On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1958, the revolutionary guerilla army of the July 26 Movement, under the leadership of Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, entered the capital city of Havana, Cuba. This was the final act in the overthrow of the notorious U.S.-sponsored Fulgencio Batista regime.
The closer the guerilla army approached the city on foot, horseback and vehicles, the more frantic the oppressors of the Cuban people became. Their world of lavishness with cocktails drinks on hand was abruptly disrupted. Mafia gangsters, prostitution pimps, drug peddlers, casino club owners, operatives of the CIA and other imperialist agencies, high ranking military and police officials as well as top bureaucrats of Batista’s government, were all crowding Havana’s airport in a desparate rush to leave Cuba, to avoid capture by the revolutionaries.
This event marked the dawn of a new era in that country’s history which sent shock waves throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Cuban Revolution has had a tremendous impact on political circumstances in Latin America, the Caribbean and the entire world ever since.
Cuba has been a staunch advocate of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and has brought to light at the world arena the horrendous nature of the U.S. colonial presence; it provided political and logistical support to the Palestinian liberation struggle as well as sending thousands of Cuban troops to Africa in an effort to assist freedom fighters there in their quest. The most notable example of Cuba’s solidarity with Africa’s freedom struggle is the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. In a combined effort with the Angolan military the Cuban Army surrounded and smashed the racist apartheid South African Army.
Of the most notable of Cuba’s acts of humanitarianism is its creation of the Latin American School of Medicine. Students from poor and oppressed communities from the United States and Third World countries, who otherwise could not financially afford it, are provided with a free education to become medical doctors, paid for by the Cuban government.
And to demonstrate how serious the Cuban Revolution is about its own convictions and sense of humanity, many people in poor countries have received desperately needed medical attention for the first time thanks to Cuba’s well-known international medical program. Cuba has sent thousands of medical professionals to the poorest communities throughout the globe to heal and prevent deceases, even under the most dangerous circumstances.
Cuba has also provided a safe haven to many political refugees sought by the agencies of imperialism, like Puerto Rican freedom fighter William Morales and Black Panther sister Assata Shakur. Cuba has also been a firm supporter for the release of political prisoners in the U.S., like Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Justice now had a new meaning, defined by the revolutionary aspirations of the oppressed. Uniformed villains of the Batista military and police who once tortured, murdered and raped the people were rounded up and brought to face criminal charges. Tribunals were held throughout the country for all to witness and participate in a completely new form of justice — people’s justice — in which victims partook by providing testimony and in deciding the fate of these overthrown government officials.
Thanks to the Cuban Revolution the people were no longer deprived of free healthcare, free education, and access to food. Such are the vital necessities denied to the working poor here in the United States.
60 years have past and the Cuban people remain firm on defending their right to self-determination. They have been exemplary in their resilience in the face of repeated U.S. government attempts to undermine their sovereignty. These attempts include terrorist actions on Cuba’s tourist industry, CIA subversive attempts to incite counterrevolutionary activities within the country, 600 known attempts on the life of the late Fidel Castro Ruz, and a continuous economic blockade that still continues to this day.
Despite these acts of aggression and Washington’s 60 years propaganda war aimed to demonize the revolution, no one can deny Cuba’s achievements in eradicating illiteracy, advancements in medical science, food production & agriculture, housing development and the infrastructure.
Cuba’s revolutionary leadership has prioritized the needs of the people and continues to make good on its pledge never to allow foreign exploiters, oppressors and conquerors to return the country back to the suffering that once existed under the domination of the United States.
So as we celebrate the coming of the new year, we should salute the Cuban people on their glorious anniversary. And may the year 2019 bring us here in the United States a step closer to a world without exploitation, deprivation, oppression and racist violence.
It saddens me to announce that on the evening of Monday, December 10, 2018, long time revolutionary activist Andy McInerney passed away after losing a long battle with cancer. As if it wasn’t enough losing my sweetheart & love of my life, Ana Lopez Betancourt, in the month of May 2018, I now grieve another major loss, my very best friend, brother and comrade, Andy McInerney.
Andy was a professor at Bronx Community College in New York. He will surely be missed by the many whom he taught as well as his colleagues who partook in struggles for bettering college level education and for increasing the benefits and salaries of professors.
Andy was a communist. He was always fascinated when learning about the liberation struggles of oppressed people. He was adamant about white progressives today requiring to have the same disposition John Brown once had against African chattel slavery, if they sincierely claim being anti-racist. I always had respect for Andy, since I envisioned him fighting alongside John Brown if he were to live during the 1859 attack on Harpers Ferry.
As a person of white origin himself, Andy was critical of white leftists who tended to show inconsistencies of conviction, by being soft and evasive of criticizing white privilege and white entitlement. He viewed that kind of behavior unforgiving and a not-so-hidden expression of white supremacist ideology.
Andy and I became good friends during our mutual experience in Workers World Party and in the Party for Socialism & Liberation. It was in our experiences in these entities where our collaboration first grew to the finest pitch, which later on continued.
Wherever Andy found himself, whether organizing events on campus or mobilizing for mass demonstrations, he always sought ways to promote and apply Marxist-Leninist theory. He recognized that his moral obligation was to build in the present in preparation for the future battle for socialism in the United States.
Andy was indeed a revolutionary who also contributed to my own political development. In 1991 when I first met him the world revolutionary movement went into disarray, resulting from the impact the collapse of the Soviet Union was having everywhere.
He was an optimist, even under dim circumstances. He always told me that the collapse of the Soviet Union was only a temporary victory for imperialism and that we should maintain our course in building for revolution in this country regardless.
Andy understood that throughout history such phenomenon also occurred with other social & economic systems. It was Andy who told me “not to worry” and enlightened me to how the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France was equivalent to the restoration of capitalism in Russia. Bonaparte restored the political power of the monarchy that was defeated by the 1789 French Revolution.
