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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Migrants] [Puerto Rico] [Abuse]
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Revolutionary Organizing Amongst Mounting Protests of U.$. Koncentration Kamps

dekalb county prisoners starving
source: https://itsgoingdown.org/anger-grows-dekalb/

In the past several weeks propaganda actions have been carried out by revolutionaries in several cities as a response to massive immigrant round-ups and abuses against both interned migrants and prisoners by the imperialist u.$. state.

Several weeks ago in Atlanta, GA, local Maoists associated with the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) attended a march in solidarity with prisoners at the Dekalb County Jail facing extreme abuse. Prisoners were being denied proper food, beaten and tortured by guards, and barred from communicating with those outside to prevent a leak of information on abuses. The event was called by the Anarchist Black Cross after the public circulation of an image of an inmate holding a plate with the message "Please help, we dying, need food" written on it, along with complaints from the mother of an inmate at the jail. Due to anarchist leadership, the march was poorly organized and vulnerable to police violence, but demonstrators persisted and the marchers made it to the prison in spite of police pressure. Maoists distributed issues of Under Lock and Key to demonstrators and discussed the capitalist-imperialist roots of prison conditions. Once at the jail, demonstrators were attacked by police while burning an amerikan flag and attempting to communicate with prisoners in the jail. One prisoner broke a window and attempted to throw an object with a message written on it to protesters, but it was seized by guards. Police acted swiftly to disperse protesters with batons and excessive violence, arresting 4 demonstrators.

More recently in Atlanta, comrades attended another demonstration in support of immigrants harassed by ICE in a new sustained campaign of raids and deportations launched by the imperialist Trump administration. Specifically, the protests were sparked by the plans to build a new ICE detention facility in the city, and demonstrations had been planned to take place for several weeks to prevent it. Maoists distributed agitational materials in both english and spanish that summarized recent events from a Maoist perspective, and urging opposition to reject liberal so-called progressives such as those in various NGOs and the Democratic Party, proven enemies of the people, for their treacherous and pro-imperialist politics. Comrades also carried signs that read End to Ice, Power to the People, Hasta La Victoria Siempre! Other protesters held signs that read No one is illegal on stolen land! and Ice Freezes out Humanity!

In Binghamton, NY, Maoists attended a demonstration at the Broome County Jail, where prison officials were denying medical care to prisoners resulting in the deaths of at least 10 individuals since 2011. Comrades spoke with fellow demonstrators about jail conditions and distributed issues of Under Lock and Key, most of whom responded positively and were excited to see content written by and for revolutionary prisoners. Additionally, comrades discussed the plans to utilize the jail as a detention facility for migrants on their way to larger ICE facilities.

Later, comrades in Binghamton distributed issues of the Progressive Anti-War Bulletin around the local campus and elsewhere in the city, which covered u.$. imperialist aggression abroad as well as the war on immigrants and network of concentration camps currently run by ICE. At the university many showed interest in the content of the bulletin, but one "radical" liberal student group dismissed its content in a focused anti-communist campaign, demonstrating the liberal contempt for peace and support for imperialism. Off-campus, another bulletin was vandalized, but generally its message was well received, especially when delivered directly.

In Springfield, MA, Maoists agitated against ICE raids and the network of spies that assisted them. Flyers criticized liberal capitulationism and pro-imperialism, while pointing out Maoism as the only conceivable path to liberation for the masses held at gunpoint by ICE and the neo-fascist thugs that aid them. Flyers detailing amerikan abuses in Puerto Rico were also distributed, criticizing both u.$. imperialism and their lackeys on the island and in Puerto Rican communities on the mainland. The flyers, as well as the comrades who had distributed them, were mentioned on the local radio station on two separate occasions, including in a discussion with a man from the Sheriff's office, who chided Maoist propaganda as "misguided youth" that will "soon come to understand how the world works" and presumably give up their task. In spite of reactionary sentiments aired on the radio, none are willing to give up their task to agitate for revolution, for they already know "how the world works" and it is precisely this which motivates them to continue.

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[Elections] [Puerto Rico] [ULK Issue 29]
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Voting is a Pro-Imperialism Strategy

obama demon clown
In the shadow of the recent presidential election, MIM(Prisons) takes this opportunity to explain some of the many reasons we don't participate in elections under capitalism. We reiterate the MIM slogan: Don't Vote, Organize!

