The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Police Brutality] [Black Lives Matter] [Civil Liberties] [Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg Medium] [Federal]
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Feds Lockdown Prisoners in Response to Uprisings in the Streets

FCC Petersburg Lockdown George Floyd

I am enclosing a memo distributed to the captive population in response to the uprisings by the Americans’ oppressed New Afrikan population. It is claimed that their actions are not punitive, but of course that is clearly not the case. There is evident fear of the latent power of their oppressed nationalities confined within their prisons, as can be noted at the end of the first paragraph.

“As you are aware our Nation is facing difficult times as emotions run high and peaceful protests have turned into violently charged demonstrations. In an effort to maintain the safety and security of the institution, a lock down has been initiated. This lock down is not punitive. … However, we are committed to preventing any type of disruption from occurring, and I strongly emphasize any type of violent behavior will never be accepted or tolerated at this facility.”

MIM(Prisons) adds: This action by the federal government reveals the level of fear that they have right now of the oppressed nations and the youth in general in this country. Prison officials display the same hypocrisy as the police on the streets who have responded to peaceful demonstrations again and again with violence against people for exhibiting their First Amendment rights. Young people are coming home from protests permanently disabled. While thousands are being locked up.

As statistics on police murders and violence are gaining interest, we must ask what about the “peace officers” behind bars? How many have they killed? How many Black men are dying at the hands of the state where cell phone cameras are illegal? Where protests are repressed and there’s no videos to post online?

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[Organizing] [MIM] [Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support] [ULK Issue 70]
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Q&A with MIM(Prisons), Spring 2020

Maoist Internationalist Movement

Where you been?

We’ve been here, at least some of us. Our last issue of ULK was ULK 69, which came out in October 2019. In that issue we announced a planned pause to launch a new newsletter in January. Those plans fell apart in December when most of those comrades left the project.

Wait, i’m new, i never even got ULK 69

If you wrote us for the first time after we mailed out ULK 69 you should have got some kind of response from us. Many new subscribers were only sent a back issue of ULK and no further info. This issue (70) should get everyone up to speed. However, due to the shelter-in-place orders and our limited resources we are not doing a mailing to our full subscriber list. Only those who write in after this issue is released will be sent a copy.

How are you doing?

We’re doing as good as we can. The setbacks in December were challenging. But those of us who remain are healthy so far, and are not facing any immediate setbacks from the pandemic. In fact, we saw a 42% increase in data pulled from our website in April, which we imagine is related to people sheltering in place to avoid COVID-19.

What have you been up to?

We’ve actually done a lot in 2020. Before the comrades left this winter we had spent a lot of time working with our partners in RAIM to develop plans for the newsletter, as well as developing our ideological unity around Maoism. Besides some edits to our definition of Maoism, we put out an extensive response to the book Continuity and Rupture, which goes through the history of Maoism here in occupied Turtle Island and relates it to the International Communist Movement (ICM). We could not fit that essay in this issue of ULK, but if you are interested please write in to request a copy. You can also get a copy of the book itself from us for $8 (stamps or ask us for info on how to pay by check) or work trade. It is a good explanation of some of the concepts behind Maoism and where it comes from. However, our essay addresses some serious disagreements with the historical facts and some of the author’s political line. We recommend it to all who are studying Maoism.

Since the last ULK we’ve focused much energy outside of prisons, to invest in building a more resilient movement on the streets. Of note, we launched a new online platform that has been in the work for years, which has allowed us to build with a number of new comrades. We released plans for the launch of Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS), a mass organization for people on the outside to support USW and MIM(Prisons) work. Our subscribers can now link up their outside contacts with AIPS to make direct contributions to Maoist prisoner support in the United $tates. Just have your people get in touch with us via our website www.prisoncensorship.info/contact .

We took the opportunity of the intro study group coordinator leaving to revamp the entire course, both the study questions as well as the format. This new format allows people to complete the course at their own pace, rather than having to wait for the next course to start, or for others to answer. We hope this means our subscribers will be able to develop their political consciousness more rapidly and with sustained interest. The new format is already showing good results in the responses we have seen.

