CCDS Statement on Puerto Rico

Deliver Aid to Puerto Rico Now, Remove All Tariffs and Fees!

Puerto Rico is suffering a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions. Hurricanes Maria and Irma left the people of the island without electricity, cell phone connections, clean water, food, medicines, and other items necessary for basic survival. Many communities remain isolated due to destroyed infrastructure. There have been an estimated 400 deaths , and that figure is certain to rise as infections spread from pathogens released by the destruction and the lack of potable water.

Now, over a month after the hurricane, Puerto Ricans are still without basic needs. Federal aid to these American citizens has been criminally slow and inadequate. The neglect of Puerto Ricans today rivals the mistreatment of African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. There is clearly a racist policy of discrimination in disaster relief. The U.S. Congress has passed a $36 billion disaster relief act but only a portion of that will go to Puerto Rico.

Cuba, which has a long history of international solidarity, offered aid for Puerto Rico but the Trump Administration refused it. Congress lifted the Jones Act for ten days, a token gesture to allow ships under foreign flag to carry goods from US mainland ports to San Juan. Much of those goods remain on the docks unable to reach the devastated communities. The scale of devastation demands a massive response to ferry life-saving goods inland. Hospitals cannot operate due to lack of power and lack of clean water. FEMA must mobilize the resources to address these problems.

The conditions which left Puerto Rico so vulnerable to this disaster are rooted in its colonial status. Years of tax relief schemes for U.S. businesses operating on the island devastated the economy before the hurricanes hit. Puerto Rico is burdened by $123 billion in bond commitments and unfunded pension obligations to banks and speculators

The Puerto Rican economy also suffers from the import fees imposed by the Jones Act. These fees hike the prices for Puerto Rican consumers that no other US resident pays. This practice has resulted in long term economic damage. The Puerto Rican government has sought to declare bankruptcy but was blocked by the federal government. A board was imposed to oversee the budget and force the colony to pay its bond payments by cutting social and infrastructure spending – a Federal collection agency for hedge funds and Wall Street speculators.

CCDS declares its solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and progressive forces who call upon the US government to demand:

1. Full mobilization of required equipment and supplies to Puerto Rico by FEMA

2. Provision of humanitarian aid, not loans, to rebuild the infrastructure.

3. Cancellation of the Puerto Rico debt.

4. Support the protections and rights for maritime workers codified in the Jones Act and remove all tariffs, fees, taxes, customs, and import fees imposed on Puerto Rico by the Jones Act.

10/27/17

MIGRATION, LABOR AND U.S. POLICY

By David Bacon
Dollars and Sense – September/October 2017

Pablo Alvarado (center), staff person for the Day Labor Union, tries to convince a group of day laborers getting work on the corner at Sunset Blvd. to instead go to the Hollywood day labor site administered by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles. The site is an alternative to the shape-up, where workers wait on a corner for a contractor to come by and offer them work.Off Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 6/18/98

One winter morning in Los Angeles, a group of health care activists set up a street-corner clinic for day laborers. One of the day laborers who lined up for medical tests was Omar Sierra. He got to the head of the line and then took his seat at the testing station. A nurse tied off his arm and inserted the needle to draw blood, when all of a sudden Migra agents came running across the street. Everybody panicked and ran. Omar tore off the tourniquet, ripped out the needle, and ran as well. He was lucky that day, because he escaped. But a lot of his friends didn’t. So when he got home, disturbed about what had happened, he decided to write a song about it, which for a while became the anthem of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.

I’m going to sing you a story friends
That will make you cry
How one day in front of K-Mart
The Migra came down on us
Sent by the sheriff
Of this very same place …

We don’t understand why
We don’t know the reason
Why there is so much
Discrimination against us
In the end we’ll wind up all the same in the grave …

With this verse I leave you
I’m tired of singing
Hoping the Migra
Won’t come after us again
Because in the end we all have to work.

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JUSTICE FOR DREAMERS – PUNISH THE AUTHORS OF FORCED MIGRATION

By David Bacon

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPT. 5, 2017 – Two thousand people demonstrate in front of San Francisco’s Federal Building, block intersections, and march through the streets to protest the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump administration will repeal the DACA order protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.Copyright David Bacon

The DACA youth, the “dreamers” are the true children of NAFTA – those who, more than anyone, paid the price for the agreement. Yet they are the ones now punished by the Trump administration as it takes away their legal status, their ability to work, and their right to live in this country without fearing arrest and deportation. At the same time, those responsible for the fact they grew up in the U.S. walk away unpunished – even better off.

We’re not talking about their parents. It’s common for liberal politicians (even Trump himself on occasion) to say these young people shouldn’t be punished for the “crime” of their parents – that they brought their children with them when they crossed the border without papers. But parents aren’t criminals anymore than their children are. They chose survival over hunger, and sought to keep their families together and give them a future.

The perpetrators of the “crime” are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive. The “crime” was NAFTA.

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Fight White Supremacy, Racism,and Fascism Everywhere!

