Salute to the life of El Maestro: PEDRO ALBIZU CAMPOS, on the date of his birth

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By Carlito Rovira

On September 12, 1891, in the municipality of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was born. This iconic figure continues to be highly regarded in Latin American history and revered as Puerto Rico’s leading symbol of Puerto Rico’s independence cause in the Twentieth Centur

On September 12, 1891, in the municipality of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was born. This iconic figure is highly regarded in Latin American history and revered as Puerto Rico’s leading symbol of the independence cause in the Twentieth Century.

Campos was raised by his aunt in a poor but humble family setting. His mother died due to illness when he was a very young child. And when he was only seven years old, on July 25, 1898, the United States militarily invaded Puerto Rico, an outcome of the Spanish-American War.

In the days leading up to the onslaught naval warships blockaded all commercial ports of the island nation. The young Pedro Albizu Campos experienced the panic caused by the U.S. Navy when they threaten to bomb the city of Ponce if the residents did not surrender. Witnessing firsthand the arrogance of foreign soldiers is likely why he held an everlasting contempt for U.S. colonialism.

During his formative years Campos was exceptionally gifted. Due to his academic skills he was put in an accelerated track in school. By 1912 he received a scholarship to study engineering at the University of Vermont. A year later, Campos applied and was accepted to Harvard University.

But with the outbreak of World War 1 in 1917 he joined the U.S. Army where he served as First-Lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s segregated All-Black units.

In 1919 Campos continued his studies. He achieved his law degree, as well as in Literature, Philosophy, Chemical Engineering, Military Science, and Language. Campos fluently spoke English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Italian, Greek and classic Latin.

Campos was a genius, not by bourgeois and Euro-centric standards but because of his high level of humanity. His humility, and ability to reaffirm Puerto Rican anti-colonial traditions earned him the nickname “El Maestro” (The Teacher). The common folks greeted him by the name handle “Don” (Don Pedro) – a salutation of endearment and respect in Latino culture.

Campos was the first Puerto Rican to attend Harvard University and graduate with the highest honors. Soon after finishing his education high paying employment offers were made to him, as Hispanic Representative in the Protestant Church, Legal Aide to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. State Department and so on. But Campos declined. Instead, he chose to be a lawyer for the poor, many times defending clients unable to pay him.

Because Don Pedro was adamant with his open condemnation of U.S. imperialism it earned him recognition by other contemporary nationalist and revolutionary figures, most notably Ernesto Che Guevara, James Connolly, Marcus Garvey, to name a few.

Don Pedro was a revolutionary nationalist with an internationalist criterion. In fact, Campos’s outspoken oratory against the “racist practices in the house of the empire” caught the attention of Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey, who traveled to Puerto Rico to meet the renowned leader. Despite their differences in goals and tactics, this meeting was highly symbolic. The two leaders proceeded in their separate line of march but with the highest respect for each other.

Puerto Rican and Irish Solidarity

During his years at Harvard University Campos became involved in support work for the Irish Republican movement. Ireland was at a threshold in its historic liberation struggle against British colonialism. Campos’ admiration for the Irish cause served as his introduction to the ideals of revolutionary politics, which he eventually brought back to Puerto Rico.

Through his direct contact with representatives of Sein Fein in Boston and New York City, Don Pedro became good friends with James Connolly, The renown Irish socialist revolutionary and co-founder of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Connolly was also instrumental in the emergence of the Industrial Workers of the World, (IWW) also known as “The Wobblies”.

Irish revolutionary leaders Éamon de Valera and Connolly asked Campos to contribute a written draft for what would become the Constitution of a free Irish Republic. The collaboration between revolutionaries from two oppressed nations — Boricua and Irish — is of paramount significance in history.

Pedro Albizu Campos assumes leadership

In the earliest days of U.S. colonialism a movement capable of addressing the new circumstances did not exist. The Unionist Party was conveniently repudiating independence from its program in an opportunistic effort to appease the mainstream. After many internal conflicts, on September 17, 1922 the radical members broke away to form the Nationalist Party.

Campos came to prominence in 1925 at a Nationalist rally held in San Juan. Colonial decree required all public events to display the American flag. To stay within the bounds of legality organizers decorated the railing around the stage with small U.S. flags.

As Don Pedro walked to the podium he calmly began to remove the U.S. flags, one by one, and tucked them in his pocket. He began his speech by saying “American flag, I will not salute you, if you symbolize a free and sovereignty nation, in Puerto Rico you represent piracy and pillage.”

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos’ bold act shocked many in Puerto Rico and put into question the lack of militant energy in the Party’s leadership. The courage and charisma Campos demonstrated at this event is likely what propelled his ascendancy to the leadership. In 1927 he was elected Vice President and in 1930 he became President of the Nationalist Party.

In 1927 Campos traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on behalf of the Nationalist Party. His mission was to seek support for Puerto Rico’s independence. Revolutionary nationalist movements were rising up everywhere during that decade.

When Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was elected President of the Nationalist Party in 1930 it sharpened existing internal contradictions. Campo’s more radical political views came into conflict with his rivals who tended to be conciliatory towards U.S. colonial policy.

In addition, due to the history of African chattel slavery in Puerto Rico, white members of the Party became contemptuous to the idea of following the leadership of a Black figure. Racism and reaction to a revolutionary direction compelled conservative forces to leave the Party.

