On this May Day, 2006 we recognise and honour the struggles of oppressed people everywhere. We must take as our own the cause all those of the Iraqi resistance, the Palestinean people, the French youth, the Nepalese masses, the Bolivian workers and peasants, among many others. All of these struggles are fighting the same global capitalist system faced by the US migrant workers who are calling for international action in support of their national stoppage on May 1. In many ways, these struggles will all be represented as one global class, one global fight, on May Day when the US migrant workers are calling for global solidarity against all US Corporations around the world!
Years of subordination to “their" imperialistic state has almost ended any internationalist consciousness in the US working class. For this reason the US workers celebrate their ‘Labour Day’ in September not on May 1st like the rest of the world. Nevertheless, May 1st for the worlds workers marks the commemoration of the “Martyrs of Chicago”, executed because they struggled for the 8 hour day in 1886. They were martyrs to the cause which has since been won by workers in many countries only by more strikes, mobilizations, actions and skirmishes with the police.
Now, the coalition of workers organizations, immigrants and anti-war groups have formed a movement against the reactionary law that seeks to criminalise migrant workers. They have called a “National Strike of Immigrants” for 1st May to prove that migrant workers do not ‘ruin’ the economy, but actually ‘run’ the economy, contributing billions of dollars more than they cost in welfare payments etc.
The undocumented workers have said “enough is enough” to the deaths at the hands of the border police and the “patriotic” para-military gangs that patrol the borders to defend their “American way of life”. Enough deaths in containers and trucks trafficked by dealers in human carcases with the complicity of governors and politicians. Enough of dying of hunger and dehydration in the desert.
They have said “enough!” to the discrimination that locks the undocumented workers out of the hospitals, the schools, and the right to be exploited “normally” like the rest of the workers. Enough of the wage slavery that allows employers to profit from their lack of rights.
The struggle of the migrants has aroused sympathy and support among the whole US working class as they joined with migrant workers in their massive marches and demonstrations in the last weeks. On April 10 another massive demonstration showed that the movement is growing.
The May 1st nationwide strike has adopted the slogans of “no work, no shopping, no school”, in an effort to mobilise many of the immigrants, legal and illegal. The call has also gone out to all those who support them to boycott all US corporations and their products in the whole of Latin America and the world.
This call must be taken up by all the rank and file of all workers organisations base and political parties that claim to be part of the working class to make May 1st a true international workers day! We must renew the demands of the the Million Worker march of December 1, sabotaged by the union officials.
- Strike for the unconditional legalization of all the illegal immigrants!
- Smash all "anti-terrorist" persecution of immigrants! Oppose War, Racism and Poverty!
- Decent work for all! Free Public health, education and housing!
"We are America", "We are those that you made walk to the U.S.A."
Millions of protesters for weeks during March took to the streets in many US cities with placards carrying the above slogans, against the new law to criminalise migrants that is being debated in both Houses of Congress which is designed to control and to discipline the flow of migrants in the reserve army so it can be turned on the fill the available menial jobs, and turned off when the labour market is full with sacked workers from the closure of scores of plants and thousands of dismissals such as in the auto industry. Its purpose to keep an oversupply of labor necessary to ‘lower labour costs’ and so boost the falling rate of profit of US corporations to the level they can earn in low wage countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.
Such workers are prevented from demanding decent wages, hours and conditions because they can be fired and replaced immediately without the wages due to them. The US imperialist state is so cynical it has recruited thousands of illegal immigrants in the armed forces to go to Afghanistan and Iraq in return for the promise of citizenship on their return. Recently Bush made a public relations event where he ‘granted’ in a ‘special act of grace’ citizenship to the families of soldiers who had been killed in the ‘war on terror’.
Added to the 12 million illegal migrants, are the "legalized" migrants and their families numbering about 24 million (around 12% of the population of the country), whose status is always subject to revision, thanks to the anti-terrorist laws,and other laws such as anti-strike laws, anti-union laws which can be used to ‘criminalize’ workers. The current law under consideration proposes to make it easier to revoke the ‘legal’ status and to deport workers (as in France). This law would hit "legal" Latino and Caribbean workers who are currently the majority in unionised workplaces, especially in the South, the West Coast and in New York, such as the dockworkers, food packers, processors and freezers of chickens, truck drivers, doormen, transit workers (as in New York), etc.
