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[U.S. Imperialism] [Philippines] [Environmentalism] [ULK Issue 35]
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U.$. Showboats As Filipinos Die From Imperialism

dead bodies rot after Typhoon Yolanda
Tacloban, the Philippines, an island devastated by a recent typhoon, shows the contrasts between wealth and poverty, and underscores the reality that "natural" disasters are not natural at all. People in First World countries have the infrastructure, resources and response systems in place to save lives that are lost in the Third World when the same disasters hit.

Overall the Philippines is a poor country; in 2012 there were 15 provinces with over 40% of the population below the poverty threshold.(1) While not in one of these 15 provinces, the government reports 32% of people in Leyte (Tacloban's province) are below the poverty line.(2) These people, living below the poverty line, had an income of less than $179/month for a family of five. A third of Tacloban's houses have wooden exterior walls and one in seven have grass roofs.(3) In these conditions, it is no surprise that a typhoon could wreak such havoc in Tacloban.

Bodies of the dead are rotting in the streets as aid fails to reach those devastated by the storm. There is no clean water and little food. Yet the Philippines is a country frequently hit by severe storms, with about 20 typhoons a year, and this storm was identified well in advance. Both these conditions should engender preparedness on the part of the government. However, in the Philippines disaster preparation and relief are delegated to local governors without a strong central leadership. Some services are more effectively delivered on a large scale. This is one area where we can show obviously that communism has a better solution than the individualism of capitalism. Where central control will lead to more efficient solutions, a communist-led government would not hesitate to take that control. But capitalism is not focused on serving the people, it is focused on maximizing profits and power for the few. And these profits result in deaths from malnutrition, military aggression, lack of health care, and "natural" disasters. As long as the imperialists retain their power and wealth, they don't mind tens of millions of preventable deaths a year.

In an interesting historical connection, Imelda Marcos, wife of the former president of the Philippines, is from Tacloban. The family of Imelda Marcos dominated local politics for years; she herself held a congressional seat in the 1990s. Imelda's husband, Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled in the Philippines from 1965-1986 with the support of the U.$. government, embezzled billions of dollars in public funds while in power. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) waged revolutionary armed struggle against the Marcos regime, growing in strength during the Marcos dictatorship. In the end, when Marcos's demise was inevitable, the United $tates stepped in to have a role in the change of government, turning on Marcos and backing Corazon Aquino. Her family legacy lives on today as her son Benigno Aquino holds the President's office. Unfortunately, the popular movement that forced Marcos out did not go further than installing another imperialist puppet. While the communist movement was strong, it was not yet strong enough to lead the people to force the U.$. imperialists out, leaving them to play a dominating role in the country's politics and economics to this day.(4)

This is the backdrop for the reported six warships the Amerikans sent to the Philippines last week, with more than 80 fighter jets and 5,000 navy soldiers.(5) Today the United $tates is taking advantage of the disaster in the Philippines to increase military presence, while playing the hero. As reported in a CPP press release:

"The US government is militarizing disaster response in the Philippines, in much the same way that the US militarized disaster response in Haiti in the 2010 earthquake," said the CPP. The high-handed presence of US armed troops in Haiti has been widely renounced. The US government has since maintained its presence in Haiti...

"What the disaster victims need urgently are food, water and medical attention, not US warships bringing in emergency rations to justifty their armed presence in Philippine sovereign waters," pointed out the CPP. "If the US government were really interested in providing assistance to countries who have suffered from calamities, then it should increase its funds to civilian agencies that deal in disaster response and emergency relief, not in fattening its international military forces and taking advantage of the people's miseries to justify their presence," added the CPP.(5)

Much of the press is quiet about the ongoing war in the Philippines between the U.$. puppet regime and the CPP-led New People's Army (NPA), as well as other liberation forces in different regions of the islands. But it has been brought up in the Filipino press to spread propaganda about NPA soldiers attacking government relief efforts. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have denounced these lies pointing out that the location of the attack was not in an area where relief efforts were needed. The CPP reiterated that "NPA units in areas ravaged by the recent super typhoon Yolanda are currently engaged in relief and rehabilitation efforts assisting local Party branches and revolutionary mass organizations in mobilizing emergency supply for disaster victims." Shortly thereafter a ceasefire was declared on behalf of the NPA in order to focus on relief efforts.

The liberation struggle has long been connected to the protection of the natural resources of the islands that the imperialist countries continue to extract for great profits off the backs of the Filipino proletariat.

The storm has also received a lot of attention at a climate change summit in Poland where Filipino officials have begun a hunger strike to attempt to force "meaningful" change in relation to energy consumption. Climate change has been predicted to cause more extreme weather conditions, and this recent massive typhoon is just another possible indicator that that is happening. Yet, as international summits continue, little change is made in the over-consumption of the imperialist nations driving this disaster.

As many in the Filipino countryside have already recognized, the only solution to environmental destruction and disasters is an end to capitalism. With a rational system that puts the needs of the people over the goal of profits, we can build infrastructure suited to the environmental conditions, set up emergency response systems that provide fast and effective support, and plan consumption in a way that does not undercut the very natural systems that we live in and depend on.

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[Culture] [Gender] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 34]
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Movie Review: Girl Rising

An extreme redefinition of the term "revolution"

"Once again we are presented with a campaign to end third world poverty and oppression that is incapable of confronting the roots of this oppression because it is bound up in the cycle it pretends to critique."(1)

I couldn't of put it better myself as those are the exact same sentiments/thoughts that went through my head as I watched Girl Rising, the highly touted new documentary film that is concerned with drawing attention to, and putting a stop to the oppression of young girls in the "developing world."

Now, being that this special aired on the info-tainment CNN television station I decided to watch to see just how exactly cable TV would handle this topic. Predictably enough, CNN and their NGO partners (Non Governmental Organizations) show us what most anti-imperialists are already aware of: that most wimmin and girls in the Third World suffer at exponentially higher rates than their First World counterparts. Beyond that however, the film didn't really make any poignant statements relative to the emancipation of wimmin, neither did they explain to us how these girls are supposed to rise, despite the film's name. Instead, the film-makers, the so-called NGOs, and the corporate sponsors they are both in bed with, used the children depicted in the film as a way to launch yet another offensive at the supposedly backwards culture of the oppressed. The take away? "Just look at how miserable these girls in the Third World are, look at how they suffer." The reason? Backwards, internal development, lack of First World ingenuity and innovation, and the reactionary culture of the global south. And the answer? Immediate imperialist intervention whether by bullion or by bullet.

