Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle http://www.fightbacknews.org/es This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. es Wall Street shaken by Trump tweets http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7571 <p>San José, CA – On Friday, August 23, the U.S. stock market opened lower, on the news that China was retaliating to Trump's latest round of tariffs. It then recovered after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech at the Jackson Hole economic conference. Then Trump tweeted that he was “ordering” U.S. companies to leave China, and stocks dived, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending with a loss of more than 600 points or almost 2.5% lower. The broader S&amp;P 500 average fell a bit more than 2.5% percent and the NASDAQ composite, which is heavily weighted towards technology companies, fell 3%. </p> <p>Earlier in the day China announced that it was increasing tariffs on U.S. exports from 10% to 15% starting September 1 and was resuming the 25% tariff on imported cars on December 15, in response to new U.S. tariffs set to go for those two dates. Stocks fell as investors began to give up hope that China would back down and give in to some of U.S. demands.</p> <p>Then Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the Fed would do another cut in interest rates at their next meeting in September. But he also cautioned that monetary policy - raising and lowering interest rates - could not counter the escalating trade war between the United States and China. U.S. stocks then made up their losses until President Trump unleashed his tweets.</p> <p>Trump tweets included statements like “We don't need China” and that “[we] would be better off without them.” He then ordered U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” Even though the president has no authority to order businesses to leave China, the fear grew that Trump was going to escalate the trade war even more. Sure enough, later in the day, the administration announced that current 25% tariffs on about half of imports from China would be raised to 30% on September 1. Further, the tariffs on the other half of imports from China that are set to be imposed on September 1 and December 15 would rise from 10% to 15%.</p> <p>The fact of the matter is that many U.S. and other foreign companies that had offshored production to China had been moving their factories to other countries because of the rapidly rising wages in China. But no other country has the combination of infrastructure such as transportation and ports, large skilled workforces, and a dense supply network of companies providing parts as China.</p> <p>While the first rounds of Trump's tariffs largely avoided consumer goods, the tariffs set for September and December would include a wide range of consumer goods including cell phones, computers, other consumer electronics, shoes and clothing. These tariffs, which are taxes on imports, will lead to higher consumer prices, causing hardship for working-class families who are already trying to get by on their stagnant wages through working longer hours, taking on more debt and buying cheaper imported goods.</p> <p>Trump's trade war is also damaging the international economic order set up by the United States after World War II. This modern era of freer trade was meant both to reinforce U.S. economic dominance over the capitalist world as well as the anti-Soviet and anti-socialist alliance headed by the United States. But this free trade regime is unraveling with the rise of other capitalist economies such as Germany and Japan, as well as the integration of socialist China into the world trading system. </p> <p>In addition to the growing signs of a coming recession, there are increasing concerns on Wall Street that tensions in the capitalist world will increase the chances of a more serious economic crisis.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7571#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Asia Asiaticos China China Donald Trump Internacional stock market trade war Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Sun, 25 Aug 2019 16:56:59 +0000 Fight Back 7571 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Activists demand Minnesota divest from border militarization contractor http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7570 <p>St. Paul, MN - On August 22, immigrant rights and Palestine solidarity activists presented over 1000 signatures of Minnesota residents petitioning the State Board of Investments (SBI) to divest state pension funds from the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems. Elbit sells cluster bombs and weaponized white phosphorus to the Israel Defense Forces, whose indiscriminate use on besieged Gaza has been widely condemned by international organizations. Elbit also manufactures surveillance equipment for the Israeli apartheid wall, and drones used in targeted assassinations of Palestinian political leaders.</p> <p>Advertising its products as “battle-tested” on occupied Palestine, Elbit has won over $150 million in contracts from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to build surveillance towers on the U.S.-Mexico border, including as part of President Trump’s racist ‘build the wall’ initiative.</p> <p>Aadarsh Akula of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee told the State Board of Investments, “Since 1990, as a result of border militarization, there’s been about 7000 corpses in the desert on the southern border. The Migration Policy Institute notes that these corpses are directly correlated with increasing border militarization.”</p> <p>“As a concept, border militarization totally ignores the fact that humans have intrinsic value, that they don’t just need to die if they cross a border,” Akula added. “This company cares more about its bottom line than the intrinsic value that all human beings pose.”</p> <p>The SBI is comprised of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, State Auditor Julie Blaha, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and is chaired by Governor Tim Walz. All are Democrats who were elected on promises of opposing President Trump’s immigration policies. In 2018 while campaigning for governor, Walz tweeted, “President Trump wants to blow $18 billion of taxpayer funds on his border wall? Give me a break.” Ellison appeared at 2018’s May Day Parade in Minneapolis wearing a “Yo no creo en fronteras” (“I don’t believe in borders”) t-shirt, and earlier this year stated that Trump was “unable to persuade Congress and the American people that a wall is necessary.”</p> <p>Speaking to the SBI, Autumn Lake of the MN Anti-War Committee elaborated on Elbit’s role in Israel’s war crimes. “Cluster munitions, white phosphorus shells and military drones have all been used by the state of Israel in their brutal campaigns against Palestinian civilian populations. Almost 10,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed since September 29, 2000. Two thousand of those killed were children. Elbit Systems bears a direct responsibility for helping maintain this cycle of colonial violence against an indigenous people.”</p> <p>Lake concluded, “Simply put, the funds that are being used to bring people peace of mind in their retirement years should not be gained through investment in a company that profits from war and imperialism.”</p> <p>Elbit Systems is one of several Israeli companies from which organizations of the Minnesota BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Community have long demanded the state divest. Minnesota BDS Community member Sylvia Schwarz, of Jewish Voice for Peace, spoke at the press conference activists held just before the SBI meeting.</p> <p>“I urge the State Board of Investments to divest from Elbit Systems, just as the Norwegian Pension Fund, the Danske Bank, the Swedish National Pension Fund, the Dutch Pension Fund, and Deutsche Bank have done,” Schwarz said.</p> <p>Despite holding a lengthy conversation over the conflict between ethical considerations and their “fiduciary duty” as state investors as it pertained to climate change, the SBI had nothing to say about Elbit Systems. Following the presentation by the activists, Governor Walz abruptly adjourned the meeting without comment.</p> <p>In response, organizers have called for a militant protest outside the governor’s mansion at 1006 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, to take place on Thursday, August 29 at 5:30 p.m.