Many of these ‘legals’ came out on the marches because they could see that the attack on the ‘illegals’ is also an attack on them. Even the ‘middle class’ recognized that the attack on the immigrants was not about ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ but about class, because “we are workers, one and all”. The strength of the demonstrations forced the mass media to take notice, if only to give most air time to interviews with vigilantes ("the Minutemen") who “take care of the borders”, beating, maiming, and even killing those who try to come to the US to find a a job that allows them and their families to eat.
The revolutionary struggle of the Latin American masses arrives at the heart of Yankee imperialism!
In Latin America today there are great anti-imperialist struggles that have overthown the governments of the client state of imperialism, notably the revolutions in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. While these revolutions have been diverted and tied up in dog collars by the Popular Front governments in those countries, they have nonetheless opened up a revolutionary road that goes to the heart of the US imperialist state.
It was these struggles, along with the Iraqi resistance, and the attacks on them at home, that forced the US working class to wake up from its American ‘dream’, and embark on a series of steps such as the Million Worker March; to condemn the Patriotic law; the war in Iraq; the war against jobs, health, education and housing at home; and more than anything, to express their anger at the disaster of Hurricane Katrina caused by US capitalism. This growing outrage resulted in the December 1 strike “against the war, poverty and racism”. It was such a threat to the ruling class that it was sabotaged by the Democratic Party. To add to this growing momentum of class struggle, the revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses has spread into the USA through the Latino immigrants who refuse to be treated as criminals as well as slaves.
Today, US migrants are entering the fight alongside the heroic Bolivian workers and farmers who have brought down three governments; the Ecuadorian masses that have overturned four governments; the hard fights of the masses who have many times stood up against the “progressive” governments praised by World Social Forum and Fidel Castro in Argentina, in Chile, in Peru; the mobilizations in Central America against the Free Trade Agreements; the Mexican protests against the killings on the border and the eviction of farmers from their land; and the ground-swell of workers opposition to Chávez’ "Bolivarian Revolution" that threatens to strangle the revolution in Venezuela.
The great uprising of the US migrants has so far survived the attempts by the church, the NGOs, the union bureaucracy and the fake Trotskyists, to divert and contain it. Within weeks it has become a massive challenge to the Government. The determination of the migrants is strong but to defeat the Government the struggle has to become taken up by the whole working class, migrant and non-migrant, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. It must become part of the same struggle to end the war against Iraq and US imperialist attacks on the Latin American masses!
But the dangers of diversion and containment are real. So far the leaders of the movement have directed its force against the corporate owners and the Democratic party in an effort to get the Democratic members of congress to vote against the proposed law. In Washington, the marchers surrounded the Capitol and celebrated a ‘victory’ even while the Senate was voting to make them ‘outlaws’! Of course, this is to be expected from the Catholic Church and the NGOs who led the protest.
But much more shameful were the actions of the union officials and parties of the ‘left’ including the fake Trotskyists. None of them demanded that all workers, regardless of their union or lack of union, legal or illegal, daily workers or contract workers, victims of Katrina, those engaged in strike actions, or protesting the war etc., should unite to fight!
But again this does not surprise us. They sabotaged the nationwide strike on December 1 last year; the Transit strike in New York was left isolated –not only by the bureaucrats but by the “revolutionary” groups of the World Social Forum. Many other disputes such as Delta Airlines, Eastern Airlines, the auto workers at Delphi, General Motors, Ford, etc. remain isolated. So it is to be expected that they will leave the struggle of the migrants in the reactionary hands of the Church, and reformists and pacifists of the NGOs.
And of course, not a single voice of these traitors has been raised in Mexico and the rest of Latin America to organize a massive struggle across the whole continent in support to the immigrants in the U.S.A. who are members of the same class! Nor to unite the struggle in Latin America and the Caribbean against the exploitation and plundering of imperialism and the FTAA, CAFTA, the IMF, etc!
How is it possible to fight the war in Iraq without also fighting for the rights of immigrants? A fight to legalize migrants and open the borders for all workers in need, would be a fatal blow to the war on terror, and to the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, because for one thing, it would release those immigrants who are forced to go to fight to get their citizenship.
Enough of the treacherous politics of the bureaucrats and reformists, who play the game of the bourgeoisie who threaten a tsunami so that the workers can live with a hurricane!
The result of so far is that this so-called “victory” has not shaken the Republicrat regime or big business. It continues to press ahead with criminalisation of those who employ or aid immigrants, enlists many more agents as migrant police with new detection technology, and continues to build the border wall between Mexico and the U.S.A.
