Monday, August 11, 2008

The ML Blog is moving!

Please update your links to:


Most everything here has been moved over to the new blog, but I'm going to keep this blog up because there are some links in the pre-transfer posts that come back here and I don't want to go to the trouble of sorting all of that out.

But this site isn't going to be updated anymore.

For new content, check out the new site!

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Monday, August 04, 2008

William Z. Foster on Mao Zedong

(from William Z. Foster's History of the Three Internationals, 1955)

The Role of Mao Tse-tung

The great leader of the Chinese Revolution possesses many of the qualities of leadership that characterized Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. A man of resolution, initiative, and boundless energy, Mao is a brilliant theoretician, an exceptional organizer, and a very powerful leader of the masses in open struggle. These were the qualities that enabled this creative Marxist genius, in the face of prodigious difficulties, to lead the more than half a billion of the Chinese people to decisive victory.

Mao's theoretical work ranges over a vast scope. It sums up to an adaptation of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism to the specific conditions prevailing in China, a monumental task which he has done with profound skill and thoroughness. The basis of this work was a Marxist evaluation of the character, over the years, of the developing Chinese Revolution - his differentiation of the new-type bourgeois democratic revolution from the old type, and the establishment of its relationship to the socialist revolution, constitute major contributions to the general body of Marxist theory. Mao also paid close attention to the Marxist analysis of class forces in China and the relation to each other of democratic forces in united-front movements, his work in this respect being one of the classics of Communist political writing. Classical, too, are Mao's writings on military strategy and tactics, in the situation of a guerilla army gradually growing into a mass military force and carrying on the struggle in the face of a vastly stronger enemy. Splendid also is Mao's development theoretically of the leading role of the small Chinese proletariat especially in the midst of the vast sea of peasants. Another of Mao's many theoretical achievements was his skilled utilization of the three principles of Sun Yat Sen, which are widely popular among the masses, as part of the minimum program of the Communist Party, thus taking over the democratic traditions of the famous Chinese bourgeois revolutionist. Brilliant also were his innumerable polemics with every sort of deviator and enemy. Mao's theoretical work extended not only into the fields of economics, politics, and military strategy, but also into literature, and philosophy. His work On Contradiction is a comprehensive, profound and popular exposition of the Marxist-Leninist theory of knowledge.

Mao is also a splendid mass organizer and administrator. He is not one merely to throw out broad slogans; he also knows how to go to the masses and organize them to realize these slogans. His works are filled with consideration of the most detailed questions of organizational work, in the building of the Communist Party, the people's army, the trade unions, and all other organizations of the people. And it is all written in the simplest of language. A classical example of this is his work On the Rectification of Incorrect Ideas in the Party, dealing with such errors as "the purely military viewpoint, extreme democratization, non-organizational viewpoint, absolute equalitarianism, subjectivism, adventurism, etc." Mao himself, born in 1893 of a poor peasant family in a village of Hunan, has had a hard life as a worker, soldier, student, and political leader. He is, indeed, a true son of the Chinese people, living their lives, knowing their thoughts and needs, and speaking their political language.

In the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, all of whom were fighters as well as great thinkers and organizers, Mao is also a superlatively good general, whether in the economic or political struggle or on the field of military battle. Along with Chu Teh and other leaders, Mao made the "Long March;" he was a noted guerilla fighter as well as tactician, and he took personal part in innumerable military campaigns. Mao's greatest political achievements have been in the sphere of direct leadership of vast masses of the people in different struggles against oppressors of every type.

When the Chinese people won the leadership of their country, there were very many elements in the capitalist world who said with final assurance: "Well, maybe it is not so bad after all; China is a vast, impossible chaos, and the Communists will break their necks trying to organize and govern it." But this was only wishful thinking, typical capitalist underestimation of the revolutionary abilities of the Chinese Communists, and especially of their great leader, Mao Tse-tung. Now such remarks are rarely heard. Already, the Chinese Communists, with Mao at their head, have clearly demonstrated that they can organize and lead forward their huge people. This adds just one more to the many "impossibilities" that they have accomplished in their epic struggle for freedom.

[I put this article up on the web for the first time, as far as I can tell. It has now been added to the William Z. Foster Archive at the MIA as well.]

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Colombia: Mercenaries freed, FARC carries forward fight for liberation

Fight Back! News

Analysis by Tom Burke

The Bush Pentagon and State Department are crowing after a raid in which 15 prisoners of war, including three American mercenaries, were freed. What they are not telling you is that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were preparing to unilaterally release the prisoners in early July 2008.

The FARC moved the prisoners of war from three separate jungle camps to one location, planning to transfer them by helicopter and release them to French and Swiss government envoys. It was a simple plan that would have given the FARC a platform to demand freedom for 500 FARC fighters in Colombian prisons. For FARC negotiator Ricardo Palmera and rebel Sonia (Anayibe Rojas Valderrama), held as hostages in U.S. jails, the raid and the refusal of the U.S. and Colombian governments to negotiate is bad news.

During its 44 years of fighting a guerrilla war in the countryside of Colombia, the FARC has unilaterally released prisoners a number of times, including seven months ago. These prisoner releases provide a rare opportunity for the FARC to present their political views and talk about pathways to social justice and peace in Colombia. At the prisoner release ceremonies, the FARC message sharply contrasts with the typical media distortions and censorship about them. In recent times, the U.S. strategy is to criminalize the FARC, to make it impossible for the FARC to negotiate with the Colombian government (or anyone else) and to deny the legitimate struggle of the peasants and workers.

