Oregon ($9.10), con Nueva York dando el brinco más alto a $8.00 por hora. La ciudad de Nueva York fue el centro de los recientes protestantes que trabajan en comida rápida. Mientras tanto, los Demócratas en el Congreso tienen planes para un proyecto de ley este año que aumentará el salario mínimo federal de $7.25 a $10.10 por hora.(2)

Otro lugar donde luchas por un salario mínimo hicieron mucho ruido en 2013 fue la industria de prendas en Bangladesh. Como lo mencionamos en el último numero de Under Lock & Key, esos trabajadores tenían una victoria reciente en el salario mínimo que elevado de $38 a $68 por mes. En Camboya (Cambodia) a trabajadores de prendas se les ha prometido un aumento en el salario mínimo de $80 a $95 por mes. Insatisfechos, los trabajadores se han unido a recientes protestas en contra del régimen actual para exigir $160 por mes.(3)

Con semanas de 48 horas de trabajo, los trabajadores de prendas están ganando alrededor de $0.35 por hora en Bangladesh, y $0.42 en Camboya. Aun que no lo crea, estos son los trabajadores privilegiados quienes tienen protecciones especiales por trabajan para industrias exportadoras importantes. El Bangladesí común tiene un salario mínimo de $19 mensuales, lo cual es menos de 10 centavos por hora.

El propuesto salario mínimo de $10 por hora en Estados Unidos pondría a los amerikanos de paga mínima CIEN VECES más alto al ingreso de los trabajadores de paga mínima en Bangladesh. Por esto es que en el día de Mayo hicimos el llamado al movimiento de trabajadores blancos chauvinistas por evadir el asunto de un salario mínimo global.

Ahora, el primer chillido de nuestros críticos chauvinistas será "el costo de vivienda, se les olvido el costo de vivienda." Nuestra propuesta para un salario mínimo global altaría este salario a una canasta de mercadería. Significa que trabajadores en Estados Unidos y Bangladesh tendrían los recursos para estilos de vida comparables con su paga. Tal vez el amerikano agarra trigo donde el Bangladesí agarra arroz, por ejemplo. Pero el amerikano no agarra una SUV con gasolina ilimitada mientras que el Bangladesí agarra el autobús al y del trabajo. Para mantener este tipo de desigualdad el Bangladesí estaría subsidiando un nivel más alto de vida para el amerikano.

Passa que el Banco Mundial se ha llevado una apuñalada a esta calculación con su Poder de Compra Equivalente. Usando esta calculación, el salario mínimo en Bangladesh, el cual aparenta ser de $0.09 por hora es realmente un enorme $0.19 por hora.(4) Así que, debemos disculparnos con nuestros críticos. El propuesto salario mínimo de $10 por hora solo pondría al amerikano de paga mínima a 50 veces más que al de paga mínima en Bangladesh si consideramos el costo de vivienda.

Recientemente el New Afrikan Black Panther Party (prison chapter) (Partido Nuevo Afrikano Pantera Negra (División de la Prisión)), acusó nuestro movimiento de descartar la posibilidad de una organización revolucionaria en los Estados Unidos por que reconocimos los datos de arriba. Solo porque luchas por salarios más altos, y otras demandas económicas, son generalmente pro-imperialistas en este país no significa que no podamos organizarnos aquí. Pero el organizarse revolucionarimente no debe reunir a la burguesía menor por más dinero a expensas del proletariado global. Además, aun en los tempranos días del proletariado Ruso Lenin tuvo críticas de luchas que buscaban salarios más altos.

Mientras que expresamos dudas acerca de la estrategia electoral de Chokwe Lumumba en Jackson, Mississippi (ve ULK 33 en ingles), permanecemos optimista acerca del New Afrikan Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Liberación Nuevo Afrikano) y sus esfuerzos para movilizar a la multitud allí. El organizarse para economías cooperativas y auto-suficiencia es un acercamiento más neutral para movilizar los segmentos bajos de Nueva Afrika que el clamor del SEIU por más salarios por servicio improductivo de trabajo. Mientras que nuestras preocupaciones reposaban en sus habilidades para organizarse de una manera que fuera realmente independiente de los sistemas existentes, creando un poder doble, el SEIU mendigando por más botines de los imperialistas ni siquiera ofrece tal posibilidad. Para realmente dirigir los desigualdades en el mundo entonces, debemos últimamente llegar a entrar en conflicto con el sistema capitalista que crea y requiere esas desigualdades.