Girl Rising is a movie centered around the life experiences of five Third World girls whose stories are told to us in order to garner much-needed attention to the endemic problem of gross patriarchal oppression in the periphery. Yet the patriarchy is never even referred to. Furthermore, the film leaves one with a rather pessimistic outlook for girls in the impoverished zones absent a western-style bourgeois democracy. And indeed, it would seem then that this documentary was designed just to induce such feelings. Conveniently enough this film fails to mention just how the oppressor of wimmin and girls in these countries is not mere happenstance, but systematic and directly linked to the uneven development of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nor does it mention that the systematic oppression of young children in these societies (as the ones featured in Girl Rising) are a permanent fixture and of complete necessity for the ongoing parasitic privilege of beneficiary populations such as the United $tates. The perpetuation of capitalism in these countries, and the finance capital that is sent there and dressed in the veneer of "aid," is part and parcel of keeping these nations from developing self-sufficient economies independent of the global status quo.

Almost every other commercial during this two hour presentation is from some imperialist multi-national bragging about what they do for Third World wimmin and girls, when in reality all they are doing is commodifying these girls' oppression. Capital One, BNY Wealth Management and Intel all had their greedy hands in the cookie jar. Here's a perfect example: During an Intel commercial that aired during the movie, a narrative states: "A girl is not defined by what society sees, but how she sees herself." Now, besides the obvious commercialization of its product, Intel is just flat out wrong because, while that sweet philosophical statement holds some truth here in the United $tates where wimmin have "rights" (privileges) and know how to have them enforced, it is a completely different story in the Third World where the gender roles are not the same and are directly dependent on capital.

Amerika maintains the image that they are the gold standard when it comes to gender relations, just as they maintain the gold standard when it comes to how they treat their workers. Point in fact, the very first commercial during the film is brought to us by a feminine hygiene product maker depicting their version of how they see girls rising in the periphery. They show us how they make an African girl's dream come true by giving her the chance to direct a commercial for the day. Surely this dream is not reflective of the billions of Third World girls currently toiling under the weight of comprador regimes, death squads, sexual slavery, feudalistic landlords, and assembly line sweatshops. No, from the looks of this girl it is the dream of a privileged sector child whose parents might very well be a part of the technocratic petty-bourgeois intelligentsia of this much hyped "developing world." A far cry from the realities of the lives depicted in the film.

From little Wadley in disease ridden and underdeveloped Haiti, whose dream is to be able to attend school with her mates, but who is unfortunately unable to because her mother just doesn't have the money. Or Zuma in Nepal who was sold into slavery as a child, was liberated from her abusive masters by a teacher and now as a young adult organizes other girls to liberate those still held in captivity. Yazmin in Egypt who is no more than nine but is raped by some scumbag and then refused help from the police because the chance of prosecution is little to none. Azmera in Eritrea who narrowly escapes a life in bondage, and Senna in Peru whose life seems doomed to mining for scraps of gold. All these lives and their portrayal in Girl Rising are but glimpses into the real yoke of imperialist oppression.

We are constantly told that the mode of production called capitalism is the best humynity has to offer, and that a capitalist economy has already been proven superior to socialism, yet whenever the mode of production has been revolutionized and a socialist economy has been put into effect the people of those societies have seen a tremendous growth in the overall well being of their populations. This is most notably true for wimmin who've been immediately pulled out of their traditional roles as housewives and mothers and thrown directly into the production process, in which they help their nation create not only sustainability but wealth (in particular see socialist China and the USSR). The conditions created by wimmin's participation in the production process likewise creates the condition for participation in the political process where they assume power utilizing revolutionary politics to push people out of the middle and dark ages and into the New Democratic period in which the people truly hold power.

Certainly wherever socialism has triumphed it has been only as a direct result of wimmin's role and participation as guerrilla warriors, battalion captains and proletarian-feminist leaders in liberating her nation from not only the imperialists but the patriarchy; as only by defeating the one can she defeat the other.

The liberation of wimmin is not accomplished via equal pay for equal work nor by the granting of "abortion on demand" as these are really only privileges given to the gender aristocracy for their allegiance to empire. Instead of advocating for more privileges that are contingent on the backs of their Third World "sisters," the NGOs and the First World pseudo-feminists at the helm of such propaganda like Girl Rising and the "Because I am a Girl" campaign(1) should all aim their guns at the imperialist rape and plunder of the periphery that makes it possible for the First World pseudo-feminists to have "abortion on demand" and equal pay for equal work! Real feminist leadership can only come from the proletarian perspective and not from First World wimmin who are really just globally gendered males who have a real material interest in holding up the global system of oppression and exploitation.(2)

"If this campaign actually wants to change 'the plight' of girls then it should endorse wimmin's militias and factory takeovers on the part of women and girls. Such a revolutionary agenda, though, would put it at odds with its corporate sponsors and so, like every NGO, it will remain caught within an imperialist framework."(1)

Liberation of the neo-colonies from the patriarchal grips of the imperialists will set wimmin free in the global countryside; not charity from the imperialist centers.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Security] [ULK Issue 33]
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Global Telecom Monitoring for Global Domination

A lot of talk and discussion has been flying lately about the recent exposure of the United $tates's massive worldwide spying apparatus. While the European Union superstructure of imperialist nations and empires cry "Foul!," their cries are for show only. In January 2012 the E.U super-state shot down a proposal that would have made it illegal for the United $tates to spy on E.U. citizens. The Amerikans threatened economic warfare and the U.$. administration heavily lobbied E.U. officials to crush the proposal before it was brought to member nations for referendum. E.U. officials promptly did so, proving the United $tates to be the current dominant world imperialist superpower.(1)

A reason some European countries/empires are reluctant to raise much of an outcry is because most communications at some point have to travel thru U.$. telecom and internet servers. European imperialist countries can then backdoor their own countries' warrant requirements by just requesting the information from U.$. spy agencies. Britain has also been known to do this to monitor insurgencies in its colonies.(2)(3) These revelations bring about the question, how else does this issue affect colonized peoples and the Third World?

