Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle 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. en Minnesota: Campus AFSCME workers to picket meeting of President Gabel and deans <p>Minneapolis, MN - AFSCME at the University of Minnesota is holding an informational picket on Monday, October 10, from noon until 2 p.m. at Walter Library on the East Bank campus here. This coincides with a meeting between President Joan Gabel and Twin Cities deans at the same location. They will demand university leadership respond to their demands for raises, respect and racial equity.</p> <p>Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800 and executive office and administrative specialist at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said, “AFSCME UMN locals are currently in joint contract negotiations with the U. The university has created a system of haves and have-nots with vast inequities between workers and administration. The U can’t recruit or retain support staff at the current rates of pay. We need our wages raised by $3 an hour. The university’s wage proposal doesn’t even keep up with inflation, and would therefore result in a pay cut for the lowest paid workers at the U.”</p> <p>Claudia Velsasco, dental assistant and AFSCME 3260 bargaining team member, added, “The university administration lauds their diversity and inclusion efforts, but needs to put their money where their mouth is. They are refusing to give raises to workers who help translate for non-English speaking patients. They are refusing to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, even though they announced their intent to do so two years ago. And they refuse to give our American Indian workers time off to participate in tribal elections, while lauding voter participation rates for state and federal elections.”</p> <p>Lindsay Knoll, senior research veterinary technician in Research Animal Resources, said, “Along with our Teamster-represented coworkers, we do the behind-the-scenes work that ensures faculty can carry out their important and life changing research. The U’s poverty wages and short staffing have led to higher than average injury rates and challenges in keeping research facilities safe, clean and functional.”</p> <p>Horazuk added, “The university began bargaining by asking for our assistance in addressing recruitment and retention issues. The solution is easy: pay competitive wages and benefits that move us forward rather than backwards - and put action, not lip service, to issues of equity and diversity.”</p> <p>As university leaders meet inside Walter Library, unionized staff will be conducting informational picketing outside to demand raises and respect for frontline workers.</p> AFSCME AFSCME AFSCME 3800 University of Minnesota Fri, 07 Oct 2022 02:38:18 +0000 Fight Back 9963 at UCONN SDS fights to save cultural centers <p>Storrs, CT - Members of the University of Connecticut’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter are rallying to defend the campus’ cultural centers after the new UCONN president’s attack on the Diversity and Inclusion program. On September 28, members of the UCONN board of trustees voted to appoint Radenka Maric as the new president of the University of Connecticut. This decision, without consent from the student body, comes on the heels of Maric’s recent campaign to restructure funding for the diversity and equity program that cuts the budgets of many cultural centers.</p> <p>In the case of the Native American cultural center, they now claim they have only $5000 to spend on staff and resources this year – far lower than in years past. For reference, the Puerto Rican center previously boasted a budget of $25,000. </p> <p>Other centers, including the Middle Eastern center, are also being targeted, as a direct result of Maric’s budget streamlining plans. Where many of these centers used to be able to hire 4 staff to work at once, having one active staff member is now the norm. </p> <p>Students are assembling quickly to defend the centers, which are critical safe spaces for oppressed nationality students on campus. UCONN SDS is leading the charge with their “Speak Out!” event, being held next week. They are inviting students who have been affected by these happenings to join them in calling out and condemning Radenka Maric’s actions. </p> <p>“Radenka is a president who doesn’t appear to have the students’ best interest in mind,” says Jordan Noto, who is organizing with UCONN SDS, “she’s been hired to do the board’s bidding,”</p> <p>The protest calls on the student body to agitate and defend the cultural centers by forcing Radenka to step down as UCONN’s president. </p> <p>This isn’t Radenka’s first run-in with controversy. Last February, she found herself at the center of a Students for Justice for Palestine rally, after visiting Israel on an economic development mission. SJP also now faces budget cuts in the wake of her cultural center restructuring. </p> <p>The protest will take place on Sunday, October 16 at 2 p.m. on the UCONN campus.</p> People's Struggles UCONN SDS Student Movement Thu, 06 Oct 2022 01:17:48 +0000 Fight Back 9962 at Milwaukee demands the city fund the people, not the cops <p>Milwaukee, WI - On Monday, October 3, more than 30 people rallied and marched into the Common Council Chambers of City Hall to voice their disapproval of Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s budget proposal and demand a budget that reflects the needs of the people of Milwaukee.