Andy was of Irish descent. He demonstrated the utmost respect to me when he discovered that I was a Young Lord and a Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalist. In our exchanges we strengthened each other’s understanding of the Irish-Puerto Rican connection. It was Andy who first made me aware that Irish revolutionary James Connolly had asked Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos to draw up a draft for the Constitution of a free Irish republic.
There is much more that can be said about Andy McInerney. He touched the hearts of so many people. His greatest trait which describes his finest qualities as a human being was his incredible love and respect for teaching and learning, a fundamental requirement for what it takes to be a revolutionary. Andy’s disposition came with an eagerness to learn and pass the knowledge on to others.
I will miss you my dear brother and comrade, Andy McInerney. You were always there for me during the thick and thin. There is much about you that I will cherish and feel honored that you were in my life. And above all, I shall eternally be grateful to you for helping me strengthen my resolve to keep fighting until this social system of oppression is finally smashed by the will of the vast majority of oppressed and exploited people.
By Carlito Rovira The wave of repression unleashed on the Black liberation movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s by the FBI’s “Operation COINTELPRO” reached its height with a series of murderous attacks on the Black Panther Party. One of the most horrendous episodes of this onslaught took place on Dec. 4, 1969, when Black Panther Party figures Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated by police.
In a coordinated effort between the Illinois State Attorney’s Office, Cook County Police Department, the Chicago Police Department and the FBI, a heavily armed assault was launched in the early morning hours on Fred Hampton’s residence. With a vicious sense of racist hatred and no regard for human life, the police fired their weapons at will through a wall separating the hallway from the apartment. The two revolutionaries were killed.
In the days that followed, law enforcement officials were quick to reinvent the facts. They claimed that the occupants of the apartment fired guns at police. Their story never held water. Evidence gathered from the forensic investigation and other inquiries pointed exclusively to police savagery in the attack.
The shaping of a leader
Hampton’s life was brief, but was rich in struggle.
Hampton was born in Chicago on Aug. 30, 1948. His parents originated from Hayneville, La., where sharecropping and racial injustice were common. His great-grandparents had worked on a plantation in that region under the horrors of slavery.
Like millions of African Americans, Hampton’s parents left the South during the Great Migration of the 1930’s to look for a better life and flee the constant threat of racist terror. They settled in Maywood, Ill., a suburb of Chicago where they worked at the Argo Starch Company.
Hampton was attracted to books, and took it upon himself to read the speeches and writings of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Joan Elbert, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others. He gained a reputation for his knowledge of Black history and began to sense the need for struggle.
As a student at Proviso East High School, he noticed that most of the students who failed were Black. Hampton began to speak out against the school administration for not providing tutoring and remedial programs for students. He was also critical of the fact that the faculty and administration were all white when one-fourth of the student body was Black.
Hampton challenged the school’s exclusive racist practice of nominating only white girls to compete for “Miss Homecoming Queen.” He organized a protest, walk-out and school boycott. As a result, the following year Black female students were included in this contest.
Fred Hampton was respected by white and Black students alike. The year after he graduated from Proviso East, a school administrator requested his help to calm racial tensions among students.
An event that likely affected the young Fred Hampton, much as it affected most of Chicago’s Black community, was the 1955 gruesome lynching of Emmett Till. The 14-year-old Till was visiting family in Mississippi when he was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till was the son of family friends and neighbors of the Hamptons.
At Triton Junior College, he studied law as a defense against police brutality aimed at the Black community. He joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and became the leader of its youth council at the West suburban branch, galvanizing a membership of 500.
While Hampton was in the NAACP, the Black Panther Party was opening chapters across the country and becoming a prominent force in the Black liberation struggle. Hampton began to absorb and understand the revolutionary content of the Panthers’ political perspective, and joined. He soon demonstrated his leadership abilities and became deputy chairman of the party’s Illinois chapter.
His disposition and skills as a speaker earned Hampton a moral authority. His political achievements included brokering peace with the supposed “street gangs” of Chicago, amongst them the Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. Hampton was instrumental in transforming the Young Lords into a revolutionary political organization.
The white, racist U.S. ruling class was appalled. How dare the descendents of African slaves call themselves socialists and aim to achieve Black people’s right to reparations! Even more daring was the Black Panther Party’s call for the overthrow of capitalism—a demand the ruling class could never tolerate. Their ability to forge unity in struggle was a threat in itself.
All this was happening while resentment for the war in Vietnam was on the rise. The men of privilege and wealth, with a stake in preserving the imperialist system, grew apprehensive the more it became apparent that a mass revolutionary movement was arising.
Hampton valued the need for a multinational revolutionary struggle, and organized the original Rainbow Coalition comprised of the I Wor Kuen of the Asian community, the Brown Berets of the Mexican community, the poor white workers of the Young Patriots, the Young Lords and the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party set standards for waging struggle. Their enthusiastic projection of socialism allowed many to envision its relevance to African Americans and other oppressed nationalities.
Operation COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, was established in the mid-1950’s to deter the development of any movement deemed a threat to the existing social, economic and political order. It remained secret until 1971, when anti-repression activists broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pa., and confiscated files revealing the hidden operation.
As the Civil Rights movement advanced—galvanizing strength from all sectors of the population, breaking the despicable Jim Crow laws and compelling the U.S. Congress to pass other progressive legislation—the FBI increasingly turned its attention to the Black liberation struggle.
The slanderous editorials against the Panthers in the capitalist-owned mass media, combined with Hoover’s frequent verbal attacks, reflected the wishes of the ruling class who sought the complete destruction of the Black Panther Party and the ideals it embodied. Internal FBI memos show that the government had a special interest in Hampton’s political activities and his associations; Chicago police were encouraged by the FBI to find a way to lock up Hampton.
These circumstances compelled the government to destroy the Black Panther Party.
“The greatest threat to national security”
The Black Panther Party openly advocated for socialist revolution, and openly supported the Chinese and Cuban revolutions. The Panthers’ breakfast program for children, among other social programs, underlined their commitment to meet the needs of communities that received nothing but oppression and neglect from the government.