Granted, communists might participate in local elections when they find an opportunity to make change that will better facilitate their organizing work and goals, but these instances are few and far between. Consider someone running for City Council proposing to facilitate the distribution of free literature and posters in a city, while their opponent wants to outlaw the distribution of communist literature. We might join this battle on the side of the free speech advocate because it is very important that we have the opportunity to organize and educate people. Because the legal power of a City Council is pretty limited, these battles tend to be clear cut and we can support one candidate without jumping on the imperialist bandwagon.

In contrast, Congress and the President are fundamentally reactionary just by nature of their role in the capitalist system. It is their job to support and promote imperialist policies of global aggression.

Sure, there may be surface differences between imperialist candidates. One might deny the existence of global warming while the other offers platitudes about how we need to help the environment, but neither can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions because doing so threatens the profit system. Or one might advocate shipping all migrants back home, while the other wants to grant green cards to people already in the United $tates. That's something with a real immediate impact on the lives of the oppressed. But the U.$. has a long history of bringing in migrant labor and the kicking them out, particularly from Mexico. And ultimately, both of these candidates will have to support enforcing the imperialist borders, and exploiting cheap Mexican labor.

Even if we try to explain that we are only picking a candidate based on their position on one question, how do we justify giving support to someone who backs the existence of the prison system that locks up the most people per capita in the world? Or someone who supports invading Third World countries to ensure their puppet regimes are friendly to Amerikan capitalist interests?

There is no real choice under imperialism. The majority of the world's people suffer under the rule of Amerikan imperialism, but they don't get a vote in the elections. Amerika has streamlined the elections to just two parties, with very minimal differences between them. And the majority of the Amerikan people, bought off with imperialist superprofits given to them as a birthright, are perfectly fine with these "choices." Both candidates represent the material interests of Amerikan citizens. It is the imperialist system that ensures sufficient superprofits from exploitation of Third World people to keep the First World citizens so well off.

The election of President Obama four years ago should have been the best possible lesson for "anti-war" Amerikans. Many so-called progressives got behind the Obama campaign, excited to finally have a Black man in power, and believing the minimally progressive rhetoric they heard from Obama. But putting a Black face on imperialism didn't change imperialism. Before Obama was elected we wrote about his campaign as a good representative of imperialism in ULK 3. Under Obama, Amerika has continued its role as global oppressor, invading Third World countries to install or support U.$.-friendly governments, enforcing strict imperialist borders at home to keep out the oppressed, and maintaining the largest per capita prison population in the world.

The State of Puerto Rico

While we didn't campaign around any electoral politics this year, nor vote, the results can be interesting to us as the largest scale polling of the Amerikan population and its internal semi-colonies. While the exploited people of the world did not get to vote for the President of the Empire, historically oppressed nations with U.$. citizenship did. As we work to expand our analysis of the internal semi-colonies' relationships to imperialism, we can look at elections as a relative, if not absolute, measure of assimilation. The most explicit example of this came in the 2012 plebiscite on the status of Puerto Rico among Boricua voters.

While inconsistencies in the format of previous plebiscites make it hard to decipher trends with a cursory assessment, it does appear that a majority rejected the current commonwealth status of Puerto Rico for the first time. The government is counting the statehood option as the victor with a 61% majority of those choosing an alternative to the commonwealth status. But really, only 48% of those who voted chose statehood, with 26% of voters choosing sovereign free association and 4% choosing independence.(1) About 22% didn't select a new status. Since 46% voted to remain a commonwealth, it seems that many of them chose a new status as their second choice. Originally the two votes were to occur separately, which would make interpretation of the results easier.

The option of "sovereign free association" was new in this plebiscite, and seems to reflect the more bourgeois nationalist among the neo-colonialists. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want more freedom to act independent of the U.$. while keeping the financial benefits of U.$. social services that they receive today as a commonwealth.

The 2012 plebiscite did have the largest turnout yet, with 79% participation.(2) This adds a little more weight to the small shift from a plurality favoring commonwealth to a plurality (at least) favoring statehood. At the time of the last plebiscite, in 1998, MIM reported strong assimilationism among the Boricua population due to economic interests tied to accessing the superprofits obtained by the U.$. from the Third World.(3) While MIM never believed that the meager 2-5% vote for independence was genuinely representative of the Boricua people, neither is true self-determination on the immediate horizon despite nationalist rhetoric from many political parties. A survey of the desires of Boricuas for self-determination is not valid until real self-determination is actually an option on the table. Unfortunately real self-determination won't be possible until Boricuas are organized against Amerika and its lackey leadership in their homeland.