The introductory study course has been open to prisoners for many years, and hundreds of people have participated over that time. In 2020, we started offering our intro study course online for the first time. We are linking AIPS comrades to our intro study group participants inside, to help build bridges between inside and outside, and to help everyone develop their political consciousness more deeply.

Despite the pause in ULK, we have sent in 100s of pieces of literature each month through our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program.

Are all your programs still running?

No, we simply cannot do what we were doing until we can get more comrade time dedicated to those tasks. This will happen by training new people and/or having others provide the money we need to keep operating so existing comrades have more time to put in.

Some tasks we cannot sustain at this time are producing Spanish-language content and coordinating the Prisoners’ Legal Clinic. Our capacity to appeal censorship on behalf of MIM Distributors will be even more focused on instances that are being actively fought by our subscribers. We will still send subscribers Spanish language materials that are already produced, as well as legal guides available through our Free Books program.

But ULK is back?

We’re not sure yet. Our plan A was to launch a new newsletter, in partnership with other cells/groups, uniting on MIM’s 3 cardinal principals (see MIM(Prisons) points 4-6). This newsletter would have more than tripled our distribution, with most copies being distributed outside of prisons. We still think we need such a newsletter to unite a broader Maoist Internationalist Movement. But until people step up with the effort, money and political line to do this project, this plan is on hold.

Plan B is to recontinue Under Lock & Key, to serve as the voice of the anti-imperialist prisoner movement led by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through MIM(Prisons)’s role as editor. ULK came out every other month and was free to all prisoners of the United $nakes who wrote us every 6 months to stay on the mailing list. Whether we can return to that model is still being considered.

Plan C would be doing something less regular, with less content and/or more restricted distribution, which is effectively what we are doing with ULK 70. Before we make any concrete decisions, we decided to put out ULK 70 as a first step in sorting out our longer-term plan. We wanted to send our readers an update, including all of the indepth content included in this issue. We wanted to let people know we’re still here and still serious. And we wanted to make one more call for support. How we proceed will depend on the response from our subscribers, as well as potential contributors outside. And, like the rest of the world, we are not sure what will be the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

How can i support the newsletter?

In order to consistently produce new issues of Under Lock & Key, we must fill the gap in resources we had before we stopped. This gap is in both comrade time and money. One of our biggest successes in the last couple months has been the launch of the online platform, and the streamlining of the process of getting prisoner writings typed and published on our website. Helping out with typing, proof-reading, formatting and even writing articles for ULK is one way to help. Providing consistent funding is another. Comrades in prison, perhaps you can help recruit people to do both. You don’t have to contribute a lot, but we do need supporters who can contribute consistently, that we can rely on to keep the newsletter going.

To reignite Plan A we need to develop cells within MIM and mass organizations that are doing work on the ground that produce diverse content for such a newsletter, an outlet for distributing it, and funding.

Currently, Plan C might include publishing a newsletter whenever we can. This model has the benefit of responding to reader support; as support goes up, the newsletter becomes more regular. However, we think consistency is important up front, especially if we are to be effective at keeping our imprisoned subscribers informed in a relatively timely manner, as we must do to sustain our movement.

Therefore, we are asking for everyone’s support in making ULK a regular newsletter once again, to play its unique role of publicizing and supporting anti-imperialist organizing in the dungeons of the belly of the beast! For people inside, write to your people outside and encourage them to get involved. For people outside, contact us with a pledge of how much you can contribute every 2 months, in work and/or funding.

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[COVID-19] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 70]
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Debt Relief to Combat COVID-19 Blocked by U.$. Imperialism

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began considering calls for aid to Third World countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.(1) Since then, finance capital flows have begun moving out of the Third World and back into the United $tates, resulting in currencies in those countries losing their value. This is making it impossible for these countries to pay off their existing debt burdens, as well as to fund much-needed relief for their people during this crisis.

In our previous article we mentioned the possibility of the IMF issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) which would allow all countries to access funds, via the United Nations, without accruing additional debt and interest. We have also been echoing the call for complete debt forgiveness, or jubilee, for the poorest nations of the world.