Despite these internal contradictions Don Pedro’s oratory skills, tenacity, defiance, and fearlessness earned him the highest level of moral authority in the independence movement and from all social stratums in Puerto Rican society.

Once Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos assumed leadership the Nationalist Party was qualitatively transformed. In 1932 the Cadets of the Republic were organized — a para-military youth component of 10,000 members with Nationalist Raimundo Diaz Pacheco as its commander. The uniform of the Cadets was black shirts and white pants. They strove to become a liberation army, following the model of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Moreover, under Don Pedro’s leadership, an all-women component to the Party was also created. Among the heroines to rise up to prominence as a result were Rosa Rosado, Blanca Canales, Lolita Lebron, Leonides Diaz, Carmen Maria Perez, Ruth Reynolds, Olga Isabel Viscal Garriga, among others. The women of Puerto Rico have traditionally played exceptional roles as leaders and combatants in the anti-colonial struggle.

Anti-colonialism intertwined with class struggle

U.S. colonial agencies began scrutinizing Campos and the Nationalist Party, especially after they gained influence among the striking sugarcane workers in 1934.

Labor strikes frequently occurred during this period. The influence Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos had on the victorious sugarcane workers heightened the prestige of the Nationalist Party among wider sectors of the Puerto Rican working class.

Worker’s unrest in the United States during the Great Depression was enough havoc for U.S. rulers. Because Campos won the respect of the labor movement in Puerto Rico it compelled Washington officials to repress the Nationalist Party. A media campaign was launched to demonize Don Pedro and the independence cause. The mere sentiments of Puerto Rican nationalism posed a threat to U.S. capitalist interest.

Repression against Puerto Rican nationalism

FBI agents and the colonial police arrested, brutalized, and murdered Nationalists. On October 24, 1935 students at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) were killed by police for merely raising the Puerto Rican flag. In 1936 Don Pedro was imprisoned to ten years supposedly for Conspiring to overthrow the Government. In 1938 the Nationalist Party was banned by decree.

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was praised by many, one of whom was the socialist U.S. Congressman Vito Marcantonio. Marcantonio was a staunch supporter of the Puerto Rican independence struggle and served as Campos’ attorney.

The following year on March 21, 1937, on a Sunday morning, in the city of Ponce, hundreds of people – women, children and men — gathered at the town plaza, in a peaceful demonstration to demand the release of Don Pedro. Once the gathering began to march the police carried out the unthinkable — they opened fire with rifles and Thompson submachine guns. The casualties were 21 people killed and 235 wounded. It became known in history as the Ponce Massacre.

U.S. rulers feared the moral authority Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos governed as well as his tenacity and valor. The colonizers were well aware of the legitimacy the Nationalist Party had in the hearts and minds of the people.

The “Gag Law” & defending Boricua dignity

After Don Pedro returned to Puerto Rico from a 10 year prison sentence his resolve proved to be untouched. From a San Juan based radio show Campos conveyed his anti-imperialist views to a listening audience. He also used this media to condemned the secret genocidal activities of Cornelius P. Rhoads, who was later discovered to be the mastermind behind the secret sterilizations of Puerto Rican women.

Washington officials sought ways to impose harsh decrees to minimize the threat posed by growing sentiments favoring independence. On June 10, 1948, Law 53 of 1948, better known as the Gag Law (Spanish: Ley de La Mordaza), was enacted by the U.S. installed San Juan colonial government in a blatant attempt to silence the pro-independence movement.

The Gag Law was filled with many outrageous draconian measures, such as forbidding the mere mention of independence in literature, billboards, music, and public speech. The decree also made it illegal to possess and display the Puerto Rican flag. This law created favorable conditions for repression.

While the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy carried out his anti-communist witch hunt in the United States, the ugliest forms of repression were seen in Puerto Rico. Advocates of independence were blacklisted, denied employment, jailed, or were systematically shot in open daylight.

From this point on advocating independence was considered a risk to one’s life. The persecution against the Nationalists was identical to what was inflicted on the Black Panther Party with the FBI’s Operation: COINTELPRO.

In 1950 Nationalist Party intelligence operatives discovered a secret plan to destroy the movement. Don Pedro was then compelled to make a general call to arms in order to strike the first blow. In response to his directive, Nationalists attacked colonial authorities in cities throughout Puerto Rico.

In San Juan, the headquarters of the Nationalist Party was attacked by police. Campos, Isabel Rosado and others undertook an armed battle until they were overwhelmed by tear gas.

On the morning of October 30, 1950, a young woman named Blanca Canales led one of the boldest actions in Puerto Rican revolutionary history. An armed contingency entered the township of Jayuya in the central region. The Nationalists forced the police to surrender, after a gun battle which lasted an hour. Blanca Canales then gave the command to burn the police headquarters to the ground. This event is remembered as the Jayuya Uprising.

On November 1, 1950 Nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attempted the assignation of President Harry Truman. Torresola was killed and Collazo was critically wounded in a shootout with the Secret Service and Capital Police.

Adding insult to injury when the question of Puerto Rico was first proposed for discussion before the United Nations Organization in 1952 the U.S. immediately blocked the effort. Washington officials claimed that Puerto Rico was an “internal matter of the United States”. Justifiably, the imperial arrogance of the U.S. only stiffened the resolve of Nationalists living in New York City.