CCDS Statement on Charlottesville

We condemn the white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally and violent assaults against anti-racist demonstrators which occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017, resulting in the murder of one anti-racist protestor and severe injury to over a dozen more.

We indict the Trump Administration for refusing to name and condemn the violence unleashed by the racist and neo-Nazi forces, while blaming both sides equally.

We believe Donald Trump and his key administrative advisors, such as Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, are directly responsible for the increase of white supremacist and Nazi violence. They emboldened the far right during the 2016 presidential campaign and have continued to promote white supremacy since Trump assumed office. Trump’s blaming both sides masks the reality of rising white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence across the country.

We mourn the loss of life and injuries suffered. Our deepest sympathy goes to the family and friends of the young woman killed and the families of the police officers who died in a helicopter crash while patrolling the area. We grieve with the 19 and possibly more anti-racist and anti-Nazi protestors who suffered injuries.

The white supremacist protestors in Charlottesville were not just Virginians. They came from cities and towns across the United States, reflecting the national scope of this right-wing threat to our people and democracy.

CCDS calls on all justice minded people everywhere to build a broad front against white supremacy, racism, and fascism and to build and fortify our organizations to fight the right.  There is no place for racism and fascism and in our country.

Paul Krehbiel
Rafael Pizarro
Harry Targ
Janet Tucker
Co-Chairs Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

Braceros Organize After One Worker Dies


Picking blueberries on a Washington State farm. Risking deportation, Washington state farmworkers protest dangerous conditions in the fields
By David Bacon
The American Prospect, 8/8/17

A farmworker’s death in the broiling fields of Washington state has prompted his fellow braceros to put their livelihoods in jeopardy by going on strike, joining a union, being discharged – and risking deportation.

Honesto Silva Ibarra died in Harborview hospital in Seattle on Sunday night, August 6. Silva, a married father of three, was a guest worker – in Spanish, a “contratado” – brought to the United States under the H2-A visa program, to work in the fields.

Miguel Angel Ramirez Salazar, another contratado, says Silva went to his supervisor at Sarbanand Farms last week, complaining that he was sick and couldn’t work. “They said if he didn’t keep working he’d be fired for ‘abandoning work.’ But after a while he couldn’t work at all.”

Silva finally went to the Bellingham Clinic, about an hour south of the farm where he was working, in Sumas, close to the Canadian border. By then it was too late, however. He was sent to Harborview, where he collapsed and died.

Silva’s death was the final shove that pushed the contratados into an action unprecedented in modern farm labor history. They organized and protested, and when they were fired for it, they joined Washington State’s new union for farmworkers, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. As this article is being written, 120 H2A workers are sitting in tents on a patch of land near the ranch where they worked, protesting their treatment and demanding rights for guest workers.


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MAY DAY MARCH FOR “UN OTRO MUNDO”

The old Boise Cascade plywood mill, closed in 2006. The original mill complex on the Yakima River was started in 1903.

by David Bacon
The Progressive / On The Line – 7/21/17

The face of work and poverty in Yakima ranges from a closed mill of the city’s past to the agricultural fields of its present.

At the edge of town is the rusting structure of the old Boise Cascade plywood plant, where many of this small city’s people worked for over a hundred years. Little houses in the surrounding neighborhood were originally built for mill workers. Now many are the homes of laborers in the valley’s fields and packing sheds. Yakima always was and still is a farm worker town.

The closure of the plant is one reason why those homes have seen better days. Rick, who lives in a tent camp set up by homeless people on the street downtown, says he’d like things to go back to the way they used to be. “There was work for everyone,” he remembers.

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Defend Net Neutrality!


Net neutrality activists in Washington. The Trump administration is trying to overturn Obama-era regulations that protected it. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

About 200 internet companies and activist groups are coming together this week to mobilize their users into opposing US government plans to scrap net neutrality protections.

The internet-wide day of action, scheduled for Wednesday 12 July, will see companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Vimeo, Spotify, Reddit and Pornhub notify their users that net neutrality – a founding principle of the open internet – is under attack. The Trump administration is trying to overturn Obama-era regulation that protected net neutrality, and there is less than a week left for people to object.

View the complete Guardian article

FIGHTING FOR THE SANCTUARY WORKPLACE

OAKLAND, CA – 21JANUARY17 – The Women’s March Against Trump in Oakland – Women from community organizations and unions in Oakland, together with men, marched through the downtown district, carrying banners and blocking streets, to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President, at the same time the inauguration was taking place in Washington DC. Members and organizers of Unitehere Local 2850, the union for hotel and restaurant workers in the East Bay, turn thumbs down on the idea of Trump as President.
Copyright David Bacon


By David Bacon
Truthout | Report 6/24/17

Sanctuary churches. Sanctuary schools. Sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary workplaces?

Albeit far from its intentions, the Trump administration has put the idea of sanctuaries on steroids — spaces free from the threat of raids and deportations. As immigrant workers, unions and their allies look for creative ways to counter anti-immigrant onslaughts, they’re adopting the sanctuary framework to deal with the dangers faced on the job.