Prior to Hampton’s death, police raided the Panthers’ Chicago office on three separate occasions. William O’Neal, Fred Hampton’s bodyguard, was a police informant who was instructed to draw up a floor plan of the targeted apartment weeks earlier. Law enforcement used the information gathered by O’Neal to murder Hampton.
The staunch anti-capitalist stance of these young revolutionaries who declared themselves Marxist-Leninists made them the target of the most ruthless, racist elements in power. On numerous occasions, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover expressed a special disdain for the Black struggle, particularly towards Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Many were not surprised when Hoover declared the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to national security.”
Hampton’s murder was part of a pattern of police raids, false imprisonment and executions of Black Panthers. COINTELPRO documents proved that assassination of Black leaders was among its aims. Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party had to be eliminated simply because they had touched upon capitalism’s greatest weakness—the decisiveness and strength that a multi-national movement has in a battle against this system.
The Black Panther Party arose from the struggles of the African American people, historically the most oppressed and exploited group in the United States. They symbolized hope and received the greatest affection. They attributed Black oppression to the capitalist system, and dared to pick up arms against the state. The militancy and defiance of these young revolutionaries deeply impacted the Civil Rights and socialist movements.
Hampton and the Black Panthers believed all would benefit if the banner of the struggle against racism and national oppression was taken up by the white masses as their own. Hampton knew that it was possible to smash the racial barriers created by capitalism to divide and conquer the working class. His confidence was based on the strong belief that this system provides the motivation for all to unite and engage in revolutionary struggle.
Long live the memory of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark!
THE U.S. MILITARY REFLECTS THE RACISM IN CAPITALISM
African Americans’ role in the military during the Civil War was wholly progressive. Indeed, Black soldiers had a vital stake in smashing the hideous system of slavery.
While President Abraham Lincoln often expressed his indifference to the issue of emancipation, he was forced to recognize the absolute necessity of arming African Americans.
Black soldiers soon became feared by the Southern slave-owning class. Their tenacity, skill and valor as soldiers proved decisive to the North winning the Civil War. For instance, when General Ulysses S. Grant was sent to fight Gen. Robert E. Lee’s military forces in Virginia, he requested Black regiments as his principal shock troops.
Then there was Harriet Tubman. A former slave, she became an intelligence officer for the Union Army, operating behind enemy lines. Tubman’s courage made possible the capture of Confederate garrisons and by working with the “Underground Railroad” she led hundreds of slaves to their freedom.
But Tubman’s boldest and most successful mission is when she led many Black Union soldiers on the daring raid at Combahee Ferry on June 1863. In this courageous action Tubman and Black soldiers under her command were able to free 700 slaves while under fire from charging Confederate troops.
The Civil War was the last time African Americans had a positive stake in a U.S. war’s outcome. It was the only time in U.S. history when the interest of the capitalist class coincided with the aspirations of Black people.
After the Confederacy was militarily defeated “colored” volunteer units of the U.S. military were disbanded. All told, 200,000 African Americans served in the Army and Navy. Thirty thousand Blacks in uniform died in combat.
After African Americans were betrayed during Reconstruction, they were further undermined and impoverished when the South was overrun by capital investments in manufacturing, lumber and agriculture. The capitalist rulers began to cast their eyes abroad.
By 1870 four regiments of Black troops were re-organized, but were used for the vicious campaign to annihilate tribal Indigenous nations in the “Indian Wars” of the West and Southwest United States. In 1898 all four of these re-organized Black regiments were sent to be among the invading forces in the Spanish-American War. African American soldiers were used for conquering other oppressed people. The U.S. became a world imperialist power.
BLACK SOLDIERS IN THE IMPERIALIST ERA
The mysterious explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana, Cuba on Feb. 18, 1898, served as an excuse for Washington officials to declare war on Spain. The U.S. invaded the Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, colonizing them anew. The Monroe Doctrine had already reserved all of Latin America and the Caribbean to be exploited exclusively by U.S. capitalists.
In 1899 under the leadership of Aguinaldo, the Filipino people furiously fought the new invaders. They inflicted many casualties on the U.S. Army, which falsely claimed to be “helping the people’s quest for freedom.” The U.S. government retaliated by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Filipino women, men and children.
This genocide was not passively accepted inside the United States, as mainstream historians contend. The Anti-Imperialist League held many mass protests in major cities throughout this country.
Significant anti-war sentiment was also expressed widely in the Black community. The Black press as well as other representatives of the African American people vigorously denounced the war. The great historian, socialist and African American leader W.E.B. Du Bois played a notable role in this anti-war movement.
Most important, Black resistance surfaced inside the U.S. military. Four Black regiments sent to fight in the Philippines established a bond with the Native people there, who also were dark-skinned. These Black troops resented white officers and soldiers describing Filpinos with the same racist slurs applied to African Americans in the United States.
Filipino insurgents appealed to Black soldiers not to fight on the side of U.S. imperialism. Posters denouncing racist lynchings in the United States were placed throughout the islands, as a show of Filipino solidarity with African Americans. This political agitation helped lead to many Black troops deserting the U.S. military.
Some of these African Americans soldiers went over to the other side, joining the Filipino guerrilla army. The most notable was David Fagan, formerly of the 24th Infantry Division. The Filipino freedom fighters so respected Fagan that he was made a commander in their army. David Fagan’s example demonstrates how unity among different oppressed people is possible.
BLACK RESISTANCE & IMPERIALIST WAR
In the post-Reconstruction period, as Jim Crow laws re-introduced the “Black Codes” throughout the South, top military officials were contemptuous to the idea of having large numbers of African American recruits. But in 1917 President Woodrow Wilson conveniently signed the Selective Service Law. The U.S. entered World War 1.
The two world wars in Europe created circumstances that demanded the recruitment of large numbers of soldiers. African Americans were now accompanied by Puerto Ricans, Indigenous, and Mexican Americans as oppressed nationalities looked upon as cannon fodder. Military recruits from these sectors of society faced disproportionate casualty statistics while continuing to confront racist segregation, discrimination and violence, during and after their service.