The U.S. wants war without end. Bush wants victory, not prisoner exchanges and negotiations. The U.S. is frustrating all attempts at talks, while intensifying the war in Colombia. During his testimony in U.S. court, FARC negotiator Ricardo Palmera explained he was kidnapped by U.S. intelligence in Ecuador on his way to speak with a U.N. envoy three years ago. In January 2008, the FARC successfully released prisoners to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but only after the U.S. and Colombian military spoiled the first attempt. In March this year, the U.S. was behind a high tech missile and bomb attack killing FARC Commander Raul Reyes and 24 others inside Ecuador. Raul Reyes was planning the next high profile prisoner release with ranking government officials from Ecuador, Venezuela and France. The U.S. tries to kill every effort.

The U.S. behavior is cold, hard and calculated. The U.S. is at war, no negotiations. The U.S. cannot stand for anyone to recognize the legitimacy of the FARC. The Bush officials were shaking with rage when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the FARC should be granted international legitimacy known as ‘belligerency status.’ For the same reasons, the U.S. government was flabbergasted when U.S. prosecutors were forced to repeat Ricardo Palmera’s trials. Most of the American jurors believed Palmera over the U.S. government, leading to mistrials.

In the recent prisoner handover, the FARC were willing to release Colombian soldiers, the wealthy reactionary politician and French citizen named Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. mercenaries. The three American military contractors were paid by Northrop Grumman to help kill Colombians. In the Washington D.C. trials of FARC leader Ricardo Palmera, it was revealed that Marc Gonzalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes provided ‘real time’ information from their high-tech airplane to the Colombian military in its war against the peasant fighters of the FARC. This direct involvement by U.S. soldiers of fortune in Colombia’s civil war is risky business. It shows the calm restraint of the FARC that the three returned to the U.S. in such good shape.

However, soldier of fortune Marc Gonsalves spoke strong words against the Colombian revolutionaries who are fighting to free their country from U.S. domination and war. Like the patriot-for-pay that he is, Gonsalves defensively repeated again and again the big lie of the Bush administration, “the FARC are not revolutionaries.” Poor Marc Gonsalves - his big story of abuse involves his captors making him carry a heavy backpack in the jungle while marching tied together with other prisoners and under armed guard. Compared to the treatment the U.S. military gives prisoners of war at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, one would think Marc Gonsalves and the others might appreciate their good health and fair treatment in someone else’s country.

The effect of the prisoner raid is that the U.S. seized the media spotlight away from the FARC. The fact the FARC was already releasing the prisoners is swept clean from U.S. news stories. This pleases the Bush White House to no end. Bush has just boosted Colombian President Uribe out of a sticky situation where the Colombian Supreme Court was questioning the legitimacy of Uribe’s last election.

Despite Bush’s support, President Uribe’s regime is shaky due to his personal and political ties to narco-traffickers and corruption. An old U.S. intelligence report ties Uribe to the infamous cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar. So does Escobar’s surviving girlfriend. No matter to the White House, Uribe is their man. Uribe’s rule consists of death squad terror for peasants, trade unionists, student activists and human rights defenders. In the countryside deadly chemical poison is sprayed on countless acres of land where FARC support is strongest, driving peasants off the land. Only Iraq has a bigger refugee crisis. Poor Colombians are forced into shantytowns around the big cities. Police and right-wing paramilitaries patrol the shantytowns in tandem. Repression is all around for working and low-income people.

For sections of the middle classes and the rich oligarchy in Colombia, the situation is one of combativeness as they mobilize to support Uribe and the violence of the Colombian state. The wealthy elite who rule Colombia and sell off its natural resources to U.S. corporations are perfectly willing to ignore the repression and the terror in the countryside. They are happy to have U.S. Southern Command conducting the war in their country, but they are careful not to speak too loudly about it. There are 800 U.S. military advisors, 600 military contractors, and scores of U.S. Special Forces on Colombian soil to direct the dirty war.

The rich people who rule Colombia are bathed in the blood of tens of thousands of peasants, workers and leftists. U.S. taxpayers foot the bill to the tune of $5 billion. The Bush administration fully backs the corrupt, narco-trafficking, death squad government of President Uribe. Without this, the wealthy few who rule Colombia with a bloody hand would be chased from power, never to return. The Uribe regime would collapse in months. Death squad democracy would be history, revolution a certainty.

Nevertheless, due to the recent blows against the FARC leadership, American imperialists, Colombian reactionaries and fools of all stripes want to claim the FARC are collapsing or are ‘finished.’ Others who should know better, because they know how it feels to be hunted by assassins, are suggesting that the FARC should one-sidedly ignore the history of Colombia and surrender their weapons. This is wishful thinking. In Colombia, laying down arms is akin to suicide.

For those who want social change in Colombia, the electoral road ends in the cemetery. The Colombian state murdered more than 4000 members, candidates and elected officials of the left-wing party, the Patriotic Union, in the late 1980s. In 1987, Patriotic Union political leader Ricardo Palmera went and joined the FARC, dedicating his own life to continuing the struggle. In his U.S. trials, Professor Palmera said, “My choices were death, exile, or joining the fight in the countryside.” In Colombia, those on the freedom road must carry arms if they are going to defend the people and reach their destination.