The United $tates set up the notoriously corrupt Mexican government's entire telecommunications network to spy on its own citizenry, and of course to allow the United $tates to monitor all communications passing thru Mexico.(4) As stated above most of the world's communications will pass thru U.$. systems and systems set up by the United $tates. This allows the Amerikans to spy on the entire world's communications, thereby helping them to control entire populations, and manipulate governments and markets, which explains why the United $tates is so willing to export this technology.(5)

The United $tates and Israel have been exporting this technology for years.(6) One of the largest electronic surveillance companies Verint was founded by former Israeli intelligence officer Jacob "Kobi" Alexander. The CEO is Dan Bonder, former Israeli army engineer.(7) The United $tates uses a lot of Verint software for eavesdropping. Another major client of Verint is the government of Vietnam, who uses Verint technology to monitor dissidents and silence them.(8)

Another large U.$./Israeli intelligence firm, Narus, provides eavesdropping technology to the Chinese Government, which uses the technology to monitor citizens, silence dissidents and to prevent Chinese workers from organizing. Narus also provides and has provided its services to the oppressive regimes in Egypt (Mubarak), Libya, and Saudi Arabia.(9)

Without this U.$./Israeli technology these repressive governments could not track VOIP calls or block "unapproved" websites or track dissidents.(10) These systems allow these repressive regimes to impose a stranglehold on their citizenry/workers on behalf of the U.$. imperialists. This makes these U.$./Israeli firms not only responsible for helping to maintain this stranglehold but also largely responsible for the death, torture, and detention of the citizens and workers of these countries.


MIM(Prisons) adds:In issue 33 of Under Lock & Key we are focusing on the importance of independence in order to achieve self-determination. U.$. surveillance is just one more thing to consider in trying to maintain independence. One positive result coming out of the information released about the NSA's global data mining operations is a flurry of support in the First World (from people who haven't had to worry about things like COINTELPRO in the past) for independent, open source technology projects that focus on providing security to all. Many of these we mentioned in our article Self-Defense and Secure Communications in ULK 31. But using better technology is not the only lesson to take from this. Another lesson is that more traditional forms of communication, in societies less integrated into the imperialist system (where resistance also happens to be more fertile) will be an even better route than depending on technologies, such as social media, where the imperialists can easily dominate.

Sources:
1. James Fontaella-Khan, "Brussels bows to US over data protection", Financial Times, Thursday 13 June 2013.
article is called by
2. J.Mooney & O'Toole. Black Operations, Maverick House, 2005.
3. James Bamford. The Shadow Factory, Anchor Press, 2009.
4. ibid pg. 225-228
5. ibid pgs. 177,181,184,186,209,291,304
6. ibid pg. 254
7. ibid pg. 238
8. ibid pgs. 254 & 259
9. ibid pgs. 259
10. ibid pgs. 256 & 260

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[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 35]
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La Cultura de la Tortura Amerikana Golpea al Inmigrante

El inmigrante proletario ha sido componente fundamental del incremento en el número de prisioneros en los Estados Unido$ en los últimos años. Debido a ello están sufriendo en sus propias carnes las tácticas de tortura que los Amerikanos utilizan contra sus propios ciudadanos. Un informe reciente muestra que la oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas de los EEUU tiene a más de 300 prisioneros en aislamiento en 50 de sus mayores cárceles, lo que supone un 85% de sus detenidos. La mitad son mantenidos en aislamiento durante 15 o más días y cerca de 35 de los 300 llegan a permanecer en esas condiciones más de 75 días(1).

Aunque estas condenas son relativamente cortas comparadas con las que ya se consideran habituales en los Estados Unido$, las experiencias vividas en ellas son particularmente difíciles para el inmigrante que no habla ingles y han sido víctima del trafico de seres humanos.

Los autores del articulo citado anteriormente relatan con tono cauteloso que los Estados Unido$ usan el aislamiento más "que cualquier otra nación democrática en el mundo." Esto solo indica que es posible que otros países utilicen el aislamiento todavía más. Una de las razones por las que no pueden obtener estadísticas sobre las prácticas carcelarias de algunos países es que éstos son regímenes títeres de los Estados Unido$ que se administran de una forma intencionadamente opaca para permitir formas extremas de opresión contra los pueblos oprimidos. No hemos podido encontrar pruebas de una nación mitológica que torture en confinamiento solitario a más gente que Amerika.

Los Amerikanos encarcelan a más gente que ninguna otra nación incluso excluyendo a aquellos que mantienen en prisiones de terceros países. Con al menos 100,000 personas en aislamiento de larga duración dentro de las fronteras de los EEUU, parece altamente improbable que ningún país pueda superar sus números. Podemos encontrar más pruebas si observamos el estado de las prisiones en la mayoría de los países del tercer mundo, las cuales son más transparentes con su información que cualquier prisión de baja seguridad en los Estados Unido$. Las excepciones a esta regla siempre son los países con gran actividad militar o de inteligencia Amerikana, donde normalmente son los propios Amerikanos los que gestionan las prisiones.(3)

El ciudadano de los EEUU Shane Bauer fue encarcelado con cargos de espionaje por el gobierno de Irán, el cual es independiente de los Estados Unido$. Bauer nos ofrece ejemplos de como sus condiciones en aislamiento se distinguen en lo positivo y en lo negativo de las de aquellos encarcelados en Pelican Bay SHU en California. Lo más llamativo es el tiempo total pasado en aislamiento, que en su caso fue de sólo cuatro meses. Comparándolo con el "democrático" sistema de injusticia de los EEUU, Bauer escribe sobre Iran: "Cuando Josh Fattal y yo finalmente nos presentamos ante la corte revolucionaria de Irán, teníamos un abogado presente, pero no se nos permitió hablar con el. En California un reo que se enfrente a la peor condena posible, con excepción de la de muerte, no puede tener a su abogado en la
sala. No se le permite acumular o presentar evidencias para su defensa. No puede llamar a testigos. Muchas de las pruebas, recabadas por informantes, son confidenciales y por lo tanto imposibles de refutar. Eso fue lo que el Juez Salvati nos dijo después de que la persecución soltase su discurso acerca de nuestro papel en la vasta conspiración Americano-Israelí: había montones de pruebas, pero ni nosotros ni nuestro abogado podíamos verlas."(2)

Cita luego una decisión de la corte de los EEUU: "el juez dictaminó que 'un prisionero no tiene garantía constitucional de inmunidad al haber sido falsa o injustamente acusado de una conducta que pueda resultar en la privación de su libertad.' En otras palabras, es perfectamente legal que las autoridades de la prisión mientan con el objetivo de encerrar a alguien en aislamiento."(2)

La célebre prisión Californiana de "Pelican Bay" informa de un promedio de tiempo de los reos en el SHU (Unidad de Confinamiento Seguro) de 7.5 años. Muchos de los que pelearon por la liberación nacional contra el imperialismo Estadouniden$e han pasado 30 o 40 años en aislamiento en prisiones a lo largo de los Estados Unido$. MIM(Prisons) no conoce informes de ningún otro Estado que utilice el aislamiento como herramienta de castigo hasta estos
extremos.

