Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gloria La Riva answers the Democratic and Republican candidates on Fidel Castro's stepping down

Fidel with CheToday's statements by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain on Fidel Castro's stepping down are more of the same. Each candidate would continue the same policy of the last 11 U.S. administrations: a policy of blockade, aggression and counter-revolution. Each promises to lift the blockade and normalize relations only if the sovereign government of Cuba is overthrown.

Obama remarked that Fidel's announcement "should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history," and praised the pro-U.S. counterrevolutionaries in Cuban prisons as "heroes." Clinton pledged that as President she would do "everything possible" to overthrow Cuban socialism and "advance America's values and interests." In thinly veiled language, McCain wrote that the United States must seize upon Fidel's stepping down to "hasten the sparking of freedom in Cuba."

The capitalist candidates speak of bringing "democracy" and "freedom" to Cuba. But what they mean is the kind of "democracy" that the U.S. government has imposed on Iraq, which so far has killed more than two million Iraqis and destroyed the country. It is freedom for the corporations, banks and militarists to exploit and to rule.

In the name of democracy and freedom, recent U.S. administrations have passed laws to punish—not help—the Cuban people for daring to to build socialism and be independent of the United States.

The 1992 Torricelli law, signed by George H.W. Bush, is officially titled "The Cuban Democracy Act." The 1996 Helms-Burton law signed by Bill Clinton, is known as the "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Law." George W. Bush's plan, inaugurated in 2004, is called "The Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba" of 2003.

Each of these U.S. laws—whose expressed aim is to overthrow the Cuban revolution in the name of "democracy'—has deliberately targeted the Cuban people and created suffering for millions.

In a subtle recognition of majority U.S. public opinion—which opposes the U.S. blockade—Obama and Clinton claim that democratic changes and free elections in Cuba could be the basis of renewed relations with Cuba.

No one should be fooled by such rhetoric. For the Democrats and Republicans, acting on behalf of the corporations, banks and militarists, the only Cuban "democracy" they will accept is the kind that returns the island to capitalism, as a neocolony of the United States. But in a country that is struggling to overcome centuries of underdevelopment and colonialism, it is socialism that has provided the basic rights of free quality healthcare and education, and housing for all. Here in the United States, the richest country in all of history, such rights are only a dream.

Obama, Clinton and McCain call for free elections in Cuba. How can candidates who together will spend more than $1 billion in the presidential race demand "free" elections in Cuba? In Cuba, on all levels—municipal, provincial and national—the elections are truly free, and campaign spending by candidates is prohibited.

While members of the U.S. Congress give themselves large salaries and huge payoffs from lobbyists, elected officials in Cuba maintain their regular jobs, and serve without additional compensation for their responsibilities as legislators.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people. Our candidates understand that the first real democratic act in Cuba was the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Despite the blockade, war and terrorist attacks promoted by the U.S. government, the Cuban people and leadership have struggled to build a socialist revolution, which they will continue to develop and defend.

Fidel Castro's statement is not a retirement from the struggle. It is an honest assessment of his physical limitations to hold government office.

Fidel Castro is admired and loved in Cuba and the world over. His legendary courage and profound belief—from the earliest days—in the heroism and capacity of the Cuban people to make history, is what now enables him to retire from his official posts with confidence.

Read his complete statement here: http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8405

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hillary’s $5 million donation to Hillary

The media has interpreted Hillary Clinton's $5 million donation of her own money to the Hillary for President campaign as a sign that her campaign has hit rough financial waters.

Maybe so, but I look at it another way. This is the best democracy money can buy. The multi-millionaires compete with each other to demonstrate their compassion when they want people's vote. After the election their real constituents are the biggest corporations and banks.

Unlike Clinton, I won't be able to pony up $5 million for my campaign.

I'm a worker and union leader whose union members are losing their jobs left and right. The workers I represent in the newspaper industry don't have $5 million to spare—much less $50—as the big media CEOs (the friends of Clinton, Obama and McCain) cut thousands of jobs to make obscene fortunes from our labor.

That's why the Party for Socialism and Liberation is petitioning now in rural Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, so the people can have a real choice in November. We expect to have ballot status in 17 to 20 states.