&nbsp;</p> <p>This event served as the kick-off for a new campaign demanding a People’s Budget in Milwaukee. The demands for the new budget include: No layoffs for general city employees; implement the raises that were promised by the city (2% for general city employees and a 1% alternative to hazard pay already approved under ARPA); and reinvest 50% of the Milwaukee Police Department’s budget to fund public sector jobs, culture, recreation and mental health services</p> <p>These demands are vital for Milwaukee. After decades of slashes to public services to increase the reckless funding of the police, Mayor Johnson is poised to increase MPD’s budget to nearly half of the city’s budget, even if it leads Milwaukee to insolvency. Despite claims that the budget is getting rid of 17 police officers, the budget is still committed to paying $100 million in police pensions alone, which these 17 officers will, of course, receive.</p> <p>The event was organized by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR), Students for a Democratic Society - Milwaukee (SDS), Young Workers Committee (YWC) and AFSCME District Council 32.</p> <p>“We’ve already been feeling the financial strains of the economy,” said Alan Chavoya, outreach chair of the Milwaukee Alliance. “The cost of all our basic needs are skyrocketing as our wages remain stagnant. All the ingredients are there for a worsening recession, and with this proposal, we’re guaranteed to see significant slashes to public sector jobs and much needed services. So, Mayor Johnson is basically securing the loss of around 1000 public sector jobs in the near future in order to further fund the police. How does that make sense?”</p> <p>“General city employees have been asked to do more with less, and for less. In the last ten years, those city employees have not seen across-the-board raises,” said Mark Pelzek, vice president of AFSCME District Council 32. Although the conditions general city employees face can be, at least, partially attributed to the Governor Walker-era Act 10 legislation, Pelzek said, “while the mayors have been forced to choose between funding public services or the police, and year after year, they have chosen to fully fund the police.”</p> <p>Among the public services being sacrificed to fund the police are various libraries, where operating hours will be significantly reduced with this budget proposal. Libraries provide important resources for Milwaukee communities.</p> <p>“We deserve to live in a world where our neighbors, our teachers, our families, our coworkers, and our public workers are treated with respect and integrity. Where no child’s access to music, art, language learning, or wellness opportunities are cut short because their government decided to prioritize jailing their brothers, sisters, cousins and parents over their education and wellbeing,” said Liam Farin of SDS.</p> Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression Stop Police Crimes In-Justice System Wed, 05 Oct 2022 01:50:25 +0000 Fight Back 9961 at Chicago: Packed house welcomes first Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability meeting <p>Chicago, IL - The first meeting of the Interim Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) took place on the evening of Thursday September 29 at Malcolm X College. The meeting was attended by almost 200 people, most of who were members or supporters of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) coalition. The CCPSA introduced itself to the community, set up committees to do its work, and elected Anthony Driver and Oswaldo Gomez as its president and vice president. The public comments were filled with support for the CCPSA and demands that the mayor and city council give the Interim Commission the staff and budget necessary to transform the city’s public safety system.</p> <p>“This commission has a lot of work ahead of it,” said newly elected CCPSA president Anthony Driver, “and we plan to be accountable to the community in all that we do.” According to the ECPS legislation passed on July 21, 2021, the Interim CCPSA should have been appointed in January of 2022 and active in February. Due to obstruction of the movement for police accountability by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and some alderpersons, the commission was appointed at the end of August. It now has to review the proposed 2023 Chicago Police Department budget of $1.9 billion, investigate CPD policies, enact alternatives to policing, and increase outreach for the district council elections in February 2023.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Chicago residents expect and know that you will be agents of change,” said Jackie Baldwin, a member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and member of the ECPS Coalition, during the public comments section of the meeting. Other speakers raised the same expectations of the CCPSA and promised to be involved as community members in ensuring that the police are truly held accountable.