Las técnicas de tortura desarrolladas en las unidades de control Amerikanas fueron diseñadas para destruir el espíritu combativo de las personas y grupos sociales que desafían el status quo, en particular el imperialismo de los Estados Unido$. Treinta años después de su desaparición, la posesión de materiales del Black Panther Party (Partido de los Panteras Negras) todavía mete a la gente en problemas de forma regular, siendo incluso citados por una infracción del tipo "Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad" (Security Threat Group). Éste es el termino Amerikano para los "crímenes de pensamiento".

Puede que estas técnicas se están desarrollando en centros de detención de inmigrantes como forma de disciplina para el proletariado Mexicano que los Amerikanos temen como una fuerza social de cambio. O puede ser un ejemplo de la cultura de una nación opresora extendiendo sus tentáculos hacia otras naciones. Sea como fuere, esta es una de varias formas de opresión que sirve para socavar el mito propagandístico de Amerika como nación que promueve la libertad.

Durante años, los Estados Unido$ han sido criticados por las Naciones Unidas como el principal Estado responsable del uso del aislamiento de larga duración como forma de tortura. Hoy, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos dijo, "Debemos ser claros: los Estados Unido$ están en clara violación no solo en sus propios compromisos sino también en leyes internacionales y normas que están obligados a cumplir."(4) Estas palabras figuraban en una declaración dirigida a los 166 extranjeros que llevan más de una década detenidos en la prisión de Guantanamo Bay, muchos sin ningún cargo.

Así como el armamento de alta tecnología no pudo ganar la guerra de los Amerikanos en Afghanistan, las técnicas más sofisticadas de tortura de las modernas unidades de control no pueden acallar el ultraje extendido de las masas que viven bajo el dominio imperialista. Las oportunidades para hacer conexiones internacionalistas en el movimiento de prisiones dentro la fronteras de los EEUU no hace más que crecer a medida que más y más gente de
fuera de esas fronteras son atrapados por el sistema.


Notas:
1. Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz. Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks, New York Times, 23 March 2013.
2. Shane Bauer. Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons, Mother Jones, 18 October 2012.
3. Cora Currier and Suevon Lee. The Secret Prison
ProPublica gathers the best reporting on detention and rendition under Obama, 16 July 2012.
4. Stephanie Nebehay. U.N. rights chief calls for closure of Guantanamo prison, Reuters, 5 April 2013.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 32]
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Boston, Confusion and Collective Responsibility

garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh
People of Savar come together around collapsed factory to join rescue effort and find loved ones.
The recent events around the bombings in Boston has been confusing to internationalists. Last week, we mourned the 3 unnecessary deaths and over 200 injuries that occurred in Boston on 15 April 2013. Today we mourn the over 250 unnecessary deaths (and counting) and over 800 more who remain trapped in the rubble in Bangladesh [10 May 2013 update: the death toll has passed 1000]. Yet we are confused, though not surprised, by expressions of sadness that are so disproportionate among Amerikans surrounding these two events. Both were unnecessary results of imperialism. Reports today from one of the bombers in Boston state that he was motivated by the U.$. invasions and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan — both imperialist occupations for Third World resources. The deaths in Bangladesh came after a garment manufacturer, who produces goods for the U.$. market, threatened employees with starvation to get them to work in an unsafe building, which then collapsed while they were inside.

People die in bombings everyday in places like Iraq and Afghanistan where there has been heavy U.$. military involvement, and yet we don't see Amerikans respond like they have over the last week. Those who got teary-eyed over the deaths in Boston, while barely registering those in Bangladesh as a blip at the bottom of their TV screen, are emblematic of the problem of national chauvinism in the United $tates. In place of this view we promote a view of collective responsibility. Humyn society is a product of humyn actions that we, as a collective species, determine. For those of us who are citizens of the most powerful country on Earth, our responsibility is that much more grave.

So, the Amerikan reader might ask, should we bow to the demands of anyone who plants a homemade bomb in a crowd? Of course not. What we are saying is that if Amerikans paid as much attention to deaths caused by their nation as they did to deaths inflicted on their nation, then the latter would be less frequent. Of course the latter already pales in comparison to the former, as Amerikans kill far more people of other nations than vice-versa. Taking responsibility for this fact and acting to change it is the single most practical thing one can do to prevent unnecessary deaths of all peoples. Most of the "response" to the bombing in Boston has been political posturing and emotional subjectivism — all show, no substance. For the people of the world who face death on a daily basis, such platitudes are not enough and only real solutions earn respect, not empty words.

A peaceful world is possible. But a peaceful world is precluded by one without exploitation. You cannot maintain wealth inequality and profit motives without the use of force. MIM(Prisons) stands for an end of such use of force, an end to all oppression and exploitation, and an end to the unnecessary deaths that are the result of the system of imperialism in so many forms. We challenge U.$. citizens to join us in taking collective responsibility for the actions of our government and the deaths and destruction that result from it. Taking responsibility means taking action to change those things, while combating the culture of chauvinism that dominates our society.

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[Latin America] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 32]
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No Peace in Central America Under U.$. Imperialism

El Salvador has one of the world's highest homicide rates, and marginalization runs deep causing orphaned children from disintegrated households, and extreme poverty. The Salvadorian government has brought gang members to the table to negotiate and find temporary solutions for ending the violence, and eventually a "definitive pacification." A peace treaty between Mara Salvatrucha-13 and Barrio 18 has dropped the homicide rate, in a country with a population of 6 million, to 5 down from 14 daily. "Our conclusion is that the crime is only an expression of a much deeper social problem," says Raul Mijango, who is an ex-guerrilla who fought against the government in El Salvador's Civil War, and is also a former legislative deputy of the government established after the Civil War, he's helping broker the deal.(1) Among the gangs' primary demands was a transfer of ranking leaders from max to low security prisons, where family visits are permitted and limited rehabilitation programs offered. He says gang members are subject to worse-than-usual treatment in El Salvador prisons. Jeannette Aguilar, director of the University Institute of Public Opinion in San Salvador says, "...it's a golden opportunity for the country to advance." Some say they need to treat the roots of the problem: marginalization, education, and a lack of economic opportunity.

