Friday, May 30, 2008

Freedom Road Honors Manuel Marulanda

Manuel Marulanda: In the fight to end oppression, he never missed his mark
By Freedom Road Socialist Organization

We are saddened by the death of Manuel Marulanda, commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP). At the same time, we are inspired by the powerful example of his life and work. Marulanda embodied the struggle of the Colombian people for national liberation and socialism. He was both a Colombian patriot and an internationalist - a persistent advocate for a united Latin America free from domination by U.S. imperialism. Marulanda was a Great Liberator, in the tradition of the Simon Bolivar.
Born into a peasant family, Marulanda joined Colombia’s Liberal forces fighting against the Conservatives. He became a guerilla in La Violencia, the civil war following the 1948 assassination of presidential candidate Gaitan, a popular and national democratic leader despised by the U.S. government. . This civil war continues to this day, with the U.S. intervening on the side of the Colombian elites. As Marulanda said, "I did not go looking for war, war came looking for me."

In the late 1950s Marulanda joined forces with Jacobo Arenas, a Marxist fighter and admirer of Che Guevara. They became the important leadership team of the newly founded FARC in 1964. From a small, tightly knit group of revolutionaries, the FARC today is a formidable force that threatens the whole of U.S. imperialism's plans in Latin America. Marulanda is largely responsible for the revolution's success.

Marulanda was ideologically firm, a Marxist-Leninist applying the scientific theory of revolution to the conditions of Colombian society. He was a great strategist, like Mao in China or General Giap in Vietnam, understanding the capabilities of his own revolutionary people's army, the FARC-EP, while anticipating the moves and capabilities of his enemies - U.S. imperialism and the Colombian oligarchy.

Marulanda and the FARC learned from the peasants and working classes, studying and struggling. They remained tactically flexible, moving forward and retreating according to the situation, whether in military conduct or with political initiatives like the Patriotic Union or peace negotiation. Always, Marulanda kept politics in command. In times when other revolutionaries stumbled or faltered, the FARC took strides forward, methodically cutting a path through the layers of confusion and disinformation sowed by the enemies of revolution and socialism.

The last decade of Marulanda's life was dedicated to defeating Plan Colombia. Plan Colombia is the U.S. Pentagon's dirty war, bringing death and destruction to the doorsteps of peasants and workers in Colombia. Like the Vietnam War, the U.S. government is waging a large-scale counter-insurgency war. Colombia's armed forces have more than doubled their size over the past eight years. The Colombian military murders peasants in cold blood, driving millions off their land, villages are destroyed, death squads assassinate trade unionists, and U.S. planes spray chemical agents across wide areas of the countryside to scorch the earth. Funded by U.S. taxpayer at nearly $5 billion, planned by Pentagon generals, and conducted by U.S. military advisors and private contractors, the war is brutal and fierce but rarely reported on by the U.S. media. Still Marulanda was able to organize an orderly retreat by the FARC and they are hitting back at the U.S. intervention, with many small battles every week.

Plan Colombia, like the invasion and occupation of Iraq, is a failure. Lapdogs like President Uribe may announce bigger and greater victories, exaggerating and crowing, but their gains are temporary and futile. The Colombian people, like the Iraqi people, will triumph.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization honors the life and leadership of Manuel Marulanda, commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army. Marulanda, nicknamed, Sure-shot, passed away in the arms of his partner, surrounded by guerrilla fighters. He died from natural causes at the age of 77 after leading the life of a revolutionary warrior since the late 1940s. We are all living things and all that lives must pass on. The ideas and example of Marulanda will continue to live in the minds of all those continuing the fight to end barbarism and win back our humanity. The FARC has chosen from amongst its many capable leaders the veteran fighter and Marxist-Leninist Alfonso Cano.

Long live the sprit of Marulanda!
Victory to the FARC!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fidel Castro answers Barack Obama

Reflections of Fidel
The empire’s hypocritical politics

Havana. May 26, 2008

IT would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23 at the Cuban American National Foundation created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did McCain’s and Bush’s. I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

What were Obama’s statements?

"Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice and repression in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy. (…) This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century – of elections that are anything but free or fair (…) I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba," he told annexationists, adding: "It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. (…) I will maintain the embargo."

The content of these declarations by this strong candidate to the U.S. presidency spares me the work of having to explain the reason for this reflection.

José Hernandez, one of the Cuban American National Foundation directors whom Obama praises in his speech, was none other than the owner of the Caliber-50 automatic rifle, equipped with telescopic and infrared sights, which was confiscated, by chance, along with other deadly weapons while being transported by sea to Venezuela, where the Foundation had planned to assassinate the writer of these lines at an international meeting on Margarita, in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta.