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7570#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Anti-racism border militarization Chican@s y Latin@s Divestment Donald Trump Internacional Medio Oriente Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action coalition (MIRAc) Palestina Inmigrantes Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Fri, 23 Aug 2019 19:20:26 +0000 Fight Back 7570 at http://www.fightbacknews.org U of MN Teamsters demand year-round work http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7569 <p>Minneapolis, MN – While the University of Minnesota top officials gathered for the opening of newly renovated Pioneer Hall, August 21, about 50 members of Teamsters Local 320 and other campus unions held an informational picket line to demand the year-round, full-time employment for workers in M Dining. The U of M has curtailed summer work opportunities for Teamsters and is trampling on seniority rights. </p> <p>Mick Kelly, a member of the negotiating committee for U of M Teamsters told the crowd, “The university is plunging us into poverty, and this is something that we will never put up with. It is unacceptable, and the condition of dining service workers must be addressed in the new contract. We deserve better than this.”</p> <p>Members of other Teamster locals, along with AFSCME 3800, also participated in the picket.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7569#comments AFSCME 3800 picket line Public Sector Unions Teamsters Teamsters Local 320 unions Fri, 23 Aug 2019 04:04:16 +0000 Fight Back 7569 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Representatives Omar and Tlaib speak out against being banned from Palestine http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7568 <p>St. Paul, MN - On August 19, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) held a press conference in the State Capitol in Saint Paul to a packed room, with an overflow of 100 people, on the human cost of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and travel restrictions. </p> <p>On August 16, the Israeli government denied the representatives visas to visit Palestine. Their visas previously had been approved, but after a tweet by Donald Trump denouncing Omar and Tlaib’s visit, the approval was revoked. Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett, delegate to House for the Virgin Islands, was to join them on their trip to Palestine. At the press conference, the representatives were joined by four women who have experience with the occupation and the area’s travel restrictions. </p> <p>As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Omar has a direct say in the over $3 billion worth of aid given to Israel every year. Omar asked if this aid should continue. “This is predicated on them being an ally and important democracy in the Middle East. Denying visits to duly elected officials and denying freedom of movement, expression or self-determination to millions is not consistent with being a good ally of democracy. We must ask Israel to stop building settlements on the West Bank and ensure the rights of Palestinians if we are going to give them aid.”</p> <p>Omar added, “This is nothing less than an attempt by an ally of the United States to suppress our ability to do our jobs as elected officials,” and, “This decision to deny us entry might be unprecedented when it comes to members of Congress, but this is the Israeli government’s policy when it comes to anyone who holds views that threaten the occupation. The only way to preserve unjust policy is to suppress people’s expression, people’s freedom of association, and freedom of movement. The cruel occupation is real. Barring people from seeing it does not make it go away.” </p> <p>Representative Tlaib gave a graphic and emotional account of her trip to Palestine as a young girl. The treatment of her mother at checkpoints horrified her, and she was terrified her grandmother would not receive adequate medical care after a car accident. She was very frightened when Israeli soldiers with guns and tanks suddenly appeared in the middle of the night in the village where she was staying. She added, “the outpouring of support from their districts as well as around the country shows how important it is to keep fighting for justice.”</p> <p>Lana Barkawi, a Palestinian-American and Minneapolis native, has been unable to visit Palestine. She said that the human cost of occupation and travel restrictions for those involved in the BDS - Boycott, Divestment, Sanction - movement is unacceptable.</p> <p>Amber Harris, a Jewish American woman who is married to a Palestinian, spoke of the harassment she has experienced when trying to go to Palestine. She was almost banned for ten years, for unknown reasons. She believes she was banned because she was involved in the uprising in Ferguson, at the time of murder of Michael Brown by the police. When she was finally let into Palestine, the Israeli government threatened her with surveillance. Harris denounces the Israeli’s government continued denial of entry into Palestine on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity and activism. </p> <p>Carin Mrotz, of Jewish Community Action, spoke of the divide-and-conquer tactics employed to pit the Jewish community against the Muslim community on the false premise of security. “We must stand together for our own together and for justice everywhere.”</p> <p>Rosa Drucker, from If Not Now, a Jewish organization which opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine, said, “The situation is complex, but not complicated. It is a daily nightmare for those who live it, and a moral disaster for those who support it. We stand with the congresswomen."</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7568#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Anti-fascism Anti-racism Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Internacional Medio Oriente Palestine Palestina Political Repression Rashida Tlaib Sistema de injusticia Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:18:37 +0000 Fight Back 7568 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Say no to the McCarthyite attack on Chicago teachers http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7567 <p>As the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) find itself locked in tough contract negotiations and faces the possibility of a strike, corporate and right-wing media like the Chicago Tribune, Breitbart and others have launched a bizarre attack that seems like it is straight out of the 1950s red scare. Rather than addressing the real problems impacting teachers and students in Chicago schools, these reactionary pundits have decided the rant and rave about - of all things - a delegation of teachers that traveled to Venezuela earlier this summer.</p> <p>Here are the facts of the matter. A group of teachers who are also members of the CTU put together a delegation to visit with leaders of Venezuela’s labor movement and with community activists. It was a self-organized, non-governmental, person-to-person visit. They traveled on their own dime, collecting some of the needed travel funds from other progressives. While in Venezuela and since their return, they have talked plainly about what they saw and heard. Venezuelan trade unionists, community leaders and the government are trying to push back against the economic chaos that is being conjured into being by the Trump administration.</p> <p>No reasonable person can find anything objectional here. International solidarity and unity among trade unionists is a good thing. It is a plus for us in the labor movement. For working people there is the well-known adage that there is strength in numbers. Why wouldn’t we want to unite the many to defeat the few?</p> <p>Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune have developed a narrative that is a smorgasbord of stupidity, casting hard facts as topics of the debate. The teachers who went to Venezuela speak about the criminality of the Trump administration’s sanctions. These sanctions are keeping food and medicine from the people of Venezuela. The same administration that puts kid in cages along the border with Mexico are now trying to starve an entire country for taking the path of their own choosing. Once again, the anti-union, right-wing press has got the story wrong.</p> <p>One dimension of these attacks is the group of sore losers who were overwhelmingly defeated in the last CTU leadership elections, and who having been trying to make up for their small numbers and lack of a positive program by striking a shrill cadence. At the end of day, it is nothing more than hot air.</p> <p>Every progressive in labor who wants a union movement that is broadminded and militant should stand with these Chicago teachers. A lot of people think about doing the right thing, but these teachers up and did it. They organized themselves, and they traveled, and they told the truth about what they saw. More power to them - the labor movement is a better place because of their courage and clarity.