While El Salvador is working with the gangs on a "peace process," the United Snakes slithers in the mix and designates the Mara a transnational criminal organization and imposes financial sanctions on the gang. El Salvador's president called this label "exaggerated." In reference to the "gangs" in question, Mijango says "...you don't come across a gangster with five bulletproof trucks and armed men — you just don't see it. You see a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to make it. It's a different reality..." Some analysts argue by doing such, the United $nakes could sabotage the peace process. Economic opportunity is crucial to a sustainable peace process, yet it is almost impossible for gang members there to get jobs.

Comrades, why would they put financial sanctions on them at the exact time that El Salvador is pushing for peace in their country? Could it be the United $nakes is purposely trying to compromise this "peace treaty" in order to keep the country in chaos? If these gang members get educated, get jobs, and contribute to their country's development, maybe, just maybe, they would start taking over the jobs, and undermining investments that U.$. imperialism has its tentacles wrapped around. In my personal opinion, the United $nakes is looking after its interest and long-term investments in the region for capital accumulation and political hegemony, by purposely trying to compromise the peace treaty between Salvadorian "gangs!"


MIM(Prisons) adds:We agree with the conclusion this comrade makes. As we pointed out in our article marking the one-year anniversary of the peace treaty in El Salvador, the United $tates has its bloody finger prints all over the state of affairs in Central America. The "civil war" that led to mass migration to Los Angeles and the formation of the lumpen organizations engaged in the peace treaty was financed by U.$. imperialism to eliminate people who were not a part of the imperialist system.

Just this week, Efraín Ríos Montt, former dictator of Guatemala, became the first head of state in the Americas to face trial for genocide. This U.$.-trained-and-financed puppet was part of a parallel war against communist guerrillas and the masses of indigenous people in Guatemala in the same time period, the 1980s. While there was armed resistance to the imperialists, 93% of those killed by the state's repression were civilians. The trial this week came to a halt when information about current president Otto Pérez Molina's role in ordering mass executions came to light, signaling that the the power structure in that country has not left U.$. hands.(2) In both El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, tens of thousands of mostly indigenous people, mostly Mayans, were slaughtered by the U.$. imperialists to prevent them from achieving their goals of land reform and economic socialization.

Amerikans try to demonize MS-13 and Barrio 18 and other lumpen organizations (LOs) as killers. In reality, the Amerikans literally trained the genocidal killers of Central American in their "School of the Americas" in Fort Benning, Georgia. They then spent millions of dollars to provide them with military equipment to murder tens of thousands of people. After creating war in the region for decades, it is no surprise that the Amerikans are now intervening to interrupt this peace effort.


Another prisoner in Tejaztlán writes:
To me the most relevant question this article raises for the U.$. Lumpen prison population is the "peace treaty." These two LOs have had a bloody feud that has racked the violent death toll to the thousands. If peace is possible for them, there is no excuse wut so ever why the petty-penitentary-plex and tribal warfare going on here amongst ourselves cannot be stopped.

Chiefly, i'm referring to the plex going on in the Texas prison colonies. To everybody "puttin on for they city," i'm barking at the families, yall know who yall are. Sum gotta give, we ain't getting nowhere with this petty-plex. We've allowed hate and violence towards each other to be the basis of our unity in relation to one another. So long as we allow this petty-plex for who has the most dominance and influence on these ranchos, and so long as we allow that hate and violence against each other to dictate our relations to one another, our identity, and our collective consciousness, we'll never truly understand the base of our plex and our common condition. Wut material forces have given birth to and will facilitate the intensification of this plex i'm speaking against? Can anybody explain to me wut it is, the base of it? For all those engaged and involved, yall know who yall are and who this slug is addressed to, and yall know exactly wut plex i'm referring to.

I recently withdrew my allegience to one of these LOs comprising the biggest in Texas, because talk of peace is considered weak, and nobody seems to understand wut's at stake, or the genocide we're committing against each other. I now stand alone in an environment where lack of affiliation renders you amongst the weakest, with no say so for even the most trivial of things such as wut channel the pacifier goes on and sometimes with no place to sit even to be pacified. I feel like Che in his farewell note to the Cubanos, criticizing myself for not being a better soldado, leader, and spokesman. But as i lay down the banner of tribalism, i will lift the flame of revolutionary nationalism, striving to better my understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and applying the dialectic science to the material world around me, challenging the old to build new perceptions, which shape our relations, and define our reality. For those of us lumped together in these ranchos, it starts with you and me individually as biological men assuming responsibility. Let's get it right. For those engaged in the peace initiatives between Centro Americano LOs, from the comandante to the soldado, our efforts at nation building do not go unnoticed. Don't allow the prospects of reintegration and cohesion to be sabotaged due to foreign interests. Too much is at stake. To Sanchez of Homies Unidos en Los Angeles who recently had federal RICO charges dismissed... stay stiff homie!

Lucha y Libre
Patria o Muerte


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[U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
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Amerikan Torture Culture Hits Migrants

Maoism Path to Prisoner Liberation
Proletarian migrants have fed much of the growth in the prison population within U.$. borders in recent years. As a result they are getting a taste of the torture tactics Amerikans use against their own citizens. A recent report showed that U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds about 300 migrants in solitary confinement in 50 of its largest detention facilities, which account for 85% of their detainees. Half of them are held in solitary for 15 days or more and about 35 of the 300 are held more than 75 days.(1)

While these terms are relatively short compared to what has become normal in the United $tates, the experiences are particularly difficult for migrants who don't speak English and have been the victims of humyn trafficking.

The authors of the article cited above cautiously state that the United $tates uses solitary confinement more "than any other democratic nation in the world." This implies that other countries may use solitary confinement more. One reason they cannot get stats on imprisonment practices in some countries is that they are U.$. puppet regimes purposely run under a veil of secrecy to allow extreme forms of repression of the most oppressed peoples. We have seen no evidence of a mythical nation that is torturing more people in solitary confinement than Amerika.