Read the entire article

The Single-Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care

Allison Miller checking a patient’s blood pressure during free health screenings in Los Angeles in 2012. On Thursday, California’s State Senate approved a preliminary plan for enacting single-payer health care.
David McNew / Getty Images

By ALEXANDER BURNS and JENNIFER MEDINA
New York Times

June 3, 2017 – For years, Republicans savaged Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act, branding the law — with some rhetorical license — as a government takeover of health care.

Now, cast out of power in Washington and most state capitals, Democrats and activist leaders seeking political redemption have embraced an unlikely-seeming cause: an actual government takeover of health care.

At rallies and in town hall meetings, and in a collection of blue-state legislatures, liberal Democrats have pressed lawmakers, with growing impatience, to support the creation of a single-payer system, in which the state or federal government would supplant private health insurance with a program of public coverage. And in California on Thursday, the Democrat-controlled State Senate approved a preliminary plan for enacting single-payer system, the first serious attempt to do so there since then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed legislation in 2006 and 2008.

With Republicans in full control of the federal government, there is no prospect that Democrats can put in place a policy of government-guaranteed medicine on the national level in the near future. And fiscal and logistical obstacles may be insurmountable even in solidly liberal states like California and New York.

Yet as Democrats regroup from their 2016 defeat, leaders say the party has plainly shifted well to the left on the issue, setting the stage for a larger battle over the health care system in next year’s congressional elections and the 2020 presidential race. Their liberal base, emboldened by Senator Bernie Sanders’s forceful advocacy of government-backed health care last year, is increasingly unsatisfied with the Affordable Care Act and is demanding more drastic changes to the private health insurance system.

In a sign of shifting sympathies, most House Democrats have now endorsed a single-payer proposal. Party strategists say they expect that the 2020 presidential nominee will embrace a broader version of public health coverage than any Democratic standard-bearer has in decades.

RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, powerful labor groups that back single-payer care, said the issue had reached a “boiling point” on the left.

Supporters of universal health care, including activists with Ms. DeMoro’s union, repeatedly interrupted speakers at the California Democratic Party’s convention in May, challenging party leaders to embrace socialized medicine. Demonstrators waving signs with single-payer slogans have become a regular feature at town hall meetings hosted by members of Congress.

“There is a cultural shift,” said Ms. DeMoro, who was a prominent backer of Mr. Sanders. “Health care is now seen as something everyone deserves. It’s like a national light went off.” (Continued)

US Should Not Politicize the ‘Belt and Road’ Mega-Infrastructure Project

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 14, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

By Caleb T. Maupin
China.org.cn

May 16, 2017 – The biggest and most important international gathering of 2017 has taken place in Beijing. Over 100 countries were represented. 1,500 people attended, including various heads of state, the United Nations Secretary-General, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, as well as some of the most well known and respected scientists and engineers.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was not a place of ideological podium pounding. The gathering of world leaders from all different backgrounds had only one real theme: Progress.

The forum did not discuss the merits of philosophers. Rather, it discussed the construction of high speed trains, power plants, highways, hospitals, airports and schools. The forum made specific plans for the China-led initiative of bringing impoverished countries into a more prosperous state of being, with infrastructure and investment in public services.

Over 100 countries and 50 intergovernmental agencies are on board with this New Silk Road initiative. Investment in the project has increased by 36 percent in 2016, with over 126 billion US dollars being spent. High speed rail is connecting the countries of Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has signed agreements for over 25 projects. An airport is being built in Nepal, along with a hydro-electrical power plant, and railway.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is bringing new hope to millions, as are the railway lines providing ocean access to landlocked regions in Central Asia. This is just to name a few of the hundreds of projects launched in the last four years.

It is those poorest corners of the world, the sections of the planet most affected by drug cartels, terrorism, extreme poverty, illiteracy, and lack of access to medical care and gainful employment, that so far have been the focus of the project. Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are filled with hope as cooperation in the project offers access to a better life for millions of people.

At the center of it all is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an institution devoted to sustainable development and providing an opportunity to historically impoverished countries.

It should be deeply reflected upon as to why the head of the state of U.S. was noticeably absent from this historic gathering while the heads of state of China, Russia, and Turkey spoke at the opening ceremony, along with the UN Secretary-General. Comments from some high ranking U.S. leaders view the project with cynicism, and present it as some kind of sinister plot to ensure Chinese world domination. At a Senate hearing in Washington last Thursday, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said, "The Chinese have a strategy. You name a part of the world, they are investing in it."

Some U.S. leaders have referred to the New Silk Road as China’s Marshal Plan. However, unlike the Marshall Plan, the New Silk Road has no political stipulations. While the United States required Marshall Plan countries to be anti-communist and partisan in the Cold War, China makes no such demands on participating countries. In his remarks to the forum Chinese President Xi Jinping stated, "We have no intention to intervene in the affairs of other countries or to export our social system." (Continued)