In place of these measures, the United $tates has set up a system where countries can apply for dollars in exchange for local currency from the U.$. Federal Reserve Board. This allows the United $tates to decide who gets funding. Due to their control of the IMF, the Amerikans have already blocked funding to Venezuela to combat the pandemic.(2)

The money being offered from the the Fed will also be given as loans, with interest.(2) Already, the most exploited countries of the world cannot afford to pay off existing loans. Many countries are spending more on debt payments than healthcare during the pandemic.(1) In addition, these loans, unlike the proposed SDRs, will have conditions that give the Amerikans control over the path of development these countries take in the future.

The exiting of finance capital from the Third World will have the effect of passing the impacts of the economic crisis disproportionately on to those countries. Meanwhile, the United $tates is offering to send dollars back to put these countries further into debt and ratchet up further policy control over their economies. While the United $tates is currently leading the world in deaths due to the novel coronavirus, the Third World nations are likely destined to see much more dire death and suffering without debt forgiveness, unconditional aid, and the lifting of sanctions and embargoes by the imperialists.

In times of capitalist expansion, exporting finance capital works to transfer wealth from the Third World periphery to the First World nations. Now that the economy is quickly contracting, the methods above show how pulling finance capital out of the periphery also transfers wealth to the First World nations. Ultimately, national liberation struggles are necessary to free the peripheral countries from the economic system of imperialism that uses them as a source of wealth at the expense of much humyn suffering.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), April 2020, Call on G20 to Cancel $1 trillion in TW Debt next week.
2. Prabhat Patnaik, 30 April 2020, Monthly Review Online.

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[Campaigns] [COVID-19] [California Medical Facility] [California] [ULK Issue 70]
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Return Life-Saving Machines to Prisoners at CMF

Revolutionary Greetings!

10 April 2020 – Filing my April Report from the California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, California.

This is a hospital, we are all here because we are high risk medical and most of us are 55+ years of age if not older. And those of us with Obstructive Sleep Apnea suffer from a life-threatening condition for which we require the use of a CPAP/BiPAP breathing machine to allow us to keep breathing as we sleep. Today the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), using Gastapo tactics, has come in and confiscated our DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment). Thereby placing all our lives at risk under the color of law.

I requested C.O. Gorbe, our dorm officer who since his assignment to our dorm has made a hostile environment, to make a copy of my health care 602 [grievance form] with supporting documents attached, as is my right before I submitted it. I was denied this request and for this reason I submitted this health care 602 attached to a CDCR 22 form with the CDCR 602 H.C. Grievance. And I have been successful in encouraging others to follow suite and file appeals.

My people have been calling the facility and they are denying these as allegations, refusing to acknowledge to our loved ones this even happened. And telling us this is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Which makes NO sense. I am not infected and their reporting no cases here at CMF. Yet they are placing our lives at risk of our OSA.

I’m sure this is going on at other facilities within CDCR and I encourage all our brothers and sisters to also file paperwork together we can make a difference!

I have wrote similar letters to: - The Prison Law Office - Office of Internal Affairs CDCR - Office of the Inspector General - U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division - CDCR, office of the Ombudsman - Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld UP attorney at Law - Cal-vets

I would like to respectfully request copies of the grievance petition forms, and also suggest all our effected brothers and sisters to also file and make this a real campaign. And contact your loved ones beyond the walls to call in and make the system aware that people outside are aware of their actions. Together let’s hold them accountable for their actions!


Take Action:

Monday 11 May 2020

CALL: (707) 448-6841

Suggested message: “I am calling on behalf of prisoners who have had their Durable Medical Equipment taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic. These machines help people with life-threatening conditions. I am requesting that prisoners at California Medical Facility be given access to these machines immediately. Can you tell me why these machines were taken away and when we can expect them to be returned?”

MIM(Prisons) adds: As this comrade states ey does not have symptoms of COVID-19. While there are reports online that CPAP machines could spread COVID-19, these patients should be tested for the virus if that is the concern. The fact that COVID-19 is becoming so widespread in prisons is a complete failure of the staff to protect prisoners. With proper practices, prisoners likely would not even be exposed to the virus – in many ways, imprisonment is the epitome of “shelter in place..” Prisoners with existing health conditions need not be put under additional threats to their health.