Some have hypothesized that the economic downturn helped increase the statehood vote as Boricuas felt the crunch and wanted closer economic integration into the United $tates. This makes economic sense. So it'll take much more extreme crisis before economic demands become revolutionary for the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates.

Chicanos and New Afrikans Vote

Trends in Black voter participation in the last two presidential elections indicate that the neo-colonial effect is real as Blacks have come out at higher rates, with Black youth being the most active voter participants. While Latinos were also brought out by Obama in the last two elections, Latino youth voting and "civic engagement" has lagged behind Black and white youth, yet they were twice as likely to participate in a protest than their counterparts of other nations according to a 2008 report.(4) In 2008, Black voters closed the gap with white voter participation, which averaged around 10% in the previous five presidential elections. This year, Obama brought similar rates of Blacks to the polls. In the same period, Latinos and Asians have diverged from Blacks in their voter participation, who they have historically lagged behind already.(5) For Latinos this divergence corresponds to an increase in the percentage of people who are not citizens, and therefore can't vote. We do not have data showing whether the same is true for Asians. While the non-participation may be enforced, rather than by choice, the Pew Hispanic Center also found in a recent survey that most Latinos identify with their family's country of origin and not as Amerikans.(6) There is little doubt that the vast majority of Blacks identify as Amerikan. The connections that Latinos and Asians have to the Third World are a significant factor in their political consciousness and how they perceive the United $tates, their relationship to it, and their participation in it.

Prison Reform?

Similar to supporting someone for City Council, discussed above, propositions are another relatively clear-cut realm of elections where we may organize around a particular issue. To look at more concrete examples of how this usually plays out, we turn to two propositions this year that addressed California's prison population: Propositions 34 and 36. Proposition 34 was presented to abolish the death penalty, which sounds great at first. But in this case, death row prisoners actually recognized that the law was opposed to their interests in that it would prevent them from proving their innocence in court. They launched an active campaign to oppose Prop. 34 and it did fail. The weakness of the proposition was inherent to the limitations in the system to address justice in a real way.

Proposition 36 is a reform to the Three Strikes law, and it passed. MIM(Prisons) welcomes the prospect of less people going to prison in California, and supposedly even current prisoners being released earlier. Yet, Three Strikes itself still exists. The reform will right a few egregious wrongs, but leaves Three Strikes, not to mention the whole criminal injustice system, in place. Even abolishing Three Strikes altogether would be merely a quantitative change in the oppression meted out by the injustice system, without changing the substance of it at all. Prop. 36 was promoted by those who want to reduce state spending on prisons, and clearly promoted the use of Three Strikes for the majority of prisoners it has been applied to. To campaign for Prop. 36 was to promote this position or to say that this is the best we can hope for. It did not serve the interests of the prisoner class as a whole, but threw some carrots to a few.

Since there are only so many hours in the day, to spend them on organizing around these small changes means slightly less suffering in the short term, and much more suffering in the long term as imperialism marches on unchallenged. Reforms do play an important role while organizing in our current conditions, but we choose which reforms to support very carefully, weighing how they impact our organizing efforts against imperialism, what class interests they serve, and how they relate to real conditions on the ground.

Electoral Politics and Strategy

Our line is that imperialism cannot be reformed. Our strategy is to build institutions of the oppressed which are separate from imperialism in order to build up our own power, while agitating around issues that highlight the horrors of the imperialist system that exists. At times campaigning around an electoral campaign could be a useful tactic in that strategy. But strategically we are not trying to get elected in a popularity contest, or be on the winning team. We are struggling for liberation and an end to all oppression!

As M-1 of dead prez put it on Block Report Radio the morning after the recent "presidential selection": "I'm not thinking about today. And I'm not thinking about four years from now. And I'm not thinking about smoking marijuana. I'm thinking about 50 years from now being able to be the self-determining people who are raising a nation that's based in stability." Spoken like a true revolutionary, this is the type of thinking that we promote to develop an anti-imperialist political pole within the belly of the beast.

