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 Hong Kong local election results: Remarkably unremarkable and counter-revolutionary to boot http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7716 <p>On November 24, Hong Kong held local elections for all 18 district councils in the city, with 452 of the 479 council seats up for grabs. Amid the polarized political atmosphere created by the protests and riots that gripped the city this year, turnout was much higher than past local elections. In total, 2,931,745 people cast ballots for their local district councils; about 71% of the 4,132,977 registered voters.</p> <p>The U.S. and its allies in the corporate news media were quick to trumpet the results as a smashing success for the pro-Western protest movement, which elected 388 candidates to district councils. In contrast, the patriotic forces - pejoratively called ‘pro-Beijing’ by the same Western press - elected just 62 candidates.</p> <p>Indeed, these results did represent a massive reversal from the results of the 2015 local elections, in which the patriotic camp did far better. The pro-West protest forces went from holding 124 district council seats to the 388 in 2019. Patriotic forces, whose victory in 2015 gave them 331 seats, saw their numbers drop dramatically.</p> <p>But focusing on the distribution of seats masks a much more complicated picture - one that no publication in the U.S. news media cared to cover. Looking at these numbers alone and in a vacuum, one might assume the pro-West opposition won 86% of the popular vote. That is not the case at all.</p> <p>The popular vote total was far more evenly distributed. The pro-West protest camp still won more votes (1,674,083) than the patriotic forces (1,233,030), but it split 57-42%.*</p> <p>Only four parties garnered more than 100,000 votes in the 2019 local elections.</p> <p>The Hong Kong, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which leads the patriotic camp, won the most votes of any party in either camp (492,042). The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), the city’s largest trade union and a cornerstone of the patriotic forces, earned the fourth-most votes of any party (128,796).</p> <p>If the electorate was more evenly divided than the results suggest, why wasn’t this reflected in the distribution of district council seats? Hong Kong’s legislative elections operate on a system of proportional representation common to most parliaments, in which parties earn seats roughly proportional to their vote totals. They also have a substantial number of seats set aside for important social and constituency groups, like trade unions.</p> <p>Local district council elections are another matter entirely, using a first-past-the-post system. In this system, candidates contest particular seats and the top vote-getter wins the seat, whether they win 99 to 1% or 51 to 49%. If Hong Kong’s legislative elections work along the lines of the British parliamentary system, district council elections work more like U.S. congressional elections, in which Republicans form a countrywide voting minority but can still win a majority of seats in Congress.</p> <p>Most of the U.S. media coverage of these local elections loses or ignores their historical dimensions. The results reflect a massive shift from 2015, but more than just months-long protests and riots are at play. Most of the leading pro-West opposition forces boycotted the 2015 elections in a failed attempt to reignite the so-called ‘Umbrella Movement’, which featured large protests similar to the ones gripping Hong Kong today.</p> <p>Their boycott was a huge flop, evidenced by the 47% voter turnout - the largest ever, at the time - and a sweeping victory for the patriotic parties. The opposition leaders - and their masters in Washington - summed their boycott up as the failure it was and took a different course in 2019.</p> <p>But what’s most remarkable about the 2019 results is how unremarkable they are. Despite record-high voter turnout, many months of protests and an all-out Western propaganda blitz - both in the news media and online - the two sides in Hong Kong have basically the same amount of supporters as they have since 1997, when China regained control of the city from British colonizers.</p> <p>It’s not hard to see why. Hong Kong’s organized working class has stood firmly against the protests from the beginning. Protesters’ calls for a general strike have continually flopped, and their failure to mobilize industrial action has led them increasingly towards more terroristic anti-people tactics.</p> <p>As protests increasingly turned into riots and street violence, ordinary working people in Hong Kong bore the brunt. Many opposition leaders bemoan the lack of participation and support they receive in working-class neighborhoods, often retaliating against workers, their families and their trade unions - who they all label ‘pro-Beijing.’</p> <p>The most disturbing incident came in the run-up to the local elections - a construction worker was burned alive by the same ‘pro-democracy’ protesters praised in Washington - and, shamefully, in some corners of the U.S. left.</p> <p>The other aspect of the Hong Kong local election results glossed over - or praised - by the U.S. news media is the staggering amount of outside interference. The U.S. news media and state officials often charge Beijing with ‘outside interference,’ as if Hong Kong is not a part of China. Ironically these same voices, who peddle elaborate fantasies about Russian bots rigging the 2016 U.S. election for Trump, ignore the blatant outside intervention by their own government in China.