</p> <p>“You can’t have change without the community being involved,” said Coston Plummer, SEIU Local 73 member, brother of incarcerated survivor of police torture Johnnie Plummer, and 2nd District Council candidate. “It’s about time the community has a voice. This is the first time in a long time we’re gonna have some change so everybody should get on board.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“We know there are serious forces opposed to your work who want to maintain the status quo,” said Michael Harrington, member of Network49 and the ECPS Coalition. Harrington and other speakers demanded that the city provide the funds and staff necessary for adequate outreach regarding the district council elections.</p> <p>“As someone who’s been hitting the pavements in Back of the Yards, Pilsen and Lawndale, not a lot of people in my neighborhood know about ECPS,” said Rosemarie Dominguez, a 10th District Council candidate. Dominguez challenged the CCPSA to reach out to all of Chicago’s communities, particularly by translating its literature into Spanish and by doing direct outreach. Commission President Driver responded with a commitment to provide Spanish translations of all printed materials from the commission going forward.</p> <p>Other district council candidates spoke in the public comments, including Josh D’Antonio and Cassandra Guice, who both expressed ways that the CCPSA could enact restorative conflict resolution policies.</p> <p>“We crossed rivers of blood to get this ordinance passed,” said Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and field organizer of the Chicago chapter. “We didn’t do all this work to have a lame duck commission, so we are demanding the mayor and city council to get off their rusty dusties and give the commission the staff and the budget it needs to do its work.</p> Chicago Alliance Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) In-Justice System Mon, 03 Oct 2022 22:20:52 +0000 Fight Back 9960 at Red Theory: The Leninist theory of the state <p>The central point of the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the state is that it is always and everywhere the product of antagonistic class contradictions. It arose from such contradictions, and as long as classes exist, so too will the state. Marx and Engels were the first to understand the state in this way, and it was Engels, in his book <em>The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State</em>, who did the most to develop the materialist understanding of how and why and the state arises in human history.&nbsp;</p> <p>The state arises historically due to material conditions in society, namely due to the development of classes with opposing class interests. Engels says, “But in order that these antagonisms, these classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power, seemingly standing above society, that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of ‘order’; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state.”</p> <p>Engels goes on to explain that the state not only arises in order to hold class antagonism in check but arises out of those class struggles themselves. This means that the state is controlled by the class that makes up the principal, or dominant, aspect of that contradiction. “Because the state arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in check,” writes Engels, “but because it arose, at the same time, in the midst of the conflict of these classes, it is, as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.”</p> <p>In our earlier article on the superstructure, we looked at how the political and legal institutions, along with repressive apparatuses of the police and military, arise from the economic base of society, in order to reproduce and reinforce the economic base. The state is the legal system and the political institutions of the dominant class, and it is also the “special bodies of armed men” who defend the interests of that class. When Mao Zedong said that “political power grows from the barrel of a gun,” he meant precisely the ability of a class to take and hold state power. In the case of the capitalist class, the guns that enforce their political power are in the hands of the military and the police, who wage war on working and oppressed people at home and abroad on their behalf.&nbsp;</p> <p>Basically, every state is a dictatorship of one class. The ancient slave societies, even the ancient “democracies,” were dictatorships of slaver owners over slaves. The feudal kingdoms and principalities were dictatorships of the landlords over the peasants. And modern bourgeois democracy is the dictatorship of the capitalist class over the working class. Each of these historic states is a product in the superstructure of the fundamental contradiction between the forces and relations of production within the base.