In Tuesday's California primary, I was the top-finishing socialist candidate on the Peace and Freedom Party, and I am campaigning strongly to win the PFP nomination in the convention this summer.

The twin parties for the rich don't have to struggle to get on the ballot.

Even with full access on all 50 states, the Democrats and Republicans will still be spending well over $1 billion in their campaigns. That's because the candidates of the capitalist parties view politics through the filter of the plutocrats. This election is all about millionaires' and billionaires' money determining the election outcome.

Whether it is Mitt Romney investing $35 million of his personal fortune, or Clinton dipping into her millions and Bill Clinton's post-presidential million-dollar booty, this election is about money and the real power behind that money.

Every one of the Democratic and Republican candidates fully intends to protect the profits of the capitalists if they are elected. It is interesting that the Democrats, both Obama and Clinton, are now the larger recipients of corporate donations than the Republicans. These donations assure the corporations that the next president, whoever it may be, will sit comfortably in their pockets and do their bidding.

The newspaper industry has been devastated by mass layoffs, outsourcing and media consolidation. From the San Francisco Chronicle to the Chicago Sun Times and San Jose Mercury News, many laid-off workers are about to run out of unemployment benefits, and this is true for millions more.

Yet today in the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans agreed not to extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks as part of the bipartisan "economic rescue" package. Their
"rescue" is a pittance for workers, intended to boost spending for the benefit of big business. It provides no real solutions for millions of working and poor people who are in crisis.

Overall, in the coming year unemployment will rapidly grow. As millions of people lose their homes from foreclosures, hundreds of thousands of workers in construction will be laid off. That is fine for the banking and corporate plutocrats, their political representatives, and stock holdings. But it is a catastrophe for millions of working people.

This is the richest country in the world. The PSL is putting people's needs first. A job should be a legal right that cannot be taken away by any capitalist. The property rights of the capitalists are considered sacred—no one is legally entitled to take the property of the capitalist owners. We are demanding that a worker's job be vested with the same legal entitlement as any other property right. The PSL candidates are for enshrining a 'Job as a Legal Right' into the constitution of the United States.

If you can spend millions to win elected office you won't lose sleep over the unemployment crisis in the United States. The La Riva/Puryear campaign represents the interests of the tens of millions of workers who have no cushion, who are worried about their jobs and holding onto their homes, who are driven into bankruptcy by lack of healthcare.

Our campaign represents the forces in society looking for deep, profound and radical change. We aim for change not as an empty campaign slogan, but in the day-in and day-out struggle of working people who vote every four years but whose interests are never represented in the White House, Congress or the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The millions who couldn't vote on "Super Tuesday"

With yesterday's "Super Tuesday" primaries, it is important to remember that there are millions of people denied the most basic right to vote.

At least 10 percent of the country's population, more than 30 million, have no legal say in the elections. 

The electoral system in the United States is inherently undemocratic, with the political monopoly controlled by the Democrats and Republicans and the hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations that ensure a favorable outcome for the wealthy. Still, the civil right of enfranchisement—the right to vote—is out of reach for millions of oppressed people. When a politician from the capitalist parties is aware that you are not a voter, you are invisible. You and your concerns don't count.

Non-citizen immigrants, and many ex-prisoners, constitute the two main sectors of U.S. society who have no right to vote.


In seven states today, ex-prisoners are permanently barred from voting for life, including Mississippi and Florida. In six other states, an ex-prisoner has to be pardoned to regain the right to vote, a highly unlikely prospect. With racist prosecution and sentencing policies in the United States, a much higher percentage of African American and Latino people suffer greater rates of incarceration and disenfranchisement.

For example, in Florida, 38 percent of ex-felons are African American, even though Black people are only about 13% of the population.

In Kentucky, almost one of every 4 African Americans is ineligible to vote because of a previous prison sentence. States with permanent voting bars, which are mostly in the South, thus continue the legacy of mass incarceration after the end of slavery, when prisons replaced plantations and Black people were singled out for persecution and imprisonment.