</p> <p>U.S. State Department officials have consistently met and coordinated with opposition leaders before and during this current wave of protests. Either through the National Endowment for Democracy or directly through the State Department, the United States funds and supplies countless Hong Kong opposition groups, including seemingly progressive fronts like the China Labour Bulletin.</p> <p>In the context of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, war hawks in Washington have sought to use the unrest in Hong Kong as a cudgel against the People’s Republic. Congress passed the ‘Hong Kong Human Rights &amp; Democracy Act’ on November 28, just four days after this supposedly massive victory for the opposition. The act, which Trump quickly signed, aims to bolster the increasingly violent protests and threatens Beijing with more economic war measures, like revoking special trade rules for the city. Predictably, its passage threw trade talks with China into a tailspin, as the People’s Republic rightfully condemned this blatant imperial maneuvering.</p> <p>Ultimately the Hong Kong local elections are far less consequential or telling than we’re told in the United States. These district councils hold very little power, which mostly resides in the Legislative Assembly. The high turnout shows a city sharply polarized and an increasingly chaotic protest movement dominated by right-wing ‘localist’ voices, even as they put on a liberal face for reporters.</p> <p>The Hong Kong protests have failed to spread to the rest of people’s China. The nastiest, most racist and reactionary protest slogans don’t get translated by the glowing Western news media - which is content to cover the waving of American flags and the singing of the U.S. national anthem - but the people of China know the score.</p> <p>This doesn’t make the protests in Hong Kong any less dangerous. The ruling class of the U.S. intends to use them to weaken the territorial integrity of China and attack the socialist system. But this isn’t ‘take two’ of the Tiananmen Square incident 30 years ago either, in which socialist countries across the hemisphere faced internal and external counterrevolution. Socialist China is standing strong.</p> <p><em>*Independents unaligned with either of the two major blocs won 0.83% of the popular vote.</em></p> <p><em>Editor’s note: This is a follow-up article to an earlier piece written for Fight Back! titled “Hong Kong protests are an attack on socialism.” That article goes into detail on the political and class nature of the Hong Kong protests, and whose interests they serve.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7716#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo China China Hong Kong Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:34:17 +0000 Fight Back 7716 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Anakbayan-USA holds 3rd congress http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7715 <p>Los Angeles, CA - On November 30, Anakbayan-USA had their Third Congress, with more than 200 members from 12 chapters across the country in attendance. They learned lessons on solidarity, talked about the economic situation in the United States and reported back on the progress being made on a national and local level.</p> <p>Anakbayan-USA had three national organizations they invited to speak on their “International Solidarity” panel: the Palestinian Youth Movement, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, and National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).</p> <p>CISPES and PYM spoke on bridging the gap between the community and activist organizations, and activities they do, such as trauma healing, in order to get both young and old more integrated into the work. National SDS’s speaker, Mark Napieralski, talked about attacks against immigrant communities in the United States and how the struggle to save DACA must be concerned around building policies to protect all people on campuses.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7715#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo ANAKBAYAN Filipinas Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:07:30 +0000 Fight Back 7715 at http://www.fightbacknews.org MN withstands -10 windchill to demand human rights at home and abroad http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7714 <p>Minneapolis, MN - On December 10, 25 protesters rallied outside of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to mark International Human Rights Day. After chanting outside the senator’s office, Brad Sigal from the MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee addressed the crowd to draw attention to Trump’s record of human rights abuses against immigrants. The protesters then marched in -10 degrees windchill to the legendary May Day Books in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.</p> <p>Tracy Molm of the Anti-War Committee spoke at the closing rally inside the bookstore. “On Human Rights Day we come together to call attention to human rights abuses at home and abroad. At the same time the U.S. government talks about human rights abuses and lack of democracy in places like Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, the U.S. government runs concentration camps on the U.S.-Mexico border where horrific conditions and abuse are rampant, and President Trump spouts hate speech against Muslims and immigrants,” she said. “In addition to this hypocrisy, the U.S. government uses sanctions and blockades to create starvation and inflation in other countries; then it blames the elected government, like President Maduro’s in Venezuela, for this starvation. Meanwhile, sanctions are touted as the ‘humanitarian option’ - ignoring that sanctions overwhelming affect children and elderly - ignoring that sanctions kill!”