On March 1, 1954, Nationalists Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Andres Figueroa Cordero entered the House of Representatives while proceedings were taking place. Lolita Lebrón shouted, “Que viva Puerto Rico libre!” The freedom fighters then aimed their weapons and opened fire on the U.S. Congress.

What followed was brutal suppression of the entire independence movement. Many Nationalists were randomly imprisoned throughout the 1950’s. Anyone with pro-independence inclination was deemed terrorist; civil liberties for Puerto Ricans were virtually non-existent. The prevailing state of fear and intimidation overshadowed colonialism’s tightening economic grip. The Draconian measures of the 1948 Gag Law continues to have a psychological imprint in Puerto Rico to this day.

At his 19th year of imprisonment, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was pardoned, on November 15, 1964, by the notorious Luis Munoz Marin — the U.S. approved Governor and greatest traitor in Twentieth Century Puerto Rcan history. Don Pedro’s release was a political maneuver by the U.S. colonizers to disguise the heinous acts committed against the Nationalist Party.

Despite U.S. government denials evidence showed that Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was tortured with radiation experiments during his incarceration. What was obvious to the naked eye corroborated with findings made by independent medical experts. When Campos was released from prison the physical condition of his body served as indisputable testimony of this heinous crime.

On April 21, 1965, the beloved Don Pedro died at 73 years old. In the final analysis, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was murdered by the U.S. colonizers through a gradual not-so-hidden process.

The Legacy

Although Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos came short of realizing his quest for an independent Puerto Rican republic, he succeeded in revitalizing Boricua revolutionary traditions. He also reaffirmed the self-identity of the Puerto Rican people, which the U.S. colonizers attempted to destroy. In short, Don Pedro left us with a new disposition for our people to utilize in future struggles. That in itself will continue to pose a threat to the U.S. rulers.

His repeated motto “The homeland is valor and sacrifice” describes what he knew the Puerto Rican people are destined to carry out.

El Maestro firmly believed that freedom cannot come about by blindly following posturing political figures or voting in meaningless elections, approved by enemies of our people. Campos was critical of political deceptions designed to corrupt and derail the national liberation struggle.

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos knew quite well that his mission in life was to set a revolutionary example — the rest was up to future generations; it is the youth who are destined to smash U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico and make the Boricua contribution to the global defeat of U.S. Imperialism.

Long Live the Memory of El Maestro!

Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

Operation: COINTELPRO — The Original Social Media

By Carlito Rovira

When Whistleblower Edward Snowden chose to defect from his professional allegiance to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the rulers of this country went into crisis mode. We now know how advancements in computer technology, especially the Internet and its many social media outlets, are being used to gather intelligence and serve as a tool to stifle the creation of a new people’s movement of resistance.

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Edward Snowden

For those with familiarity, like myself, with the consequences of Operation: CONTELPRO, during the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s, should never become complaisant and naïve to think that such activities against progressive activists ended. On the contrary, it continued with greater sophistication.

We have learned a lot about covert operations during that period and how it was aimed to destroy the Black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, Chicano, Indigenous and the movement against the war in Vietnam. But what we tend to underestimate is that the rulers themselves have also gained lessons from that experience.

Operation COINTELPRO employed the most shocking tactics imaginable. They used subtle and emotionally convincing methods to carry out their deceit. Cunning techniques were accompanied by open repressive force aimed to have a devastating psychological impact on the entire liberation movement.

COINTELPRO was created in the 1950’s to spy on socialists and the early Civil Rights movement, at a time when notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy launched his anti-Communist, racist and anti-labor campaign. It utilized information obtained from wiretaps, intercepting postal mail and informants. Today much of that has become obsolete thanks to the invention of non-other than social media.

The upgraded methods of surveilling and manipulating by the police state involves specialized units of trolls whose sole purpose is stirring up fights to foster disruptions within progressive entities.

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The notorious J. Edgar Hoover would have been quite content if Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram existed during his time as FBI Director. It is certain that Hoover’s use of that technology would have been to speed up the process of persecuting the Black Panther Party – the most politically skilled and outspoken members who were murdered or imprisoned.

The New York Police Department (NYPD), the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and others, in coordination with the FBI, also used the same divide & conquer tactics against the Black Panther Party’s fraternal ally, the Puerto Rican youth organization the Young Lords.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were both targets of COINTELPRO.

One of the many things that the racist J. Edgar Hoover openly bragged about was his disdain for leaders of the African American people and the Puerto Rican independence movement, specifically the Nationalist Party and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP).

Professional covert operatives from the FBI, CIA, and police are trained to utilize gossip and false accusations as one of their primary techniques, to manipulatively prey upon the sentiments of the emotionally weak.

Moreover, to achieve this necessary part of spying on progressive groups, both in the pass and present, is maintaining files with psychological profiles on individuals, as they search for potential weak links, to utilize them for inciting internal disputes and cause further divisions.

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The FBI and police placed primary focus on destroying the Black Panther Party.

A necessary tactic the state uses to assure their desired outcome is destroying reputations, in order to discredit what the targeted individual(s) politically represent. In so doing they divert energy away from people either engaged or aspiring to involve themselves in political activity.

A close examination of what Edward Snowden revealed should easily allow us to conclude that while Operation: COINTELPRO destroyed a significant growing revolutionary mass movement, whatever it may be called today surely aims to prevent one from rising up again.