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7567#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Chicago Teachers Union CTU Political Repression Teachers Unions Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:00:54 +0000 Fight Back 7567 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Twin Cities activists say ‘No business as usual’ while cops continue to kill http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7566 <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables ></w> 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Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" 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UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" 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UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font" ></w> <w:LsdException 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</w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Cambria","serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Cambria","serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><a name="_GoBack"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">Minneapolis, MN - Twin Cities activists against police crimes have been busy this week with actions: On August 15, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis gave his address on the city budget. However, activists got wind that Mayor Frey would probably ask for more cops to patrol the streets of Minneapolis, particularly in downtown. This proposal came at the time the city was settling with the family of Jamar Clark, who was killed by Minneapolis police in 2015.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">Many showed up to the public meeting, only to be told that there would be enough room for 15 people, and if the so-called invited guests did not show up, then the rest of the public would be able to come in to hear the address. This did not sit well with many activists, who demanded that they be allowed in the chambers and reminded the Mayor’s staff that it was a public meeting and that the public should be allowed in. Staff relented and let people in</span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">Sam Sanchez, a member of Twin Cites Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar Clark (TCC4J), entered the room and stated that city officials ought to be ashamed of themselves for barring the public. Many others came in and ripped up the name tags on the chairs and took seats where the saw fit. Others chanted “Who’s city hall? Our city hall.”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">The members of the city council then came in and took their seats, and activists then demanded to know why there were limitations to the public being a part of the budget address. Andrea Jenkins, vice president of the city council, then read the rules of the meeting, stating that no public comment was allowed and that people who disrupt will be asked to leave. This only made people angry and resulted in a suspension of the meeting. It was then that Sam Sanchez declared it to be the “People’s Budget Meeting,” and said that there were several groups present that also wanted their demands to be heard.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">Sanchez read the TCC4J's demands, stating, “Fire the killer cops; reopen all the cases of murder by police; give the community their [community] center, which is now a police station in the precinct with the most police violence against civilians; $20 million for all families of police crimes - not only the rare case of a murdered wealthy white woman.” The final demand was for community control of the police.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">A representative from Racial Justice Network was about to present pictures of a young woman who was brutally beaten by Minneapolis police, when the city council came back in the room and stopped the RJN speaker.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">Mayor Frey gave his address, but not without heckling from the crowd. When he talked of “public safety” and more cops on the streets, he tried to speak over the chants of Jamar Clark’s name.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">On August 17, activists from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Communities United Against Police Brutality, the Disability Justice Network, and ten families of those killed by police and others held a press conference and action at the state capitol in Saint Paul. The reason: Attorney General Keith Ellison convened a meeting of a working group made up of mostly cops, in an effort to discuss “deadly force encounters.”</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;"></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">This was the first of three meetings that are to take place around the state. This working group has no members of families who have suffered injustice after having loved ones murdered by police; no one from the disability community (some half of police murder victims are people in mental health crises), and no experts from the movement fighting for police accountability. Protesters held up the meeting for hours, with demands that included disbanding the work group. There is no trust that this group can deliver real change, which leaves activists fighting for community control of police.</span></p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7566#comments Brutalidad Policial African-American Mayor Jacob Frey Twin Cites Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar Clark Mon, 19 Aug 2019 19:23:21 +0000 Fight Back 7566 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Venezuela: Worker control vs. Trump's blockade http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7565 <p>Chicago, IL - Venezuela is a country where the dreams of the conscious workers of the world are being made real. It is a nation of 30 million people where, every day, the working class is becoming more conscious of its historic role in building socialism and taking steps to achieve it in the not so distant future. And in the face of an imperialist offensive that threatens them with starvation, where the threat of military invasion hangs over their heads like a storm cloud, they continue their struggle undeterred.</p> <p>This past week, at the National Gathering of the Productive Worker Councils (CPTs), this stage of the struggle was made apparent. Formed by workers to directly control production at their workplaces, the CPTs are revolutionary formations. Today, over 1100 companies are run by worker councils, in every state and every sector of the economy. Addressing the assembled delegates, President Nicolás Maduro placed the councils in their proper context, referring to them as "the principal instrument of the nation and the working class in building our Bolivarian socialism."</p> <p>It is stunning to me as a worker in the United States that, in a country not too far from us, a process is underway where millions of my class companions are taking control over their own lives and leading the way for their country out of the crisis in which they are now engulfed. The Venezuelan working class did not spontaneously arrive at this point. The CPTs are simply the latest development in the class struggle of Venezuela, a daily battle which of late has remained tilted in favor of the working class.</p> <p><strong>Venezuela's labor laws and worker power </strong></p> <p>For decades, Venezuelan workers were hemmed in by a legal labor code not unlike what we have in the United States. Aptly named "the system of labor control" by labor theorist Joe Burns, these laws are written to confine the workers' struggle into narrow legal avenues. They have one explicit purpose - the preservation of capitalist control over the means of production. Then Hugo Chávez was elected, and the rapid expansion of democratic and social rights breathed life into a labor movement that had suffered decades of defeats. Beginning in the mid-2000s, Venezuela's trade unions broke out of their legal chains by launching a nationwide strike offensive, winning the support of Chávez and the country's revolutionary parties in the process. In this struggle they not only made the existing labor law irrelevant, they brought into question the very idea that the capitalists are the ones who have to hold economic power in the country.