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[Abuse] [COVID-19]
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Inadequate Hygiene Products for Coronavirus

Here in prison, they finally started letting us make phone calls after close to 3 weeks of being on lockdown. But since April 7th we have been on lockdown because of the virus. But Texa$ Telford Unit prison can’t give us any extra soap or cell cleaning supplies, we have got zero cell cleaning supplies. 2 man cell, 1 toilet, 1 sink. We only shower 3x a week, this is during a time when we are supposed to be washing our hands “in all” about a hour a day. We share 4 showers with 48 different people, so we get in the shower right behind someone else, a very small shower that does not get sanitized or aired out after each use. They didn’t even clean the showers for the first 2 weeks of lockdown. Now inmates are dying and even their own officers. Maybe it would have been a wise choice to take a little out of the 3 billion dollar budget and give us some extra soap to wash our hands with? We have to use our own soap to clean the plastic and metal phone after someone uses it (they let 2 people out at a time for phone). TX doesn’t have iPads so we can’t email or watch movies like some states.

In this capitalist world, if you can’t afford a computer or internet you can’t go to school now. So that’s the way greed works.

I don’t really have a study cell but I have had quite a few conversations with people and I let them know that socialism is for the poor and oppressed, like us prisoners, and some of these people want Trump to win and they are for the right. But they agree that socialism would actually be for the better of the people. They hang their head and agree.

P.S. Donation of 5 stamps

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[Economics] [Campaigns] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Call on G20 to Cancel $1 Trillion in TW Debt Next Week

Recent United Nations estimates of the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic show that half a billion people, or 8% of the population, could be pushed into poverty (using World Bank poverty lines of $1.90 - $3.20 per day). The worst hit areas are projected to be South Asia and East Asia. This will be the first time global poverty has increased since 1990 and this could wipe out all the progress made in reducing poverty in that time.

If the UN’s worst-case projection proves true, it will be a huge blow to the image of capitalism as a force of progress. In recent years, capitalists have been using global income statistics to try to disprove Karl Marx’s theories that the masses are continuously impoverished to more extremes under the pressures for profits under capitalism. Of course we have always countered that the bulk of this reduction can be accounted for by China, whose success is built on the radical land reform and unleashing of the productive forces during its socialist period, which ended by 1976. Still, this propaganda point has been hard to counter in a popularly accepted way.

There is nothing like a crisis to lead people to question capitalism’s ability to meet peoples’ needs. Yet in the short-term, we see the interests of the Third World proletariat in some of the proposals coming from bourgeois internationalists looking to limit the depths of the coming crisis. A newly proposed plan from Oxfam calls for $2.5 trillion, “made up of $1 trillion in debt relief, $1 trillion in additional liquidity mobilized through SDRs [Special Drawing Rights - which is like grant money from the IMF] and $500bn in aid to support developing country health systems.” They offer potential impacts of this plan:

“The immediate cancellation of US$1 trillion worth of developing country debt payments in 2020. Cancelling Ghana’s external debt payments in 2020 would enable the government to give a cash grant of $20 dollars a month to each of the country’s 16 million children, disabled and elderly people for a period of six months.”

Such life-saving amounts are a fraction of the benefits Amerikans are already receiving from pandemic-related funding bills. Oxfam has done the math to back up calls already coming from the Vatican for international finance capital to forgive debt to the Third World. In addition to debt relief, it proposes a $1 trillion fund (called SDRs above) of international reserves that can be drawn on by the indebted countries during the pandemic.

The United $tates has passed laws to extend unemployment to self-employed and informal workers, recognizing the lack of safety net for those people. Oxfam points out that is only 18% of the population in rich nations, while for poor nations 90% of the people are informal workers with no safety net. Oxfam’s report cites the United Nations, saying that half of jobs in Africa could be lost in the coming months. But the latest stimulus plan from the United $tates only offered $1.1 billion to address the crisis in poor countries, a mere 0.05 % of the $2.2 trillion plan.