Un punto agitacional de los protestas de comida rápida ha sido que 52 por-ciento de las familias de los trabajadores de comida rápida de linea delantera necesitan apoyarse en programas de asistencia publica(1). Una de las razones de que esto es verdad es que la mayoría de los trabajadores de comida rápida no llegan a trabajar 48 o aun que sea 40 horas a la semana. Si le ponemos niños y otros dependientes en la mezcla y tenemos una pequeña, pero significante, clase baja en los Estados Unidos que lucha con cosas como comida, renta y cuentas de utilidad. La mayoría son padres solteros, mayormente madres solteras. Viviendas colectivas y estructuras económicas podrían (y lo hacen) servir a esta clase y pueden ofrecer un medio de movilización política. Los programas sirve a la gente y casas negras (viviendas colectivas) de las Panteras Negras son un modelo para este tipo de organización. Pero programas patrocinados-por-el-estado y el incremento general en riquezas desde los 1960s hace el distinguir este tipo de trabajo y el de trabajar con el imperialismo una tarea mas intimidante.

La campaña para un salario mínimo global tiene poca tracción entre los trabajadores de paga baja en los Estados Unidos, porque ellos no se benefician de esto. Esta es una campaña que tiene que ser liderado por el Tercer Mundo y empujada por medio de cuerpos internacionales como la Organización de Comercio Mundial (World Trade Organization). La apoyamos por razones agitaciones, pero no esperamos un apoyo masivo en este país. Nos permite pintar una linea entre esos que son verdaderos internacionalistas y aquellos que no lo son.(5)

Cualquier campaña que trabaje para los intereses económicos de la gente en los países imperialistas va a ser problemática porque el mejor trato económico será el unirse con los imperialistas, por lo menos en el futuro inmediato.


Notes:
1. Jonathan Nack, Protest Rocks Oakland McDonalds - parte del día de acciones a lo largo de la nación. 5 de Diciembre, 2013.
2. Brian Tumulty, NY, otra docena que aumentan el salario mínimo en el 2014, 28 de Diciembre 2013.
3. 30,000 Camboyanos, trabajadores de prendas de vestir, se unen a las protestas anti-gubernamentales, 26 de Diciembre 2013.
4. Wikipedia
5. ¿Porqué $2.50? Algunas calculaciones rústicas hechas por compañeros han enseñado que una distribución igual de la riqueza pondría el salario alrededor de $5 por hora. Como estamos hablando de una reforma bajo el capitalismo no podemos tener una distribución igual completa o el motivo de la ganancia se iría y la economía dejaría de funcionar. Esta no es una reforma realista para exigir bajo el capitalismo. Ajustando el salario mínimo a $2.50 por hora le dejaría a los capitalistas del mundo la mitad del dinero (después de considerar la reinversión, infraestructura, etc.) para usarse como motivación económica. Por supuesto, después que derroquemos el imperialismo, bajo el socialismo tendremos la capacidad de igualar verdaderamente el salario globalmente conforme eliminamos la ganancia capitalista.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Inevitable Demise


Death and destruction, killing and anarchy
Your nightmares and fears have become reality
Open your eyes, you're all going to die
Bodies will burn, women will cry
Children will perish, cities will crumble
Striking you down, making you humble
Death everywhere, violence fills the air
The warnings were clear, you just didn't care
Now your lungs turn to black with the smoke they've consumed
Untimely demise, nothing to prove
For your church and your country you fought with great pride
For your god and your government
You fought and you died.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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No Place 2 Be


No Place 2 Be!
Across the world abuse unfolds,
millions incarcerated, cruelty untold
3rd world countries amerikaz cold
The United Nations' head turns,
a system exposed.
Broken promises with a lot of corrupt laws,
no reform, a system flawed.
With one punishment comes isolation
with no air or lights, we suffer deprivation.
At the hands of the system, we slowly deteriorate.
Millions hunger strike, souls daily break.
We complain, they block our appeal.
We associate, they stop our will.
As a whole, we all agree-
frustrated, the system failed us all-
failed you and me!
No place 2 be!
Against all walls!!

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[Censorship] [Illinois]
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Legal Pressure Wins Some Censorship Victories in Illinois

You sent a "newsletter" (ULK) and "publications (several)" to me recently. I just got 2 "Illinois Department of Corrections - Material Review - Lawrence Correctional Center" for each package for a publication review. This is the first time I ever got any notice from the mail room/publication review for anything. I've been raising the issue of unofficial censorship/mail tampering because I never get responses from organizations like MIM(Prisons), the Midwest Soaring Foundation, A.I.C.-Chicago (Native American Cultural, Spiritual, Community Centers) or Prisoners Rights Research Project.

It's amusing that the Sep/Oct edition of ULK was delivered only after I filed my first mail tampering grievance, that the May/June, July/August weren't delivered and that I've never received any notice of any other withholding of my mail until after we corroborated that mail was being tampered with and you sent the censorship packet (which was held a month and unstapled/copied and I wasn't notified).