We should never allow ourselves to be played and lured repeatedly into that trap; We would become guilty of complicity in hindering the re-emergence of a people’s movement.

The Young Lords
The Young Lords were also targeted by Operation: COINTELPRO’s divide & conquer tactics.

There is always a politically mature way of reaching resolution to any problem. We must have the struggle for human emancipation at the heart of our convictions.

History tells us that we should never underestimate the police state. They will utilize all situations and any issue to steer our focus away from the challenges before us. A severe economic crisis is looming, accompanied by an intensity of racism and fascist legislation.

For those who doubt this assessment as accurate and hold a contrary view, should ask themselves: Why is white supremacy showing its ugly face so blatantly at an increased pace as civil liberties are eroded with such rapidity?

The horrible murder of George Floyd by police and the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, are also warning signs that serve to alert us of an approaching crisis in this country, which we must all confront.

Regardless what our platforms may be, socialist, anarchist, nationalist, feminist, LGBTQ rights, and so on, we must not have complicity in what the rulers are attempting. The police state does not need our help in what they’ve been doing to us.

Social media should be used as a tool for educating ourselves about the revolutionary history of our people’s struggle and for building a movement of resistance to the powers.

The police state is not invincible. Their strength relies on our infighting over pettiness. The state’s covert activities against progressives can be stifled and stopped, provided that we begin the process of closing ranks to have a politically mature disposition in a steeled culture of solidarity and self-respect.

BERNIE SANDERS ONLY POINTED TO THE TRUTH ABOUT CUBA’s HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

By Carlito Rovira

 

 

Bourgeois political figures from both the Republican and Democratic Parties are now hung up about Bernie Sanders’ praises for Cuba’s sophisticated healthcare system.

 

Get over it — objective truth belongs to no one. The entire world is knowledgeable of Cuba’s prioritization of healthcare for its people. The advancements in medicine and accessability to healthcare are among the many achievements of the Cuban Revolution.

 

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Senator Bernie Sanders

 

Needless to mention how many poor people in countries subjugated by U.S. and other imperialist powers have been able to be seen by medical doctors for the first time thanks to Cuba’s international medical programs.

 

Whatever you may opinionate about Bernie Sanders version of “socialism” his limited and mild praise for Cuba’s medical system was enough to throw every defender of the capitalist system into a feverish frenzy of anti-Communist hatred.

 

 

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Cuban Revolutionary leaders Fidel Castro Ruz and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

 

Why? Simply because Cuban medicine sheds a positive light on the Cuban Revolution led by its historical iconic figures Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. It also sheds light on what is possible in a revolutionary socialist United States.

 

Before absorbing and mimicking the attacks of the right-wing against Bernie Sanders remarks let’s ask ourselves the following: Why is there such a sense of uncertainty and insecurity among the working poor in the United States when it comes to healthcare?

 

Everyday we hear Donald Trump threatening to cut Medicaid and Medicare while Democratic presidential candidates echo his views by expressing doubts or disapproval for everyone to receive healthcare — a fundamental human right.

 

We have yet to see how Bernie Sanders will withstand the onslaught of attacks for his comment recognizing Cuba’s medical achievements. However this controversy results, there are ways to criticize him from the left as opposed from the right. For those with critical views of Bernie Sanders’ version of “socialism” or “Democratic Socialism” we must distant our criticisms from those made by bourgeois elements on the political right.

 

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Cuba pays for its sophisticated healthcare system from its national resources.

 

To his credit, Bernie Sanders pointed to Cuba’s achievements, despite the criminal U.S. economic blockade against that country. His right to state an indisputable fact about Cuba is something we must defend him on, just as much as criticizing his positions that are conciliatory to capitalism.

 

Healthcare for all was made possible in Cuba simply because the country’s resources are no longer horded by a privileged and wealthy minority, like in the United States. The 1959 Cuban Revolution was launched to abolish that.

 

Now, imagine what is possible if we were to be free of the parasitical capitalist class in this country. That is why we do not need a new president — we need a new system, where free healthcare, free education, housing for all, dignity and respect for humanity becomes the law.

 

LONG LIVE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION!

 

 

 

What the hell did you expect from the Robert Mueller Report?

By Carlito Rovira

                                                                                                                                                              You say you’re disappointed – what on earth were you thinking about when Mueller was first appointed special counsel?

 

Sure the rulers are not homogeneous and are contentious among themselves, but keep in mind that it was an inquiry created by and approved by them. Mueller, who is also a Republican, is a staunch cadre of the ruling class, and is highly regarded by them. His military career and as Director of the FBI under both Republican and Democratic presidents confirms his complete loyalty to this system.

 

If there is a strict rule these villains in power live by is to protect the political integrity of the capitalist system. Mueller’s investigative mandate was not aimed to protect “democracy”, but rather, to protect a system of exploitation, social privilege and inequality.

 

Whose interest did you think the special counsel really represented? Certainly not our’s, the tens of millions of working class people who are being impacted by the policies of the Trump administration, and every administration that came before — which have acted consistently with the interest of the ruling class — a class interest that Democrats also represent. This fiasco was more like thieves investigating thieves.

 

Of course Trump should be indicted, most people in this country will agree. In fact, people are now speaking about the Mueller Report everywhere with the highest level of disappointment. But what Trump should have been investigated, indicted and imprisoned for goes beyond collusion — which many in the ruling class are also motivated to engage in for their business interest.