Although African Americans made an exerted effort to prove their bravery and diligence as soldiers during war they were unable to escape discriminatory practices and customs deemed “normal” in the United States. An example was the Tuskegee Airmen, known as the “Red Tails.” These African American pilots proved their bravery and skills during World War 2 in aerial combat with Germany’s Luftwaffe. Until the end of the war they were denied recognition to avoid acknowledging that they were Black.
On June 24, 1943 racism within the U.S. military showed its ugly head once again. But this time the dignity and defiance of Black people also showed it’s face in the form of armed resistance at theBattle of Bamber Bridge.
England did not have racist segregation laws like the United States. Black soldiers were embraced in social settings by British citizens. However, white U.S. military officers, especially those from southern states, objected to racial interactions involving Black servicemen under their command.
In one particular instance military police were sent to Bamber Bridge, in the township of Lancashire to absurdly enforce segregation laws. African American soldiers from the 1511th Quartermaster Truck Regiment were abruptly confronted by MP’s in pubs and restaurants. Before long a deadly clash ensued between Black and White men wearing the same uniform.
AFRICAN AMERICANS & THE VIETNAM WAR
By the second half of the 1960’s the Civil Rights movement began to gather widespread approval and support while anti-war sentiments grew in response to U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. Washington and Pentagon officials had unleashed a massive military campaign in an attempt to crush the Vietnamese revolution, which defeated the French in 1954.
The outcry opposing this war increased in Black and Brown communities, especially due to the aggressive political agitation of the Black Panther Party and Dr. Martin Luther King’s open condemnation of the war in 1968. Growing resistance to the military draft paralleled the rise of the Black power movement. Black and Brown resentment to racism was now accompanied by widespread opposition to conscription.
The Vietnam War was the first U.S. military incursion where units were no longer racially segregated. However, white racist die-hearts among officers and enlisted soldiers continued with their traditional outlook towards Black and Brown people.
In addition to mistreatment, Black and Latino soldiers were usually ordered to carry out life threatening tasks, usually suicide missions. Although they comprised less than 30% of the U.S. population combined at the time their death toll was 3 out of 5 killed in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese understood quite well the plight of Black people in the United States and sympathized with their struggles against racist oppression. In 1924 Vietnam’s iconic revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh wrote his famous pamphlet titled “On Lynching and the Ku Klux Klan” which served as a condemnation of the racism in U.S. society and outlined the commonalities between the Black and Vietnamese liberation struggles.
It was no coincidence when Vietnamese insurgents (National Liberation Front) released Black and Brown G.I.’s captured in battle. After having political exchanges with the prisoners Black and Brown soldiers were usually released and not held as POW’s
As the war intensified many Black and Brown soldiers rebelled by collectively refusing to obey orders, and in many cases causing injury or death to white officers themselves. In every objective sense the rebelliousness of Black and Brown servicemen, along with the spread of the anti-war movement at home, aided the Vietnamese liberation struggle in its quest to rid U.S. imperialism.
Being aware of internal friction and demoralization within the U.S. military while the Vietnamese People’s Army and the National Liberation Front gained the upper hand militarily, compelled U.S. rulers to withdraw from that war in 1975.
Throughout the history of Black people serving in the U.S. military there has never been a period where they were free of the same racist oppression they faced in civilian life. The U.S. Armed Forces were created to preserve a system of inequality and for securing U.S. domination throughout the world. The U.S. military’s ideological guide is also based on what has justified Black oppression since it began — white supremacy.
Since the Civil War the presence of Black people in the military has presented a paradox to U.S. rulers. Out of necessity government and Pentagon officials welcomed the enlistment of people of color while fearing the possibility that the skills they learned would eventually be used against this system in revolutionary struggle. And understandably so.
When oppressed and exploited people find common ground in their quest for freedom unity can be established, as what occurred in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and in other instances where Black soldiers were sent to shed blood. Social movements throughout U.S. history have proven that oppressors are only as strong as we allow them to be. Those who occupy the position of power need us more than we need them.
Working class people of all races and nationalities in this country comprise the majority and are in the position to put a stop to the chaos that now exist. Such is what will lay the basis for ending Black oppression and the reign of U.S. imperialism. It is the only way that we can bring into existence a world without continual war and terror.
Since the earliest human societies, people have used animal images to express their beliefs. Painting animals on pottery, garments and cave walls arose from ritual notions about the power of this imagery.
With the development of class society, animal symbols took on new meaning. Animal characteristics have been interpreted in folklore to explain the miserable reality of the poor or to justify social privileges for wealthy rulers.
Leading capitalists like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie promoted Herbert Spencer’s “social Darwinism” during the rise of imperialism. This “theory” described the exploited and oppressed as “weaker species”, etc.
Moreover, the predatory bald eagle was chosen to glorify a government that sanctioned genocide and African chattel slavery.
On the other hand, the oppressed have also used symbols, in this case to express their resistance. One famous example is the “Two Wings of the Same Bird” concept. This metaphor was created by the legendary Puerto Rican revolutionary literary and poet Lola Rodriguez De Tio. It was later on used in musical rendition by Cuban poet and revolutionary leader Jose Marti. It describes the historical relationship of solidarity between Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Since some of the most beautiful birds in the world inhabit the Caribbean, it was easy for Lola Rodriguez De Tio to use this life form as poetic symbolism in revolutionary politics. The “bird” she described is made up of the island countries of the Greater Antilles — the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, with Cuba and Puerto Rico on opposite ends of the region, functioning as wings.
The concept of a Caribbean federation of nations originated from the Haitian Revolution. For most of the 1800’s Haiti was the beacon of revolution in the Western Hemisphere, like what the Soviet Union was during the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Ramon Emeterio Betances, who was of African decent himself, was the symbolic leader of the 1868 El Grito De Lares uprising in Puerto Rico. He had a deep respect for the ideals of the Haitian struggle. Coupled with the political commonalities Betances had with Lola Rodriguez De Tio, his trusted comrade, is likely what motivated her poetic expression of “Two Wings of the Same Bird”.