Pepe Hernández’ group wanted to return to the pact with Clinton, betrayed by Mas Canosa’s clan, who secured Bush’s electoral victory in 2000 through fraud, because the latter had promised to assassinate Castro, something they all happily embraced. These are the kinds of political tricks inherent to the United States’ decadent and contradictory system.

Presidential candidate Obama’s speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it.

How does he plan to address the extremely serious problem of the food crisis? The world’s grains must be distributed among human beings, pets and fish, the latter of which are getting smaller every year and more scarce in the seas that have been over-exploited by large trawlers which no international organization has been able to halt. Producing meat from gas and oil is no easy feat. Even Obama overestimates technology’s potential in the fight against climate change, though he is more conscious of the risks and the limited margin of time than Bush. He could seek the advice of Gore, who is also a democrat and is no longer a candidate, as he is aware of the accelerated pace at which global warming is advancing. His close political rival Bill Clinton, who is not running for the presidency, an expert on extra-territorial laws like the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts, can advise him on an issue like the blockade, which he promised to lift and never did.

What did he say in his speech in Miami, this man who is doubtless, from the social and human points of view, the most progressive candidate to the U.S. presidency? "For two hundred years," he said, "the United States has made it clear that we won't stand for foreign intervention in our hemisphere. But every day, all across the Americas, there is a different kind of struggle --not against foreign armies, but against the deadly threat of hunger and thirst, disease and

despair. That is not a future that we have to accept --not for the child in

Port au Prince or the family in the highlands of Peru. We can do better. We

must do better. (…) We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach." A magnificent description of imperialist globalization: the globalization of empty stomachs! We ought to thank him for it. But, 200 years ago, Bolivar fought for Latin American unity and, more than 100 years ago, Martí gave his life in the struggle against the annexation of Cuba by the United States. What is the difference between what Monroe proclaimed and what Obama proclaims and resuscitates in his speech two centuries later?

"I will reinstate a Special Envoy for the Americas in my White House who will work with my full support. But we'll also expand the Foreign Service, and open more consulates in the neglected regions of the Americas. We'll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people," he said near the end, adding: "Together, we can choose the future over the past." A beautiful phrase, for it attests to the idea, or at least the fear, that history makes figures what they are and not all the way around.

Today, the United States has nothing of the spirit behind the Philadelphia declaration of principles formulated by the 13 colonies that rebelled against English colonialism. Today, they are a gigantic empire undreamed of by the country’s founders at the time. Nothing, however, was to change for the natives and the slaves. The former were exterminated as the nation expanded; the latter continued to be auctioned at the marketplace —men, women and children—for nearly a century, despite the fact that "all men are born free and equal", as the Declaration of Independence affirms. The world’s objective conditions favored the development of that system.

In his speech, Obama portrays the Cuban Revolution as anti-democratic and lacking in respect for freedom and human rights. It is the exact same argument which, almost without exception, U.S. administrations have used again and again to justify their crimes against our country. The blockade, in and of itself, is an act of genocide. I don’t want to see U.S. children inculcated with those shameful values.

An armed revolution in our country might not have been needed without the military interventions, Platt Amendment and economic colonialism visited upon Cuba.

The Revolution was the result of imperial domination. We cannot be accused of having imposed it upon the country. The true changes could have and ought to have been brought about in the United States. Its own workers, more than a century ago, voiced the demand for an eight-hour work shift, which stemmed from the development of productive forces.

The first thing the leaders of the Cuban Revolution learned from Martí was to believe in and act on behalf of an organization founded for the purposes of bringing about a revolution. We were always bound by previous forms of power and, following the institutionalization of this organization, we were elected by more than 90% of voters, as has become customary in Cuba, a process which does not in the least resemble the ridiculous levels of electoral participation which, many a time, as in the case of the United States, stay short of 50% of voters. No small and blockaded country like ours would have been able to hold its ground for so long on the basis of ambition, vanity, deceit or the abuse of power, the kind of power its neighbor has. To state otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of our heroic people.

I am not questioning Obama’s great intelligence, his debating skills or his work ethic. He is a talented orator and is ahead of his rivals in the electoral race. I feel sympathy for his wife and little girls, who accompany him and give him encouragement every Tuesday. It is indeed a touching human spectacle. Nevertheless, I am obliged to raise a number of delicate questions. I do not expect answers; I wish only to raise them for the record.

Is it right for the president of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

Is it ethical for the president of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

Is an Adjustment Act, applied as punishment to only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilize it, good and honorable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans, and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn’t the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for U.S. citizens? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

Are the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and spatial forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on sixty or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

Is it honorable and sane to invest millions and millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on earth several times over?

Before judging our country, you should know that Cuba, with its education, health, sports, culture and sciences programs, implemented not only in its own territory but also in other poor countries around the world, and the blood that has been shed in acts of solidarity towards other peoples, in spite of the economic and financial blockade and the aggression of your powerful country, is proof that much can be done with very little. Not even our closest ally, the Soviet Union, was able to achieve what we have.