 

What Trump is indisputably guilty of is stepping up the full agenda of billionaires in this country, who conspire daily to execute an onslaught against poor working class, people of color.

 

What Trump is guilty of is working feverishly on eliminating the gains African Americans made during the Civil Rights movement and openly legitimizing traditional racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazies. He is also guilty of degrading Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Muslims, and other people of color. Special Council Mueller’s mandate did not include addressing questions of social oppression which are the unavoidable consequence of capitalist society. 

 

Trump should also face criminal charges for plotting war against Venezuela; his disgusting and offensive disposition towards the Palestinian people when he established a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem; and his hurtful, chastising imperial behavior towards Puerto Rico, as thousands died horribly as a result of Hurricane Maria.

 

YES, Trump should be investigated, indicted and imprisoned, but by a people’s tribunal that can guarantee justice in the fullest sense, independent of financial interests and the intricate connections within the ruling class. Such would require a people’s revolutionary movement. Not only would Trump be held accountable for his criminal activities but so too would the capitalist system and the white supremacist movement which he represents.

 

 

 

 

 

Cops exploit Bronx tragedy; WE NEED PEOPLE’S ORGANIZATION INSTEAD!

By Carlito Rovira

 

In the past week many people have been devastated, especially in New York City’s Bronx community, by news video coverage of 15 year old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who was also known as “Junior.” The graphic video shows Lesandro being savagely stabbed and hacked to death by members of a street youth gang known as “Los Trinitarios.”

There has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy by people throughout the city and across the country for Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s grieving mother and family, who will be impacted by this tragic event for years to come. Unfortunately, public discussion of this case was immediately limited by the media and has not addressed the social context that fuel these events in poor working-class communities.

Media reports have emphasized the perpetrators’ life-time record of criminal activity and zeroed-in on outcries for justice by neighborhood residents. And understandably so, mainstream news outlets sensationalized reports of this tragedy and have in various ways called upon stepping up police activity in oppressed people of color neighborhoods while insidiously attempting to facilitate community support for this end.

First we must ask, why is the racist police —with the assistance of the news media— trying to manipulate the justified anguish of this predominantly Dominican Bronx neighborhood? Why is the police controlling the narrative of these events?

As we well know, the police have never been a friend of the Latino community. The NYPD has historically been responsible for killing scores of unarmed Black and Latino people in this city, with violence comparable to that which was deployed against Lesandro.

And despite the police’s repeated mention that Lesandro Guzman-Feliz aspired to be a cop and that he was a member of the Explorers, a youth club under the auspices of the NYPD, when the police was called to the scene it treated Lesandro with the same contempt it treats all youth of color.

In fact, the attitudes of the two responding NYPD officers serve as a window into how the police view violence among people of color. A later-released video shows that as Lesandro laid bleeding to death two uniformed cops stood back without attempting to save his life.

No one can deny that these hideous crimes merit punishment and justice. Such acts are indisputably a clear indication of a mental and emotional departure from basic moral values and a sense of humanity. Death by senseless violence continues to be part of a disturbing panorama that describes the reality for many communities of color.

Violence conducted by individuals for the pettiest of reason is a behavioral matter that can only be addressed in a discussion of culture of the society within which it happens. That is, the violent historical setting from which capitalist culture developed. And because culture is at the heart of this matter, it is unfortunate that a percentage of unstable individuals among oppressed people will tend to mimic the violence of our oppressors.

Violence among oppressed people will never be a problem that the police will attempt to eradicate. They will point to its existence but only as a ploy to convince us that diminishing civil liberties and other meager freedoms works to our “safety.” In short, the deviant behavior of a few will always be used to enhance the powers of the police, courts and prisons.

In fact, since the very beginning of the police, dating back to slavery, their profession centers on inflicting violence on our people whenever they deem necessary. For this reason alone poor working class people cannot rely on the police state for salvation.

Gang violence was never as acute of a problem as it is now, until the 1980’s, when an influx of drugs consumed many communities of color. There was ample evidence, then, pointing to law enforcement, along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as the main perpetrators in what soon thereafter became a widespread crisis. Gang leaders were corrupted which made these organizations an essential part of the operations that led to funneling drugs into poor communities.

Ultimately every oppressed person in this country will be compelled to realize that peace and security can only come about from our own actions and organizing efforts.

Historically, not all street organizations involved themselves in hideous criminal activity. Many youths joined these groups for noble reasons and simply to obtain a sense of safety and belonging. There are instances in history where street youth groups protected neighborhood residents from crime.

One good example is the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican/Latino youth group that developed on the streets and prisons in Chicago during the 1960’s. They were influenced by the political events of that decade, especially by the activist work of the Black Panther Party. Eventually the Young Lords transcended to become a revolutionary entity.

 

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The Young Lords began on the streets and prisons of Chicago. They eventually transcended to become a revolutionary entity.

 

Such is the direction that these street youth groups of today must take. They must either side with the people and fight on their behalf or allow themselves to be absorbed by the efforts of the police state. In which case they would risk feeling the wrath of a rising revolutionary mass movement.

Justice and protection from criminal elements that have gone to the point of no return, and forgiveness, as Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s killers, can only come about with a politically and organizationally sophisticated militant mass movement. And that would automatically imply our people exercising the right to use all techniques and methods of self-defense.