I've seen that these people facilitate, promote and anticipate ignorance and apathy. It seems an inactivate person is a pliant subject. They sincerely don't want their constitutional, Federal, State - law, regulation, policy and procedure known. I've had problems with accessing and copying IDOC/LLC policy and procedure. I actually won a FOIA issue where the institute moved the IDOC Administrative Directives and IDOC Chaplaincy Handbook from the law library to the general library and issued a verbal/unofficial directive not to allow copies be made. I filed a FOIA request and was denied because "the material requested is available in your institution's library." So I grieved saying LLC's no copy directive is in direct violation and conflict with the Illinois FOIA denying due process/equal protection of laws. Then copies were allowed. They'd also taken these administrative directives out of the general library, but after the grievance they put them back. No direct victory but a clear pressure point.

It's not what they can do to us, it's what we let them do to us. The petty tyrant works against the cause and against the people. I call them petty because they don't have power, only bequests/allotments/investments and only to enforce/proliferate the interests of those in power. The problem isn't of equality in america but heredity. Not of genes - blond and blue - but of revelation, independence and manifest destiny. Sovereignty and conquest.

[for more info on how to get information on mail policies in Illinois see Censorship Victories and Banned Lists in Illinois]

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[Release] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 36]
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Release to Amerikkka Brings No Happiness

Three days from now, after serving 15.5 years for technical violations at parole, I will be given $28, the pet end of a leash and a ride to Parole & Probation. Upon "release" from prison and "re-entry" into society, two of the "expectations" placed upon me will be to:

  1. contribute to my own continued oppression in the form of a $50 monthly parole supervision fee and,
  2. contribute to the oppression of others in the form of mandatory employment resulting in apportionment of part of my wages (taxes) to finance the capture, imprisonment and torture of segments of the civilian population.
These "expectations" are enshrined in a parole "agreement" which I must sign prior to being "released." As a condition of my "release" I am coerced into participating in my own oppression and that of others. If I fail to participate, I will be re-captured and returned to captivity and the torture that entails.

I have been asked many times since the news broke of my parole a few weeks ago if I am happy or excited. I have spent the last 15.5 years in prison for actions which were the result of anti-oppressor activity which would have landed no one but a parolee in prison. I will leave prison visually incapacitated due to deliberate medical neglect which has left me almost completely blind — I am an artist by trade. I am being "released" now only as an attempt to conceal the state's malfeasance which has resulted in my imprisonment for 4 years and 24 days past my mandatory release date. The sudden attempt at damage control is due only to the efforts of an attorney and journalist who recently became involved in my situation. Upon "release" I will be separated from my family, friends, brothers and sister, comrades who will remain confined and tortured, some for the remainder of their lives. I will enter a society which has applauded and financed my, and my people's, captivity and dehumanization; a society which has my destruction and the destruction of all others like me as a cornerstone of its existence. A society weaned on blood, misery and intolerance and the wanton exploitation of humyn and environmental resources to benefit a few, while espousing "liberty and justice for all."

As a bi, two-spirit, "ex"-felon and anti-capitalist on parole in what is quite possibly the most corrupt and anti-humyn state in amerikkka, I can look the pale, unblinking masses in the eye and state proudly and unequivocally:
No, I am not fucking "happy."
No, I am not fucking "excited."

This is nothing but a bed move to a different facility with a bigger yard, better canteen and a few more privileges (mostly for the privileged, which I am not).

What enthusiasm I do have is limited to, and derived from, the increased capacity for resistance in the continued struggle due to better options and resources.

On January 2 I will enter minimum security land (i.e. amerikkkan society) and my struggle for equality and freedom will continue unabated at the gate.

My respects to all who are left behind.


MIM(prisons) adds: We have written about the challenges released prisoners face on the streets. This comrade has a long history of political activism, and this increases chances of staying active on the streets. But dealing with the challenges of life as an "ex-con" can quickly consume all the energy that might otherwise be put into anti-imperialist work. We at MIM(Prisons) have been working to build a Re-Lease On Life program to help prisoners stay active on the streets. Get in touch with us if your release date is coming up in the next year.

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[United Front] [Abuse] [Florida]
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Ride or Die in Florida

I could not help but to be moved by the article Ride or Die in the Nov/Dec 2013 ULK. That's where it is at. Organized groups recognizing their potential to solve the problems within our communities. This is something them folks (pigs) can't or won't do. Gangs are not the problem by itself. It is the ignorance of some of their members, mainly because a lack of education of their origin as an organization before the feds infiltrated and caused problems from within. As long as they oppose each other the establishment does not have to worry. Inside the Florida Department of Corrections (FL DOC) there are many examples of the oppression and violation of basic rights that lack of unity causes.