Telling people to vote for one imperialist candidate over another is suggesting that we can make significant change by working within the system. As we already explained, the scale of the election and the scale of the change is key: for a local city election the impact is much lower and our opportunity to actually explain to people why a particular local law is important to communist goals is much greater. But in a national election, telling people to support a candidate who is fundamentally pro-imperialist, both in words and deeds, is misleading.

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[Puerto Rico] [New Jersey]
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The 71st Anniversary of the Ponce Massacre!

The 21st of March of 2008 will mark the 71st anniversary of the Ponce Massacre, a peaceful march in the town of Ponce, Puerto Pico to seek self-determination and independence. What should have been a peaceful demonstration, turned out to be an annihilation by the National Guard under u.s. military command. For many Puerto Ricans living in the united snakes, this event they may have never heard of or known that it ever happened. Hopefully this essay will enlighten those Puerto Ricans who have been deceived by the amerikkkan dream and the so-called amerikkkan help, and understand the u.s. aggression against the will of the Puerto Rican people to be self-determined.

Days before leading to the Ponce Massacre, a letter was written by the Ponces branch leaders of the Nationalist Junta, to inform the township government that they will come together and have a parade on the 21st of March of the year 1937. Ponces Mayro Jose Tormos Diego granted such permission for this demonstration. Although permission was not needed since Colonial Supreme Court ruled back in 1926 that consent were not needed to occupy parks or public place for meetings or parades. Still the Nationalist Junta wrote the letter as a sign of courteousness

On the 19th of March of 1937, Colonel Orbeta, which was the Insular Chief of Police went to Ponce to examine the conditions. Shortly after, Colonel Orbeta went to San Juan to meet with the united snakes appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Blanton Winship. It is said, that during that meeting between these two individual the massacre was arranged. Colonel Orbeta was sent by Winship to go back to Ponce to persuade the mayor to prevent the parade.

The day before the parade, Ponces Chief of Police, Captain Felipe Blanco wrote a letter to the Nationalist Juntas leaders of Ponce, Luis Castro Quesada and Plinio Graciany, stating to them that he has recognized the letter that they have written, giving the township of Ponce, a notification of a parade by the Cadets of the Republic and the Nationalist Committee, which will take place on the 21st of March of the year 1937. Capt. Felipe Blanco also stated to them in that letter, that he was informed by his higher ranks, that such parade will not be allowed. After the advisory by Capt. Blanco, Capt. Blanco met up with Colonel Orbeta to discuss things. They both agreed to meet up with Ponces Mayor, Jose Tormos Diego, to persuade him to cancel the parade. Mayor Jose Tormos Diego made it clear to them that he gave permission for the parade to take place. Colonel Orbeta kept pushing the issue to the Mayor, by planting in the mayors mind of a serious danger that the parade will bring. Orbeta persisted with the so-called danger, that the Nationalist posed, by adding, that he had knowledge that The Nationalists intended to come armed to the parade and that there were also other groups planning to attend the parade , coming from Mayaguez. It was observed that the other group of people who were from Mayaguez, were a group of 50 people, who consisted of women, men and children, who like the Nationalist Junta were not armed, and posed no danger.


Somehow Colonel Orbeta managed to get the mayor to give in. The mayor then directly called the Nationalist leaders to tell them that the Paulist Fathers had asked him, not to allow the parade because it was a religious holiday, "Palm Sunday". The Nationalists, knowing that the mayor was being dishonest, told him that the people who are going to attend the parade were already in Ponce, and that the parade would take place in a methodical tone, and that they will also inform the Paulist Fathers of their cause. But of course to the mayor, this was not the response he wanted to hear from the Nationalist, so he ended the meeting and told them that the permit was vacated.

The day of the parade there were conferences that were being held; one conference amongst the pigs; and the other amongst the Nationalists. It was evident that the scene at the parade was belligerent. As the Nationalists lined up to march, it was easy to identify the Nationalists since they were in uniform. Lined up in lines of 3, in the back of the Nationalist were a group of women called the Nurses Corps, uniformed in white, behind the Nurses Corps came the band of 4 musicians, which at the time were playing the National Anthem "La Borinqueña", while the participants in the parade stood at attention.

Eye witnesses and photographers stated that you could clearly see, that the parade participants were surrounded by u.s. trained forces. They also state that-the u.s. trained forces were heavily armed with rifles, tear gas, etc. Shots were fired, causing the men and women scattered for cover, and even though witnesses and photographers could not pin point which u.s. trained personnel fired first, it was clear that the aggressors were the u.s. trained forces. As the barrage of bullets went flying for a period of 10 minutes into the crowd, 20 were killed at the scene and 150 injured. It is also said that others died in a nearby hospital, while others were almost dismembered by this brutal attack.