</p> <p>How does a supposedly “democratic” capitalist state exercise its class dictatorship? When the United States was founded, it was very clear who the state existed for. The only people who could vote were wealthy, white, male landowners. The struggle of working and oppressed people, including armed struggle, such as in the Civil War to abolish chattel slavery, extended the democratic rights once held by this small group to larger and larger sections of the population. But even then, the capitalist class maintains its monopoly on economic and political power. With its money it controls not only the economy, but the press, the government, and the police and military as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>If the failure of Bernie Sanders' bids for the Democratic Party presidential nomination tells us anything, it is that the capitalist state is designed from top to bottom to serve the interests of the rich and resist any fundamental change in that status quo. We can look at Chile in 1973 as another good example of this. Even though Salvador Allende was able to come to power through the democratic structures of the bourgeois state, he was unable to retain that power. The capitalist class maintained their control of enough of the military to overthrow Allende in a bloody, U.S.-backed coup.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Lenin in <em>The State and Revolution</em>, “The supersession of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution. The abolition of the proletarian state, i.e., of the state in general, is impossible except through the process of ‘withering away’.” What does this mean? This is an important point. If the state is the product of class antagonism, and arises from those class antagonisms, then so long as class antagonism exists, so too will the state. The only way to get rid of the state is to get rid of class antagonism all together. A revolutionary struggle to smash the capitalist state is necessary, but the only way to abolish the state as such is to abolish classes altogether.&nbsp;</p> <p>The bourgeois state cannot be democratically reformed. The “democratic” institutions of that state exist in the service of the ruling class. It must be smashed outright and replaced by the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat has a number of interrelated tasks. First, it must oppress the overthrown bourgeoisie and their agents who want to restore the old order. It likewise must defend itself from hostile imperialist powers who want to dominate and control it. Second, it must construct socialism, a society based on the progressive elimination of all class antagonism. As Lenin says, the goal of socialism is communism. Once internal class antagonism has been done away with, and the external threat of imperialist war and intervention no longer exists, the socialist state will “wither away,” since the material forces that necessitate and give rise to it no longer exist to reproduce and reinforce it. The step-by-step, planned and organized transformation of class society into a classless society, coupled with the tenacity of imperialism, cause this to be a slow, protracted process.&nbsp;</p> <p>The state cannot be abolished in one blow, as the anarchists would have it. Neither can the institutions of its rule, such as the military and the police. The apparatuses of the state arise necessarily from class antagonism, which cannot be uprooted overnight. Even if we managed somehow to abolish the police, for example, without abolishing the capitalist ruling class itself, then the capitalists would simply replace them with privatized police, which would essentially function as extrajudicial death squads. There are no shortcuts here. The entire state apparatus of the capitalists must be smashed, the expropriators must be expropriated, and the working class must have the power of its own state in order to systematically uproot class exploitation and oppression once and for all.</p> <p>To sum up, the Leninist theory of the state is that it is a product of class antagonism. The superstructure arises from and enforces the material base of society. This means that the state, as the product of class antagonism, serves to reinforce and reproduce the class antagonism that gave rise to it, so that the exploiting class in power can conduct its exploitative business as smoothly as possible. But the proletariat has the distinction of being the first class in history that doesn’t exploit any other class. This means that the proletarian state has a historic mission that no state before it could achieve. The goal of the proletarian state is not to maintain itself at the expense of other classes, but to get rid of class antagonism, exploitation and oppression altogether, thus creating the material conditions needed to wither away.</p> Marxism-Leninism ML Theory red theory Mon, 03 Oct 2022 00:27:00 +0000 Fight Back 9959 at Philippines: Intensify mass struggles amid peso devaluation and rising prices <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the Communist Party of the Philippines. </em></p> <p>The broad masses of workers, peasants, and the rest the Filipino people must firmly advance their urgent socioeconomic demands and intensify their national and democratic mass struggles in the face of increasing possibility of a sharp economic decline in the coming months. The steady devaluation of the Philippine peso is set to further worsen their conditions of high fuel and food prices, low wages, rural bankruptcies, and widespread unemployment and cause the accelerated deterioration of the people’s living conditions.</p> <p>The international capitalist system currently stands at the precipice of another explosive financial crisis, with rising fears of major capitalist countries falling into another round of recessions one after another, and backward economies suffering from increasing costs of commodity imports and the burden of unpayable debts.