Amerikans imprison more people than any other nation even if we exclude the people they are holding in prisons in other countries. With at least 100,000 people in long-term isolation within U.S. borders, it seems unlikely that any other country can top that. Further evidence exists by looking at the state of prisons in many Third World countries, which are far more open than even the low security prisons in the United $tates. And the exceptions to this rule are all countries with heavy Amerikan military/intelligence activity, and usually Amerikans themselves are running the prisons.(3)

U.$. citizen Shane Bauer was imprisoned on charges of spying by the government of Iran, which is independent from the United $tates. Bauer offers examples of how his time in solitary confinement differed in both positive and negative ways to those held in Pelican Bay SHU in California. But one stark contrast is the time in solitary, which for him was only four months. In a comparison of the "democratic" U.$. injustice system and that of Iran, Bauer wrote:

"When Josh Fattal and I finally came before the Revolutionary Court in Iran, we had a lawyer present, but weren't allowed to speak to him. In California, an inmate facing the worst punishment our penal system has to offer short of death can't even have a lawyer in the room. He can't gather or present evidence in his defense. He can't call witnesses. Much of the evidence — anything provided by informants — is confidential and thus impossible to refute. That's what Judge Salavati told us after our prosecutor spun his yarn about our role in a vast American-Israeli conspiracy: There were heaps of evidence, but neither we nor our lawyer were allowed to see it."(2)

He later cites a U.$. court ruling:

"the judge ruled that 'a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.' In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary."(2)

California's notorious Pelican Bay reports an average time spent in the Security Housing Unit there as 7.5 years. Many who fought for national liberation from U.$. imperialism have spent 30 to 40 years in solitary confinement in prisons across the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) has not seen reports of long-term isolation used to this extreme by any other government.

The torture techniques used in Amerikan control units were developed to break the spirits of people and social groups that have challenged the status quo, and in particular U.$. imperialism. Thirty years after their demise, materials from the Black Panther Party still get people in trouble regularly, sometimes even with a "Security Threat Group" charge. That's the Amerikan term for a thought crime.

It could be that these techniques are being expanded into migrant detention centers as a form of discipline of the Mexican proletariat that Amerikans fear as a force of social change. Or it could just be a case of oppressor nation culture spreading its tentacles into other nations. Either way, this is just one of many forms of oppression that serve to undermine the propaganda myth of Amerika as a nation that promotes freedom.

For years, the United $tates has been under criticism by the United Nations as the principal state using torture in the form of long-term isolation. Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said, "We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold."(4) This was in a statement addressing the 166 foreign nationals held in Guantanamo Bay Prison for more than a decade, most without charges.

Just as high-tech weaponry could not win the war in Afghanistan for the Amerikans, the sophisticated torture techniques of the modern control unit cannot overcome the widespread outrage of the masses living under imperialist domination. The opportunities for making internationalist connections to the prison movement within U.$. borders only increases as more people from outside those borders get swept up in the system.

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[Middle East] [U.S. Imperialism]
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Combat Warmongering Propaganda Against Iran

no war on iran
According to Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (N.P.T.), all signatory member nations possess the "inalienable right" to "develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination."(1) As a signatory nation, the Islamic Republic of Iran is entitled to this most basic right, just like any other nation. However, the United $tates and its allies are seeking to infringe upon and limit Iran's right to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes, asserting that the Iranian government is using its civilian nuclear program as a smokescreen for an alleged covert nuclear weapons program.(2) These assertions are backed by no credible evidence, just the assurances of the U.$. and Israeli governments respectively. It is further insinuated that once Iran develops nuclear weapons, it will certainly use them to "wipe Israel off the map of nations,"(3) presenting an existential threat to the Jewish people.

Despite the belligerent public tone of the U.$. government, however, its intelligence community has consistently reported to Congress that Iran's military strategy is strictly geared towards "deterrence, asymmetric retaliation, and attrition warfare" (emphasis mine).(4) Even the U.$. National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, recently admitted to Congress that "we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons" and implicitly confirmed that Iran is not presently seeking to do so because if it were, such activities would certainly be discovered by the "international community."(5) In spite of all this, President Obama maintains that "all options are on the table" to thwart Iran's nuclear program, with a military attack on Iran taking place as early as June 2013.(6) As we shall see, the United $tates is merely using Iran's nuclear program as a pretext to justify further military intervention in the region in a larger effort to redesign the landscape of the Middle East in order to secure the continued global hegemony of the U.$. empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United $tates remained standing as the world's lone superpower. In 1991, President Bush declared the establishment of a "New World Order," that is, a unipolar global system completely subjected to the imperial dictates of the United $tates and its junior partners.(7) Foreign policy experts and government policy think tanks immediately began mapping out blueprints for a new century of what can be called trilateral imperialism (the United $tates, Western Europe and Japan).(8)

To this end, the Bush I administration called for "the integration of the leading democracies into a U.$.-led system of collective security, and the prospects of expanding that system, [to] significantly enhance our international position and provide a crucial legacy for future peace."(9) Within this collective framework, the United $tates would act to "preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the United States and our allies."(10) In other words, the First World should unite under the leadership of the United $tates to dominate and exploit the resources of the Third World (cheap labor, oil, cobalt, etc.), while preventing any other power from emerging which could disrupt this neocolonial relationship.

At the time, Russia was deemed to be the only military power capable of potentially deterring U.$. imperialism. Thus, during the late 1990s Council on Foreign Relations member and Clinton foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski advised that Russia "ought to be isolated and picked apart" in order to extend "America's influence in the Caucasus region and Central Asia," both formerly under Russian control.(11) In doing so, the United $tates could secure its domination over Eurasia, long deemed to be the strategic "heartland" of global power.(12) The NATO-led "humanitarian intervention" in the former Yugoslavia during the late 1990s must be understood in this light.

The Middle East has long been assigned a very narrow role within the imperialist world system, being seen as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."(13) This is of course only because of the region's massive natural gas and oil reserves, which the United $tates considers to be vital to its national interests. U.$. foreign policy in the Middle East in the post-war period has been geared towards three main objectives: 1) securing and maintaining "an open door" for Western companies to the region's vast oil and gas reserves; 2) maintaining a "closed door" for potential rival powers (i.e., Russia and China) to Middle Eastern oil; and 3) preventing Middle Eastern "radical and nationalist regimes" from coming to power that might use their oil and gas resources for the "immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses" and development for domestic needs.(14)

In the bipolar world of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was able to counter U.$. ambitions in the Middle East, supporting various secular nationalist regimes relatively hostile towards U.$. imperialism. After the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent isolation of Russia, however, the United $tates was in a position to fundamentally alter the political map of the Middle East so as to "ensure that the enormous profits of the energy system flow primarily to the United States, its British client, and their energy corporations, not to the people of the region" or potential rival powers.(15) It is in this light that we must view the recent wave of "humanitarian interventions" conducted by the United States and NATO in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the current confrontation with Iran.