Politics always colors how we see the world. BLACK PANTHER a movie review.

By Carlito Rovira

 

I’m happy to say that I took some time out and went to see the Marvel Studios movie production Black Panther. I was compelled to make this happen by the range of discussion about it, by people at work, friends and social media. I have to admit that I enjoyed watching it very much. It is the best movie I have seen since the first Star Wars in 1977.

The special effects, color, costumes and most especially of all the cast. Every actor in this movie merits an Oscar, especially Michael B Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Guirira, Forest Whitaker, Lilitia Whight and Winston Duke. Although “Wakanda” is a fictitious African country the quality of this movie will tend to make you believe for a brief moment that such a place exist.

But despite the movie’s acting and technical sophistication and well deserved praises, like all areas of aesthetics especially the cinema, Black Panther can not avoid having political content.

And for progressive minded people, especially people of color with connections to the liberation struggle, we should not be reluctant to divide the one into the two; this movie production has many beautiful aspects that will be appreciated by all especially young people of color.

One would easily feel that Black Panther is promoting a sense of African empowerment, and understandably so with such a powerful display of Black actors. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Let’s not lose sight that it was the backing of avaricious capitalist corporations, that partake directly or indirectly in the plunder of Africa, that made this movie possible. It became apparent to me how the political content of this movie was insidiously well pronounced and sugar coated for the purpose of mass acceptance.

Throughout most of the stretch of the movie I could not avoid being baffled when Black warriors of “Wakanda” are shown harmoniously collaborating with a white C.I.A. operative played by Martin Freeman. In one of the scenes he is wounded in battle and is affectionately cared for by the Wakadans.

The absurdity in this key element of the plot is knowing the criminal history of the C.I.A. in Africa – from the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, and the countless bloody atrosities it has committed throughout the African continent. The profiteers of this movie are hoping that we are ignorant of these historical facts.

In another insidious and politically significant part of this movie the Black Panther (the King) speaks before an international body of delegates from various nations to announce how Wakanda will no longer keep from the world its precious resources but instead will begin to share them. What is absurd in this scene is that in reality imperialist powers have always robbed Africa of all of its resources, human and material. In this same scene the C.I.A. operative is shown applauding the Black Panther’s announcement, as if giving approval.

Many Blacks and other people of color will feel inspired by this movie for many good reasons; Black Panther was excellently made and its cast was mostly Black who performed their roles with the utmost skills.

But while we admire the talents that comes from an oppressed people let’s not ever forget who controls the aesthetics and institutions of culture in this society, it is not the oppressed. There are reasons why capitalist corporations with complicity in racist oppression in the United States and the colonization of Africa, like the Walt Disney Company, were motivated to partake in making this movie.

 

THE SO-CALLED “GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN” IS A FARCE

By Carlito Rovira

 

There is no such thing as a “shutdown” of the capitalist state while the capitalist class is in power. The rulers are not that stupid to “shutdown” the apparatus that keeps them in power.

The police and the military will continue to function, maintaining this racist and criminal system of inequality. It is really a deception to make us believe that there is something fundamentally different between Democrats and Republicans, two political entities of the wealthy.

In actuality, what this debate among the different sectors of the ruling class is really about is to test how far they can go and get away with their political and economic subjugation of poor & working class people.

Trickery is a characteristic of those in this society who have made their fortunes at the expense of the many. In this case Republicans are attempting to demonize children of mostly Mexican origins as a way to sway the public to support the defunding and eliminate the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

But feverish and self-contradictory policies also existed under the Democratic Obama administration which contributed towards the anti-immigrant posture that exist today.

So-called “non essential” government workers will not be paid; recipients of social security and other desperately needed programs will not receive their checks. The military brass will continue to receive their payment and retain their privileges while the rank & file and their families will be left to float in the wind.

What is most ironic in all this is that the privileged men and women members of the U.S. Congress will continue to get paid, while millions of families throughout the country suffer.

Political crisis amongst the rulers such as what is now taking place, in which poor people are placed in a situation as pawns, is basically a fight among thieves. And as long as capitalism exist these farcical conflicts will continue to flourish as symptom of capitalist oppression. It is a reminder that WE NEED A FUNDAMENTALLY NEW SOCIETY.

THE TRUMP PHENOMENA: A CONSEQUENCE OF CAPITALISM

By Carlito Rovira

Never before in the history of bourgeois electoral politics in the United States have we witnessed anything more bizarre than what has taken place throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. The U.S. rulers have had their share of absurd individual personalities run for the highest political office but never one who has been so recklessly open with his reactionary views as presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The revelation of a 2005 “hot-mic” tape of a recorded conversation from the NBC’s show Access Hollywood with Co-Hosts Nancy O’Neal and Billy Bush has proven to be disastrous for Trump. It involved Trump making lewd, vulgar, demeaning and degrading remarks about women and how he used his “star power” to assault them. This is the latest in Trump’s long list of self-damaging blunders.

But what is perhaps the thing that we should take notice about and examine is, how sectors of the ruling class are now making it a point to distance themselves from Donald Trump and the contents of his remarks, as if they have been pro-women all along. The Republican Party’s gradual coldness towards Donald Trump resulted once they saw that a Frankenstein was created instead of a winning candidate.

