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Hurricane Maria Brings Out the Hypocrisy
in “American Citizenship” for Puerto Ricans

By  Carlito Rovira

In the days following the massive devastation caused by Hurricane Maria news reports have emphasized the “American citizenship” of Puerto Ricans. But why are Puerto Ricans suddenly being projected actively as American citizens when, traditionally, this has not been the case?

The same media outlets have discovered that most people in the U.S. do not know that Puerto Ricans hold U.S. citizenship. For many North Americans—who often suspect that people who speak Spanish and come from a territory in Latin America are “illegal”—the concept of Puerto Rican's as “citizens” must be baffling indeed.


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The Cry of Mother Earth:
Call to the First Ecosocialist International
     
The mourning of Mother Earth calls us. Her cry resounds within us. It is ours. This call echoes her cry. We accept our responsibility. We call respectfully on her behalf because we understand and feel the pain: the voice and the cry of Mother Earth. How can we not respond, when we know that her destruction is our own, of all humanity, of all life?
   
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Charlottesville, Virginia

Editorial Statement

     
August 15, 2017: Politicians of both major parties have been calling on President Donald Trump to clearly and specifically denounce the “alt-right” (read “Nazi/Klan”) violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12, in response to Trump’s press conference where he instead blamed “many sides” for what happened. Everyone except Trump knows that “many sides” are not to blame, only one side is: the side of racism and bigotry.

What all of these politicians fail to call for, however, but the citizens of this nation ought to, is for Trump to not only denounce the violence in Charlottesville but to take personal responsibility for it, since it was Trump’s public validation of this previously fringe ideology in US society—both during his campaign for the presidency and by his post-election appointments—which created the atmosphere where those who advocate the most virulent forms of racist ideology are today able to conceive the kind of demonstration they held in Charlottesville, attempting to make their variety of racism/white supremacy an accepted ideology not only in the White House but also in the political discourse of US society more broadly. 


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Special Update and Further Commentary on the Release of Oscar Lopez Rivera,

by Matt Meyer

February 9, 2017—Puerto Rican Patriot Oscar Lopez Rivera is now free! Transferred this morning to San Juan, Puerto Rico, he will not be able to travel, hold meetings, give speeches or statements until his official date of clemency on May 17, 2017. He will serve his last days till then in a US federal facility in Puerto Rico. But he will be able to see his beloved daughter, granddaughter, siblings and family, to eat the foods of his youth, to see “the water’s edge” of which he profoundly wrote during his 35 years behind bars for the thought-crime of seditious conspiracy. He is on his homeland, and though he cannot yet feel the full force of the embrace of the entire peoples of Puerto Rico, he is nonetheless surrounded by that love and solidarity. 

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On Our Duty to Celebrate Oscar, 

by Matt Meyer

     
Immediately following Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, social media was burning up with half-thought-out writings about the strategies, tactics, and process of the Oscar freedom campaign. Having served as a leading international associate of Dr. Luis Nieves Falcon and the Puerto Rican Human Rights Campaign since the late 1980s, and worked collaboratively with the National Boricua Human Rights Network since its inception, I have my own thoughts on what worked best and what mistakes were made along the way. There is, however, widespread agreement that—as I wrote on the fateful day of the announcement—Obama’s decision was “based primarily on a consistently-held, vigorously-fought, simple but stalwart commitment to decades-long, door-to-door, community-to-community, email-to-email (or tweet to tweet) building of a massive, grassroots-led single-minded campaign.” Though important parts of the Campaign were carried out by the Puerto Rican Diaspora and in some of the world-wide work, the foundation was clearly centered on the island of Puerto Rico itself.

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Column: "Daylight Time" by Susie Day

First Woman President Nukes Iran

WASHINGTONPresident Hillary Clinton, making good on her 2008 threat to "totally obliterate" Iran,  celebrated her first week in office by ordering a nuclear strike on Iran's capital city of Tehran. As a squadron of F-35s streaked through the sky toward the Mideast metropolis of over eight million, President Clinton outlined her foreign policy to a bevy of reporters at a White House press conference.