In 2000, the Project for a New American Century published a report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century," which was extended and adopted as official national security policy in 2005. Drawing on the themes of the first Bush administration and Brzezinski, the report recommends that U.$. military forces become "strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States."(16) As noted above, there was nothing new in this goal of American hegemony per se, but what was new was the emphasis placed on "transforming" the political landscape of the Middle East. Due to the rise of Islamic terrorism and the stubborn existence of "rogue states," the "stability" of the Middle East, North Africa, and their oil reserves were deemed to be essential objectives of U.$. national security and foreign policy.

Using the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a pretext for this grand imperial project, the Bush administration outlined a list of seven "rogue states" targeted for regime change in order to secure de facto U.S. control over global oil supplies. Those seven countries were Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.(17) Of course, Iraq was invaded, occupied and "democratized" by the United $tates in 2003. The threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon has been satisfactorily neutralized as a result of Israel's 2006 invasion, the Jamahariya government of Libya was utterly destroyed by NATO and Al Qaeda in 2011, the Assad regime of Syria is on the verge of collapse today as it is under attack from NATO and its Islamic mercenary forces, while there are ongoing covert military operations being conducted against Somalia and the Sudan. Only Iran remains intact as a nation-state out of the seven countries targeted by the U.$. imperialists for regime change.

The current U.$. propaganda campaign would have us believe that the United $tates is targeting Iran because it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons with which it will destroy Israel. As we have seen however, U.$. intelligence — that is, the agencies responsible for obtaining such information — does not have strong evidence to prove that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Further, in its assessment, Iran's military strategy is not geared towards aggression or the offensive, but strictly deterrence and defense. Therefore, there must be some other reasons why the United $tates is gearing up for war against Iran.

In light of U.$. policy objectives to dominate global oil supplies and to subvert or overthrow "nationalist regimes" that seek to use their natural resources to benefit their domestic populations or to promote independent development, it should be fairly obvious that Iran is a target because its oil is nationalized and it pursues a program of independent development. Indeed, when Iran first nationalized its oil in 1953 under Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the CIA and British MI6 quickly organized a coup d'etat to overthrow Mosaddegh and reprivatize Iranian oil.(18) The oil industry wasn't nationalized again until the 1979 Islamic revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, which quickly set Iran on a path of independent nationalist development.

Also of grave concern to the United $tates is Iran's growing commercial and economic relations with Russia and China. Iran exports 22% of its oil exports to China,(19) while it has cultivated a strong economic relationship with Russia on various fronts, especially in military equipment and nuclear infrastructure.(20) The Iranian regime's independence from Washington has afforded Russia and China a foot in the door of the Middle East, which hinders the ability of the United $tates to completely dominate the region and prevent the rise of potential rival hegemons in the world system, perhaps the greatest threat posed by Iran.

Iran itself is deemed as a threat to U.$. interests in the Middle East, as it is devoted to "countering U.S. influence" and becoming a regional dominator.(21) To this end, Iran has been fostering political, economic and security ties with other actors in the region, appealing to Islamic solidarity and resistance to imperialism. Iran has become influential in both Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining U.$. objectives in those countries, and has maintained its support for the Assad regime in Syria, thwarting NATO's efforts there.(22) All of these factors make Iran a formidable obstacle to U.$. objectives in the Middle East, halting Washington's ability to totally redesign the political landscape of the region.

Iran also gives financial and military support to various politico-military organizations in the region. As the United $tates considers many of these organizations "terrorists," Iran is then a "state sponsor of terrorism." Most of its support is channeled to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Both of these groups are opposed to the Zionist colonization of Palestine and to U.$. imperialism in the region more generally. Through Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran is able to exert its influence in the Middle East, creating political "destabilization" in Lebanon and Palestine.(23) The continued existence of such armed groups is considered a threat to U.$. objectives in the region and is another main reason why the United $tates is seeking to attack Iran.

When we place the current threats towards Iran in their proper geopolitical and historical context, it becomes clear that Iran's nuclear program is not the real reason why the imperialists are gearing up to attack it. In fact, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the alleged threat posed by Iran's nuclear program is merely a propaganda fabrication designed to garner popular support for the immanent invasion of Iran, similar to the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. In truth, Iran was targeted for regime change at least ten years ago, but because of its resistance to the "Washington Consensus," its economic nationalism, its growing commercial and economic ties to Russia and China, its potential to become a regional authority, and its support of politico-military organizations opposed to the United $tates and Israel, not because of its nuclear program.

The drums of war are now beating in the United $tates as Washington prepares to launch the final phase of its grand strategy to remake the Middle East. This plan is merely one component of a much larger plan to maintain the world system of trilateral imperialism. In order to maintain the global supremacy of the West, the United $tates and its junior partners are determined to prevent the rise of Russia and China to hegemonic status. Thus, an attack on Iran will surely be viewed as an indirect attack on both Russia and China. A war on Iran may very well quickly escalate into a global military conflagration, consuming other states in the region, as well as Russia and China. To prevent such a scenario from unfolding, academics and intellectuals must dispel the propaganda about Iran's nuclear program and expose the imperialist ambitions behind the U.$. government's agenda to the Amerikan people.

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[Culture] [U.S. Imperialism] [Middle East] [ULK Issue 31]
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Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

zero dark thirty promo
Zero Dark Thirty
2012

This movie claims to chronicle the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attack, culminating in his death in May 2011. This is a hollywood film, so we can't expect an accurate documentary. But that doesn't really matter since the movie will represent what Amerikans think of when they picture the CIA's work in the Middle East. And what they get is a propaganda film glorifying Amerikan torture of prisoners, and depicting Pakistani people as violent and generally pretty stupid. From start to finish there is nothing of value in this movie, and a lot of harmful and misleading propaganda. The main message that revolutionaries should take from it revolves around government information gathering. From tracking phones to networks of people watching and following individuals, the government has extensive and sophisticated techniques at their disposal, and even the most cautious will have a very hard time avoiding even a small amount of government surveillance.

The plot focuses almost exclusively on a CIA agent, "Maya," who devoted her career to finding clues to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Early in the film there are a lot of graphic scenes of prisoners being tortured to get information, including waterboarding, beatings, cages, and food and sleep deprivation. Maya is bothered by the torture initially, but quickly adapts and joins in the interrogations. The movie is very pro-torture, showing critical information coming from every single tortured prisoner, ignoring the fact that so many prisoners held in Amerikan detention facilities after 9/11 were never charged, committed no crimes, and had no information. Throughout the film there are constant digs against Obama's ban on torture as a method of extracting information in 2009. Ironically, in the movie the CIA still found Osama bin Laden, using no torture after the ban. But we're left understanding that it would have been much easier if the CIA still had free reign with prisoners.