</p> <p>To recognize this new reality, the National Assembly in 2012 passed the Law of Labor and Workers (LOTTT). A culmination of labor's victories in the past period, the law was written by trade unionists and worker intellectuals from the Bolivarian University of Workers. The heart of the LOTTT is the recognition of the "social process of labor" - the Marxist concept that human labor is a social effort, and therefore so too must be accumulation of the wealth it produces.</p> <p>The LOTTT declares the alienation of labor to be over, opening the door for new productive relations. It not only enshrines rights common in the capitalist world - like the rights to collective bargaining and to strike, access to social security and the 40-hour work week - but it also guarantees rights that cannot exist under conditions of capitalism. Workers now have the right to take over companies and run them directly, either on their own or jointly with the state. If a privately-owned business is shuttered because the owner wants to make profits elsewhere, the workers have the right to take it over - "recover" it in the law's words - and reopen the workplace under their control.</p> <p>The law transforms the role of trade unions as well. They have the unimaginable right of "exercising control and vigilance over production costs and profits" in their industries, to ensure that "the process of produced goods and services will be just for the people." By taking away from the bosses the right to determine how much they receive in profit, the LOTTT hands over to labor the one of the greatest advantages it can have in the battle for economic power. The law also tasks trade unions with "the collective, integrated, continuous and permanent" political education of their members, transforming them from being simply the representatives of workers at the bargaining table into the "schools of socialism" that Marx dreamed of over 100 years ago.</p> <p>Finally, the LOTTT redefines the role of the Labor Ministry. No longer can it act as an "impartial arbitrator" in the disputes between capital and labor, a role that more often than not favored the bosses. By being tasked with enforcing the new law, the ministry became a partisan institution firmly on the side of the working class. It is no wonder then, that at the top of the U.S.-backed opposition's agenda, is the repeal of the LOTTT.</p> <p><strong>The CPTs: The working-class offensive in the economic war</strong></p> <p>Six years after the law's passage, the Venezuelan reality had once again changed dramatically. While roughly a third of the economy was now "social property" - belonging to the state, to the workers or to communes - the economy as a whole remains capitalist, and the capitalist class could no longer tolerate the existential threat to their existence that the Bolivarian Revolution represented. After Maduro was elected President in 2013, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and its imperialist allies launched a brutal economic war, exploiting the weaknesses built into the capitalist economy to punish the Venezuelan people for their revolutionary process. In this war, the working class emerged as the nation's heroes. In workplaces around the country, they directly confronted owners for the hoarding of goods, for rampant price speculation and industrial sabotage.</p> <p>In hundreds of cases of capital flight - when foreign and domestic capitalists suddenly close down their businesses to take their profits elsewhere - the workers simply broke the padlocks on the plant gates and restarted production under their control. The capitalists had abandoned the people to suffer; the workers stepped into the void to save them. Indeed, by launching their war the capitalists revealed to the Venezuelan people two facts about them - that they had no loyalty to their nation and would sell it to imperialism for a dime; and that they had no interest in producing to improve society, the just produced to line their own pockets. Maduro and the United Socialist Party (PSUV) put forward socialism as the alternative to this decrepit reality and declared "productive socialism" to be the goal of their current struggle. Capitalism was actively failing the Venezuelan people - only socialism can meet their needs and create a better future.</p> <p>Reflecting this, the Constituent National Assembly passed the Law of Productive Worker Councils in February 2018. To the workers that had recovered their workplaces and were now running them directly, the law called them to two main tasks: improve production in order to meet the needs of the people, and install a "socialist management model" that can be applied across the entire economy. Within a year, over a thousand CPTs were established, primarily in the private sector. In factories that used to belong to multinational firms like Ford and Goodyear, workers are now producing to pull their nation out of the crisis created by imperialism.</p> <p><strong>Workers dream of the future, and plan to bring it into existence</strong></p> <p>At their national gathering, the CPT delegates displayed the enthusiastic revolutionary energy of their class. They shared their experiences in the past year of running their own workplaces, what had worked and had not, and through this collective summation they came to a series of conclusions:</p> <ul> <li>The working class must be the vanguard of the Bolivarian Economic Agenda, the government's plan to defeat the U.S. blockade by developing production in 16 key sectors (the so-called "motors" of the Venezuelan economy). For productive socialism to be established, the working class must lead the process - this has been proved through practice by the CPTs.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> The CPTs had been very successful at establishing a “socialist management model” on a micro level - for example, at one of the oil refineries owned by PDVSA. However, there had not been enough success in the food production sector. The CPTs and the trade unions will redouble their efforts to establish food sovereignty, under worker control, in Venezuela.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> The CPTs will join the trade unions in their efforts to establish worker militias in every workplace in the country, to train their class in the defense of their homeland from imperialist invasion.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> There has to be a drastic expansion of the CPTs across the economy. The delegates established a goal of 2,000 councils by the end of 2019 and 8,000 by the end of 2020, concentrated in the 16 "motors" established by the government.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> A national leadership body will be established, to centralize the efforts of the CPTs around the country and coordinate their expansion into new workplaces.</li> </ul> <p>On the final day of the National Gathering, the delegates brought these proposals and more to President Maduro, who united with them and declared that the workers had the full support of his government to achieve their vision.</p> <p>With the working class at the helm, Venezuela has a future that many of us can only dream of. They are becoming more bold, more confident in their abilities, and therefore more capable of leading the necessary process of building socialism. They do this in the face of a U.S.-imposed blockade that intends to lead to the collapse of their society. Yet the workers of Venezuela are unfazed - they have their historic mission, and they are going to accomplish it regardless of the enemies in their path.</p> <p>Migdelys Campos, representing a worker council that now runs a pharmaceutical plant, spoke on the brutality of this blockade. She boldly called out the truth that its imposition reveals: "the despair of a decadent empire that has not nor will ever break the people of Bolívar and Chávez." U.S. monopoly capitalists are terrified of what Venezuela's workers represent. All the more reason for us to learn from them and join them in the struggle to determine our own future.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7565#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Socialism Américas Bolivarian Revolution Chican@s y Latin@s Donald Trump Internacional Productive Worker Councils (CPTs) Venezuela Venezuela Obreros Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Mon, 19 Aug 2019 00:14:17 +0000 Fight Back 7565 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Anti-War Committee denounces Israel’s ban of Omar and Tlaib http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7564 <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following August 15 statement from the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee.</em></p> <p>The Minnesota Anti-War Committee condemns the Israeli government’s August 15 decision not to allow US Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering occupied Palestine, to which the Israeli state controls all access. Reps. Omar and Tlaib join the thousands of peace activists, human rights officials and people of conscience around the world who are denied entry over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and its Zionist policies of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism in Palestine. The two congresswomen also now share the experience of millions of diaspora Palestinians who live in forced exile, denied reentry to their homeland. Rep. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, had planned to visit family in the occupied West Bank.</p> <p>Representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Rep. Omar continues to face both racist incitement by President Trump and his supporters as well as dishonest allegations of anti-Semitism from her own Democratic Party. We commend Rep. Omar for her courage and steadfastness in the face of these attacks. Principled criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. We invite our supporters to join Rep. Omar in continued solidarity with the people of Palestine.</p> <p>The Anti-War Committee continues our longstanding call for the total end to US aid to Israel. We maintain that Israel acts at the behest of US ruling class interests, as demonstrated by Israel’s announcement of the ban against Reps. Omar and Tlaib coming soon after a tweet by President Trump calling for it to do so. Far from being the so-called “only democracy in the Middle East,” Israel in fact is a profoundly undemocratic country, premised on the denial of Palestinian self-determination and functioning as a strategic outpost for US imperialism in the entire Middle East.</p> <p>We encourage our supporters to join us at the MN State Board of Investment meeting on August 22 where we will pressure the State of Minnesota to divest from Elbit Systems, an Israeli company which profits from Israeli apartheid and from building the wall on the U.S./Mexico border. Minnesota should not invest in companies that profit from human rights abuses, nor in a country that bans our own member of Congress from entering to investigate human rights abuses.</p> <p>We join with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations – MN in saying #LetThemIn!</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7564#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Anti War Committee Anti-fascism Anti-racism Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Internacional Israel Medio Oriente Palestina Inmigrantes Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Mon, 19 Aug 2019 00:01:42 +0000 Fight Back 7564 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Milwaukee VA workers fight union busting http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7563 <p>Milwaukee, WI - Fifty Veterans Affairs workers and supporters rallied outside the Zablocki VA hospital August 12 to protest union-busting, attacks on high-quality public veteran healthcare, and bad faith bargaining by the VA administration.</p> <p>The rally was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3 and supported by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Veterans for Peace and elected leaders including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.</p> <p>AFGE members and representatives detailed shocking accounts of the extreme measures that the VA administration is taking to strip union rights. VA negotiators are intentionally obstructing contract negotiations with the union, trying to force an impasse after only ten days of bargaining. VA negotiators proposed scrapping 63% of the current contract, which would effectively gut many basic union rights.</p> <p>"We have to stand up and fight!" said AFGE district organizer Don Evans as he railed against the anti-union tactics of the VA and Trump administration. "You want to make America great? No more shutdowns, stop balancing the budget with our paychecks," continued Evans, "You want to make America great? Restore the integrity of the VA hospital and bargain in good faith!"</p> <p>Under the Trump administration, federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs have essentially declared war on federal government workers and their unions. VA employees who are active in their union, enforcing the contract and defending workplace rights, are being singled out and targeted for discipline and harassment by management. The assault on union rights at the VA is part of a much larger effort by the Trump administration and employer-funded groups to weaken unions and disenfranchise working class people generally. </p> <p>Milwaukee VA workers say bargaining had been scheduled to continue until December, and they will not back down in the face of harassment and bad faith bargaining.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7563#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo AFGE Donald Trump Public Sector Unions Veteran Affairs Young Workers Committee Obreros U.S. Sat, 17 Aug 2019 18:21:14 +0000 Fight Back 7563 at http://www.fightbacknews.org The Hong Kong protests are an attack on socialism http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7562 <p>There’s a tendency among progressives in the United States to support big crowds of people protesting in other countries. No doubt, the corporate media assists in this process by labelling certain movements ‘pro-democracy’ or ‘freedom fighters.’</p> <p>But not all protests or marches are progressive, even if they attract large crowds. The Tea Party movement in the U.S., for instance, brought out hundreds of thousands of angry small business owners and shrill middle-class professionals. They were far from spontaneous demonstrations, however; big business orchestrated this giant spectacle to advance its own class interests. Armed with racist demagoguery and free-market economics, the Tea Party helped elect a set of Republican governors that waged war on organized labor, slashed funding for public schools and rolled back health care benefits for working people.</p> <p>No doubt foreign journalists could - and some did - cover the Tea Party as a ‘pro-democracy’ movement based on their slogans and rhetoric, but only without asking, “Democracy for who? Freedom for who?” These words are meaningless divorced from context since they mean different things to different classes. Anytime we see protests like those in Hong Kong, we have to ask: What is their class character? Whose interests does this serve?</p> <p>When the corporate media heaps praise on protesters in countries like Venezuela or China while demonizing mass movements here in the U.S., something else is going on.</p> <p><strong>How to get away with murder</strong></p> <p>Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: The wave of protests that have gripped Hong Kong in the past few months has nothing to do with democracy, due process or the rule of law.</p> <p>The recent Hong Kong protests come in response to a proposed extradition treaty between Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. In 2018, Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong college student, brutally murdered his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, while vacationing in Taiwan. Poon’s distraught mother brought the case to investigators, who eventually arrested Chan on lesser charges after uncovering evidence of the murder.</p> <p>Hong Kong statutes prevent murderers like Chan from standing trial for crimes committed outside of the city - even if they took place in China. But since Hong Kong has no extradition treaty with either mainland China or Taiwan, they couldn’t turn him over to prosecutors in Taiwan to face justice. Heartbroken, the young woman’s family continued to press Hong Kong legislators for justice.</p> <p>They’re not alone. Although the Western corporate media can’t stop praising its ‘rule of law’ and ‘independent judiciary’, Hong Kong’s legal system is about as lawless as the wild-wild-west. Mafia-style triad gangs like 14K and Sun Yee On rule the streets. International drug cartels launder their profits through Hong Kong - an open secret confirmed by the release of the Panama Papers in 2016. Vida Laboratories, a major Hong Kong-based pharmaceutical company, recently came under pressure for supplying Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel with precursor materials for manufacturing methamphetamine.