Ideas for the Struggle 

by Marta Harnecker

The following text is made up of 12 articles that were first published in Venezuela in 2004 and that were slightly modified in 2016. They were written without a predetermined order in mind and I have preferred to maintain this order to facilitate discussion with my earlier readers. I recommend starting from the topic that most interests you and then reading the rest of the text. As it is impossible to develop all facets of an idea in two pages, only by reading the whole text will readers be able to fully understand each individual articleMarta Harnecker, August 2016

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After Bernie—Electoral Strategy for the Left in 2016
     
by (list of signers)

June, 2016—Now that Donald Trump, an overt racist, has wrapped up the Republican nomination for US President, a chorus of voices is proposing a “left strategy” which can “defeat Trump” by electing the more covert racist, Hillary Clinton, whom the Democratic Party will almost surely be nominating.

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Establishing a New York City
Maroon Exchange

     

by Bryan Olamo and Lee Miscere


Too many of us are consumers within a system that robs us of the fruits of our labor and maximizes profit for corporations. For a long time, US and global production has had little to do with satisfying the needs of human beings. Instead, production is driven by the endless accumulation of wealth, resources, and power. Too many people spend their lives as just one moving part in a machine built to deplete and destroy the planet.

The New York City Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz is investigating the possibility of an alternative, something we are calling a “Maroon Exchange,” so we can begin to take back our own labor, our relationships with each other, our collective relationship to the earth, and thereby our lives.

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Poetry of Resistance: Imagining
the Overthrow of Capitalist Oppression

by Lauren Schmidt

       

[NOTE: This essay was originally a presentation to a panel with the same title at the Left Forum in New York City, May 31 2015. It was sponsored by the National Writers Union. Other panelists that day were Lora Tucker, Raymond Nat Turner, and Martín Espada.]
    
When I was fourteen years old, I took a book from my high school English teacher’s shelf, An Anthology of American Negro Poetry, a book that would introduce me to the poet who made me want to be a poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar. Before reading Dunbar and a number of poets in that anthology who would influence me as a writer—Langston Hughes and Lucille Clifton chief among them—I had read poets I was supposed to love but never did: William Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot. It was Dunbar’s poem, “My Sort o’ Man” that made me say to myself, “If that’s what poetry can do, I want to be a poet.”
   

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After Greece, Puerto Rico: 

Another Crisis Created by Capitalism

     

by Saulo Colón and Daniel Vila for the NYC Committee
for Dignity over Debt in PR

     

On Monday June 29, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, delivered a live message to the people of Puerto Rico stating that the government’s $73 billion debt is unpayable. The governor stated, “The public debt, considering the present level of economic
activity, is unpayable.”

     

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Glenn Ford on Black and Working-Class
Political Independence

     

The implications of his ideas for supporters of Bernie Sanders

     

by Linda Thompson

 

I would like to encourage readers of this website to listen to Glen Ford (of Black Agenda Report) speaking at a Socialist Action Canadian conference on “The Democratic Party, Death Trap for U.S. Blacks—Independent Labour/Black Political Action”: 
     
     
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCPVBaO5Cj4
   
His talk is worth the 45 minutes it takes to listen to—in particular for those who are considering their attitude toward the decision by Bernie Sanders to run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. It’s also significant in terms of understanding the question of “white privilege,” which is a perennial sticking point for many self-proclaimed socialists and revolutionaries.

   
I will try to summarize the highlights for those who cannot take the time to view the entire video, interspersing a few comments of my own about the implications of Ford’s analysis.

 

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The Lover of a Subversive
Is Also a Subversive

     
Colonialism and the Poetry of Rebellion
in Puerto Rico

     
by Martín Espada

My great-grandfather, Buenaventura Roig, was the mayor of Utuado, a town in the mountains of Puerto Rico. When he died in 1941, thousands of mourners flocked to his funeral. Almost fifty years later, my father and I searched for the grave of Buenaventura Roig.
 