The only form of cooperation the United States can offer other nations consist in the sending of military professionals to those countries. It cannot offer anything else, for it lacks a sufficient number of people willing to sacrifice themselves for others and offer substantial aid to a country in need (though Cuba has known and relied on the cooperation of excellent U.S. doctors). They are not to blame for this, for society does not inculcate such values in them on a massive scale.

We have never subordinated cooperation with other countries to ideological requirements. We offered the United States our help when Hurricane Katrina lashed the city of New Orleans. Our internationalist medical brigade bears the glorious name of Henry Reeve, a young man, born in the United States, who fought and died for Cuba’s sovereignty in our first war of independence.

Our Revolution can mobilize tens of thousands of doctors and health technicians. It can mobilize an equally vast number of teachers and citizens, who are willing to travel to any corner of the world to fulfill any noble purpose, not to usurp people’s rights or take possession of raw materials.

The good will and determination of people constitute limitless resources that cannot be kept and would not fit in the vault of a bank. They cannot spring from the hypocritical politics of an empire.

Fidel Castro Ruz
May 25, 2008
10:35 p.m.
Translated by ESTI

- Reflections oF Fidel

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Video: March on the RNC and Stop the War!

I'm reposting this video from Left Spot's Blog. On it you'll see the leaders of the anti-war movement talking about the importance of marching on the Republican National Convention.

ACTION ALERT: Tell Saint Paul Mayor Coleman and Twin Cities newspapers: "Anti-war protesters have a right to demonstrate at the RNC"

Please also check out:

Protest RNC 2008
Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Victory for SDS and IVAW in Alabama

Alabama: SDS-Tuscaloosa Wins, Anti-war Protesters Acquitted
By Chapin Gray

Tuscaloosa, AL - Applause and cheers erupted in the courtroom at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, May 2, when the judge threw out the charges against four anti-war protesters. “As I was waiting outside to give my testimony, I heard the roar of clapping from behind the door,” remembers Tom Keenan, a member of the Tuscaloosa chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). “A mass of people flooded out of the court room, saying ‘We won!’”

The protesters - Jason Hurd, member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and SDS members Alyse Deller, Christine Jackson and Jeremy Miller - were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a mock raid in which protestors reenacted a typical U.S. military raid on Iraqi civilians common in Iraq under the U.S. occupation.

The Tuscaloosa County District Court judge threw out the case after hearing what he called “vague and unclear” testimony from the prosecution’s witnesses. The prosecution attempted to prove that the anti-war demonstration was ‘disruptive’ and constituted disorderly conduct.

However, it was clear to the protesters and their supporters that the university was attempting intimidate the activist organization and to silence political speech on campus. For example, one of the prosecution’s witnesses admitted that sororities were allowed to cheer, dance and otherwise cause commotion inside the Student Center without a permit, and yet the campus police were not called. This shows that what mattered was not that the mock-raid was ‘loud,’ but that it conveyed a message about the current situation in occupied Iraq that the university administration found unacceptable.

Since the arrests, the Tuscaloosa SDS chapter and lawyers from the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild worked to build a campaign to drop charges against the ‘Ferg Four,’ as the protesters became known, and to fight back against the repressive actions of the university.

David Gespass, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild who represented the Ferg Four pro bono, was excited by the acquittal, but frustrated by the attempts of the university to criminalize protest. “It is sad that we have reached a point in this country where exercising freedom of speech becomes a chargeable offense,” lamented Gespass, “and that a decision vindicating that basic freedom is seen as a victory and not the natural birthright of a free people.”

Before the trial, dozens of members of SDS and supporters picketed outside the courthouse, chanting, “Hey, hey, U of A! How many kids did you jail today?” and holding up signs demanding an end to the war in Iraq.

SDS members see the mock raid as part of the effort of students across the country to up the social costs of the war. In recent years, student protests have become increasingly militant, from blocking military shipments out of ports in Tacoma, to occupying the offices and lobbies of war profiteers in D.C. to going on hunger strikes for socially responsible investment at University of Florida.

“This acquittal sent an important message not only to U.A. officials but also to all who think they can silence protest,” said Joshua Weiss, a member of Tuscaloosa-SDS. “They can’t keep us from speaking out against the war.”

“We are very happy with the outcome of this trial and hope that this will encourage others to speak out against injustice without fear,” said Jenae Stainer of SDS-Tuscaloosa, one of the organizers of the campaign to drop the charges. “We are also so thankful for all of our allies in SDS and in the anti-war movement who have supported us since day one and helped make this victory possible.”

From: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2008/05/tuscaloosavictory.htm

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