For sure, the FARC are reassessing their tactics in terms of releasing the small numbers of prisoners of war they still hold - mostly military officers. However, this is only one part of the FARC strategy. Mainly the FARC organize the masses of Colombian people to take control of their land, labor and lives to make revolution. It is slow, difficult, unglamorous work, but the FARC is a political organization and its strategy relies on the people. After 45 years of building the largest revolutionary army in the hemisphere, with tremendous growth during a period when much of the left was in retreat or capitulating to imperialism, the FARC is more political in its approach to making revolution than ever.

Millions of supporters of the FARC understand the long-term nature of the struggle for national liberation. The FARC is on a long march and expects to face both setbacks and advances. The goal is to wear down the Colombian state and its imperialist backers in the U.S. until conditions exist for the people to seize power. To the north, the American people do not like wars where Americans get killed, so the White House and Pentagon are limited in what they can do.

Plan Colombia is a U.S. war plan that brings poverty, misery and death to Colombians. In practice, Plan Colombia means more war, more repression and more drugs. Plan Colombia is the enemy of all people who want peace and justice. Like Bush and Uribe, the days of Plan Colombia are numbered. Plan Colombia cannot continue and the U.S. will soon need a new strategy or possibly go to war in Latin America.

The growing aggressiveness of the U.S. across Latin America is a sign of weakness, not strength. Bush and the U.S. empire are losing their grip. In Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the people are rising and attempting to build new societies. The U.S. wants to put a stop to the people’s movements and reverse their gains. If the FARC leads a successful revolution in Colombia, it is game over for the U.S. empire in that region. Like Iraq in the Middle East, Colombia is key to the U.S. strategy for dominating Latin America.

We should do everything in our power to expose the Bush administration and its war in Colombia. That is our responsibility.

The four trials of FARC leader Ricardo Palmera in Washington D.C. went a long way to exposing the phoniness of the War On Terror and the War On Drugs. The U.S. empire, with millions of dollars, could not defeat a lone revolutionary held in solitary confinement and denied many of the constitutional rights Bush claims to defend. Palmera beat the slick U.S. prosecutors on nine out of ten charges and the U.S. was forced to drop all the false drug charges. Professor Palmera is a good and decent man. He chose to do what hundreds of thousands of other Colombians have done before him, to pick up a gun and defend what is right, what is good and what is just. Palmera stands for the poor, against the rich, despite his own background.

We too should stand with Palmera, Sonia and the 500 FARC prisoners held by the proto-fascist Uribe. We should stand with all the Colombian workers and peasants yearning to be free from U.S. corporate dominance and U.S. military death and destruction. The U.S. is on the wrong side of the civil war in Colombia. We need to demand that the U.S. government and military pull out and bring all the troops home now! Stop Plan Colombia!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

News from Nepal - New Issue of CPN-Maoist's "The Red Star"

Here is the perspective and analysis of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) of the situation in Nepal as it develops. Several people have asked me about the recent developments there, the presidential elections, and so on. I think this is helpful in understanding what is happening.
Vol - I, Issue - 12, July 25-August 10, 2008

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Revolution at the Roof of the World: New Freedom Road Pamphlet on Nepal

Freedom Road Socialist Organization has released a new pamphlet on Nepal. There is a screen viewable and printable pdf and a pamplet layout pdf. The pamphlet contains articles and analysis on the revolution in Nepal. Here is the introduction from the pamphlet:

The people of Nepal have stood up.

The people of Nepal have swept the despised monarchy into the dustbin of history and are proceeding with their revolution. A decade long people’s war led to fair elections and the construction of a Constituent Assembly. Now led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepal stands on the verge of becoming the first new socialist country of the 21st Century. Nepal, sandwiched between China and India, is one of the poorest countries in the world, but is now on the road to building a new society in which the working people have power.

The core of the CPN (Maoist) strategy was people’s war in the countryside. Beginning in 1996, they progressively grew stronger as they engaged police outposts with hunting rifles. Later they challenged the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) with the full force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This was accompanied by preparing students and workers in the cities for general strikes and insurrection.

The war ended in 2006 when a peace deal was signed to form an interim government. This government elected a body to draft a new constitution, abolish the monarchy, and establish Nepal as a republic. The Maoists swept the elections to the Constituent Assembly, winning the most seats, but not quite a majority.

The major question since the election of the Constituent Assembly revolved around the control of the military. The CPN (Maoist), based on Mao Zedong’s statement that "without a people’s army the people have nothing," demanded the merger of the PLA and the Nepal Army. The Nepali Congress Party (NCP), the major bourgeois party in the Assembly, worked diligently to stop revolutionary changes. For instance, the Congress Party demanded the Maoists dissolve the people’s power structures in the countryside and disband the PLA. The Maoists have stood firm and after considerable struggle, the Congress Party Prime Minister Koirala stepped down.

Through all of this, the hand of U.S. imperialism has been present. The CPN (Maoist) is designated a terrorist organization by the White House. Furthermore, the U.S. trained and equipped the RNA since the people’s war began. The U.S. wants nothing more than to build and maintain an empire all over the world, and sees Nepal as a part of that. But like others all over the world, the people of Nepal have a thirst for independence and liberation.