Although Zero Dark Thirty portrays Obama as soft on terror and a hindrance to the CIA's work, we should not be fooled into thinking that the U.$. government has really ended the use of torture. While we have no clear information about what goes on in interrogation cells in other countries, we know that right here in U.$. prisons, torture is used daily. And this domestic torture is usually not even focused on getting information, it's either sadistic entertainment for prison staff or punishment for political organizing. In one example of this, a USW comrade who wrote about Amerikan prison control units died shortly after his article was printed, under suspicious circumstances in Attica Correctional Facility.

Banning certain interrogation techniques, even if that ban is actually enforced in the Third World, is just an attempt to put makeup on the hideous face of imperialism. Even if no Amerikan citizen ever practices torture on Third World peoples (something we know isn't true), the fact is that the United $tates prefers to pay proxies to carry out its dirty work anyway. Torture, military actions, rape, theft, etc., can all be done at a safe distance by paying neo-colonial armies and groups to work on behalf of the Amerikan government.

Whether actions are carried out by Navy SEALs, CIA agents, or proxy armies and individuals, Amerikan imperialism is working hard to keep the majority of the world's people under control and available for exploitation. The death of bin Laden is portrayed as a big victory in Zero Dark Thirty, but for the majority of the world's people this was just one more example of Amerikan militarism, a system that works against the material interests of most people in the world.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Organizing] [Latin America] [ULK Issue 31]
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One-Year Anniversary of Peace Treaty in El Salvador

El salvador lumpen truce
7 March 2013 — Today marks the 1-year anniversary of a truce between two rival lumpen organizations (LOs) in El Salvador, Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha-13. The truce has its origins inside Salvadoran prisons, where secret meetings were mediated by members of the Church, and facilitated by the Salvadoran government. The result was a shuffling around of LO members to different prisons, and a reduction of the homicide rate in El Salvador from 14 per day to 5.(1)

Background

Without getting too deep into the origins of Barrio 18 and Mara Salvacrucha-13 (MS-13), it is significant to note that they both originated in Los Angeles, California (Barrio 18 in the 1950s-60s, MS-13 in the 1980s). Barrio 18 was originally made up of Mexican nationals but adapted its recruiting base as Latinos of other backgrounds migrated to southern California. MS-13 emerged from refugees of the civil war in El Salvador who had congregated in Los Angeles. In the 1990s, policy changes in the U.$. government led to the deportation of thousands of LO members back to their home countries, where their respective LOs were not yet established. In El Salvador, both groups took off.

The political climate in the 1990s in El Salvador was marked by an end to the civil war in 1992. Not surprisingly, the local conditions contributed to the ease of recruitment for these LOs. One of the Barrio 18 members who participated in the peace talks, Carlos Mojica, told the Christian Science Monitor "the streets were left filled with weapons, orphaned children, conditions of extreme poverty, disintegrated households."(2) These are ripe conditions for the proliferation of street organizations. When youth have no support and adults have no jobs, they must turn to other means for survival.

Change of Heart

Some cite an incident in June 2011 as a peak in the violence of these two organizations, which was a reality check for many. Barrio 18 has been blamed by the Salvadoran government and many citizens for a bus burning which killed at least 14 people in Mejicanos, San Salvador. This bus burning received media attention worldwide, and was accompanied by a bus shooting the same evening which killed 3 people. All the targets of this violence were reported to be unaffiliated citizens and travelers.

Others cite time and persynal experience as what changed their minds about violence. In the United $tates, many, if not most, LO members age out into the labor aristocracy or petty-bourgeoisie. But this isn't an option in El Salvador which is not an exploiter country with a bought-off labor aristocracy. Members who would otherwise be aging out of the LO if they were U.$. citizens, instead see an imperative need to change the conditions for themselves and younger generations.(2) MS-13 member Dany Mendez told BBC News "I have lost too many friends and relatives in the violence. We don't want another war because we are thinking about our children."(3)

Of course many activists in the United $tates, including MIM(Prisons) and signatories of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, see a need to end lumpen-on-lumpen violence in this country. But it's clear that conditions here are much better than in El Salvador in that a significant portion of people can leave their days of wylin' out in their past and move on to join the oppressor classes. The material conditions which lead to movement of the lumpen class in the United $tates is explored in our forthcoming book. How much these differences in material conditions affects the movement in this country toward peace between lumpen organizations will be determined by those of us working for this peace.

Moving Forward

The peace agreement between MS-13 and Barrio 18 has not been touted as an end to the violence forever, but instead is framed as "a break in the violence so the various stakeholders can work out long-term solutions."(4) Since the beginning, the peacemakers have been calling on the Salvadoran government to generate jobs and work with former and current LO members on developing skills that will help them make a living without relying on violence.

Last month, a program was initiated by U.$. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with Salvadoran businesses and non-governmental organizations, in a purported effort to prevent youth from joining LOs in the first place. They claim this program has nothing to do with the truce, and have no intention of helping people who have already chosen or been forced to join a lumpen organization.(5) Considering the long history of U.$. neocolonialism in Central America, it is not surprising that U$AID is putting their 2 cents in. Time will tell the long-term effects of this $42 million investment, but we can safely assume it will amount to manipulation of the Salvadoran people by the United $tates government.(6)

After one solid year, the truce has withstood everyone's doubts and has not been broken. If the government is not going to step up to help prevent the violence, then the LOs will have to organize to do it themselves. One of the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is Independence, which is just as important in El Salvador where the United $tates has dominated politics and the economy. We see today where U.$. intervention has gotten them thus far. MS-13 and Barrio 18 members know what their communities need better than U.$. investors do, and they should be supported in their efforts to change. It is our strong suspicion that those looking to change the conditions in which they live in any substantive way will eventually find that an end to capitalism itself is the order of the day.

One such organization which is supporting the peace treaty in El Salvador is Homies Unidos, which has chapters in Los Angeles and El Salvador. Alex Sanchez is the director of Homies Unidos in LA, and in recent history has been targeted by the FBI for harassment and detainment.(7) The bogus charges were finally dropped last month after restricting his ability to work for years. We tried to get in touch with Homies Unidos to gather more information on the real effects of the peace treaty on the ground, and what more is needed to maintain and advance the peace, but unfortunately we have not heard back.

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