Both Lola Rodriguez De Tio and Jose Marti were internationalists and expressed revolutionary traditions in poetic form. De Tio and Marti identified with all anti-colonial struggles in addition to having a special affection for the liberation struggles of each other’s country, which shared a common suffering under Spanish tyranny.
In the early 1860s revolutionaries from both countries secretly met in a hotel on Broome Street in New York City to form the Society for the Independence of Cuba & Puerto Rico.
Members of this group helped facilitate the 1868 “El Grito De Lares” uprising. Under the leadership of Ramon Emeterio Betances, African slaves, workers and peasants all did their part to build the efforts for this battle. When their attempt for independence failed, about 2000 Puerto Rican rebels went to Cuba to continue the fight against Spanish colonialism. Among the Puerto Ricans to join this venture was Juan Rius Rivera, who became a commander in the Cuban rebel army.
Caribbean People Fight for Cuban & Puerto Rican freedom
Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans and Puerto Ricans were among the insurgents who fought in El Grito De Lares and Cuba’s El Grito De Yara, both in 1868. This inspired Jose Marti to preserve the use of the “two wings” metaphor.
Marti recognized the threat a rising U.S. imperialist power would pose to the Caribbean peoples. His wish for a united Caribbean federation was based on a calculated necessity. Familiar with the atrocities the U.S. rulers committed against the oppressed at home, Marti knew he could expect no better treatment from the United States than from Spain.
In 1895 Cuban revolutionaries launched a war for independence. They were gaining the upper hand in the war against Spain. But in 1898 their efforts were interrupted when the United States invaded Cuba, Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
Two years later on March 24, 1897 Puerto Ricans attempted once again to use force in their quest for freedom at the uprising known as “Intentona de Yauco.”
Jose Marti died in 1895. He never saw his wish for a free Cuba in a Caribbean federation come true.
But thanks to the 1959 Cuban Revolution, his ideals remain alive today. Although Puerto Rico and Cuba live under opposite social systems, there is still solidarity between the peoples of the “two wings.”
Cuba’s revolutionary government has officially recognized Puerto Rico’s independence struggle. It even established an “Office of Puerto Rico.”
Cuba has also given political asylum to Puerto Rican anti-colonial fighters sought by the U.S. government. At the United Nations, Cuba has fought for world recognition of Puerto Rico’s historical struggle for independence and self-determination.
Many Puerto Ricans return this solidarity by continuing to break the criminal U.S. blockade against Cuba, traveling there from Puerto Rico itself. For decades these anti-colonialists travel back and forth to Cuba.
The oppressed peoples’ drive to unite and maintain such traditions in their common struggle is a vital weapon to end U.S. imperialism’s rule. No country in the world has remained committed and firm in their solidarity to Puerto Rico’s struggle for national liberation than Cuba.
On July 25, 1978, Puerto Rican police assassinated two young pro-independence activists. This brutal and blatant murder, known as the Cerro Maravilla murders, exposed for the world to see the violence with which U.S. imperialism keeps Puerto Rico in chains to this day.
The controversy and the cover-up that followed were like none other in Puerto Rico’s political history. It involved government officials at the highest level, top police brass as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department.
Arnaldo Darío Rosado, 24, and Carlos Soto Arriví, 18, had been involved in pro-independence groups before. Inspired by the heroes of independence who championed the liberation of the homeland from U.S. rule by any means necessary, they joined the Armed Revolutionary Movement (MRA). The MRA had no experience in such matters, it never carried out any military actions in the past.
A police agent, Alejandro González Malavé, infiltrated the group. He recruited Darío and Soto to set fire to a communications tower on the mountain named Cerro Maravilla. The act was supposed to protest the imprisonment of Oscar Collazo (imprisoned for the 1950 armed attack on U.S. President Harry Truman) and Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores, and Andres Figueroa Cordero (imprisoned for a 1954 armed attack on the U.S. Congress).
By 1978, the freedom of these political prisoners was a campaign of paramount importance, both to the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico and to human rights advocates around the world. In fact, it was a frequently mentioned issue in news outlets throughout the world and at United Nations Organization discussions on decolonization.
It was a clever manipulative tactic by the Puerto Rico Police. First and foremost, July 25th is the date of the U.S. military invasion in 1898. And because Arnaldo and Carlos were highly devoted to the cause for Puerto Rico’s independence but were too inexperienced to detect how they were being lured into a trap, it was easy for the police to lead them to their deaths.
COLONIAL POLICE MURDER ARNALDO & CARLOS
On the evening of July 25, 1978, the three forced taxi driver Julio Ortiz Molina to drive them to the communications tower at the top of the mountain in Cerro Maravilla.
Once the vehicle arrived at the location, heavily armed police opened fire on the cab. Darío and Soto shouted, “Don’t shoot, we surrender,” according to well-documented testimony. The two were dragged out of the car, savagely beaten then forced to kneel. They were then shot, execution style.
Cops who testified during the investigation disclosed that several hours before the murders, officers assigned to the sting were ordered by Col. Angel Perez Casillas, commander of the Intelligence Division, that, “These terrorists should not come down (from the mountain) alive.”
Eyewitness accounts confirmed what many in the independence movement had all along asserted. The assassination of the two independence activists was a political statement on the part of the colonial Puerto Rico Police.
Then Governor of Puerto Rico, Carlos Romero Barcelo, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, immediately hailed the cops as heroes.
Pretentious investigations were conducted by the colonial government, as well as by the FBI and the Justice Department, but only to assist in a systematic cover-up motivated by the already existing colonial setting in Puerto Rico.
In the aftermath of the killings, every agency involved in the investigation was quick to exonerate the killer cops and demonize the two victims, and for clear-cut and well-defined reasons. The Puerto Rico Police exists as the principle enforcer of U.S. colonial policy.
Historically, every political repressive act by the U.S. rulers involved the complicity of the Puerto Rico Police. It has served as the pit bull of U.S. agencies, most especially the FBI; dating back to the attacks on Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, the Nationalist Party and the brutal Rio Piedras and the Ponce Massacres.