</p> <p>Other speakers included Sylvia Schwartz from Jewish Voice for Peace Action, who demanded human rights for Palestinians, and Gina VanArnam from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, who denounced police crimes against people of color.</p> <p>The rally was organized as an annual event by the MN Anti-War Committee. They announced the MN Peace Action Coalition’s upcoming protest on December 21 at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues in Minneapolis as the next anti-war action.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7714#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Anti-War Committee Human Rights Day Thu, 12 Dec 2019 03:27:04 +0000 Fight Back 7714 at http://www.fightbacknews.org UPS Teamsters across country mourn co-worker murdered by cops http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7713 <p>Miami, FL - UPS Teamsters across the country are participating in a nationwide moment of silence today, December 9, for #Frank Ordonez, the 27-year-old UPS package car driver killed in a police shootout after being taken hostage by armed robbers. Many Teamsters are questioning the tactics used by police, noting that the officers’ trigger-happy actions were not normal for a hostage situation and resulted in not only the death of Frank Ordonez but the death of union representative Rick Cutshaw and endangered the lives of many others.</p> <p>The moment of silence took place at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, the time Frank Ordonez’s memorial service began. Many delivery drivers stopped working and parked their trucks in the midst of the busiest season of the year to pay their respects to Frank Ordonez. Not only UPS drivers, but FedEx, Holland, R+L Carriers and even a fire truck participated. The call for the nationwide moment of silence began on social media and quickly went viral with many UPS Teamsters sharing the call on their own profiles. The nationwide action was not just limited to drivers but also included inside workers who wrote “#Frank” in the dirt on the backs of trailers and trucks and posted signs inside their buildings.</p> <p>The official statement from UPS, where the company thanked the police officers for their “service,” has made a number of Teamsters wonder which side the company is on.</p> <p>“UPS didn't even mention Frank Ordonez’s name in their tweet about it, but they defended and praised the police, the people who killed him. It definitely tells me how little they care about us; how disposable we all are,” said Emily Butt, a UPS Teamster out of Lansing, Michigan.</p> <p>This is not the first time a Teamster has been murdered by police. Last year, a young part-time UPS Teamster, Elijah Smith, was killed fleeing from police, searching for a place to hide. Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker, was murdered by a police officer in 2016 at a traffic stop.</p> <p>Darwin Argueta, a part-timer at UPS out of Salt Lake City, Utah said of Ordonez, "It just saddens me deeper to know how excited he must’ve been working his first day alone. We all remember and look forward to that."</p> <p>It’s clear that police officers need accountability from the public in order for these senseless murders of working people to be stopped. Community control of the police, a main demand of the newly refounded National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, provides the model for such accountability.</p> <p>UPS recently rolled out "Follow My Delivery" a service that allows some customers to see exactly where the UPS truck is via GPS. Many drivers are criticizing UPS for neglecting their safety, as the tracking puts UPS workers at risk of violent attack.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7713#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Brutalidad Policial Frank Ordonez Teamsters UPS Wed, 11 Dec 2019 02:44:27 +0000 Fight Back 7713 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Chicago: Striking unions honored at People’s Thanksgiving http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7712 <p>Chicago, IL - Thunderous applause greeted officers and strikers from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 at an event sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The 28th People’s Thanksgiving, a fundraiser for Fight Back! brought over 100 people together to recognize the historic Chicago Public School strike by the two unions.</p> <p>In the words of CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, “The work we do is to dismantle white supremacy.” She vowed that the union will be “bolder, more aggressive and impatient” and to have a “Chicago that reflects the needs of the many.”</p> <p>Local 73 Secretary Treasurer Joe Richert and Executive Vice President Jeff Howard joined Davis Gates in receiving an award named in honor of the great working-class leader, Lucy Gonzalez Parsons. Gonzalez Parsons led the fight for justice for the martyrs of Haymarket, the leaders of the 1886 U.S. general strike. That movement for the eight-hour day was centered in Chicago. Eight trade unionists, socialists and anarchists, including Lucy’s husband, were framed by the ruling class, and five of them were executed. To honor them, the first of May was declared International Workers Day, which is celebrated worldwide.