The CPN (Maoist) bases its practice on the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. They have applied Marxism to conditions in Nepal and call this "Prachanda Path" after the founder of their party. They work to fight against slave-like labor conditions in the countryside and fight diligently for the rights of oppressed nationalities in Nepal. Additionally, they are making considerable strides towards women’s liberation and the emancipation of the dalits (‘untouchables’). Bringing these oppressed groups into the political life of the country is instrumental to the continuing successes of the revolution.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization, in our meetings with representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), expressed solidarity with the Nepali people in their continuing struggle against feudalism and imperialism. We are proud to release this pamphlet, highlighting some of our analysis of the revolution in Nepal.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

More pamphlets from Freedom Road can be found here: http://www.frso.org/about/literature.htm

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Awesome SDS Slideshow!

This video/slideshow has been created for the upcoming Third Students for a Democratic Society National Convention coming up in College Park, Maryland, July 24-27. The slideshow reviews the past year of organizing and activism from the biggest and most dynamic national student organization in the U.S. since the original SDS of the 1960s. Now SDS is a major force, a multi-issue network composed of every Left ideological shade, from communists to anarchists to social-democrats and left-liberals, united under a banner of anti-imperialist activism and participatory democracy. SDS has led local militant actions and huge nationally coordinated actions. It is hard to believe that SDS has come so far and grown so much since the first National Convention in Chicago back in 2006.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Documentary about Colombia's Patriotic Union: The Red Dance

With the mistaken impression that they have the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP) on the ropes, the imperialists and the Colombian oligarchs are raising a cry for the FARC to put down their arms. But there are very clear reasons why this will not happen. This is explained quite well in James Petras' article, "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP): The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives", which dates back to the murder of FARC commander Raúl Reyes. But even some Marxists have become a little confused, so it is necessary to say a little more and look a little deeper at the experience of the Colombian people's struggle.

The Red Dance: Memory of the Silenced is about the systematic assassination of thousands of Unión Patriótica (Patriotic Union - UP) activists. The UP was founded by the initiative of the FARC out of a desire for peace, and because of its popularity and its electoral victories against the Colombian ruling classes, it was destroyed. This documentary tells its story.

Watch "The Red Dance"

In addition to the video, I want to suggest that my readers check out this excellent interview with a former UP leader, Imelda Daza-Cotes, who is also featured in the video.

In that interview, Daza-Cotes says, "The electoral results of the UP became its death sentence. After that the crimes were daily. In the country, the UP grew to 400,000 votes. The left previous to this had never been able to get more than 150,000 votes in any election. It was a huge advance. It was after that the police and the army began to kill members of the UP daily. Even our presidential candidate was killed. 3000 leaders in total were killed."

This interview demonstrates how the killing of UP activists closed the door on any electoral path to peace and justice for the Colombian people, and led activists like Ricardo Palmera, to take up arms and join the FARC.

Now Ricardo Palmera is held in a U.S. prison as the result of a neo-colonial extradition policy. The United States, under "Plan Colombia" gives billions of dollars of aid to the Colombian death-squad government in order to protect U.S. corporations like Drummond Coal, Occidental Oil, Chiquita Banana, and Coca Cola. This documentary is particularly useful now. This history of the UP is important to consider and this documentary does well demonstrate why it would be a mistake for the FARC to disarm, and why the armed struggle is the only viable course for the Colombian people. All progressive people should consider the history of the Colombian people's struggle and support their just fight for national liberation.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The facts about the Ricardo Palmera case

The following is a fact sheet put out by the National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera. You may also download it in Microsoft Word format for printing out and distributing here.


We demand the U.S. government free Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera, a political leader and negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Professor Palmera has done nothing wrong. To the contrary, he consistently defends the sovereignty of his country, Colombia's independence, and the rights of the Colombian people.

Ricardo Palmera's extradition, imprisonment, and trials are part of the U.S. Pentagon's counter-insurgency war. Palmera is the latest victim of the Bush Administration's so-called "War on Terror"; an unending war that respects no national boundaries and leads to repression and death around the world.


Imposing "Plan Colombia", the U.S. government is intervening directly in Colombia's civil war -- arming, training, and commanding the Colombian Military and backing the corrupt government of a small wealthy elite. The Pentagon's Southern Command gives orders to Colombia's generals. President Bush has doubled U.S. military advisors to 800 and contract mercenaries to 600. The U.S. government's dirty war in Colombia costs over $5 billion in taxpayers' money. It goes to the Colombian Military and its death squads who torture and kill trade unionists, students, and peasants. The paramilitary death squads are part and parcel of the Colombian state, serving the interests of U.S. corporations like Occidental Oil, Chiquita Banana, Drummond Coal, and Coca-Cola. Plan Colombia is a plan for poverty, misery and death. It rains down terror upon Colombia's poor.


The imprisonment of Ricardo Palmera is a direct result of U.S. intervention in Colombia's civil war. The FARC formed in 1964 after Colombia's elites and their U.S. allies violently attacked an independent peasants' movement. Ricardo Palmera joined the FARC in 1989 after seeing most of his friends and comrades of the Patriotic Union political party murdered or exiled. The Colombian Military and their death squads murdered more than 4000 candidates, members, and elected officials of the Patriotic Union. Today, the FARC is a rebel army of 28,000 fighting for national liberation. It consists mainly of peasants and one-third of its fighters are women. However, FARC members come from all walks of life, including leaders like Professor Palmera. The FARC fight for social justice, seeking democratic social and economic change, organizing the poor to overthrow the rich and become the rulers of society. The FARC opposes the U.S. Empire -- where U.S. corporations steal the oil, coal, minerals, gems, and agricultural products that belong to the Colombian people. The FARC appeals to the American people to demand peace, not war, from Bush and other leaders.