The state of Florida issues a pair of Croks (plastic sandals) for state issued shoes, despite 30 and 40 degree weather. FL DOC does not care if your feet are froze numb while they force you on the rec yard in the morning. Likewise with your hands, no gloves are issued or sold and some institutions do not allow prisoners to have their hands in their pockets to keep them warm. You are told to take your hands out your pockets by someone who is wearing a wool coated jacket, with woolen gloves, and a 100 dollar pair of boots.

Cheap artificial meat is being served to prisoners. This meat causes constipation and other health problems. Prisoners who choose not to eat it will have to eat beans on the regular as the alternative. The monthly menu FL DOC posted on the internet is a front for deceit. The chicken, turkey baloney, sausage, and hot dogs are the only meals that are partly real meat. I mean the chicken is real but everything else is processed and artificial. The meals served consist of the same thing they just have different names. The food is poorly cooked on a lot of occasions. The artificial meat TVP (texture vegetable protein) that was served some years back was stopped after prisoners in Florida worked with prisoners in other states to fight back. They knew TVP was was not sufficient to meet the dietary requirement, but the prisons will do anything they are allowed until someone stops them.

Prisoners receive a roll of toilet paper every 10 days, which is not enough for an adult. And upon expiration of the toilet paper you are told you will be supplied as needed. But how can you be supplied when there is none to supply.

These are just a few examples other than the regular harassment and abuse of authority. Anything that prisoners do other than kiss and lick boots is a disturbance to them. When writing up these issues the authorities answer the grievance with a statement about what the rule states, but it will not get enforced. I am speaking for those who can't afford toilet paper. So they are forced to hustle.

This violation of our basic rights, and of many rules of the prison itself, is exactly what happens when there is no unity. In Florida it is time somebody stands up inside prison and outside against their courts. I am trying to inform people of the United Front. Ride or Die. We need another "Attica" to happen here in Florida.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As with the original Ride or Die article, this prisoner provides compelling examples for why the United Front for Peace work is important. Lumpen Organizations in prisons can come together and provide the leadership for broad unity against the criminal injustice system. This unity will lay the basis for a strong anti-imperialist movement.

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[Abuse] [Police Brutality] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 36]
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North Carolina Brutality on the Streets and in the Prisons

Two recent stories in Durham, North Carolina show a clear pattern of law enforcement and the judicial system overstepping its boundaries. On 15 December 2013, officer Markeith Council, a Wake County Jailer, was found guilty of "involuntary manslaughter," after he slammed a prisoner on his head, not once, but twice.(1) The evidence showed that the prisoner, who was unarmed, and weighed less than half that of the 290 lb Council, was unconscious after initially hitting the concrete floor. The autopsy showed a severe laceration to the prisoner's skull, and several crushed vertebrae in his neck. This prisoner was incarcerated for an open container, drug paraphernalia, and a failure to appear, crimes that apparently now carry a death sentence.

The officer was only sentenced to a term of 90 days, and will spend all of his time in protective custody, no doubt receiving special privileges from former co-workers.

In the second story, a Durham teen, Jesus "Chuy" Huerta, was shot to death while his hands were cuffed behind his back in the back of a police car, in police custody. The teen was shot in the head, after being searched by the officers, and not found to be carrying a weapon.

Here's the kicker: the police investigation determined that the teen shot himself in the side of the head while handcuffed in the back of the car. The reports were only released after protests.

During a candlelight vigil for Huerta, police in riot gear fired canisters of tear gas at mourners, and forced them to disperse.

In "Common Sense," Thomas Pain wrote: "Common sense should tell us that the powers which have endeavored to subdue us, are of all others, the most improper to defend us." The bourgeoisie cannot be reformed. Voting in new oppressors won't change things. The system is broken, it cannot be fixed. The oppressors, through reform, will only withdraw, make empty promises, and come back harder to crush the oppressed. Those afraid to endanger themselves don't realize that they are already in danger. We are in danger from a group that will stop at nothing to maintain a stranglehold on us.

Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has been locked down since a single prisoner, acting alone, cut an officer on 15 November 2013. The prisoner, to my understanding, isn't even at this camp anymore. For weeks prisoners were forced to shower in full restraints (handcuffs, shackles, black box, waist chains, locks), and the lock-down is still 24 hours a day. Prisoners are only allowed to leave their cells to shower, or to go to work. There is no recreation, and food trays are served in the cells. All other activities have been halted until further notice. There is no foreseeable end to this "institutional lockdown," and staff are still claiming "security reasons," even though there hasn't been another incident since 19 November 2013. Until prisoners learn to stand together, this is the way things will remain.