More than 5 million people in the United States are classified ineligible because of ex-felon status.

It is not an accident nor oversight that the poorest, the most vulnerable and exploited would be deliberately denied. Poor and working people tend to favor more progressive political and economic policies.


My mother, who immigrated from Mexico and is a legal resident, has never been able to vote in 55 years. She worked many years in low-paying, traditional jobs like waitress and seamstress, and certainly contributed to the economy, but like the 30 million other immigrants, has no input in the process. Why is she not a citizen? Like many millions of Mexicans and other immigrants, she always wanted to keep a sentimental connection to her country of origin.

Despite laboring in the most difficult and low-paying jobs in the United States, over 12 million undocumented workers, and more than 17 million permanent legal residents are barred from registering to vote. Despite their enormous and disproportionate contribution to the economy, undocumented workers are increasingly subject to vicious political attacks by the capitalist candidates. The year 2008 will be remembered by the undocumented as one of immigrant-bashing, terrifying workplace raids and deportations.

Every Republican candidate is falling over himself trying to outdo the others with their blatant hatred of the undocumented.

Mike Huckabee, Arkansas ex-governor, shamelessly declares if he were elected president, he would deport all 12 million estimated undocumented workers within 120 days of his assuming office. Mitt Romney is mouthing the same racist threats on workers without papers. And even though John McCain last year was supportive of a nominal legalization process for undocumented workers, he has turned away from that position 180 degrees, to prove himself as the "conservative" candidate.

First, Huckabee and Romney know that it would be impossible to deport all the undocumented, as they have pledged. Second, they also know that the economy would collapse without the farmworkers' labor on which agribusiness depends completely.

The Democrats hardly do better. In the second-to-last television debate, Obama, Clinton and Edwards stated without reservation that each of their "universal healthcare" plans would not include healthcare for the undocumented. That doesn't sound "universal" to me. You can bet that if they have that much disregard for hardworking immigrant workers, they don't think much better of the working class, either.

Their biggest concern is ensuring the profits of the healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

What hypocrites they all are. The minute they open a bottle of wine from California, New York or any other state's vintners, they are consuming grapes picked by the undocumented. Their vegetables are planted, cultivated and picked by undocumented labor, their prime steaks prepared in packinghouses.

Hotel room maids, restaurant cooks, sweatshop seamstresses, gardeners; well, you get the picture.

The for-profit system

There is one basic, inescapable fact that neither Democrats nor the Republicans will admit or mention:

It is capitalism that has created the "global" economy, exporting tens of millions of jobs abroad to every continent, eliminating higher-paying jobs in the United States. It is U.S. capitalism that has broken down the trade barriers and tariffs of lesser-developed countries like Mexico, turning that country into a huge market for U.S.-produced goods and driving Mexican farmers from their fields and livelihoods.

It is U.S. capitalism that has pauperized the Mexican farmer and factory worker, forcing them to come to the United States, against their will and against their wishes. 

Almost 500 Mexican and other Latinos lose their lives in the desert every year, to seek work. A worker trying to earn a living to help his or her family is not a criminal. It is not a crime to want to work.

The real criminal is the politician who blames the undocumented for the economic problems of the country, and then says not a word about the $40 billion in PROFITS that Exxon made in the last three months of 2007, THE HIGHEST PROFIT OF ANY CORPORATION IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

None of the candidates dares complain about the sky-high profits of Exxon and the oil companies. They don't dare, because then they would be eliminated from the electoral race in the blink of an eye by the corporate media.

The same way that they can raise minor complaints about the war, but each one of them continues to vote "yes" for every multi-billion-dollar war appropriation sought by Bush.

It is so important for all working people to understand and point to the real cause of economic problems. They are not the fault of any workers, either here or abroad, citizen, resident or undocumented. They are the fault of a system, and the sooner working and poor people of all nationalities organize together to fight that system, the more successful we will be in securing our common rights and needs.

Let us not fall for the divide-and-conquer tactics of the rich. Let's demand equal rights for all workers, regardless of citizenship, full rights, including the right to vote. Let's demand an end to the disenfranchisement of ex-prisoners and immigrants.