Bush and the U.S. government are desperate. They know the forces of revolution grow as "Plan Colombia" fails. To try to salvage their dirty war in Colombia, the U.S. State Department rides roughshod over Colombian sovereignty. U.S. courtrooms are being used to intervene in Colombia.

It is absurd that the U.S. Government has extradited Mr. Palmera on the basis of hostage taking and providing material support to terrorists. The specifics of the charge concern U.S. contracted mercenaries who were shot down in their plane over FARC territory while providing "real time" information on the FARC to the Colombian Military. A firefight ensued in which one U.S. contractor and a Colombian sergeant were killed, while three U.S. mercenaries were captured. The U.S. Justice Department is trying to claim that this small battle in Colombia's civil war amounts to hostage taking, and that the long-running guerrilla war is now a "terrorist" action! This makes a mockery of international law, as Bush attempts to impose U.S. sovereignty in Colombia.

Professor Palmera's trials are outrageous. At times, it is not just Ricardo Palmera on trial, but the FARC in its entirety. In the first trial Judge Hogan initially bought advertising space in Colombian newspapers and magazines, demanding the FARC appear in his Washington D.C. courtroom! They are attempting to criminalize the struggle of the Colombian people, but end up looking arrogant and foolish in front of the whole world.

Ricardo Palmera is held in solitary confinement -- no family, no friends, no reporters, not even his own Colombian lawyer can visit. However, by speaking the truth in court, FARC leader Palmera has consistently beaten the Bush administration. Palmera won a victory when the first trial ended in a hung jury. American jurors could not find Palmera guilty on the three "terrorism" charges and the two "kidnapping" charges. It was supposed to be a "slam-dunk" for the U.S. prosecutors, but turned into a big loss on their home turf.

Next the U.S. government re-tried Palmera on the same exact charges. However before the 2nd trial could even begin, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. prosecutor Ken Kohl and had to step down, to recuse himself. Hogan's replacement, Judge Lamberth refused to allow Palmera any witnesses. The U.S. prosecutor had dozens of witnesses -- paid informants, lying convicted drug runners, and corrupt Colombian government officials. At the end of the 2nd trial, the jury could not find Palmera guilty of "terrorism" charges or the actual kidnapping charge related to three U.S. military contractors captured and held by the FARC. Unfortunately, based upon the FARC capturing its enemies in combat, the jury convicted Palmera of "belonging to a conspiracy to kidnap". Judge Lamberth added every year of time the U.S. Prosecutor asked for, producing a 60-year sentence while emphasizing his "judicial independence and impartiality". At his sentencing Ricardo Palmera gave a moving and heroic speech, defending himself and his principles, the FARC and its leadership, and the revolution of the Colombian people. Ricardo Palmera's speech will one day appear in history books across Latin America.

The third and fourth trials of Ricardo Palmera involved "drug" charges, claiming Professor Palmera is part of a vast conspiracy to import cocaine to the U.S. This claim is like the "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. It is the big lie with no evidence. The FARC are simply not involved in the production or trafficking of drugs. This time, seven American jurors declared Ricardo Palmera "not guilty". Another hung jury, another mistrial, but the U.S. Prosecutor put Ricardo Palmera on trial again. For the same charges! Another million-dollar trial with no evidence, only paid informants and corrupt government officials. In this fourth trial, Palmera won another hung jury and the U.S. State Department finally gave up and requested that the charges be dropped.


The extradition, imprisonment, and trials in Washington D.C. of Ricardo Palmera show the lapdog relationship of Colombia's government to the U.S. This extradition and the four trials is a threat to movements for social justice around the world. The "visible" and direct involvement by the U.S. Government in Colombia threatens to set a precedent where popular movements around the world will be under the unilateral and direct dictates of the U.S. government and U.S. law without regard to national independence or international law. We ask people who stand for peace with justice, who support democracy, and who know right from wrong, to join our campaign for the immediate release of Ricardo Palmera! We repeat again, the only fair trial is no trial. The only fair sentence is no sentence. Free Ricardo Palmera! Stop Plan Colombia!

The National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera

[see also: Fight Back! Newspaper - Articles on Palmera Case: http://www.fightbacknews.org/topic/palmera.htm]

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Fidel Castro and the FARC: Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

I'm reposting this article by James Petras because I think it illuminates a larger problem Leftists have been suffereing from (take the ISO for example). This is what Mao Zedong once called the "It's terrible!" theory. I'm a supporter of Fidel Castro, but these statements of his need to be looked at more closely. That said, while the overall thrust of the article is good, I think some of what Petras says about Cuban elections is unfair. Nonetheless, I encourage people to read it.

Fidel Castro and the FARC:
Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

by James Petras

I have been a supporter of the Cuban Revolution for exactly fifty years and recognize Fidel Castro as one of the great revolutionary leaders of our time. But I have never been an uncritical apologist: On several crucial occasions I have expressed my disagreements in print, in public and in discussions with Cuban leaders, writers and militants.