This specially trained armed attachment of U.S. colonialism is perhaps one of the most sophisticated apparatuses of law enforcement in all 50 states and occupied territories. It is defined by colonial law as a “quasi-military” organization which is granted assistance by the National Guard, in everything involved to the work of a “civilian” police force.
TYRANTS ARE NOT INVINCIBLE. POLITICAL ADVANTAGE CAN SHIFT
Regardless of differences in political beliefs, widespread indignation to these murders came from all sectors of the population. A momentum grew to such a degree of pressure that it caused a political crisis for the U.S. colonizers in Puerto Rico.
On April 29, 1986, undercover cop/provocateur Alejandro González Malavé was assassinated in front of his mother’s house in Bayamón. He was shot three times by a group identifying itself as the “Volunteer Organization for the Revolution.” Boricuas in Puerto Rico and the diaspora applauded his death and viewed it as a well deserved act of justice.
The FBI considered this group “one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the United States.” On December 3, 1979 the V.O.R. claimed responsibility for an attack on a U.S. Navy bus in Puerto Rico in which two Navy personnel were killed and 10 injured, and the destruction of 6 jet fighters at a National Guard base on January 12, 1981.
In the end, eight police officers were convicted and given prison sentences, ranging from 6 to 30 years. But these prison sentences were merely a concession made by the colonial court to ease the mounting outcry for justice. The greatest concern Washington officials have always had about it’s stranglehold on Puerto Rico is the everlasting potential for mass rebellion.
Protest demonstrations occurred everywhere in Puerto Rico and the diaspora, demanding justice for Arnaldo and Carlos. News of the details surrounding this case reached global attention and pointed to the inhumanity of the U.S. presence and domination in Puerto Rico.
The Cerro Maravilla murders were not the first lives to be taken away from brave men and women who fought for independence and loved their homeland. Nor will the threat be gone of future incidents like Cerro Maravilla in 1978, so long as U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico continues to exist. It is the armed agencies of U.S. colonialism who have repeatedly proven to be the real terrorists.
No matter where, when or how the decisive battles for Puerto Rican national liberation may ensue, it shall certainly be a contribution to the worldwide defeat of U.S. imperialism. The murders of Arnaldo Darío Rosado and Carlos Soto Arriví will most definitely serve as reason to condemn and bring about the demise of this vile system.
Arnaldo Darío Rosado & Carlos Soto Arriví – PRESENTE!
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.
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.
On December 22, 1895 (125 years ago), Boricuas affiliated with the Cuban Revolutionary Party, created the flag of Puerto Rico at a secret meeting held at the Chimney Corner Hall in New York City. At the helm of this noble effort were the prominent Manuel Besosa and Juan de Mata Terreforte, an exiled veteran of the 1868 Grito De Lares uprising.
From the early 1800’s, New York City served as a safe haven for both Cuban and Puerto Rican revolutionaries who sought to overthrow Spain’s repressive colonial rule. These two countries were Spain’s remaining colonies after a series of successful revolutions for independence in Latin America. It is no wonder why New York City became the birthplace for both the Cuban and Puerto Rican flags.
The Puerto Rican patriots chose to invert the colors of the Cuban Flag, following the traditions of the “Two Wings of the Same Bird” – a poetic metaphor by the legendary female literary Lola Rodriguez De Tio. This metaphorical expression was later used in musical rendition by Cuban revolutionary leader, Jose Marti. Freedom fighters from both countries collaborated for centuries in a mutual struggle against Spanish tyranny.
To Puerto Ricans, like all oppressed people striving to build nationhood, the flag represents many things. It is the one representation that compels us to express our aspirations and deepest sentiments connected to our history, culture and heritage.
Twenty-seven years prior to the Chimney Corner Hall meeting, Ramon Emeterio Betances and other revolutionary leaders of the 1868 El Grito De Lares uprising saw the necessity of creating such a symbol for the newly established nation in struggle. The leadership of that movement understood quite well the role that spirituality plays in a fierce battle for liberation.
Mariana Bracetti Cuevas, who was also a professional seamstress, created the first Puerto Rican flag. She designed a banner comprising of two red and two turquoise blue boxes, divided by a white cross, with a white star on the upper left.
In the years following the courageous attempt by the Lares insurrectionists, the independence movement continued to exist clandestinely due to the political climate. The Lares martyrs and their supporters were systematically imprisoned, tortured and brutally killed by the Spanish authorities. Puerto Rico was under the most repressive circumstances, compelling the movement to retreat.
Many who survived the onslaught fled to New York while others went to Cuba to join their comrades fighting to liberate their country. Among these brave Puerto Rican patriots was Juan Ruiz Rivera, who would earn the rank of general in the Cuban revolutionary army.
Despite the difficult circumstances, the anti-colonial movement in Puerto Rico gradually regained momentum. Moreover, it was these harsh conditions that motivated the meeting at Chimney Corner Hall and the creation of the current Puerto Rican flag.
On March 24, 1897, the present-day flag of Puerto Rico was flown for the first time in the municipality of Yauco, in an uprising known as “Intentona de Yauco.” It was the last attempt made to win independence from Spanish colonialism.
Since the Intentona de Yauco, the Puerto Rican Flag has served to inspire the anti-colonial movement in Puerto Rico as well as in the struggles waged by the Puerto Rican diaspora for civil rights and against all forms of brutal oppression. It has been the tradition for the flag to be an inspiration in the battle for freedom and justice.
The devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 coupled with the continued enforcement of U.S. colonial policy, made the flag a symbol of hope. Nationalism became a critical force that provided moral strength to the Puerto Rican people in the ongoing resistance.
In fact, Mother Nature’s destructive forces can never compare with the attitudes of U.S. government officials. With their policy of neglect U.S. officials contributed to the lost of 4,645 Puerto Rican lives — a death toll the Trump administration blatantly disputed and trivialized. The criminality of the Jones Act combined with the dangerously ineffective FEMA administrators, showed us (and the World) the genocidal policies of both past and present U.S. Presidents — regardless of political party affiliation.