</p> <p>Last week, for the fourth time this year, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points (bps), bringing the total increase to 300-bps since June and pushing further the value of the dollar to its highest levels in 20 years. The US central bank has resorted to these measures in the face of threats of stagflation (rising inflation and low growth) caused by sharp increases in fuel prices and other commodities. However, by taking these measures, the US is risking to force a slow down and pull itself into a recession. So far, US attempts to pull down inflation has failed.</p> <p>The rising value of the dollar has resulted in the devaluation of currencies around the world. The British pound fell to a 51-year low last week, while the Japanese yen is at a 24-year low, the Korean won at a 14-year low, and the Euro fell to a one-to-one exchange with the dollar for the first time. Currency devaluations are putting pressure on central banks to resort to pushing up interest rate, increasing the risks of recession. The United Kingdom is now officially in recession and will likely not be the last to declare so. It is also increasing risks of debt defaults of at least 20 highly indebted countries.</p> <p>Over the past few weeks, the value of the Philippine peso against the dollar has been dropping to record lows almost everyday. Since the start of the year, the peso’s value against the dollar has slid by more than 15 percent from ₱50.9 to ₱58.9 to the dollar. There are estimates that the peso will further tumble to between ₱65 and ₱70 to the dollar before the end of the year.</p> <p>The devaluation of the peso relative to the US dollar has grave consequences on the local economy and livelihood of Filipinos. Combined with rising prices of petroleum products and other commodities, and increasing dependence on imported food supplies, the peso’s devaluation is pushing up the costs of imports and, as a consequence, raising domestic prices. With the peso sliding further, Filipinos face the threat of sharp increases in the prices of food, petroleum products, as well as other basic commodities in the coming months.</p> <p>Rising fuel prices has resulted in the rapid rise in the country’s trade deficit, with the 7-month (January to July) gap already at $35.75 billion, more than 45% higher than the $24.6 billion trade deficit for the entire 2021. The country’s widening trade gap will weigh down heavily on the economy especially with the devaluation of the peso. The country’s balance of payments deficit during the first half of the year widened by 63.1% to $3.1 billion compared to the same period last year, due to rising shortfall in the current accounts which is expected to hit $20.6 billion this year. The country’s dollar reserves have steadily declined over the past six months to $99 billion, a two year low.</p> <p>These drastic consequences of the peso devaluation on the Philippine economy and the socioeconomic conditions of the Filipino people are a result of the country’s dependence on imported commodities, especially capital goods, equipment, manufactures, consumer products, and increasingly on food supplies. As a result of the destruction of local productive forces over the past 40 years, the country is now practically importing everything (including salt), making it vulnerable to currency devaluations. Local production remains largely backward, agrarian and non-industrial. Manufacturing is limited to assembly of import-dependent components (including semiconductors), the demand for which has sharply declined.</p> <p>Marcos Jr and his economic managers have no plan to end the country’s over-dependence on imported commodities. Instead of addressing the need to raise the country’s capacity to produce food and other manufactures, they are bent on perpetuating dependence on imports, foreign investments, and foreign debt-infusion. The previous Duterte regime dealt the country’s economic sovereignty a triple blackeye with the amended Public Service Act (RA 11659), the Foreign Investments Act (RA 11647) and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RA 11595).</p> <p>Marcos’ recent declaration before the United Nations General Assembly that “we will swing the doors even wider” bodes of plans to further the neoliberal policies of the past four decades which have resulted in the massive devastation of local agriculture and manufacturing. Marcos’ plan to push all-out neoliberal policies will pave the way for foreign capitalist exploitation of labor and plunder of the country’s resources (expansion of plantations, mining, land reclamations) which contribute to worsening climate change.</p> <p>In a desperate bid to stem the fall of the peso, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last week raised interest rates by 50-bps to 4.25%, which can at best, temporarily stop the peso from further sliding, but risks further slowing down domestic production and worsening unemployment. Further rate increases are expected in the coming weeks and months, even as government technocrats are hinging their hopes on an increase in dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers in the coming months.