Fidel Castro’s articles and commentaries on the recent events in Colombia, namely his discussion of the Colombian regime’s freeing of several FARC prisoners (including three CIA operatives and Ingrid Betancourt) and his critical comments on the politics, structure, practices, tactics and strategy of the FARC and its world-renowned leader, Manuel Marulanda, merit serious consideration.

Castro’s remarks demand analysis and refutation, not only because his opinions are widely read and influence millions of militants and admirers in the world, especially in Cuba and Latin America, but because he purports to provide a ‘moral’ basis for opposition to imperialism today. Equally important Castro’s unfortunate diatribe and critique against the FARC, Marulanda and the entire peasant-based guerrilla movement, has been welcomed, published and broadcast by the entire pro-imperialist mass media on five continents. Fidel Castro, with few caveats, has uncritically joined the chorus condemning the FARC and, as I will demonstrate, without reason or logic.

Eight Erroneous Theses of Fidel Castro

1. Castro claims that the ‘liberation’ of the FARC political prisoners “opens a chapter for peace in Colombia, a process which Cuba has been supporting for 20 years as the most appropriate for the unity and liberation of the peoples of our America, utilizing new approaches in the complex and special present day circumstances after the collapse of the USSR…” (Reflections of Fidel Castro, July 4, 2008).

What is astonishing about this thesis (and the entire essay) is Castro’s total omission of any discussion of the mass terror unleashed by Colombia’s President Uribe against trade unionists, political critics, peasant communities and documented by every human rights group in and out of Colombia in both of his recent essays. In fact, Castro exculpates the current Uribe regime, the most murderous regime, and puts the entire blame on ‘US Imperialism’. Since the “collapse of the Soviet Union”, and under the US-led military offensive, a multitude of armed revolutionary movements have emerged in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, and other pre-existing armed groups in Colombia and the Philippines, have continued to engage in struggle. In Latin America, the “new approaches” to revolution were anything but peaceful – massive popular uprisings overthrowing corrupt electoral politicians in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela…costing many hundreds of lives.

The “liberation” of Betancourt has strengthened the iron fist of the Uribe regime, increased the militarization of the countryside, and covered up the on-going death squad murders of trade unionists and peasants. Contrary to Fidel Castro, the US and Colombia’s death squad president have used their ‘success’ to buttress their arguments in favor of joint US-Colombian military action. Fidel’s celebration of the Colombian regime’s action as an “opening for peace” serves to deflect attention from the Colombian Supreme Court decision claiming that the re-election of Uribe was illegal because of the tyrant’s bribing Congress people to amend the constitutional provision allowing the president a second term.

2. Fidel Castro denigrates the recently deceased leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda, as a “peasant, communist militant, principle leader of the guerrilla” (Reflections). In his text of July 5, 2008 (Reflections II), Castro condescendingly refers to “Marulanda of notable natural intelligence and leadership qualities, on the other hand never had opportunities to study when he was an adolescent. It is said he only finished the fifth grade. He conceived (of the revolution) as a long and prolonged struggle, a point of view which I never shared.” Castro was the son of a plantation owner and educated in private Jesuit colleges and trained as a lawyer. He implies that education credentials and higher status prepares the revolutionary leadership to lead the peasants lacking formal education, but with ‘natural leadership qualities’ apparently sufficient to allow them to follow the intellectuals and professionals better suited to lead the revolution.

The test of history however refutes Castro’s claims. Marulanda built, over a period of 40 years, a bigger guerrilla army with a wider mass base than any Castro-inspired guerrilla force from the 1960’s to 2000.

Castro promoted a theory of ‘guerrilla focos’ between 1963-1980, in which small groups of intellectuals would organize an armed nucleus in the countryside, engage in combat and attract mass peasant support. Every Castro-ite guerrilla foco was quickly defeated – wiped out – in Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay (urban focos), Bolivia and Argentina. In contrast, Marulanda’s prolonged guerrilla war strategy relied on mass grass roots organizing based on close peasant ties with guerrillas, based on community, family and class solidarity, building slowly and methodically a national political-military people’s army. In fact, a serious re-examination of the Cuban revolution reveals that Castro’s guerrillas were recruited from the mass of urban mass organizations, methodically organized prior to and during the formation of the guerrilla foco in 1956-1958. Although reliable figures on the FARC are available, Castro underestimated by half the number of FARC guerrillas, relying on the propaganda of Uribe’s publicists.

3. Castro condemns the ‘cruelty’ of the FACR tactics “of capturing and holding prisoners in the jungle.” With this logic, Castro should condemn every revolutionary movement in the 20th century beginning with the Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions. Revolutions are cruel but Fidel forgets that counter-revolutions are even crueler. Uribe established local spy networks involving local officials, as was done in Vietnam during that war. And the Vietnamese revolutionaries eliminated the collaborators because they were responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of village militants. Castro fails to comment on the fact that Ms. Betancourt, upon her celebrated ‘liberation’ embraced and thanked General Mario Montoya. According to a declassified US embassy document, Montoya organized a clandestine terrorist unit (‘American Anti-Communist Alliance’), which murdered thousands of Colombian dissidents, almost all of them ferociously tortured beforehand. The ‘cruelty’ of FARC captivity did not show up in Betancourt’s medical exam: She was in good health!