What should be most telling to progressive minded people is that the Donald Trump phenomena in this year’s race for the presidency is not isolated from the vile existence of capitalist culture, in particular, its misogynist, homophobic and white supremacist practices and perspective.

Can anyone really say that anti-Latino, anti-Black, anti-women and anti-Muslim sentiments began with Donald Trump? White supremacy and misogynism has always been fostered by both Democratic and Republican figures. These two aspects of our reality under capitalism will continue to be expressed as “norms” as long as this system exists.

What the news media will not focus on is how Donald Trump is not an isolated case but the consequence of long established traditions in this society.

The rallying call for Donald Trump to resign from the Republican presidential ticket came about once he severely embarrassed that grouping in the ruling class. A huge crack was made in the wall of pretentious morals and respectability for the Republican Party, and potentially for the credibility of all bourgeois politics as well.

It is also possible that key elements among the most powerful and influential members of the ruling class decided that Hillary Clinton was their preferred candidate for president. Using a loose cannon like Donald Trump who is unable to think strategically and abide by the discipline of politics, would clear the way for the first woman to take office in a traditionally male dominated post.

It undoubtedly appears that the capitalist owned mass media sought ways to destroy whatever respect Trump may have had even within his own feverish racist circles. And why would this possibility not be far fetched? Trump’s reckless comments have in every objective sense clashed with the desires of significant sectors of the ruling class who wish to maintain a false projection of fairness and decency, in order to preserve a “peaceful” exploitative capitalism.

What we need to ask now is, how much “better” than the Republicans will the Democrats be in the White House? Consider the increasing poverty, mass incarceration, police terror as well as attacks on women, that we have experienced while Democratic Party presidents and politicians of both parties continue to live comfortably in their own privileged world. It is an increasingly doubtful proposition.

The understandable expectation that women in the U.S. will benefit from a Hillary Clinton presidential administration in Washington is just as doubtful as Blacks and other people of color having benefited from an Obama presidential administration. Of course Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party will benefit from this latest bombshell. There is no reason to believe otherwise. In fact, the discovery of the 2005 “hot mic” recording may have very well sealed a Clinton win in November.

But as oppressed and exploited people let’s not ignore or pretend otherwise, Hillary Clinton, like Donald Trump, is herself another prominent member of the capitalist class.

Suicides spread as economic crisis deepens

By Carlito Rovira


Public disapproval for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought to light a growing problem with suicides committed by U.S. military personnel. Many of these men and women come from the working-class and oppressed nationalities, whose social plight is compounded by the abuses they endure from Pentagon military policy and the top brass.


But news reports rarely mention the growing crisis of suicides among the general U.S. population. According to a 2008 report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, U.S. suicides are on the rise for the first time in a decade. A report by the American Association of Suicidology shows that suicides figures for 2005 outnumbered homicides by almost two to one, ranking suicides as the 11th cause of death in the United States.


The suicide of a loved one touches the deepest emotions of families and friends. The physical destruction of one’s own life, dismissing forever the least sense of hope, may seem like the most inconceivable of all human acts.


More often than not, suicide is reduced to an individual choice, a personal tragedy, removed from any social context. But the growing suicide epidemic has its obvious connections to the economic reality. It is not coincidental that the last significant jump in the rate of suicides in all U.S. history was during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Rising suicides are not just a domestic phenomenon. In the last half century, suicides worldwide have increased by 60 percent. Imperialist penetration in subjugated countries, with all of its ugliest features, has had a devastating impact on millions of people around the world.

Studies have shown that most suicides do not spring from a desire to die, but a desire to escape overwhelming and irresolvable situations. African chattel slaves chose to take their own lives rather than continue experiencing the horrors inflicted upon them by the white overseers and masters. Similarly, today’s impoverished workers, losing their jobs and made homeless in growing numbers, may find no other way to cope with despair.

The JHBSPH report found that suicides have increased in the United States for the first time in 10 years. One of the main contributors to the increased statistic is a decline in the standard of living for white men and women between the ages of 40 and 64. The capitalist economic crisis has disrupted the more privileged social position the white population has enjoyed historically.


Native Americans, one of the most impoverished peoples in the United States, continue to suffer the highest rate of suicide, 32.4 per 100,000. Compare the rates of suicides among the different sectors of the population: 14.2 per 100,000 whites, 9.9 per 100,000 Latinos, 8.5 per 100,000 Asians and Pacific Islanders and 7.4 per 100,000 African Americans.

Widespread distress

The capitalist class has placed the burden of the economic crisis on the backs of the working class. Two million more unemployed within the last year, growing home foreclosures, families left without health coverage, a 25 percent rise in incidents of police brutality since 2001 and civil liberties blatantly diminished—no wonder there is widespread distress.

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The national suicide rate is 10.9 per 100,000 people. More than 90 percent of people who die from suicide live highly stressful lives attributed to financial situations. Among other causes stemming from economic-related deterioration of social life are family violence, divorce, and drug and alcohol abuse.


The economic deterioration has only intensified the plight of children. Millions of children in this country live parentless, with a 50 percent school drop-out rate, and an increasing number are incarcerated. Capitalism cannot guarantee working-class children a decent, well-paying job in their future, let alone a decent education, leaving many with a sense of uncertainty.


Not surprisingly, a Surgeon General report disclosed that suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people. Suicide rates are 1.3 per 100,000 for children ages 10 to 14, 8.2 per 100,000 for adolescents ages 14 to 19 and 12.5 per 100,000 for young adults ages 20 to 24. The last group beats the national average.