</p> <p>Also awarded were five members of the city council: Sue Garza, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Jeanette Taylor, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, and Byron Sigcho-Lopez. All elected since 2015, their awards called them “Tribunes of the People” for carrying the demands of workers and the oppressed into City Hall. Aislinn Pulley of Black Lives Matter-Chicago spoke of the movement for justice for the murdered teenager, Laquan McDonald, which brought down Mayor Rahm Emanuel. These alderpersons are among the 19 in the city council that stand for community control of the police through the legislation for an elected, civilian police accountability council (CPAC). The crowd responded to their awards with the chant, “All power to the people,” started by FRSO Central Committee member, Frank Chapman.</p> <p>The community organization, Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) was given the “Harry Haywood Award,” “For defense of the Black community of Chicago’s South Side against the siege of gentrification.” STOP has led the fight demanding a Community Benefits Agreement to come with the building of the Obama Center. Funding for the center includes tax monies, but also contributions from billionaire donors. The movement is demanding that jobs be set aside for people in nearby communities, protections of housing for working families, and the strengthening of neighborhood schools.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7712#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo People's Thanksgiving Tue, 10 Dec 2019 04:04:24 +0000 Fight Back 7712 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Milwaukee: People’s Climate Coalition marches on Wells Fargo, Chase Bank http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7711 <p>Milwaukee, WI – Several hundred people gathered on the morning of December 6 in downtown Milwaukee at Zeidler Park to demand that the big banks like Wells Fargo, Chase and other corporations divest from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Several classrooms worth of children from local public schools attended the event in support of a safe and livable planet for their futures. The People’s Climate Coalition, consisting of local climate justice groups, put out the call and organized the event.</p> <p>All representatives from the coalition and its allies were given an opportunity to speak. Each highlighted in different ways the pressing need for action against climate change. One line that could be traced through all the comments, though, was an indictment of corporations as the root cause of the climate crisis.</p> <p>After the speeches, participants marched several blocks over to the Wells Fargo building where they joined nearly a dozen others who were occupying the lobby of the bank. The occupiers were leaders from several of the member groups of the coalition. The marchers on the outside took to chanting by the doors and windows.</p> <p>With calls of “System change, not climate change!” and “Climate change is a war - of the rich upon the poor!” the marchers made sure that those on the inside knew they had support. The Milwaukee Police Department descended on the action and rounded up the activists in the building. Four police vans hauled them away while a dozen officers held back the crowd.</p> <p>“This issue is a human crisis and if we don’t start making systemic change, then the effects will be irreversible,” said Erin Sankey, an organizer with the People’s Climate Coalition. “The movement must continue on a path where we target corporations and banks because they have gotten away with actions for too long.”</p> <p>Sankey continued, “I just want to add that I am so proud of the movement and the engagement from everyone, especially the children, and I cannot wait to see where this takes us.”</p> <p>This planned civil disobedience was just the opening action in what the coalition intends to be a broader offensive for climate justice in the city of Milwaukee.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7711#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo climate strike Environmental Justice Tue, 10 Dec 2019 03:46:18 +0000 Fight Back 7711 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Arizona educators, progressives confront ALEC summit and Betsy DeVos http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7710 <p>Tucson, AZ - On December 4, a coalition of union educators, immigrant rights, police crimes, and climate change activists confronted the agenda of corporations like UPS and energy industry giants and billionaires like Charles Koch and Sheldon Achelson. At its height the crowd numbered around 200 with signs reading: “ALEC: Oligarchy in progress” and “Privatization, criminalization, incarceration, climate change, imperialism: #ALECisBehindIt.”</p> <p>The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a notorious organization of hardcore conservatives, was holding its States and Nation Policy Summit in Arizona. ALEC hosted Trump cabinet members Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, and Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. DeVos draws serious ire from educators because of her push for privatization of public schools and the detrimental voucher program that drains much-needed funding for public schools.</p> <p>DeVos and Republican legislators from Arizona think vouchers are the solution to the crisis in public education. DeVos is attending ALEC to push her plan to use $5 billion to fund vouchers for students to attend private schools. These ideas largely come from a group like ALEC, which hosts, wines, and dines state lawmakers to push their members’ agenda. Many Republican-dominated states have a high rate of ALEC membership. In fact, 41% of the Arizona state legislature are ALEC members.