4. Fidel claims “Cuba is for peace in Colombia but not US military intervention”. It is the Colombian oligarchy and Uribe regime, which has invited and collaborated with the US military intervention in Colombia. Castro implies that US military intervention is imposed from the outside, rather than seeing it as part of the class struggle within Colombia, in which Colombia’s rulers, landowners and narco-traffickers play a major role in financing and training the death squads. In the first 6 months of 2008, 24 trade union leaders have been murdered by the Uribe regime, over 2,562 killed over the past twenty years since what Castro describes as the “new roads of complex and special circumstances.” Fidel totally ignores the continuities of death squad murders of unarmed social movement activists, the lack of solidarity from Cuba toward all the Colombian movements since Havana developed diplomatic and commercial ties with the Uribe regime. Is balancing between Cuba’s state interest in diplomatic and economic ties with Colombia and claiming revolutionary credentials part of the “complexities” of Cuban foreign policy?

5. Castro calls for the immediate release of all FARC-held prisoners, without the minimum consideration of the 500 guerrillas tortured and dehumanized in Uribe’s and Bush’s horrendous high security ‘special prisons’. Castro boasts that Cuba released its prisoners captured during the anti-Batista struggle and calls for the FARC to follow Cuba’s example, rather than the Vietnamese and Chinese revolutionary approach. Castro’s attempt to impose and universalize his tactics, based on Cuban experience, on Colombia lacks the minimum effort to understand, let alone analyze, the specificities of Colombia, its military, the political context of the class struggle and the social and political context of humanitarian negotiations in Colombia.

6. Castro claims the FARC should end the guerrilla struggle but not give up their arms because in the past guerrillas who disarmed were slaughtered by the regime. Instead, he suggests they should accept France’s offer to abandon their country or accept Chavez’ (Uribe’s ‘brother’ and ‘friend’) proposal to negotiate and secure a commission made up Latin American notables to oversee their integration into Colombian politics.

What are ‘armed’ guerillas going to do when thousands of Uribe’s soldiers and death squads ravage the countryside? Flee to the mountains and shoot wild pigs? Going to France means abandoning millions of starving vulnerable peasant supporters and the class struggle.

7. Fidel Castro totally omits from his discussion the manner in which every political leader involved in the ‘humanitarian mission’ used the celebration of Betancourt’s ‘liberation’ to cover up and distract from their serious political difficulties. First and foremost, Uribe’s re-election was ruled illegal by the Colombian Supreme Court because he was accused and convicted of bribing members of Congress to vote for the constitutional amendment allowing his running for a second term. Uribe’s presidency is de facto illegal. Betancourt’s release and delirious embrace of Uribe undermines the judicial verdict and eliminates the court injunction for a new Congressional vote or national election. Sarkozy’s popularity in France was in a vertical free fall, his highly publicized intervention in the negotiations with the FARC were a total failure, his militarist policies in the Middle East and virulent anti-immigrant policies alienated substantial sectors of the French public (as did rising prices and economic stagnation). The release of Betancourt and her effusive praise and embrace of Sarkozy revived his tarnished image and gave him a temporary respite from the burgeoning political and economic discontent with his domestic and foreign policies.

Chavez used the release of Betancourt to embrace his ‘enemy’, Uribe, and to put further distance from the FARC, in particular, and the popular movements in Colombia, as well as to build bridges with a post-Bush US President. Chavez also returned to the good graces of the entire pro-imperialist mass media and favorable comments from the right-wing US Presidential candidate, John McCain, who “hoped the FARC would follow Chavez demands to disarm.” Cuba, or at least Fidel Castro, used the ‘liberation’ of Betancourt to display his long-term hostility to the FARC (dating at least from 1990) for embarrassing his policy of reconciliation with the Colombian regime.

8. Striking a humanitarian and quasi-electoral posture in celebrating Betancourt’s release, Castro lambasted the FARC for its ‘cruelty’ and armed resistance to the terrorist Uribe regime. Castro attacked the FARC’s”authoritarian structure and dogmatic leadership”, ignoring FARC’s endorsement of electoral politics between 1984-90 (when over 5,000 disarmed activists and political candidates were slaughtered), and the free and open debate over policy alternative in the demilitarized zone (1999-2002) with all sectors of Colombian society. In contrast, Castro never permitted free and open debate and elections, even among communist candidates in any legislative process – at least until he was replaced by Raul Castro. The abovementioned political leaders were serving their own personal political interests by bashing the FARC and celebrating Betancourt at the expense of the people of Colombia.


Has Castro clearly thought through the disastrous consequences for millions of impoverished Colombians or is he thinking only of Cuba’s possible improvement of relations with Colombia once the FARC is liquidated? The effect of Castro’s anti-FARC articles has been to provide ammunition for the imperial mass media to discredit the FARC and armed resistance to tyranny and to bolster the image of death squad President Uribe. When the world’s premier revolutionary leader denies the revolutionary history and practice of an ongoing popular movement and its brilliant leader who built that movement, he is denying the movements of the future a rich heritage of successful resistance and construction. History will not absolve him.

July 2008

See also Petras' article, "President Chavez and the FARC: State and Revolution".

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harry Haywood: "For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question"

Harry Haywood wrote the pamphlet, "For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question" in 1957 to fight back against the revisionist assault on the CPUSA. It deals mainly with attacks on Harry Haywood's revolutionary line which come from James Allen, Eugene Dennis, and James Jackson. It was intended for a discussion at a meeting, following the 16th National Convention, which was to adopt on position on the African American national question. That meeting was never held, the paper in question was suppressed, and Harry Haywood, who first developed the theory that African American constituted an oppressed nation while working in the Comintern, was expelled, along with many other revolutionaries. This left the CPUSA as the hopelessly reformist organization that it is today.