[UPDATE: A prisoner corrected the above report, changing November 19 to November 15. S/he reports they went to shower in handcuffs and the water was unusually cold, but they were not under full restraints, lock box, chains etc. As of 19 February 2014 they are still on modified lockdown, where they are allowed out of their cell 2 hours a day, 24 people at a time.]


MIM(Prisons) adds: This author is right that the incidents of violence on the streets and in the prisons are all related, and all part of a larger system of oppression that perpetuates the system of imperialism. This is a system that relies on the subjugation of some nations by others, both globally and within U.$. borders. The white nation has the power, and the oppressed nations in the United $tates are disproportionately locked behind bars, and victims of police brutality and murder. Even with a Black figurehead (Obama), the white nation still has the power and control. Statistics tell the story of the very few New Afrikans and Latin@s in positions of power (lackeys and figureheads) while these nations suffer the highest percentage of incidents of police brutality and imprisonment, far higher than their representation in this country overall.

And so we agree with this comrade that reforms will not fundamentally change the system of imperialist oppression. But still we must fight for those rights that will better enable us to educate and organize, while building towards the long term goal of revolution to overthrow the imperialist system.


Notes:
1. Raleigh News & Observer, December 15, 2013

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[Work Strike] [Abuse] [Moore Haven Correctional Institution] [Okeechobee Correctional Institution] [Dade Correctional Institution] [Desoto Correctional Institution] [South Florida Reception Center] [Florida] [ULK Issue 36]
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FL Prisoners Struggle Against Having to Pay for Visits

[CORRECTION: The comrade making the original inquiry updated us to say that the problems of having to pay for visits and the DOC taking 10% of our accounts did not happen at Moore Haven Correctional Institution, but rather at South Florida Reception Center (SFRC), Desoto Correctional Institution and Dade Correctional Institution. They were charging prisoners $1.00 for every disciplinary report and $5.00 for every prisoner that was put in confinement or segregation.]

[In November a USW comrade in Moore Haven Correctional Institution in Florida reported that the prison was taking 10% out of prisoners commissary or trust fund accounts each week and that they were being charged for family visits. The article below is a response to that report.]

This is the second time that the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has tried to impose these despotic demands that I know of. The last time they tried to steal prisoners' money three ways: 1) charging prisoners $1 for every disciplinary report (D.R.) we get, 2) charging prisoners' families to come visit us, and 3) taking 10% out of prisoners' commissary or trust fund account. This was attempted at Okeechobee Correctional Institution.

In response to prisoners' complaints the captain went around to all the dorms and lieutenants at count time and claimed they did not know where the proposed memorandum came from but FDOC headquarters in Tallahassee told them they know nothing about that memorandum, they did not circulate it, and it's bogus and will not stand.

Rest assured that Tallahasse does know about the memorandum at Moore Haven CI. They tried it at one prison and it did not work so they are trying it at Moore Haven because (a) it a private institution run by Corrections Corporation of America, and (b) are short-timers. They are trying Moore Haven because they feel they have more to lose and don't know this trick has been tried at Okeechobee CI before.

Here is how we defeated Tallahassee and the institution. At least 98% of the prisoners filed grievances saying that their family was being subjected to robbery and racketeering. This is organized crime against prisoners and their families under the RICO Act, committed by the government against its own citizens. Then prisoners had their families on the phone to the secretary of FDOC, Governor and state representatives raising pure hell about the way they were being unjustly treated via extortion and harassment by FDOC. The last powerful thing we did was had a sit down strike like good old Martin Luther King Jr. Thus everybody would not leave the dorm. That worked so good because 1) it's non-violent, 2) it stopped all work production, 3) there are not enough confinement cells to lock everybody up in, and 4) it's hard to justify locking a bunch of people up because they and their families refuse to be abused by the government. The sit-down strike got FDOC minds right real fast.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade asked about the progress on the grievance campaign in Florida as well. Yet h story above seems like the greatest example of a grievance victory we've heard from that state. Turning grievances into campaigns is about mobilizing the imprisoned lumpen as a group. That is the only way justice can be enforced. It is part of building unity of all oppressed people to end the injustice that is inherent to the imperialist system, and creating a better world for everyone.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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For Mumia (Father)