The Oxfam report hints at an international tax on the most profitable companies or wealthiest individuals as another form of wealth redistribution to provide the needed funding. MIM has long stood for a global maximum income for all of the world’s citizens as a similar form of limiting wealth accumulation and hoarding.

Madonna somberly referred to COVID-19 as the “great equalizer” from a luxurious bath in eir mansion. But the Third World proletariat will not be reporting in on video from a rose petal bath during “stay at home” orders. Coming into this crisis, 46 countries were spending on average four times more money on debts than their public health services, and 113 countries had IMF-required austerity plans in place as conditions for those debts. The people of those countries are starting off far behind us in the imperialist countries. Health care is already seriously inadequate, and people were already living on the bare essentials. They have much less of a cushion than us, despite all our bills and persynal debts. Madonna is correct that this crisis does affect everyone, both threatening their health and economic stability, but it is far from equalizing.

Uniting the globe to fight this pandemic must address the unequal needs and access of the oppressed nations of the world. Onerous debt repayments and the economic restructuring requirements that accompany them, is one of the major causes of the destitution faced by the global proletariat, reaching its highest point at 191% of those countries GDPs in 2018. Now is the time to forgive these debts, release control of economic policies, and grant national self-determination to countries that have effectively been neo-colonies of the United $tates, and international finance capital in general, for decades.

Oxfam is calling on the G20 Finance Ministers at their 15 April 2020 meeting and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank which are meeting 17-19 April 2020, to take on their proposed plan.

Notes: Oxfam International, 9 April 2020, Dignity Not Destitution: An ‘Economic Rescue Plan for All’ to tackle the Coronavirus crisis and rebuild a more equal world.

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[Economics] [Campaigns] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Debt Forgiveness to Third World to Combat Covid-19

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday that the WHO joins the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in supporting debt relief to poorer countries to help them combat the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic fallout.(1) Now is the time for the international community to call for full debt forgiveness for countries in Africa, South Asia and Central and South America.

Religious leaders have renewed the call for a debt jubilee, which in the Bible is a grace period from slavery and debt. It is a period of renewal, for a fresh start. Most notably, in a broadcast to the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle asked “Could the coronavirus crisis lead to a jubilee of forgiveness of debt, so that those who are in the tombs of indebtedness could find life – untie them, release them.”(2) The Cardinal went on to say that the wealthy countries have spent too much on weapons when people are dying for lack of ventilators in hospitals across the globe.

News of the spread of coronavirus in the Third World is starting to emerge. Being at the periphery of the economy may have granted many Third World countries a little more time to respond. But as the richest countries in the world prove unable to prevent deaths due to lack of supplies and preparations, the situation in Third World countries will in all likelihood prove more dire. In all countries, the death rate is revealing the ineffectiveness of an economic system guided by the profit motive in meeting humyn needs.

MIM(Prisons) stands in unity with the Cardinal’s call. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been the institutions that issue and manage the majority of loans, along with accompanying structural adjustment programs, that have sucked wealth from the Third World to the First World since the Bretton Woods Agreeement in 1944. Therefore we must demand absolute forgiveness of these debts, a true jubilee, without the further meddling of these imperialist institutions in the economies of sovereign nations.

If there were ever time for a fresh start, it is now. The economic fallout from the current crisis is only just beginning. Forgiving debt to the poorest countries in the world will free up scarce resources and save countless lives.

Notes:
1. Stephanie Nebehay, 2 April 2020, COVID-19 cases and deaths rising, debt relief needed for poorest nations - WHO, Yahoo! News.
2. COVID-19: Cardinal Tagle urges “forgiveness of debt” of poor countries. 31 March 2020, LaCroix International, Vatican City.

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[Venezuela] [Economics] [Drugs] [Militarism] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Venezuela Becomes First Target of Crisis-Driven Militarism

Peace Dove

On 1 April 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United $tates had doubled military forces engaged in combating drug trafficking in the Pacific Ocean between the United $tates and South America. The primary purpose was stated as being to protect Amerikan lives from dangerous drugs. The secondary purpose was to destabilize the Maduro administration in Venezueala that Trump claims is propped up by drug money. The Maduro administration responded by commending the United $tates for trying to fight drug trafficking for the first time in decades.(1)

While these actions are part of a long history of political warfare in the region, this announcement is also significant in that it is the first show of militarism to stave off the looming economic depression facing the imperialists and the global economy. Finance capital is in crisis.