This pamphlet was republished by Liberator Press in 1975, the publishing house of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), which was one of the important parties and organizations that made up the New Communist Movement. Harry Haywood, after his expulsion form the CPUSA, went on to be a leader of the Mao Zedong-oriented CPML. His main theoretical work on the African American national question, Negro Liberation, is available online as a PDF file, and can be found relatively cheaply used. His autobiography, Black Bolshevik, is also obtainable. This pamphlet is difficult to find these days, but since its contents are significant in their application of Marxism-Leninism to the revolutionary movement in the United States I wanted to post a few short excerpts here in the hopes that interested persons would try to find the pamphlet and learn more about Harry Haywood and the revolutionary line he has come to represent.

Here are some selections from the pamphlet.

'The key question involved in projecting a solution for the Negro question is the universal problem of reform or revolution. The reformist position on the Negro question claims that it is being solved on the basis of gradual, progressive gains within the framework of the existing monopoly dominated system. There are variations on this theme, ranging form the Southern "liberal" gradualists to the assimilationist line of the NAACP, the most recent variation of which is solution of the Negro question through "full integration into every aspect of American life."
'While we Communists fight for every possible democratic demand of the Negro people, and welcome all advances made, we have pointed out that the Negro question is at bottom the question of an oppressed nation in the South and a national minority in the North. Therefore, the Negro question can only be solved on the basis of a revolutionary change in the Deep South. This difference is fundamental.
'When our Party adopted the position that the Negro question is in essence the question of an oppressed nation, it made a great leap forward from the bourgeois liberal view, which regarded it solely as a question of race that had to be resolved through education and humanitarian uplift. Characteristically, this bourgeois liberal view placed the main onus of racial prejudice not on the ruling class oppressors but on ignorance of the white masses.
'The Party's position was also a sharp break with the Social-Democratic viewpoint, in which racist oppression was considered of no relevance in defining the position of the Negro people in the United States. According to this view, the plight of the Negro people was regarded as purely a question of class, the same as that of the working class in general. Thus, in the name of the general class struggle it denied the specific character of the Negro question, regarding the fight for special demands of the Negro people as divisive and tending to distract workers from the struggle for socialism.
'Both views are not only scientifically incorrect but conceal the profound revolutionary and anti-imperialist character of the struggle for Negro rights which could only be finally resolved through the land revolution and the right of self-determination in the Black Belt, the historic area of Negro majority, and through winning equal rights in the North.
'The formulation of the Negro question by the Party as in essence a question of an oppressed nation correctly related the struggle of the Negro people to the class struggle of the American working class against capitalism, imperialism, and for socialism.
'Our revolutionary position on the Negro question has been challenged only during the three periods of major crisis in the Communist Party, all three of which were caused by the deeply embedded right-revisionist liquidationist trend in our Party, which has its roots in the corruptive influence of the leading imperialist bourgeoisie, to which the U.S. working class is directly subjected. It also has its roots in the overwhelmingly predominant petty-bourgeois and highly skilled worker composition of our Party and its leadership, and the low level of theoretical development of both the leadership and the rank and file' (pp 1-2).


'The right-revisionists are hard put to explain the fact it was on the basis of our revolutionary position on the Negro question that we led these great mass struggles, and won the respect of the Negro masses as the most militant, consistent fighters for Negro rights: the accolade of "The Party of the Negro People." They try to explain this phenomenon in terms of "our militancy" or "the mass upsurge of the crisis years."
'What they refuse to see is that our militancy, our orientation in the South as the fountainhead of Negro oppression, and our ability to rally the white workers in defense of Negro rights was based upon our placing of the Negro question as a revolutionary question, vital to the interests of the entire working class.
'In sum, our militant and effective struggle flowed from our understanding that the Negro question was a question of national revolution in the Deep South. It was only on the basis of this line that we were able to lead the masses in struggle for Negro rights during the 1930's' (p 35).

'This is the programmatic significance of our position that the Negro question is a question of national revolution in the Deep South. The correctness of our approach to the Negro question was proved during the struggles of the 1930's.
'The line of the C.P. brought the issue of Negro equality out of the realm of bourgeois humanitarianism, where it had been the special property of the bourgeois philanthropists and professional uplifters who sought to strip the Negro struggle of its revolutionary implications and to make it a feeble adjunct of safe and sane reforms - all obtainable presumably within the existing imperialist-dominated system. It grounded the issue of Negro liberation firmly in the fight of the American people for full democracy and in the struggle of the working class people against capitalism' (p 36).


'We, Negro Communists, do not accept the status of "aliens" to which the [revisionist] Negro Resolution relegates us. We are an integral part of the Negro movement, embodying the great revolutionary traditions of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, etc. We do not become "foreigners" when we become Communists.
'It is therefore, not only the right, but the duty of Negro Communists to project forms and methods of struggle consistent with the great revolutionary traditions of the Negro people. As true patriots, we call for a consistent fight against U.S. imperialism as the main enemy of the Negro people. We call for an alliance with the white working class based upon common revolutionary aims. We call for international solidarity with the heroic struggles for national liberation, peace and Socialism which embrace the vast majority of mankind' (p 38).

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