</p> <p>In the wake of this miscarriage of justice, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam proposed the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. If passed, this would establish channels for case-by-case criminal extradition between the city, mainland China and Taiwan. Immediately, this proposal drew widespread outrage from Hong Kong’s elite, international financiers and the hotbed of marginal Chinese dissidents living in the special administrative region. Smaller protests in the late spring culminated with a demonstration on June 9 that drew roughly a million participants. As violence escalated at smaller protests in the days to come, Lam suspended the bill on June 15.</p> <p>But Lam’s concession did not quell the protests. On July 1, an opposition mob stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council building - essentially their legislative chamber - and raised the old British colonial flag. Organizers from the Civil Human Rights Front, the umbrella opposition group leading most of the protests, called for a ‘general strike’ on August 5. The strike failed to materialize but ensuing riots caused enormous damage to public infrastructure and local businesses. More recently on August 13 and 14, protesters shut down Hong Kong International Airport - the eighth busiest airport in the world - grounding all flights to and from the city.</p> <p>You wouldn’t know it from U.S. media reports, but both Hong Kong police and the Chinese government have shown tremendous restraint. Hong Kong police have largely allowed the protests to continue, even as they seize government buildings and destroy infrastructure. In keeping with the long-standing ‘one country, two systems’ agreement, Beijing has voiced support for the city’s elected government but defers to local authorities to handle the situation.</p> <p><strong>Hong Kong’s long road back to China</strong></p> <p>Hong Kong is considered a ‘special administrative region’ within China, boasting the 35th largest economy in the world. With its low taxes, pliant legal system and relative absence of state regulations, it today serves as a major hub for international finance capital. But for hundreds of years, Hong Kong’s geographical position on China’s southern border made it one of the most trafficked ports in Asia.</p> <p>The British took note of this in the early 19th century as they brought opium into China with the aim of extending their empire. At the end of the First Opium War in 1842, Britain claimed Hong Kong as a colonial possession and a staging ground for further colonizing Asia. Britain held Hong Kong as a colony for 156 years - their rule only briefly interrupted by Imperial Japan during World War II. When the People’s Liberation Army marched on Beijing and proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949, wealthy landowners and businessmen fled the mainland for two primary destinations: Taiwan and Hong Kong.</p> <p>When protesters in Hong Kong raised the old British colonial flag at protests, the Western media labeled them ‘pro-democracy.’ But there was nothing democratic about Hong Kong under British colonialism. Under its rule, the city grew into a major trading hub for the benefit of monopoly capital - and at the expense of the vast majority. As the cultural revolution raged in mainland China in 1967, the working class in Hong Kong rose up in revolt against the colonial system. Facing brutal repression and legal punishments like flogging, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions led a wave of strikes demanding basic labor protections and an end to their exploitation.</p> <p>Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s reform program marked a new chapter in relations between the People’s Republic and Hong Kong. The southern city became more economically integrated with the mainland throughout the 1980s, culminating in negotiations with Britain over the city’s future. Their once-mighty empire shattered beyond repair, Britain agreed to transferring sovereignty over Hong Kong back to China in 1997. In exchange, Deng put forward his now-famous formulation of ‘one country, two systems,’ which would allow Hong Kong to retain its British-based liberal constitutional system - the Basic Law - and capitalist economy for 50 years after the transfer. Under Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, China regained control of Hong Kong on January 1, 1997 and has stood by the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement to present day.</p> <p><strong>Understanding ‘one country, two systems’ as part of a strategy</strong></p> <p>To understand the issues fueling today’s protests in Hong Kong, we have to understand ‘one country, two systems.’ The Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted this formulation as a part of the strategy for further developing socialism in China, and fully grasping their motivations allows us to cut through bogus claims in the Western press.</p> <p>China’s revolution in 1949 put the working class, the peasants and ordinary people in power for the first time in their nation’s history. Deposed nationalist officials, big business owners and wealthy landlords saw the writing on the wall and fled the newborn People’s Republic. Some ended up in Hong Kong or Macau, the latter under Portuguese colonial control at the time, but the heaviest hitters from the old regime set up shop on the island of Taiwan. Declaring themselves the legitimate government of China, Taiwan won the military backing of the world imperialist powers, who refused to recognize the People’s Republic until well into the 1970s. While Taiwan today calls itself an independent country, the CPC still considers it part of China.</p> <p>The ‘one country, two systems’ approach to Hong Kong aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of China after centuries of colonialism and foreign plunder. This meant getting the British out of Hong Kong, removing Portuguese control of Macau and bringing Taiwan back into the fold. National defense played a role in this calculation too. The Western imperialist countries had just waged a savage war on Korea - occupying the south to this day - along with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Bringing Hong Kong and Macau back under Chinese sovereignty would eliminate two major footholds for Western imperialism right at China’s southern doorstep.</p> <p>While ‘one country, two systems’ paved the way for regaining Hong Kong and Macau, it had another purpose for the People’s Republic: demonstrating a viable path for Taiwan to rejoin China. As the haven for counterrevolutionaries who fled the mainland after 1949, Taiwan was always going to be the hardest sell for Beijing. By following through on ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong - relative non-interference in the political and economic affairs of the city - China hoped to win Taiwan’s confidence in rejoining the mainland.</p> <p>After China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the city has taken on additional significance to the People’s Republic. ‘One country, two systems’ allowed Hong Kong to continue operating a more or less free market, even while belonging to the larger, socialist People’s Republic of China. With some modifications, Hong Kong also operates a traditional liberal constitutional government and legal system based on British common law. For Western investors and financiers, these familiar and easily manipulated institutions made Hong Kong an attractive commercial base.</p> <p>The city became the primary gateway for foreign direct investment into mainland China. A major aspect of the 1978 reforms included an ‘opening up’ to the rest of the world, both diplomatically and economically. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and most of the socialist countries, the CPC keenly understood the risks of inviting foreign capital into their country and developed methods of limiting its power and independence. To that end, Hong Kong, as its own administrative region, serves as a buffer between international finance capital and the mainland.</p> <p>But it goes beyond attracting foreign investment. Hong Kong’s stock exchange has served as a staging ground for China to further internationalize the use of its currency, the Renminbi (RMB). In more recent years, this channel has helped facilitate China’s Belt &amp; Road initiative, a multi-trillion dollar global infrastructure project aimed at developing an alternative trade network to U.S.-dominated channels.</p> <p>China’s trade policies have caused controversy among socialist observers around the world for decades, but there’s no denying the staggering economic growth and social development achieved since 1949. Hong Kong played an important role in that process in the 21st century.