</p> <p>Marcos and his technocrats are not addressing the underlying causes of the Philippines’ overdependence on imports which results in chronic trade deficits, wage repression, rural dislocation, environmental plunder and other social and economic ills. Nor are they putting into place measures to assist workers, peasants and millions of unemployed Filipinos who are gravely suffering from rising prices, low wages and lack of social services. While Marcos’ technocrats push to provide tax incentives to foreign capitalist investors, they declare that giving economic subsidies to people is unproductive. Filipino are being left by Marcos and his technocrats to fend for themselves.</p> <p>A large majority of Filipinos continue to live in a state of poverty. State agencies themselves disclosed that around 19 million Filipino families do not have cash savings and live constantly on the brink of destitution. The throngs of people who desperately line up for cash assistance is a manifestation of the magnitude of poverty in the country.</p> <p>The Filipino people must stand firm and advance the fight for their national and democratic interests, specifically their demand for land reform and national industrialization. The outstanding clamor for various forms of state subsidies or assistance are just and should be asserted alongside urgent demands for jobs, lower prices, higher wages, expansion of free education, health and other social services and affordable or free use of public utilities (water, electricity, transportation and telecommunications). They must heighten the demand to reverse neoliberal policies of import liberalization, deregulation and privatization.</p> <p>The toiling masses must intensify their efforts to get organized and form and strengthen their unions and various forms of organizations in factories, communities, schools, offices, and across different classes and sectors. There should be a strong propaganda and education movement to raise the people’s anti-imperialist and antifeudal consciousness and understanding of their fundamental social and economic problems. The history of neoliberal policies of the past four decades, IMF-World Bank economic imposition and interference, and subservience of the past successive regimes to foreign capitalist interests must be thoroughly exposed.</p> <p>Only through organized efforts and carrying out collective actions such as strikes and various forms of protest actions, can they effectively advance their aspirations. In particular, there must be a concerted and concentrated effort to build the organized strength of workers and peasants who form the majority of the toiling people, and to amplify their voices and bring their demands to the center of the national discourse.</p> <p>At the same time, the Filipino people must resist political repression and fight back against the agents of state terrorism and fascism. The suppression of the people’s democratic rights aim to perpetuate the people’s state of poverty and allow multinational corporations, big bourgeois compradors, big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists all the freedom to continue accumulating profit through oppression, exploitation and plunder.</p> <p>Advancing the urgent socioeconomic demands of the Filipino people is firmly linked to their demand for national democracy and put an end to the semicolonial and semifeudal system. These are linked specifically to their demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization. Land reform or the free distribution of land can be completed in a couple of years and, with state support, mass organized efforts and in combination with industrialization, will immediately transform the countryside to become productive and progressive. At the same time, there must be a program to build steel and other basic and strategic industries, combined with intermediate industries for the manufacture of consumption goods. This program will lay the ground for socialist revolution and construction.</p> <p>The worsening socioeconomic crisis marked by worsening poverty, spiraling prices, low wages and lack of public service, is clear evidence of the moribund state of the semicolonial and semifeudal system. Thus, while the people advance their democratic mass struggles, the Party must also mobilize the people to wage revolutionary struggle, especially armed struggle, and advance along the strategic line of protracted people’s war, to fight for genuine national freedom and democracy, as key elements to building a progressive and modern economy.</p> People's Struggles Asia Communist Party of the Philippines International Philippines Sun, 02 Oct 2022 15:01:45 +0000 Fight Back 9958 at Students for a Democratic Society to hold National Convention <p>On the weekend of October 15 - 16, hundreds of student activists will convene at Kent State University in Ohio for the annual Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) National Convention. The National Convention is held every fall semester and is an important event for building SDS and the broader student movement. This year’s convention will be joined virtually by Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). Nelson is also a key figure in the resurgence of militant, class-struggle based trade unionism.