On a cold December night
Blue suits tried to fix a fight
Between life and death
As Mumia fought for his next breath
When all was said and done
They'd planted upon him a killer's gun
A "legal" tomb would have to do
To silence his tongue
A voice so vibrant
A spirit so resistant
To their tyrannical ways
A Judge as corrupt as the crimes
Mentioned in his court
Leaned his support
To a truth-less prosecution
So as to up the notch
Of how many he's led to legal execution
A case built on false, lost and tampered
evidence
Was seen as irrelevant
Sitting in the court could've been an elephant
And it like the truth would've gone unnoticed
Death.
That was his peers' decision
Easily decided as what
To view on the television
It's been years since that day
That day in infamy
One that should never have come to be
Cause Mumia should be free!
I've read, like many,
His powerful, passionate words
Of which there are plenty
And it is from them that
I've grown to call him friend
But to me that is not the end
As a child without a father
To have him guide me
That is what I feel he has come to be
A friend and a father
A father who has led me to be free
A father who has taught me what
It means to be a revolutionary.
He has given me hope amongst agony
And shown me how to be strong
Where others bow down in defeat
He has taught me that you never
Surrender and never retreat
For I have learned that
If he,
An ordinary man
Can bravely stand
In the face of death
And continue to fight
Not just for himself
Not for wealth
But for the people!
Then we shall fear not
What we must endure
Rather we should strive
To follow in his compassion
And stand behind him
Just as he
Stands beside you and me.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Theory]
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Book Review: The Crusade for Justice

Book Review
The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Governments War on Dissent
By Ernesto B. Vigil
University of Wisconsin Press 1999
450 pages

This book is about the Chican@ organization the Crusade for Justice, which was founded by Rudolfo "Corky" Gonzalez, and the repression they endured. Corky was born on 18 June 1928 to parents who were farm workers. His father was a migrant from Mexico and fought in Pancho Villa's army during the Mexican Revolution, while his mother was a Chicana from Colorado. From Boxer, to bourgeois Democrat, to Chican@ militant, Corky developed in the urban setting of Denver.

The Crusade for Justice was formally founded in 1966, in response to murders of Chican@s by pigs. It was an organization which sought self-determination for Chican@s and hoped to serve as a model for the Chican@ nation.

The federal government began surveilling Corky soon after he officially broke with the bourgeois politics of the Democratic party. He broke with them because he saw that they were not really working in the interests of the Raza, rather they served Empire. He really got on the FBI radar in 1966 when the FBI files note an anti-war speech he made in Denver, Colorado. In this speech Corky said:

"Who reaps the profits? If in essence we are sharing in this prosperity by our own personal good life, then we are prospering at the expense of the blood and bones of fellow human beings. If our own economic gain must be earned by such a grisly trade, then we are truly a very sick society ... prolongment of the war means isolation of the most powerful military country in the world, frowned on and hated by millions of people on all the continents of this planet."(p. 28)

Here he clearly understands that the imperialist war on Vietnam was wrong and also saw that those in the First World who benefited via better living standards and privileges were benefitting off of the "blood and bones" of people around the world. So early on we see that Corky was much different than say a Cesar Chavez because he not only sought better treatment for Chican@s but for folks around the world.

I found the portions of the book concerning FBI surveillance very educational. The author obtained FBI reports on Corky via Freedom of Information Act requests, and learned that at one point the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) sent a report to J. Edgar Hoover stating that protesters were released after protesting the death of a New Afrikan who was killed for using a segregated facility, and after walking out of the courtroom the SAC notes of Corky and others: "They all joined hands and sang, 'we shall overcome'."

For the SAC to feel the need to report to Hoover something like this highlights just what kind of beast that we are up against. The unity between oppressed nations is an extreme threat to the safety and security of white supremacy. Calls for unity or a united front between the internal semi-colonies will always threaten our oppressor because this unity challenges the Settler state even before a single rifle is raised. Together we make the occupiers tremble!

Perhaps one of the significant actions that "Crusade for Justice" did was, besides mobilizing the Chican@ nation, it held the 1969 Chicano Youth Liberation conference, which brought Chican@s together for the first time like no other. It was here that the concept of "Aztlán" and Chican@ independence was brought to the Raza like never before. And although this was guiding the Chican@ movement onto the anti-imperialist road and was a revolutionary event, the leaders - Corky and the Crusaders - were not communists and this was their shortcoming. As good as their efforts were and as much as the Chican@ nation needed them at the time, they did suffer some erroneous political line.

At the conference a preamble and three-point plan was adopted. The preamble, also known as "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán" was steeped in patriarchal tone with talk about "brotherhood" of Chicanos and our "Forefathers" in Aztlán. What's more, as Vigil notes, there is no talk of the First Nations who exist within many parts of the land base we call Aztlán. The preamble was written by the poet Alurista and thus the preamble was a little poetic.