Criminalization of the Puerto Rican Flag
Adding insult to injury, after the U.S. militarily invaded and colonized Puerto Rico in 1898, use of the flag was discouraged and stigmatized as something evil by U.S. officials. But it was during the imposition of Law 53 of 1948, better known as the Gag Law,( in Spanish: Ley de La Mordaza), anyone caught displaying or possessing the Puerto Rican flag was immediately arrested by the colonial authorities. This vicious law aimed to quell mass support for independence but was also used to persecute Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos and the Nationalist Party.
Without warrants, homes, schools, businesses and houses of worship were randomly searched by colonial police looking for “contraband” flags. Thanks to the nationalist fighting spirit of the Puerto Rican masses the U.S. rulers were forced to eliminate this law.
In 1957, Law 53 of 1948, was removed as well as the ban on the Puerto Rican flag. However, the original turquoise blue on the flag was replaced by the same dark blue in the U.S. Flag, in an attempt to psychologically cause a false sense assimilation between Puerto Ricans and the foreign oppressors.
When we wave the Puerto Rican Flag in annual events, let’s not do it in vain and end up taking this honor for granted. Those who continue to colonize us want to ensure our national symbols be no more than a passing fad. The Puerto Rican flag was conceived as a result of sacrifices made by many who fought for the freedom of our people.
That is why on this date, December 22nd, we celebrate the Puerto Rican Flag and salute the memory of our ancestors who fought gallantly for a noble cause. Despite everything the rulers have done to us through racism and attempts to destroy our identity as a people, Boricuas continue to raise our highest symbol with pride. QUE BONITA BANDERA!
On May 5, 1818 in the city of Trier, Prussia, a great historic figure was born who would eventually send shock waves towards every school of thinking. Karl Marx would impact all of society, including those who served to protect the insecure class of oppressors, tyrants and exploiters, during his time.
This gallant revolutionary eventually formulated ideas that would serve to provide oppressed and exploited people with a comprehensive revolutionary theory, based on the social and economic status of the working class. It was in collaboration with his most trusted comrade and friend, Friedrich Engels, that Marx was able to develop a scientific approach for examining capitalism — in order to expedite it’s overthrow.
One of the greatest achievements made by Marx was his analytical conclusions of how capitalist profits are created. The capitalist class were not the lords of society because they worked harder or were smarter than anyone else. Their position was thanks to their theft of surplus value — the value of commodities above and beyond what is socially necessary to produce them. This surplus value is the fruit of unpaid labor, which becomes the nucleus of the vast wealth stolen by the capitalists.
The rapidity of production that resulted meant that abundance tended to cause scarcity, when overproduction caused job layoffs thus making commodity goods unaffordable for workers, while capitalists were only interested in satisfying themselves with a lust to maximize the rate of surplus value.
Once these commodity goods circulated in the market and sold the already created surplus value would then be realized as profits.
And because capitalism collectivized commodity production with concentrations of workers organized for a distribution of labor, a socialization of production was introduced. The magnitude of production gradually reached levels never before seen in human history. The capability of the productive forces meeting the needs of everyone in this society several times over revealed why poverty and want are an absurdity that is inherited in this system. This is a phenomenon that shall inevitably compel working people to rebel.
In the words of Karl Marx: “The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.“
It was this analysis that led Marx and Engels to become adamant and unforgiving in their critiques of Political Economy, that is, the deceitful methods and hypocritical overtures used by the rulers to justify their parasitic behavior in the brutal exploitation of working people.
This analysis was also central in Marx’s world outlook that defined his conceptions in philosophy, ideology, politics, history, culture, but most important of all his attitude towards the antagonistic relationship between opposing social classes.
KARL MARX’S TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON THE WORLD
Marx’s ideas impacted progressive and revolutionary movements on every continent throughout the 20th Century, long after his death. Thanks to the political leadership of the Russian V.I. Lenin, Marx’s ideas guided the developments of the Soviet Union, the world’s first experiment in socialist planned economy.
For the most part Marx’s theories proved consistent with his expectations as workers in industrialized capitalist countries rose up in fierce rebellion while in the plundered and colonized regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America capitalist imperialism was challenged by the fury of national liberation struggles.
It is no wonder why revolutionary figures like Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Kwame Nkrumah, Juan Antonio Corretjer, Chris Hani, Mao Zedong, Walter Rodney, Patrice Lumumba, Kim Il-Sung and many others, resorted to embrace Marxism and sought ways to apply it’s many lessons to their respective realities.
Contained in Marx and Engel’s earliest writings like the Philosophical & Economic Manuscript, The Communist Manifesto, The Origins of the Family, Private Property & the State, The Civil War in the United States, Utopia and Scientific Socialism, On Religion, Wage, Price and Profit, along with the rest of their vast collection of writings, are many valuable lessons which are indisputably applicable in our experiences today. That is why, to this day, 135 years after his death, Karl Marx continues to be despised and dreaded by the capitalist rulers.
In the United States, African American figures like Cyril Briggs, Harry Haywood, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, and many more, were able to see how the Black liberation struggle had natural affinities with the fundamental analysis of Marxism. By the 1960’s-70’s Marxism’s most notable writing “The Communist Manifesto” became one of several political education study requirement for members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.
KARL MARX & THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES
One of the most notable of Marx’s political involvements was his intervention in the events of the Civil War in the United States. African chattel slavery in the U.S. was the most lucrative and most brutal in all of history. It was a system that served as the economic impetus for capitalism and allowed it to grow into the colossal wealth it comprises today.
Through his correspondence with President Abraham Lincoln and through his column in the New York Tribune Karl Marx sought to build pressure by being firmly insistent about the need for a decree that made slavery technically illegal.
On January 1, 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This monumental document became the legal precedent for recruiting and arming former slaves. Although Lincoln’s motives were of military consideration the Emancipation Proclamation hastened the outcome of the war and would eventually guarantee the defeat of the Southern Slavocracy.