</p> <p>SDS, re-founded in 2006, is the largest and most active progressive student organization in the U.S. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last June, SDS has been extremely active in the fight to defend reproductive rights. Especially in states like Florida and Texas, where right-wing state governments have and are moving to outlaw abortion, SDS has rallied thousands of students to demonstrate, march and protest.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is in the midst of this battle to defend women’s and reproductive rights across the country, as well as a resurging labor movement largely led by women, that SDS will convene its National Convention. The addition of Sara Nelson to the convention’s labor plenary “Labor Strikes Back: Student Solidarity with Organized Labor” represents an important opportunity for student activists to hear from one of the leading figures of a resurging rank-and-file oriented labor movement. In 2019, Sara Nelson led the fight to end Trump's 2019 government shutdown by grounding flights.</p> <p>SDS has a long tradition of standing with and fighting in solidarity with organized labor, and this year’s convention is sure to continue that tradition. Students will take what they learn from Sara Nelson and other speakers back to their campuses, communities and workplaces to continue to fight for the radical change that needs to happen.</p> Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Student Movement Sat, 01 Oct 2022 17:46:58 +0000 Fight Back 9957 at MN Cuba car caravan presses for an end to the blockade on Cuba <p>Minneapolis, MN - Twin Cities Cuba solidarity activists organized a car caravan, September 25, to “End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba.” It is part of a campaign initiated by the Puentas de Amor (Bridges of Love) out of Miami. For over a year they have called on supporters of Cuba from around the world to hold car caravans on the fourth Sunday of the month.&nbsp;</p> <p>This month, once again the Minnesota caravan drove along a busy street in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Cars were decorated with Cuban flags and displayed signs that read, “Cuba si bloqueo no,” “U.S. hands off Cuba” and “Let Cuba live!” Along the route, pedestrians and motorists gave resounding support with pumped fists and horn honks. A trucker drove alongside the caravan loudly shouting “Cuba si!”</p> <p>At a rally held before the caravan, Sarah Martin of the Women Against Military Madness Solidarity Committee of the Americas (SCOTA) said, “At this very moment the Cuban people are having a historic vote on the Family Code. After several years of discussion which Cubans had in their unions, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods, Cubans are voting, and if ratified, it will be the law.”</p> <p>Martin read from a solidarity letter from ICAP, the Cuba Friendship Committee, “Today, we will vote for justice, love and human dignity, for a law that implies fundamental rights that go beyond age, race, gender, sexual orientation, creed and ideologies. We will recognize the great diversity of families in Cuba with a Code that entails affection and happiness as its essence, with rights, without exclusions.” [At the time of print, the referendum won resoundingly.] Martin said, “Think how this compares with what is happening in this country as abortion rights are being eradicated, and same sex marriage and gender rights under attack.”</p> <p>Gregg Klave represented the MN Cuba Committee and said, “Despite the U.S. blockade and characterizations of Cuba as a failed state, Cuba has actually made great social progress - in education, in literacy rates, health care for all, in technology and science, which even the U.S. can’t begin to compare.”</p> <p>There will be no car caravan next month. Instead SCOTA and MN Cuba Committee will organize a bannering on Saturday, October 29 to coordinate with a National Day of Action calling on the U.S. to vote at the United Nation to end the blockade on Cuba. Look for more details on the Solidarity Committee on the Americas – SCOTA’s Facebook page.</p> blockade of Cuba Cuba Cuba Fri, 30 Sep 2022 02:08:05 +0000 Fight Back 9956 at Cuba accepts new Families Code, approves same-sex marriage, women’s rights <p>The people of Cuba have voted on a series of changes to their Families Code that will provide legal same-sex marriages and unions, adoption rights for same-sex couples, and an updated set of women’s and families’ rights. Other amendments to this document include promote equitable sharing of domestic responsibilities, prenuptial agreements, and assisted pregnancies.</p> <p>The vote was cast vastly in favor of the new code, with 66.87% of participants voting for the code with a turnout rate of 74.01% ,according to the Communist Party newspaper <em>Granma. Granma</em> reported in March that 54% of attendees of these town halls are in support of the proposed Code, but more than a third of these discussions had yet to take place.