Shortly after the Ponce Massacre, the ACLU conducted an investigation, along with witness and photographers. ACLU, with photos taken on that day clearly sees the brutal shooting against the unarmed people. What the ACLU did not understand was, with so much published pictures in the open, why wasn't any of them used by the government for their investigation. But to no surprise the Puerto Rican people were going to be deprived of justice. A couple of congressmen wanted a thorough investigation, but nothing was honored by congress. Instead there was a plan to persecute and indict some of the Nationalist leaders for murder and for instigating murder, but behind were a group of respected Puerto Ricans, from the District Attorney who vacated their positions, rather than to give in to Blanton Winships requests to indict on murder charges, the innocent survivors of the Ponce Massacre. Reports say that the ACLU blamed Blanton Winship. Washington with no quilt or pitty backed Blanton Winship, keeping him in command for 2 more years after the Ponce Massacre.


I honor the Nationalist Party and those people who died on that day of March 21,1937. Their stance was heroic, relentless, their wills could not be shaken by the fear of terror that was presented to them at that present moment. Here I will mention a few that should always be remembered for their bravery. Bolivar Marquez, a young Puerto Rican mortally wounded in the event of March 21, 1937 dragged himself to a sidewalk, took his fingers and dipped it into his blood and wrote on a wall,"Viva la Republica", "Abajo los Asesinos", in english "Long Live the Republic","Down with the Assassins". A girl from Mayaguez by the name of Dominga Cruz Becerril, who was already away from harm, when she noticed that the Flag was on the floor, she immediately went back into the danger zone and courageously picked the Flag up and walked towards a hospital. She was later asked, why did she go back? Her response was, and I quote "Our Master has said the Flag should always be flying". Do you know who that Master was? None other than Pedro Albizu Campos, the leader of the Nationalist Party.

To many when they hear of the Nationalist Party, the first name that pops up is Pedro Albizu Campos. Some may be asking why did I not mention him in this essay. Pedro Albizu Campos, to me is one, if not the greatest Revolutionary Leaders in the history of the struggle of Puerto Rico. I apologize for not mentioning him in this essay, but as you may know that he was incarcerated during the Ponce Massacre of March 21, 1937. But regardless of his whereabouts, his influence and legacy will always be admired by true seekers of an Independent Puerto Rico.

I truly felt the need to give a tribute to the Ponce Massacre. I also felt the need to write this essay to hopefully enlighten those Puerto Ricans living in the u.s. I gave a young fellow Puerto Rican brother a copy of the literature that described the events of the Ponce Massacre, and it hurt me, because when he gave it back, the words that came out of his mouth was, "that he has always thought that the u.s. was always there to help Puerto Rico and its people". But as he found out, that help was never the intentions of the u.s., but rather to exploit.

Anyone willing to go into more details of the event of March 21, 1937, I recommend you look for a book titled, "Albizu Campos and the Ponce Massacre", written by Juan Antonio Corretjer, which is the book that I have obtained information in putting together this essay.

—Dedicated to those who died and survived the Ponce Massacre, you will never be forgotten for your Heroic stance.

MIM(Prisons) adds: In the internal semi-colonies of the united $tates we generally face an upward battle in awakening the inherent anti-imperialism of the struggle for national self-determination. It is not just a lack of knowledge of the true relation between amerikkkans and Boriquas, as this comrade laments and attempts to counteract through this essay. There is also a real belief among Boriquas that they too can be amerikkkans. Making that temptation a reality was the reason that u$ citizenship was forced upon them in 1917. Ever since then Puerto Ricans have had free access to the richest country on the planet, while those on the island were able to benefit from u$ sponsored social programs.

While the majority may be sucked in by the imperialists' carrots at this stage, there remains a vibrant and armed resistance to u$ occupation among Boriquas. Ultimately, the people must learn from the oppressor that they must fight to be free. But by educating around the historical and contemporary oppression of the people of Puerto Rico, Aztlán, New Afrika, and the First Nations we can plant the seeds of future resistance when the oppressed in north amerika give up amerikkkanism to join with the world's majority in a struggle against oppression and exploitation.

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