We never found it. Instead, we wandered into a remote cemetery, high up in the mountains, with row after row of stones dated between 1950 and 1953. These were men killed in a faraway place called Korea, among the 756 Puerto Ricans who died fighting for the United States in the Korean War.
 
My father, Francisco Luis (Frank) Espada, was also a Korean War-era veteran. He fought another war, on a different front, refused service at a segregated diner in San Antonio, Texas, jailed in Biloxi, Mississippi for refusing to sit at the back of the bus, subjected to apartheid in the same country he was sworn to defend.
     
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A Brief History of the Black Panther Party and It's Place in the Black Liberation Movement

by Sundiata Acoli
     

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in October, 1966, in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The name was shortened to the Black Panther Party (BPP) and it began spreading eastward through the Black urban ghetto colonies across the country.

In the summer of ‘68, David Brothers established a BPP branch in Brooklyn, New York, and a few months later Lumumba Shakur set up a branch in Harlem, New York. I joined the Harlem BPP in the fall of ‘68 and served as its finance officer until arrested on April 2, 1969 in the Panther 21 conspiracy case which was the opening shot in the government’s nationwide attack on the BPP. Moving westward, Police Departments in each city made military raids on BPP offices or homes in Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, Omaha, Denver, New Haven, San Diego, Los Angeles, and other cities, murdering some Panthers and arresting others.

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Build and Fight: Beyond Trump and the Limitations of the United Front, 

by Kali Akuno and Doug Norberg
     
Monday, January 23, 2017On Inauguration Day, we note the considerable range of the opposition to Trump, from traditional activists to very mainstream folks. In many respects the opposition mounted was unprecedented, on a day where patriotic and jingoistic hyperbole is typically concentrated and loudly broadcast more than at any other time, and when, traditionally, new Presidents make appeals to the heart and to democratic unity while all who know how false the claims are bite their lips, party, and hope for the best. The opposition struggling to find expression is broad and deep. But nearly all expressions of opposition are resorting to traditional methods of reformist-oriented protest while millions of people throughout the United States and the world are discussing and debating how they are going to survive and resist the emerging Presidential regime of Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing populism and a resurgent “America first” white nationalism.
     

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On the Trump Victory:

Four Post-Election Messages
   
by Greg Saunier

Dear artists and musicians,
Don't give up in despair. The narrative that Trump, Clinton and the corporate media have tried to sell us in 2016 is: "humanity is ugly, cutthroat, dark and pointless. . . .

Dear Trump voters,
Your man is already double-crossing you. . . .

Dear Clinton die-hards,
It is time for you to get out of the way. . . .

Dear progressives,
Thanks to Clinton pocketing 99% of the DNC fundraising money meant for down ballot races, both houses of Congress will now be Republican. . . .

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My Penny's Worth the Day After the Election

by Steve Bloom    

November 9, 2016—I offer my thoughts about the election for a penny, discounting 50 percent from the usual two-cents worth. I don’t feel as if I am in a position to demand full price. Although I was not the only one confidently predicting a Clinton victory for the last several months, it seems to me that all of us who were making that prediction need to give ourselves a reality-check based on the actual result. I remember having a similar sense, of the need for a critical self-reflection, last time I was stunned by the outcome of an election—in 1990, when the Sandinistas were defeated in Nicaragua. Tuesday night shook my world with that kind of force. If others are honest I think you will acknowledge something similar.

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The Case for Reparations

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

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Film Review:

Sebastiao Selgado,
Social Photographer
by Deborah Engel;-DiMauro
          
"Salt of the Earth" showcases the work of Sebastiao Salgado, a social photographer and former economist from Brazil. Narrated by Wenders, the film traces Salgado's development as a photographer and reflects on his projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and all over South America. Though he traveled widely, Salgado explored each location long-term and in-depth, creating evocative and vivid photo essays of the world's most harrowing places and dispossessed people.     
     