</p> <p>The law was supported in large part by the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), a governmental organ founded in 1989 to research and provide sexual education to the public. The Center is recognized worldwide for its advocacy of LGBTQ issues. For instance, the Center was instrumental in the passage of a law in 2008 that provided transgender Cubans with gender-affirming healthcare free of charge, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and gender confirmation surgery (GCS). CENESEX is led by Mariela Castro, daughter of former Communist Party First Secretary Raul Castro and well-known activist fighting for women’s and LGBTQ rights.</p> <p>As political contradictions in Cuba continue to develop, the struggle of the Cuban people with certain religious and “machista” ideologies deepens. The Cuban Roman Catholic Church has been a major belligerent in the fight to keep LGBTQ rights on the island from being realized, claiming that the proposal is filled with “gender ideology” which undermines parents’ ability to properly supervise their children and will encourage “indoctrination of children in schools without parental consent.”</p> <p>The Families Code was introduced in Cuba in 1975 and was immediately followed the next year by the first Constitution approved by the Cuban people since the revolution. While there have been amendments to the Constitution over the decades, a new Constitution was approved in 2019.</p> <p>The first Constitution of revolutionary Cuba was voted on and debated through a series of over 100,000 town hall meetings of ordinary citizens who went over the various amendments line-by-line so that every participant could understand the legal changes to the fullest extent. It was finally codified into law in 1976. The most recent constitution was approved by the public in 2019. Changes in discrimination policy added protections based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity were included in the 2019 Constitution, as well as providing a gender-neutral definition of marriage. Unfortunately, an article to legalize same-sex marriage was proposed and later removed.</p> <p>The 100-page Code was put under the same town hall scrutiny of hundreds of thousands of Cuban citizens, and was redrafted over 20 times before the final vote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> People's Struggles LGBTQ CENESEX Cuba Cuba Socialism Wed, 28 Sep 2022 02:05:14 +0000 Fight Back 9955 at The Cuban people approve revolutionary Families Code <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the Real Name Campaign NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana)</em></p> <p>The Real Name Campaign celebrates Cuba’s passage of the new Families Code by popular referendum on September 25. The Families Code legalizes same-gender marriage and adoption, but it also goes far beyond that. With this new code, Cuba leads the world in LGBTQ, women’s, disability, children and elders’ rights.</p> <p>The code recognizes and protects four kinds of households. Besides single-person and nuclear families, the code protects extended families with different caring relationships that include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or partners. It also recognizes compound households where more than one nuclear family lives together. The title “Families Code” intentionally respects that the working class has many different kinds of families.</p> <p>The law recognizes the value of homes for the economy and society. It requires families to share housework between partners, and it strengthens existing protections against domestic violence. This follows Cuba’s long tradition of promoting the rights of women and other gender-oppressed people. Abortions are legal and freely accessible on demand.</p> <p>The new code also recognizes care as a right, with profound implications for disabled and elderly citizens. The law recognizes that a person is not disabled because their bodies are wrong, but because their environments present them with barriers that society needs to break down. Anyone who requires the support of a caretaker has the right to choose who supports them, as well as establish safeguards deadlines for legal review of the care. The law also does due diligence to protect the rights of caretakers and honor their role.</p> <p>In the area of children’s rights, Cuba replaced “parental authority” with “parental responsibility.” This gives children more say in these decisions based on their maturity – a concept known as “progressive autonomy.” For example, children in many cases have the right to raise a concern to the local family ombudsman without a parent or guardian. The code also affirms the duties of children, including respecting family members and carrying out chores in accordance with their age but irrespective of their gender.</p> <p>Passing the code was a thoroughly democratic process. The National Assembly redrafted it 25 times after many discussions in town halls, workplaces, universities, and neighborhood meetings. The people’s feedback amended almost half of the code’s articles. After the Assembly passed the code unanimously, a popular referendum ratified it. The Cuban people won this victory against “machismo.”</p> <p>The U.S., on the other hand, empowers bigots to take our rights everywhere from state legislatures to the Supreme Court. Following Cuba’s example, we will only secure dignity for women, LGBTQ people, disabled people, seniors, and students by winning over the broad masses to the struggle.&nbsp;</p> LGBTQ Cuba Cuba LGBTQ Rights Wed, 28 Sep 2022 02:03:48 +0000 Fight Back 9954 at