In a 2006 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one of every 12 adolescents in high school attempted suicide, and 17 percent considered making an attempt.


For older or retired workers, ages 65 and up, suicide rates are also high. A 2004 report by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention revealed that the rate of suicide for people 65 years of age and older is 14.3 per 100,000.

Working-class seniors are often neglected. The capitalist system takes little interest in workers past the prime age for profitable exploitation. If they can stay in their jobs long enough to retire, they face many difficulties, including the threat of losing their retirement plans, medical insurance and other services.

Resources exist, pilfered by wealthy

With modern technological and scientific advancements, the means exist for a scientific approach to address these problems. In a society that has such an enormous amount of resources and wealth, there is no reason for people to be in need. The resources to eradicate misery and want exist, but capitalism perpetuates social and economic inequalities—the material conditions responsible for pushing the most vulnerable to the far depths of hopelessness.


Under capitalism, socially created wealth is pilfered by the rich. While government officials hand over the public treasury to the wealthy, the working poor must confront the consequences of this injustice. Hospitals are closed and health care is denied to working people. Psychiatric and psychological care is part of the comprehensive medical care which should be a right. The vast majority of people are left to suffer in various ways.

Capitalism is to blame for the suffering wrought upon working people day in and day out—the epidemic of suicides being one of its more extreme manifestations. Any system that compels so many to such drastic ends must be indicted, prosecuted, condemned and done away with. Only in a world without class exploitation can human beings progress in surroundings of solidarity and cooperation. Only then will human life be accorded the appreciation and respect it deserves and will all human beings live with dignity.

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/26/suicide-rate-rising-american-women-cdc-report

Black Emancipation Poses Threat to White Supremacist Traditions at 2016 Superbowl

By Carlito Rovira

 

 

For the most part, no one ever expected such a barrage of condemnation against the super-star African American singing artist Beyonce for her performance during halftime at the 2016 Superbowl. It is an institutionalized extravagant sport event viewed by tens of millions of people throughout the United States.

 
The controversy began immediately after a dance troupe of about 50 women, with Beyonce at the helm, took center stage in a beautifully choreographed arrangement and dress attire that made references to the legendary Black Panther Party and Malcolm X. To many people nothing could have been a better tribute to the annual tradition of Black History Month (February) than to depict figures so symbolic in U.S. history.

 

But in order to understand why this performance became such a controversy we must first explore the causes that triggered it. Anyone who closely examines the norms of this violent “sport” will easily see how it tends to present itself as a feverish gladiator ritual. The definition of “sport” has been changed to mean inflicting bodily harm among high priced members of opposing teams and in some cases with permanent damage.

 

With military music bands playing and jet fighters flying high above the airspace of stadiums, the Superbowl has become an event that insidiously promotes a peculiar version of militarism. It accentuates sexism, white supremacy and big nation chauvinist arrogance – all of the not-so-hidden ideas that prevail in the general thinking of capitalist culture.

 

With this kind of historically rooted setting it came as no surprise when arch racists and notorious figures like New York State Representative Peter King and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani launched a barrage of attacks against the prominent Black female performer.

 
They were appalled that Beyonce would dare pay homage to heroic African American revolutionaries, even in the most minimized implicit manner. The vindictive outcry by these and other white supremacists has little to do with Beyonce or what they perceived as “offensive” during the halftime performance.

 
Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party and the mass upsurge that occurred during the 1960’s – 70’s, the height of the Civil Rights movement, continues to haunt the imagination of our oppressors to this day. Their apprehensions are attributed to the militant traditions of the African American masses which brought about the rise of Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party.

 
The lessons that came as a result of those experiences are indisputably applicable in our reality today – and that is precisely what these villains fear. Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous and other people of color continue to be brutalized and murdered by the police across the United States.

 
Unlike the lies asserted by Guilliani and King it was the police who attacked, imprisoned and murdered Black Panthers in a criminal campaign organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) known as Operation COINTELPRO. However, both Malcolm X and the BPP boldly advocated and practiced the right to use armed self-defense against the racist terror of the police in the Black community.

 
What the representatives of the ruling class are most upset about at Beyonce is that her Superbowl halftime performance reminded everyone of a period in U.S. history when Black people defiantly posed a threat to this racist system by galvanizing many sectors of the general population. This phenomena presented the potential for revolution in this country under the impact of the Black liberation struggle.

 
The role Black people played in the events of that period in history is something the ruling class can not forget or forgive. They will naturally dread the mere thought of a revolutionary upheaval until the day of their final doom.

 

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The Black Panther Party believed in the right to armed self-defense from police terror.

 

This is why former Black Panther and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has stated: “The tyrants, oppressors and racists who continue to hold political power in this country by using the most ruthless means can not afford a repeat of the 1960’s.”

 

The plight of Black people, from the 300 years of slavery, Jim Crow discrimination and the mass incarceration and police brutality today, are facts that our oppressors and those who benefit from white privilege and entitlement would like us to ignore and forget.

 
Regardless what Beyonce’s motives may have been she touched upon a vulnerability of white supremacist America and because of that she merits our applause and praise. If her halftime performance were a projection of jingoism, militarism or a glorification of white supremacy she would not have received the flack that she is now a target of.