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Tribute to the Families
of Our Political Prisoners
and Prisoners of War

by Dequi Kioni-Sadeki

Saturday, January 17th, 2015—Welcome to this 19th year of fundraising and paying tribute to the Families of our political prisoners and prisoners of war. On behalf of Herman and Iyaluua Ferguson especially, our founding members and our current members, we thank you for being here and for standing in the tradition of Black love, Black resistance, Black family and Black community.  Some of y’all have attended this dinner from its inception; some have come and gone and come back; some are here for the first time. Whatever your category, we hope it won't be your last time and that we can count on your continued support until we have no more freedom fighters held captive behind the walls. We also thank Michael Garvey, the 1199 SEIU activists, and the MLK, Jr. Labor Center’s staff here today for helping to make this day what it is.

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Dragon and Hydra Revisited
A Dialogue

by Steve Bloom and Russell Maroon Shoatz

     
Special introductory note by the editors:

In the “Policies of this Website” we explain that we are seeking to promote discussions “where participants are engaged in active listening and a search for commonalities or convergences―giving at least as much emphasis to this as we do to 'clarifying differences.' The overall goal of our project is not just to recapitulate well-established views but to transcend them if/when we can in order to create a stronger collective synthesis of revolutionary thought.”

We believe that the exchange below is an excellent case study in this process and how it can work effectively. . . .


Introductory note by SB: In November of last year I

Most of the attacks on Clinton that I read on Facebook are from Sanders supporters. Have you also published columns mocking Sanders's pretensions to speak for the world's oppressed, or is the mockery reserved for Clinton? Do Old and New supporters view Sanders as a positive alternative to Clinton?
 
Most of the attacks on Clinton that I read on Facebook are from Sanders supporters. Have you also published columns mocking Sanders's pretensions to speak for the world's oppressed, or is the mockery reserved for Clinton? Do Old and New supporters view Sanders as a positive alternative to Clinton?
 

sent Maroon a letter about his essay “Dragon and Hydra,” which read, in part: “Your historical assessment regarding the failure of the dragon is indisputable: Any and all dragon formations that have, at least up to now, actually succeeded in conquering power ended up transforming themselves into a new oppressive force of some kind. However, we can make an equally valid argument regarding the historical failure of hydra formations. Not one of them has proved up to the task either―if we define the task as stopping a manifest-destiny imperialism from dominating and ultimately destroying the planet.”

In February, as part of our exchange over this question, I suggested some preliminary conclusions, explaining that "I might modify or reconsider them as a result of an exchange with you and/or a discussion in the group. Still, they represent the general approach I believe, at this point, we ought to collectively affirm after considering the relevant issues." What follows is Maroon's response to these four conclusions.

Introductory note by RMS: This text reflects a conversation between veteran activist Steve Bloom and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz, exploring ways to move the oppressed and toiling masses' struggle forward, without that struggle losing control of the very organizations that have served to help liberate the masses from their primary antagonists.

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Fighting for Socialism on Great Turtle Island—
The Struggle Against Settler Colonialism

by Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro

The U.S. and Canada are settler colonial dictatorships. This is hardly a revelation. Yet most anti-capitalist leftist radicals seem unaware of or indifferent to this truth, a fact that is well illustrated by the paucity of concern expressed in socialist publications and other outlets with decolonization struggles on Great Turtle Island (the name some Native Peoples give to what is often called“North America”). This struggle should, however, be understood as fundamental to bringing about the demise of U.S. imperialism and building a post-capitalist alternative. There has, of course, always been verbal acknowledgment of this and even a few efforts among socialists to recognize and act upon settler colonialism. Still, it has rarely figured prominently or centrally in any socialist platform in this part of the world, nor have the contradictions inherent in a Eurocentric socialism (in which I include anarchism) been systematically confronted―at least not without less than flattering results (see for example the book edited by Ward Churchill, number 7 on our list of readings below).
   

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