But what is more perverse is that they are quite open in allowing a large proportion of illegals to be legalised to work for 5 years provided they do not leave their jobs and get no complaints from their bosses. Any breaches of these slave labor conditions, such as joining a union, will allow them to be deported. If they are ‘model’ workers for 11 years they can apply for a ‘green card’ and residence.
In other words this is a ‘slave charter’ for migrant workers. This creates a new non-unionised workforce able to scab on the workers in the airlinies, GM, Delphi etc who try to fight against the use of the Bankruptcy laws by their bosses with the complicity of the union officials, to cancel their agreements and force them to retire on reduced pensions or face wage cuts of two-thirds.
Many of these plants are being closed and transferred to Latin America, China and other countries of Asia. But the ‘transplants’ of Asian automakers like Toyota in the US are non-unionised, so US automakers will try to use the migrant reserve army to work in any new plants they build for the same low wages, with no social benefits union rights or labour protection.
The bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and ‘Change to Win’ (the new supposedly "progressive" bureaucracy) as well as many of the ‘left’ cannot mobilise a united fight against the new migrant laws because they concentrate their attack on the Republicans instead of mobilising a movement independent of both the union bureaucracies and both bourgeois parties. In so doing they play into the hands of the ruling class that fears the emergence of a radical militant labor movement that mobilises its power in the workplace to challenge the class rule of the US imperialist regime.
At the same time, the ruling class is trying to capitalise on the fear of migrant workers in the labor aristocracy and the petty bourgeosie to create a social base for a fascist movement to smash any future radical militant movement in the working class. This is why it is Homeland Security that is attacking illegal aliens as “unpatriotic” (waving Mexican flags!) and potential “terrorists". That is, they plan to recruit the racist, nationalist divisions that have always been used to isolate and smash the militant sections of the US working class, which when aligned with the growing anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses, would become an unstoppable force.
- For the legalization of all immigrants!
- Open borders for all those that want to work in the U.S.A. and any country of the planet!
- The struggle of immigrants in the U.S.A. is the same as immigrants in Argentina, in Europe, in Australia and everywhere, for work, education, housing, health, and all other rights!
- Unite the proletariat of North, Central and South America!
- Down with the union bureaucracies and the treacherous leaders of all kinds, organised in the World Social Forum, that keeps the proletariat subservient to the national bourgeoisies and imperialism!
There is nothing, apart from the treacherous leaders, that stops the unity of the struggles of North, Central and South American workers. These struggles are against the same class enemy trying to smash almost two centuries of workers struggles to impose new defeats and reduce wages and rights to the same level as the reserve army of cheap labor in Asia.
The oppression and super-exploitation of workers in the oppressed nations gives imperialism more power to defeat its own workers at home. Just as the Latin American struggles have strengthened the re-awakening of layers of the US working class, a strong campaign of US workers against the Republicrat regime, halting the ruling class offensive on its rights and conditions, against the anti-terrorist laws, for open borders, for the democratic organization of the unions, for the defense of the victims of the Katrina, for the defeat of the imperialist army in Iraq and Afghanistan), for the popular uprisings in Latin America, and for the young workers and students in France, etc., would give a huge impulse to the struggles in Latin America.
To make this happen we have to defeat the union bureaucracies – the ‘labor lieutenants’ of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class. We have to defeat all the treacherous leaderships grouped in and around the World Social Forum. They perform a vital service for imperialism by organising a continental-wide Popular Front to contain and defeat these struggles, by dividing, isolating and subordinating the revolutionary energy of the workers, the students, the immigrants, the oppressed sectors, to the Democratic Party, the Greens, Fidel Castro, Chavez etc. separating them sector by sector (employed versus unemployed, casual versus career, young versus adult, "national" versus "foreign", union from union, workplace from workplace, country by country).
We need a revolutionary leadership in the unions fighting for a workers’ program in defense of the work, housing, education and health. We need an action plan against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, for the proletarian leadership of the anti-imperialist struggles and for open borders. It is vital that North American workers understand that their fate is bound to the exploited masses of Latin America and the world. To make this possible we must build, in North America as in Latin America, an internationalist, Leninist-Trotskyist revolutionary combat party, a section of a new Trotskyist International.
Unite the fight from Alaska to Terra del Fuego!
For an internationalist struggle against the treacherous leaders to give the working class of the continent the leadership that it deserves!
Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist April 2006 Translated from the Spanish
From Class Struggle 66 April/May 2006