The program was written by Corky and reflected some idealism. He speaks of nationalism, self-determination, independence and total liberation from the oppression and exploitation, but not of socialism or communism. From my studies I know that there were Chican@ communists involved in the Chican@ movement, but they were a minority. For most, the Chican@ struggle was simply about breaking from the "Gringo" i.e., national oppression, but liberation divorced from socialist relations of production leads back to capitalism and thus imperialism. We have learned from our foremothers and forefathers and understand that even within the Chican@ Nation there are class contradictions which will continue to be a problem post-liberation, and will not be resolved without dissecting capitalism completely. Without identifying this truth, one is left with the empty shell of bourgeois nationalism and continued oppression only under new management.

The fact that even organizations like Crusade, which did not even seek socialism, but simply to be free from oppression, faced state repression and intense FBI surveillance is shocking. Here was a group who we find out in this book was surveilled by FBI, military intelligence, police intelligence, CIA and others, and they were not even attempting to install socialism. This teaches us all the extent of the settler in protecting its Empire.

Vigil describes how in the late 1960s and early '70s many middle class people of all nationalities were protesting for integration of schools, but the Chican@ movement did not care for integrating schools nor did they struggle for this.

"School busing to achieve integration was of little interest to Denver's Chicano activists, who had other priorities; bilingual education, community empowerment, and curriculum reform. For them, integration was misguided 'Liberalism,' a mere cosmetic reform premised on the assumption that minorities could be well educated only when Whites were physically present."(p. 117)

Here Vigil is on point that Chican@s should not focus on integration, not in schools and not with Amerikkka. Our goals are to liberate our people, not to sleep in the oppressor's house. The only integration we want is Aztlán's future economy being integrated with socialist relations of production.

I really enjoyed reading about the Escuela Tlatelolco which was a "Freedom school." Chican@ youth learned "Spanish, history, music, folkloric dancing, geography, printing, sculpturing, and contemporary world and national affairs."(p. 161) Vigil explained: "Three professors were recruited from Monterey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, to teach advanced Spanish, Mexican history, economics, political science and mathematics."(p.162)

Independent institutions such as liberation schools are important for us to decolonize the minds of our youth, but this decolonization must come wrapped in communist ideology — which the Escuela Tlatelolco wasn't. Our contemporary liberation schools will clearly show our youth that only a socialist Aztlán will begin the process of real nation building and is the only way to truly liberate the Chican@ nation. We want schools today that are operating outside U.S. influence and which display what real people's power means.

There was an interesting section on a Chican@ prisoners self-help group which formed in 1969 at Colorado State Penitentiary. This political group was called the Latin American Development Society (LADS). The LADS made it possible for Chican@ community organizations to go into prison and helped to create a bridge of cooperation where Chican@s being released from prison would be funneled into the outside Chican@ activist community where they would find post-prison services such as employment, counseling, etc. Corky Gonzalez was able to go into the prison and speak at the first LADS meeting, so the Chican@ movement was injected into this prison political group.(p. 180-181)

Like prison groups today LADS focused on combatting oppression and providing education for the imprisoned Chican@, and LADS also left us with some good examples to learn from. They created several serve the people programs in the pinta, for one they created a committee that worked with new prisoners, what we may call "first termers" here in pintas in Califas. This was important because a new prisoner or "fish" may be easy prey for some predator in prison. In this way youngsters were given revolutionary clecha once they entered the pinta by LADS "O.G.'s". LADS was comprised of prison vets who were politicized. Within LADS were many sub-committees such as the Committee to Assist Young People (CAYP), as well as a security committee called the Zapatistas.(p. 182) The LADS were anti-dope and combatted drug use or sales in the pinta. They were not trying to poison the imprisoned Raza, rather they were trying to build the Raza.

Criminal acts and lumpen-on-lumpen crime declined once the LADS became active and they were able to establish a Concilio de Unidad (Unity Council) which contained LADS and outside activists who collaborated with one another. This I think is needed in today's pintas where prison revolutionaries via United Struggle from Within (USW) can link up with MIM(Prisons) and ensure released prisoners can be funneled into the revolutionary movement out in society. But prisoners need to step up and prepare ourselves and other prisoners to continue their political work on the outside.

The shortcomings of LADS was it was an above ground (prison approved) organization, so although the prison officials allowed them to have meetings etc., Vigil states that prison officials abolished the LADS once they gained influenced. My question is since when do we allow our oppressor to abolish our efforts to organize or serve the people? At the same time state repression is real and very deadly, this probably explains why many of today's imprisoned Chican@ revolutionary groups operate underground.

Something else I found interesting was something Corky Gonzalez came up with and that was the Congreso de Aztlán (Aztlán Congress). As Vigil explains, "The Congress de Aztlán was a conceptual congress of the 'Chicano nation,' of 'Aztlán.' It would be similar to a government-in-exile in as much as it claimed legitimacy in opposition to the colonizing power that claimed Mexicans as subjects. In this case, however, the congreso was not in exile but operating in occupied territory."(p. 189)

The Congreso de Aztlán was never able to be activated because of inner contradictions within the Chican@ movement. The main political vehicle was the la Raza Unida Party (RUP). RUP made an attempt at establishing dual power, where Raza sought community control of community politics and community services, but this "dual power" was in reality an attempt to use the oppressors' politics to liberate the people, which of course could never really be successful. This approach is a result of those Social Democrats who fall for ballot box "revolution."