As Lenin explained, the portion of capital that is finance capital only increases with time. This leads to a very top-heavy economy. One of the primary laws of capitalism is that all capital must circulate. Unlike industrial capital, finance capital is not involved in the actual production of material goods and value. As such it is not limited by humyn consumption, as long as there are profits to be made. The problem is that capitalism, unlike an economic system based on humyn need, cannot adapt to economic slowdowns such as the current one imposed by the health needs of humyns facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the economy is shrinking, while finance capital is always growing, then there are not enough places for that finance capital to circulate into to return a profit. This is reflected in the recent reduction of interest rates by the Federal Reserve to 0%. When profit rates are high, people will borrow at higher rates to invest and return a profit. When banks are struggling to loan money for free, that means there are no profits to be made by finance capital. Stock markets losing close to a third of their value in recent weeks also demonstrate the lack of outlets for finance capital.

The United $tates and other imperialist countries have passed stimulus plans to try to keep their consumer classes afloat. The consumption of luxury goods plays an important role in the circulation of capital, by increasing demands on production. As the skies of urban centers become clear of pollution, and animals take the opportunity to stretch their legs in areas normally dominated by humyns and pollution, finance capital becomes desperately confined when the consumer classes reduce their consumption to necessities. This is true even as Amerikans and Europeans continue to enjoy higher levels of consumption and comfort than the majority of the world.

A third factor limiting the circulation of capital, that is still accelerating, is the closure of borders and, with it, a shift in international trade. Imperialism is by definition an international system, and without massive global trade it cannot extract massive super-profits from the exploited nations of the world and distribute them amongst the imperialist country populations. The drug trade has long been an important part of international trade and finance capital. So this move announced by Trump can likely be seen as an exertion of force by the imperialists on the black market to meet some financial interests.

However, the more troubling driver to all this is imperialist militarism. It was global economic crises and trade wars that led to the first two inter-imperialist wars (with guns). This is because war destroys capital, while stimulating production and consumption in the process. War requires production for war, and production to rebuild after it. It is the final solution for the otherwise unresolvable contradictions of imperialism, specifically that of over-production. This move towards Venezuela is just the first in what we predict to be a coming escalation of militarism. And the most likely targets will be countries that have resisted the U.$. imperialists’ programs as Maduro, and Hugo Chavez before em, have done.

Today, the Maduro administration remains in power over a year after the United $tates attempted a military coup against it, without actually sending in an invading force. The United $tates continues to push Maduro to give up power to a “transitional government” under threat of continued sanctions and International Criminal Court charges co-signed by imperialist lackeys in the region. While rumors of further military action in this war on Venezuela have long been circulating, we predict that the economic downswing will be the push to make that happen. It is the duty of all who love freedom and justice to build an all-out resistance to a rising tide of militarism from the imperialist countries.

Note: 1. From the South, 1 April 2020, TeleSur.

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[Cuba] [Campaigns] [U.S. Imperialism] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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End All Sanctions Until the Pandemic is Over!

militarism

On 2 April 2020 Cuban President Miguel Canel-Diaz said,

“Cuba denounces the fact that medical supplies from [China’s] Alibaba Foundation to help combat Covid-19 have not arrived in the country due to the criminal US blockade against the island nation.”(1)

These life-saving supplies were blocked by the United States, which has put economic sanctions on Cuba since its revolution liberated the island from the U.$.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.

At the same time that the United $tates is blocking Chinese support from entering Cuba, there are reports that Amerikans are in China buying supplies that are destined for countries in Europe.(2)

The COVID-19 virus affects everyone. It is in everyone’s interests to slow the spread of the virus, and to develop effective treatments for it. These actions by the United $tates go against the interests of all the world’s people.

The leaders of the world need to come together in one common cause until this pandemic is over. Since late March, the United Nations has been making a similar call, urging an end to all military actions worldwide.(3)

We call on the United States and its partners to:

  1. Halt all blockades, embargoes and sanctions so that resources can flow freely to countries that need them to fight COVID-19.