</p> <p><strong>The class character of the Hong Kong protests</strong></p> <p>The Hong Kong protests are absolutely not driven by or in the interests of the working class, whether in Hong Kong or mainland China. For one, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) has come out strongly against these protests. As one of the largest labor organization in the region, the Federation represents 410,000 workers in transportation, logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction and other major industries. Many of their 251 affiliated unions have actively campaigned against the protesters' calls for a ‘general strike’.</p> <p>Nor have working-class neighborhoods in Hong Kong joined in the months of rioting and unrest. An NPR investigation published on August 14 looked at the North Point district, one of the city’s largest working-class neighborhoods, and interviewed construction worker Xiao Yongli. Along with his neighbors, many of whom are migrant workers, Xiao warned protesters against coming into their community.</p> <p>It’s not just the longer, more risky work commutes caused by the increasingly violent unrest. Hong Kong’s working class has nothing to gain from worse relations with mainland China, much less from ‘independence.’ They suffered greatly under British colonial rule - no minimum wage laws; no labor protections; barbaric legal punishments like flogging and more. As bad as conditions in capitalist Hong Kong are today, workers know that even the bare-boned safety net, annual wage hikes and abolition of heinous torture wouldn’t exist under colonial rule.</p> <p>In actuality, the protests in Hong Kong serve the interests of finance capital, both in the city itself and around the world. Hong Kong has the highest number of billionaires per capita of any city on earth. The Civil Human Rights Front, which leads the protests, is full of organizations financed and backed by the U.S. State Department and the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), along with local billionaires and bankers. Even the so-called left-dissident forces in the umbrella organization acknowledged this in a June 18 interview with <em>Jacobin</em> magazine.</p> <p>But while finance capital provides the real leadership, the bulk of the protest shock troops come from middle class students, academics and white-collar professionals. On August 12, the Chinese University School of Journalism and Communications released the results from a multi-month survey of 6600 protest participants at 12 demonstrations. More than half identified as “middle class,” and nearly 75% had some college education. Incidentally, the protests tend to skew male (54%) and younger, with almost 60% of protesters under the age of 30.</p> <p>There’s a pernicious idea peddled around the U.S. left that three roughly equal political factions are contending for leadership of the Hong Kong protests: a ‘left-wing,’ liberal democrats and far-right ‘localists.’ This is a gross distortion that even the ‘left dissidents’ themselves don’t believe. Activist Lam Chi Leung, for instance, openly acknowledges in the <em>Jacobin</em> interview that the far-right localist groups have the greatest influence over the movement. He adds too that the liberal democrats have fallen into line with them.</p> <p>That tracks with the actions and statements of Demosisto, the most vocal liberal organization active in the Civil Human Rights Front. The group has explicitly called for outside intervention by the U.S., Western Europe and Japan to ‘liberate’ Hong Kong - presumably along the lines of the ‘liberation’ of Iraq in 2003. Demosisto leader Joshua Wong met with Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with other diplomatic officials from the U.S., and openly praises the efforts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to undermine Chinese sovereignty.</p> <p>More disturbing, the Civil Human Rights Front has increasingly picked up the far-right slogan, “Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!” This comes directly from right-wing localist politicians, who popularized the slogan during their 2016 electoral campaign. They have made crystal clear what they mean by ‘reclaiming Hong Kong’ by deploying racist slurs against Han Chinese and openly pining for a return to British colonialism. When protesters stormed the Legislative Council on July 1 and hoisted the old British colonial flag over their legislature, they removed all doubt over who is really calling the shots.</p> <p>When the protesters claim support from ‘labor,’ they are referring to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). Though similarly named, the HKCTU is much smaller than the Federation, representing roughly 160,000 workers and 61 affiliates. Unlike the Federation, the HKCTU mainly covers professionals, civil service employees, public officials and white-collar workers in finance. They joined the Civil Human Rights Front and participate in demonstrations, although their reach with their own rank and file appears tenuous. Despite frantic calls to support the August 5 general strike, the HKCTU reported mobilizing just 35,000 members (25%). Police reported even smaller numbers.</p> <p><strong>An attack on socialism</strong></p> <p>Hong Kong has extradition treaties with more than 20 foreign governments, including Britain and the United States. It maintains these treaties even while being a part of China. There’s no compelling reason why they shouldn’t have a framework for criminal extradition with the mainland of their own country.</p> <p>But there are many billionaires, executives and financiers who have their money stashed in Hong Kong who don’t see it that way. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption dragnet already has a lot of them on-tilt. With so many billionaires executed or dying from ‘unnatural causes’ every year in the People’s Republic of China, they rightly fear for their lives and wealth. It’s not a question of ‘sovereignty’ or ‘due process’ at all, but these abstract concepts - elastic enough to mean different things to different classes - allow them to draw together a mass base of middle-class supporters, who otherwise might not care to protect the ill-gotten gains of Hong Kong’s ultra-rich.</p> <p>Pure and simple, these protests are part of an attack on socialism. Although much of the U.S. left has written off China as a capitalist - or even imperialist - power, the monopoly capitalists have no such illusions. They may disagree on the timetable for war with China, but they all understand China’s socialist system as an existential threat to their power.</p> <p>Unlike Obama’s longer-term ‘pivot to Asia’, Trump has turned up the gas on anti-China aggression. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Chief Economic Advisor Peter Navarro and other anti-China hawks in the Trump administration see war with China as inevitable. This doesn’t mean they plan to declare war tomorrow or next year, but it signals a strategy of increased hostility towards the People’s Republic.</p> <p>Hong Kong isn’t just home to financial investment. The U.S. State Department and its non-profit appendage, the National Endowment of Democracy, have made substantial political investments in the city for decades. Their ability to fund so-called ‘civil society groups’ in mainland China is limited. But Hong Kong’s almost non-existent legal system and autonomy from Beijing has made it a safe haven for pro-West Chinese dissidents to operate. For the State Department, it’s a one-stop-shop for identifying, coordinating and funding Chinese dissidents.</p> <p>This includes self-described ‘left-wing dissidents.’ China Labor Watch, for instance, is a Hong Kong-based outfit popular in Western liberal publications that purports to document strikes and labor unrest in China. They are financed wholesale by the NED and its proxies for the purpose of overturning China’s socialist system, whatever the personal beliefs of individual members. When they aren’t publishing hit-pieces on Socialist China’s supposed mistreatment of workers, they broadcast anti-communist propaganda into China from Hong Kong, day and night. Ironically, the continued existence of these State Department stooges demonstrates Beijing’s abiding respect for the ‘one country, two systems’ approach.</p> <p>The State Department wants to see the civil unrest in Hong Kong spread across mainland China. In their best-case scenario, maybe the unrest topples the Communist Party or fractures enough of the country to weaken its power. In the worst-case scenario, at least it puts a thorn in Beijing’s side. To that end, they need more than just right-wing localists and Western-aligned liberals. The localists would just as soon see the Communist Party driven from power in China too, but that’s not their immediate concern. These <em>Gone with the Wind</em> reactionaries want a <em>de facto</em> return to British colonial rule, which is the practical application of the call for ‘reclaiming Hong Kong.’ Sure, their right-wing populism and xenophobia plays well with sections of the middle and upper-middle classes in Hong Kong, but its potential to spread to the mainland is dead-on-arrival.</p> <p>Even in a reactionary movement like this, liberals and the ‘dissident left’ nevertheless have a purpose. After all, the State Department doesn’t fund them ‘just because.’ Their role is not to lead on the ground - how could they, given the extreme right-wing interests behind the protests? - but rather to popularize the call to “spread the movement to the mainland.” Some of these well-educated middle-class dissidents call themselves socialists and preach solidarity - some may actually believe it too. They serve as friendlier faces for the Western corporate media to showcase, as opposed to the localist buffoons screaming racial slurs.</p> <p>This is right out of the State Department playbook, going back to the overthrow of socialist Poland in the 80s and before.</p> <p><strong>Socialist China and capitalist Hong Kong: Two systems compared</strong></p> <p>China’s explosive economic growth is difficult to exaggerate, averaging 9% every year since 1989. Critics on both the left and the right attribute this to the People’s Republic supposedly discarding socialism in favor of capitalism. But while China’s private sector and markets have grown, the country has not seen a recession since the founding of the Peoples Republic. Recessions resulting from overproduction and reckless speculation are endemic to capitalism. Most capitalist countries experience these crises every ten years or less, yet China has avoided this outcome.</p> <p>While the rest of the capitalist world grinds its working class into poverty, Chinese workers have seen their wages dramatically grow every year, averaging 8.2% increases annually between 2008-2017. In the last 30 years, China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty - the fastest and most dramatic reduction in the modern world. Last year, President Xi announced an initiative to completely end poverty in China by 2020, and with the poverty rate at 1.7% in 2018, they seem on track to meet that goal.</p> <p>At a certain point, all the talk about ‘capitalist restoration’ in China flies in the face of everything we know about capitalism. To say China is a socialist country doesn’t mean it’s perfect or without contradictions. It means that the working class holds state and economic power, which it exercises through its political party. Building socialism is a process, and the Communist Party of China has stressed since the 1970s that they are still in the earliest stages of constructing the new society. The most important industries remain under state ownership, along with the financial system and all real estate, which allows the state to centrally plan development and prioritize human need over profit. China’s private sector, while much larger than other socialist countries like Cuba, does not rule over the state, the economy or society.</p> <p>Hong Kong provides an interesting point of comparison, given the special administrative region operates a dramatically different system, both political and economic, then the mainland. Conditions in Hong Kong are generally bad for the working class. The People’s Republic has stood by its commitment to ‘one country, two systems’ and allowed Hong Kong to largely make its own decisions. Of course they offer support for the city government as the region’s legitimate authorities, but Hong Kong’s leaders aren’t ‘puppets of Beijing.’ They stand by an economic and political order at odds with the socialist system in mainland China, made clear in this fight over extradition. If China is a capitalist country, why does so much friction exist between the ‘two systems’ in ‘one country’?</p> <p>As China enters the final phase of completely ending poverty on the mainland, Hong Kong is setting new records for the most income inequality in the world. More than one in five Hong Kong residents - and about 45% of the elderly - live in poverty, while one in seven residents are millionaires. Hong Kong didn’t even set a minimum wage until 2000, and today it lags almost $3-per-hour behind a comparable mainland metropolis like Shanghai. 37% of workers in mainland China belong to a union versus just 23% in Hong Kong. The mainland also boasts a significantly higher labor force participation rate than Hong Kong - 69% compared to 61% in 2019 - a more accurate measure of unemployment than the official rates.</p> <p>The same pattern emerges in other economic areas important to workers, like out-of-pocket health care costs (37% in Hong Kong vs. 28% in the People’s Republic). Housing costs have risen in mainland cities like Beijing, but they don’t come close to the outrageous rent costs in Hong Kong. 70% of monthly income for Hong Kongers goes towards rent, versus 22% in Beijing.</p> <p>The two governments’ responses to rising housing costs is equally telling. After the 2018 party congress, the Chinese government has ramped up construction of affordable housing units, especially for families living in smaller cities and rural areas. “Houses are for living, not for speculation,” said President Xi in his address to the congress.</p> <p>But in Hong Kong’s free market system, more than 200,000 of the poorest residents live in ‘coffin homes’ - tiny, narrow, cage-like storage spaces with just enough room to lay down and sleep. The city has also seen homelessness rise by almost 20% for the past four years. The city government has recently made some moves towards addressing the issue, but Hong Kong’s low taxes and barebones social spending - both products of their capitalist system - don’t allow for the dramatic action necessary.</p> <p><strong>A word for socialists in the United States on Hong Kong</strong></p> <p>Socialism in China has delivered better outcomes to the vast majority of working people than capitalism ever could. The People’s Republic’s emergence as one of the two largest economic powers in the world poses an existential challenge to monopoly capitalism. Just as they waged a not-so-Cold War against the Soviet Union for more than 40 years, the rulers of the U.S. are positioning for a showdown with socialist China. To them, the Hong Kong protests are a way to gain greater leverage over Beijing.</p> <p>Trump’s public rhetoric on Hong Kong has seemed subdued, especially compared to his typical unhinged Twitter rants. The White House is full of anti-China war hawks, including Trump himself, but the U.S. economy is teetering on the edge of a recession. Whatever Trump’s original intent with the trade war, he overstepped his bounds with China. Trump badly needs the stock market to keep rip-roaring into November 2020 because his chances of re-election drop significantly if the economy slides into recession. His aggression has forced him to walk a fine line for now, even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly meets with Hong Kong protest leaders. Too much brazen support for the protests all but kills any chance of a near-term resolution of the trade war.</p> <p>While many liberals and progressives in the U.S. who back the Hong Kong protests do so from a place of genuine misunderstanding, others should know better. We’ve seen this movie already - whether in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Nicaragua or most recently in Venezuela. The U.S. instigates and uses these mass protests to destabilize nations they want to dominate. Segments of the left twist themselves into knots trying to explain how protests dominated by right-wingers and monopoly capital are actually progressive, usually singling out one or two marginal ‘left-wing’ participants as evidence. For all their calls to support ‘the people’ or the ‘revolution’ in these situations, somehow it always ends with either the right-wing in power or utter chaos.</p> <p>As the growing socialist movement in the U.S. grapples with events like the Hong Kong protests, it’s important to remember we are part of a worldwide fight. Too many times, parts of the U.S. left gets roped into supporting our own ruling class’ agenda in the name of abstract ideals - democracy, rule of law, independence, due process, take your pick.</p> <p>Drill down to the material root of those buzzwords and it becomes a lot less tricky to see what side of the class war the Hong Kong protesters are on.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7562#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Socialism Antiwar Movement Asia Asiaticos China China Donald Trump Hong Kong Internacional Socialism Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Sat, 17 Aug 2019 16:42:20 +0000 Fight Back 7562 at http://www.fightbacknews.org