Vigil states about the RUP, "The party was a national party in name only and never had a clear central ideology other than the anti-establishment nationalism prevalent in the movement."(p. 191) I would disagree, the RUP did have an ideology but for the most part it was bourgeois ideology. When the Congreso de Aztlán is finally activated in the future it will have a strong ideology. Chican@s have learned a lot since decades past, we know that like Mao said, without a revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary party. The ideology of our Congreso de Aztlán will be communist in nature.

RUP also failed to have a national platform, newspaper or command structure.(p. 192). Their strategy seemed to be to knock on doors and tell Raza to vote Brown. Had RUP enacted a clear revolutionary program and national officers, etc., I believe they would have been neutralized by the U.$. government's COINTELPRO tactics a lot faster than they were, because they attempted to organize above ground in opposition to Amerikka.

Some of the leaders in the Chican@ movement were more revolutionary than others. Reis Tijerina who fought the land grant struggle in New Mexico, for example, got out of prison and made a statement which Vigil quotes: "I don't dig the political philosophy of the Third World. We are here. We have what it takes. I don't go for outside ideologies."(p. 192) His First Worldism shines forth, and had the U.S. miraculously given back the land grants in New Mexico we may never had heard from Tijerina again. Tijerina went on to describe our youth of believing in "imported ideologies" that "serve the Anglo," yet it was his clinging to capitalism which served the imperialists. Here Tijerina displays dogmatism, where facts don't matter in relation to ones narrow-mindedness. Corky responded to Tijerina stating he wanted no "alignment with political prostitutes" in a letter that was published in the Crusade newspaper El Gallo. Corky saw that Tijerina's efforts were opportunistic, relying on familial ownership of land. Corky saw the struggle being to liberate the land for all of the Chican@ nation, not simply for land-owning families, and thus Corky was more correct.

The Chican@ movement during these times also produced some underground revolutionary groups. Some of these groups were the Chicano Liberation Front in El Paso, the Frente de Liberación Chicano of Northern California, and the Continental Revolutionary Army in Colorado. These groups were reportedly involved in bombings within U.S. borders and other operations aimed at U.S. imperialism. Vigil notes how the Continental Revolutionary Army bombed the Texas home of James M. Somerville, who newspapers described as the CIA chief of the Denver field office. As Vigil points out, it was the first physical attack on the CIA on U.S. soil and it was done by Chican@s. It's important to note that in the 1970s Denver was the bombing capital of the U.S.(p. 295)

Prisoners were also forming revolutionary groups at this time, such as Chicanos Organizados Rebeldes de Aztlán (Organized Rebel Chicanos of Aztlán - CORA). CORA put out a newspaper called AZTLAN from prison which was distributed out in society. Another organization was the Movimiento Organizado Socalistas Chicano de Aztlán (MOSCA). Both of these organizations were created in the Federal prison system and some of their miembros left the pinta to remain politically active on the outside. Every generation of prisoners needs their own revolutionary Chican@ organizations. Our oppression continues and so should our resistance. CORA's example of creating a prisoner newspaper is something contemporary prisoners have not been able to pull off, but the example remains that the independent press can be created from within prisons. The imprisoned Chican@ struggle is nothing new, our people have been rising up in these colonial pintas for decades, and so we have a lot of history to learn from if we can access it.

The content of Crusade that dealt with the developments of Chican@ independent institutions was powerful and subjectively pleasing, but the real meat of this book was in learning how state repression — primarily by the FBI — was aimed at the Crusade for Justice and the Chican@ movement of the '60s and '70s. There are many books on COINTELPRO and other political repression, but few focus on it aimed at the Chican@ movement like Crusade does. Not only were field reports generated for local police intelligence units on Crusade activity, but these reports were shared with many others like military intelligence, FBI, CIA, etc. For as little as making a speech critiquing capitalism or Amerikkka, an FBI file was started on a persyn. Attending an event protesting pig brutality was also grounds for investigation. I recommend this book because it helped me understand the extent of political repression by U.S. imperialism. Even journalists were having an FBI file created on them for making a critical statement or article on police or government.

I see the need now more than ever to rebuild the Chican@ nation and mobilize the people on the only path to justice and real equality. Our complete decolonization will manifest in an independent Socialist People's Republic of Aztlán.

¡Aztlán Libre!

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