  2. Halt all military actions as a gesture of peace and unity of all of humynity in combating this pandemic, and put that portion of the military budget into mobilizing treatment for people in the United $tates who need support and protection from COVID-19.

  3. Forgive debts to the poorest countries of the world so that they have the resources to do their part to fight the spread of this virus.

Notes:
1. Steve Sweeney, 2 April 2020, US blocks medical aid to Cuba in show of ‘wild west brutality’, Morning Star Online.
2. Democracy Now! 3 April 2020.
3. Edith M. Lederer, 23 March 2020, UN chief urges immediate global cease-fire to fight COVID-19.

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[Security] [ULK Issue 70]
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How Do We Protect Prisoners' Names and Info?

A South Carolina prisoner writes:

“Why did one of the coordinating members unexpectedly leave MIM(Prisons)? We should be informed on his/her departure because he/she do know our names in the group.”

This is a good question. We explained why ey left the best we can in an article on the comrade’s defection.

As to your concern about the info that this comrade had, it is a valid concern, and one we are always thinking about. The persyn who left MIM(Prisons) was a long-time cadre-level member who had access to information on a need-to-know basis, which included subscribers’ names, addresses and communication records. But as discussed in the article, ey left for some kind of nihilism and sense of defeat, and ey still feels like ey agrees with what we are doing. So we are confident in saying there is no ill-will there.

Over the existence of our organization we have constantly improved the security of our organization and specifically the security of our subscribers’ information. There have been at least 4 major technological leaps in our tracking of your info in our over 10 years of existence. We are confident in saying that our information is more secure than any other organization that you may write to, and about as secure as it could possibly be while still using computers connected to the internet.

Other than the technical side of security is the humyn side. We organize our movement in a hierarchical way. People must work their way up the ladder, and information is released on a need-to-know basis. Comrades must put in work to get access to any information. So even if they do do harm, we try to make sure they are doing more good for the movement.

We recently put out documents outlining a new mass organization called Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS). In those documents we outline the hierarchy of supporters, member, leaders and cadre. Cadre is the highest level, and would be full members of MIM(Prisons) or other Maoist cells. We have the same hierarchy within United Struggle from Within for our comrades inside, except that cadre-level prisoners cannot join MIM(Prisons) for security reasons. (Since the state can read our mail or listen to our phone calls, there is no way to have democratic centralism with cadre while they are still in prison.)

Our latest iteration of technological improvements was a major achievement that was just launched over the last couple months. It involved allowing supporters and members, working as AIPS, to help us with work like typing reports we receive from prisoners on conditions and organizing, articles and study group responses. This is done in a way where our subscribers’ identity and persynal information is completely inaccessible to these AIPS comrades. In fact, that persynal info physically cannot be “hacked” into from the information that these comrades have.

Even within the different levels of commitment outlined above, we have instituted different levels of access to information. It is all handled on a need-to-know basis and based on one’s quality of work and proven commitment to the movement. For example, members of AIPS have begun to participate in the introductory study group that you are also doing right now. And from the people that complete it, we will invite AIPS supporters to respond to imprisoned comrades’ answers to help both parties develop their political consciousness. This will be a level of political responsibility and access that must be earned.

Back to the comrade that left MIM(Prisons). As soon as ey left, we cut off eir access to all of our digital information and accounts. Most importantly, we released a new gpg key. We use gpg to encrypt our email and confirm our messages are officially from us. So anyone emailing us should use our new gpg key to ensure that anyone with our old gpg key cannot read our messages. Using the new gpg key provides extra certainty that you are only communicating with current members of MIM(Prisons).

In this era, people are more aware than ever about the susceptibility of their persynal information being sucked up and used by all kinds of powers that be. For revolutionaries this can become a life or death concern, and is certainly a concern of success or failure. Only recently have we seen other organizations and movements begin to talk about the kind of practices that MIM was once mocked for. While most of what we’re saying here you just need to take our word for, we do think our historical practice around security culture speaks to the seriousness with which we take the work that we are doing. And we commend you (the comrade who asked this question) for also taking these things seriously.

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