</p> <p>ALEC was also instrumental in the creation of the viciously racist SB070 law that legalized racial and national profiling. The subsequent collaboration between state and local law enforcement with ICE turned every badge into an immigration officer. The raids of homes and workplaces in Phoenix fed up undocumented immigrants into the wicked arms of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The group that led the organized resistance using political education and Barrio Defense Committees was Puente Human Rights Organization.</p> <p>Sandra Solis, an organizer with Puente, connected ALEC to the oppression of immigrants as well as Chicanx and African-American communities. “Corporations would not be part of ALEC if they didn’t have specific investments and they weren’t profiting off the criminalization of our communities and the privatization of our education system,” Solis stated.</p> <p>Speaking on the significance of the action for state politics, educator Katie Nash said “Corporations flock to Arizona where it is a land of milk and honey for tax breaks, truly a wild west when it comes to tax structure and wealth. But that all ends today. We demand that our state legislators, like Karen Fann and Rusty Bowers, JD Mesnard and John Allen, cancel their membership with ALEC, and we call on Arizona voters to vote out all legislators who refuse to do so.”</p> <p>The coalition consists of Arizona Educators United, Puente Human Rights Movement, Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance, No More Deaths Phoenix, Food Not Bombs Phoenix, Sunrise Movement Phoenix, Arizona for Bernie Sanders, Phoenix Democratic Socialists of America, Kochs Off Campus Tucson and their national affiliate UnKoch My Campus, Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, Extinction Rebellion, Progressive Democrats of America, ProgressNow Arizona, and AZ Resist.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7710#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo ALEC Betsy DeVos Mon, 09 Dec 2019 04:44:54 +0000 Fight Back 7710 at http://www.fightbacknews.org South Florida police murder UPS Teamster hostage in shootout http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7709 <p>Miami, FL - The busy holiday season for UPS Teamsters took a deadly turn on December 5 in South Florida. Miramar police shot and killed UPS driver Frank Ordonez while firing dozens of times into the side of a UPS truck he had been taken hostage in. They also killed a civilian who was nearby.</p> <p>After committing a failed robbery at a jewelry store in Miami suburb Coral Gables, the two burglars carjacked a UPS truck and took the driver hostage. They led police on a chase 20 miles north to Miramar. Upon getting stuck in traffic, police immediately began using cars filled with civilians who were waiting at a traffic light as human shields. They fired blindly into the truck with automatic rifles and killed not only the burglars, but the hostage and a motorist who happened to be on the scene.</p> <p>Miramar resident Conor Munro said, “I watched the whole episode unfold live. That intersection is one of the busiest in the area, and the police turned it into a war zone. Instantly hundreds of cops were on the scene, firing easily 50 times. It’s no surprise they killed an innocent woman just sitting in her car. The killers need to be charged. Not only that, there needs to be a way we can stop this from happening again. Endless police militarization will only lead to more deaths like these. We need community control of the police now.”</p> <p>Teamsters locals across the country released statements expressing their condolences for the driver and his young family. Meanwhile, UPS released a statement thanking law enforcement for their work without acknowledging the murder, implicitly taking the side of the police over Ordonez, his family, and the safety of UPS workers everywhere.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7709#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Brutalidad Policial Teamsters Teamsters UPS Fri, 06 Dec 2019 14:48:54 +0000 Fight Back 7709 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Immigrant rights activists protest ICE detention at Sherburne County commissioners' meeting http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7708 <p>Elk River, MN - Immigrant rights activists mobilized to the Sherburne County commissioners' meeting at 9:00 in the morning Tuesday, December 3 in Elk River, a town of around 20,000 people an hour northwest of Minneapolis. They held signs throughout the meeting, and several of them spoke passionately during the public comment section of the agenda, appealing to the commissioners to stop participating in and profiting from immigrant detention in the Sherburne County Jail.</p> <p>The Sherburne County Jail has a contract for 300 beds to detain immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), making it the largest ICE detention facility in Minnesota. From their 300 beds, the county earns around $10.9 million a year - profiting from separating immigrant families as part of the Trump administration’s massive immigrant deportation apparatus. Not content with that, Sherburne County officials have proposed to expand to 500 immigrant beds in the jail, to make even more money from the separation of immigrant families.</p> <p>The mobilization to the commissioners’ meeting was initiated by Sanctuary &amp; Resistance to Injustice (SARI), an organization based in Elk River that holds a weekly protest outside the Sherburne County Jail and is committed to ending the detention of immigrants there. SARI members pledged to keep coming back until county officials stop using their jail to detain immigrants. Also present were members of the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM), Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, and the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC).</p> <p>Daniel Romero, a member of SARI, ICOM and MIRAC who spoke at the commissioners’ meeting said, “Sanctuary and Resistance to Injustice (SARI) is a faith-based community organization, and many of us are motivated to take action to advance immigrants' rights based on our faith values. Many Sherburne County Board members are also people of faith. Today, SARI members asked the County Board to choose between worshiping God or mammon. [money]. There can be no immigration enforcement - deportation - without the immigrant detention eagerly provided by the Sherburne County jail. The Sherburne County jail and ICE are one in the same, there is no difference.”</p> <p>The movement to end ICE detention in Sherburne County is part of a growing statewide movement coalescing around a sanctuary state campaign to stop ICE detention and separation of families statewide.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7708#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo ICOM MIRAc SARI Inmigrantes Wed, 04 Dec 2019 18:53:34 +0000 Fight Back 7708 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Activists decry Minnesota investments in border militarization, climate destruction http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7707 <p>St. Paul, MN - The Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) held its quarterly meeting at the State Capitol December 2 and got sharp criticism from immigrant rights and anti-war activists, as new documents revealed a nearly $1 million increase in investment in a controversial military technology company. Youth climate strikers also highlighted the SBI’s inaction over state ties to environmental destruction. Both groups were met with vacillation and excuses from the board which is tasked with the responsible investment of public pensions and related funds.</p> <p>At issue was Elbit Systems, an Israel-based manufacturer of white phosphorus and cluster munitions used in Gaza and contracted by both the U.S. and Israeli governments for border militarization. Documents published on the SBI’s website showed state investments in Elbit worth over $2.1 million, up from around $1.25 million from the previous reporting period, despite years of calls for divestment. In 2017, the Saint Paul-based public Metropolitan State University partnered with Elbit to build a cybersecurity training center.</p> <p>“Our state cannot continue to invest in a company like Elbit. With our investment, we are complicit in human rights abuses committed by Elbit’s weaponry. Why is this even a debate?” asked Austin Jensen of the MN Anti-War Committee, one of the action’s co-sponsors. Other endorsers included Women Against Military Madness, American Muslims for Palestine, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Minnesota BDS Community, and No Cages MN.</p> <p>“I personally am implicated in these violations of human rights because I receive a state pension as a retired public school teacher,” said Lucia Wilkes Smith of WAMM. “I need those pension dollars to live month to month, yet I personally have travelled to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Gaza, where I have learned directly from people living in dire circumstances.”</p> <p>Wilkes Smith added, “I’m remembering the anti-apartheid movement that successfully called upon U.S. institutions, decades ago, to divest from holdings in South Africa. I know that individuals in this room were arrested for non-violent action taken as they demanded divestment.”</p> <p>The State Board of Investment includes self-styled progressives like Attorney General Keith Ellison and State Auditor Julie Blaha, and is chaired by Governor Tim Walz.</p> <p>Activists from Minnesota Youth Climate Strike also addressed the board. “The SBI must proceed toward divestment. The risk assessment must include the unequal health and safety threats posed by climate change to communities of color and underprivileged communities,” said Juwaria Jama, who called for litigation against fossil fuel companies such as Enbridge and Koch Refineries. The strikers also criticized a climate investment report, prepared for the SBI by a private firm, for diminishing the importance of divestment.</p> <p>The SBI, for its part, lauded that report, with Ellison calling it “a good piece of research” and Chief Investment Officer Mansco Perry championing the report’s claim that “divestment of fossil fuels ... does not directly impact carbon emissions.”</p> <p>Governor Walz went even further, claiming that the SBI lacks the authority to divest based on social considerations, insisting, “The process matters...the process of how we come up with where we’re investing and how we’re investing.”</p> <p>Undeterred, the Minnesota Youth Climate Strike plan to rally at the State Capitol on Friday, December 5 at 3 p.m.</p> <p>The MN Anti-War Committee, along with Women Against Military Madness, American Muslims for Palestine, and other progressive organizations, have called for a protest outside Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office at 1200 S Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, for International Human Rights Day, December 10, at 4:30 p.m.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/es/node/7707#comments Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Elbit State Board of Investments Wed, 04 Dec 2019 02:46:50 +0000 Fight Back 7707 at http://www.fightbacknews.org