Monthly Archives: November 2008

After The Regional Elections, The Workers Propose A Clean Out And More Revolution

By Stalin Perez Borges, translated by Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes

November 25, 2008 — I want to give some preliminary and personal impressions, in the heat of the moment, where many comrades are very preoccupied by the significance of the [Chavista movement’s] loss of the Mayor of Greater Caracas and of some important or key governorships in the country.

It’s time to calm down and sit down together in order to evaluate in depth with the comrades. There are various points that we should analyse in order to draw conclusions that truly reflect reality. It is necessary to open a profound debate within the party [United Socialist Party of Venezuela – PSUV], to reflect and proceed with self-criticism, as President Chavez indicated on Sunday night.

First, I think it is necessary to stress the increase of votes for Chavismo across the entire country compared to last December 2 [the constitutional reform referendum]. At the same time the opposition has demonstrated once again that there is a ceiling of votes that it cannot overcome, even if abstention levels are much lower. Nevertheless, it managed to reach a level of support that allowed it to obtain political victories in important cities.

Second, I think it is necessary to stress that having gone into these elections divided in many states, as is the case of Carabobo, the candidates of Chavez carried out a very good election campaign although some of them did not win.

Third, I think that the warning that we gave from Marea Socialista [Socialist Tide] about some of the candidates, and above all the indication that they are leaders that express something that the revolutionary people profoundly reject, such as is the case of the endogenous right-wing, had a very important weight in fundamental districts such as the governorship of Miranda and others, for example Tachira. The action of previous governments is what explains the defeat in Greater Caracas. This is one of the most serious political problems that confronts the revolutionary process.

But there is a problem that is graver still. That is the dynamic within the PSUV itself. It is necessary to transform the party into a truly revolutionary party. We cannot continue with the method of an electoral machine where the base only participates in an irregular manner, in limited primaries, that in general are controlled by the power of the endogenous right-wing.

The party demonstrates that it could be a great party, but it is necessary to stimulate the participation of the workers, of the popular sectors that are the fundamental base of the revolution. And this stimulation should be political. The fact is the party has taken little account of its trade union movement. These electoral results, although they are positive, leave open the necessity of knowing that what is lacking is more democracy and more participation. The militants must feel it is their party, not the party of the leaders, otherwise it will run the risk of converting itself into just one more party, just like the other ones.

Nevertheless, it is not enough to simply announce that there should be self-criticism. The revolutionary people across the whole country must participate. We, on our part, believe that the moment has arrived to clean out the government and the party. A cleaning out and more revolution is what we need in order to ensure that working people govern in this revolution.

Stalin Perez Borges is a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT), a militant of the PSUV and a national leader of Marea Socialista.

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians

Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.

Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?

Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country — and in particular in Plymouth –is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology.

According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The truth is a sharp contrast to that mythology.

The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod — before they even made it to Plymouth — was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry. They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.

About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are treated either as quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible.

When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.

National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth, where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.

Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial. Bill Clinton apparently does not feel that particular pain and has refused to grant clemency to this innocent man.

To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.

Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass fifty percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services.

Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?

Or perhaps we are expected to give thanks for the war that is being waged by the Mexican government against Indigenous peoples there, with the military aid of the U.S. in the form of helicopters and other equipment? When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them ‘illegal aliens” and hunt them down.

We object to the “Pilgrim Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered indigenous ancestors.

Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working class white people.

The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.

[Mahtowin Munro (Lakota) and Moonanum James (Wampanoag)

are co-leaders of

- United American Indians of New England

Intro5pect – The War at Home (w/ Stza Crack of Leftöver Crack)

Lyrics:

Run, cover
Here comes la migra
Run, cover
Here comes the cops
Hiding in shadows, here comes la migra
Two days in the desert, here comes the pigs

We came as inmates through Ellis Island
We spread as a virus that killed through this fine land
A nation of subjugation and alienation
Black, yellow, Indonesian, Puerto Rican and Haitan

A chain of command and they’re all under orders
While many slave and die to cross invisible borders
I challenge with one simple solution
Tear down the walls, rise up, revolution
Revolution, revolution, revolution

Go, go, go

[Chorus:]
The war at home, the war’s abroad
All soaked in blood and lies and fraud
The genocide that we ignore is right outside your fucking door
Conquistadors across the seas have come ashore to spread disease
Imprisoned in suburban homes you will rot sick and die alone

Run, cover
Here comes la migra
Run, cover
Here comes the cops
Hiding in shadows, here comes la migra
Two days in the desert, here comes the pigs

Capital and National aligned and intertwined
First (First) world (Wide) wealth confined
To the business aligned allies and the G8 defined
Exploitation, exposition, resource request denied
Diffuse, resist, react and refuse
React, reject, collest and abuse
Border patrol sets out to condition and control
Slay el cabellero before it affects the status quo, go

Revolution, revolution, revolution

[Chorus]

Run, cover
Here comes la migra
Run, cover
Here comes the cops [x4]

To live without a heart
Another migrant family is torn apart
The xenophobia’s here
But life inside a bubble that is full of fear
Will crush your soul inside
Another empty shell full of national pride
To live inside a cage
Cutting grass or washing dishes for a slavery wage [x2]
Let’s go

[Chorus]