Sectors of the British ruling class who had vested economic interest in the South’s slave economy had desired to militarily intervene in support of the Confederacy. Thanks to Karl Marx’s leadership in the powerful International Workingmen’s Association of England the British rulers were prevented from coming to the aid of the Southern slave owning class.
Karl Marx’s leading role mobilizing the English working class to prevent the prolongation of African chattel slavery in the United States was in every objective sense a profound act of solidarity to the African American people. Marx’s convictions were firm, it is why he stated, “Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded.”
MARXISM MORE RELEVANT TODAY THAN EVER BEFORE
The revolutionary contributions of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels continue to be the target of bourgeois philosophers, economists and historians. Ruling class scholars demonstrate their contempt for working class people by falsely accusing Marxism of being “totalitarian” or by asserting that it is filled with nothing but “unrealizable fantasy,” etc.
Similarly, there are those even within the predominantly white socialist left of this country who claim, dripping with social arrogance, that Marxism and the nationalism of oppressed people are contradictory, and can never be reconciled to compliment one another, in the fight against the capitalist rulers. Others in the more conservative sectors of the national movements, strictly concerned with the narrowest, cultural sentiments of nationalism, mistakenly assert that Marxism is a European or “white thing” and is therefore irrelevant to national liberation struggles.
Both of these views only serve to promote the reactionary notions of white supremacy and anti-communism. Objective material facts prove the opposite. Under the intense circumstances of imperialism today all oppressed entities have a definite class relationship to capitalism. It is a phenomenon which no one can escape.
People of color in the United States are the most exploited, persecuted communities. They are victims of police violence and imprisonment. If anyone is to have a greater stake and say in the downfall of this vile system and the establishment of a new society, it is those who have been historically on the bottom of social and economic disparity.
It is an absurdity and a reflection of how deeply embedded white privilege is in the culture to believe that mastering Marxism requires that people of color dismiss their self-identity as historically constituted national groupings within the broader population. This distortion of the meaning of Marxism dismisses the necessity of socialism coming about on equal terms and has resulted in preserving bourgeois traditions disguised under the mantle of upholding working class “unity.”
The teachings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are today more relevant to the liberation struggles of Black, Latino, Asian, Arab and Indigenous people than ever before, especially because of the super-exploitation and increasing numbers of these national groups coming into the U.S. working class.
The capitalist ideological institutions like the church, the mass media, public education, etc., will implicitly and explicitly encourage us to accept what exist, that is, to be submissive to the racist injustices of the police state and the rule of wealthy exploiters. It was precisely the social class oppression, bringing so much suffering in our world that Karl Marx selflessly devoted his entire life to condemn and worked towards undoing.
If Karl Marx were alive today he would have surely been part of the movements condemning the persecution of immigrant and undocumented families in the United States, the racist police killings of African Americans, the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine as well as the U.S. colonization of Puerto Rico.
It is Marx’s uncompromising devotion to revolution on behalf of the workers and oppressed people of the world that explains the ruling class’s utter hatred for the conceptions he developed, including the relevance of Marxism to every question facing the world today. The rulers can not bear the thought of a well-articulated analysis that calls for an end to capitalism and points towards the only direction for bringing about the complete emancipation of the human race.
Latin America has produced many revolutionary figures who have left imprints in history with their outstanding examples of courage and selfless deeds. Whether or not these freedom fighters were conscious of it what they demonstrated in their actions would serve for future generations to emulate to complete the task of eliminating the reign of oppressors forever.
These exemplary men and women, like Anacaona, Simon Bolivar, Petra Herrera-Ruiz, Celia Sanchez, Augusto César Sandino, Lolita Lebron, Fidel Castro and Valentina Vazquez, just to mention a few, came about as a consequence of the determination of oppressed people who seek whatever means to achieve their freedom.
Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, the once leader of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico and present-day icon of the Puerto Rican liberation struggle, has secured an important place in the history of struggle of all oppressed people.
The imagery of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, like the photographic or artistic depiction of other renown revolutionary figures, ceases to be the visual property of the individual once it becomes a representation of a people with a cause. In actuality, such depictions are the visual expression of a people in a historical endeavor for emancipation.
And because it is an artistic rendition symbolizing a historical revolutionary quest it must therefore be treated with the utmost respect, as if it were a people’s national flag.
The recent defamation of a well known photographic pose of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos has to be viewed critically and the motives behind its creation must be questioned because of the context of who Don Pedro Albizu Campos was and precisely what would have been his disposition of the devastating events now occurring in Puerto Rico, which have exacerbated the impact of U.S. colonialism there.
Some will argue that this is an “art challenge”, elevating LGBTQ themes and so on. However, there is good art and there is bad art, no equilibrium among the two. There is art that serves the oppressors and art that serves the oppressed, that is, the liberation struggle. A quick view of the defamed image would tend to make the revolutionary appear as a clown or charlatan.
I know quite well that the once transgender leader of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and eventual member of the Young Lords Silvia Rivera, would have been appalled by this.
To superimpose color shading on the facial features of this revolutionary is to diminish the dignity and seriousness of the memory of someone who the U.S. colonizers continue to despise and dread.
Placing lipstick and eyeshadow on an imagery many revolutionary nationalists view as unassailable is equal to placing shades over his eyes, a baseball cap over his head and a blunt in his mouth. That would naturally be offensive at the highest degree to anyone who embraces the meaning of Don Pedro.
Needless to mention, that the creation of such images can only entertain the wishes of those who are hostile to the cause for Puerto Rico’s independence.
Shame on those who endorse this display of self-hatred, whether implicitly or explicitly, especially as we approach the 53rd anniversary of Pedro Albizu Campos’ death, April 21, 1965.
The colonizers also understand that art is political and that it can be used as a weapon. The question automatically then becomes — who do you want art to serve, the aims of the colonizers or the aims of the colonized?
With this article is a rendition of the same pose ( featured photo ) which I painted 3 years ago. Dimensions: 24″ X 34″, acrylic on canvas. It was created with my love for Puerto Rico, our people and our historical national liberation struggle.