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Libya, Racism and Anti-imperialism : Discussion with Gerald A. Perreira

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Revolutionary Reading & Viewing

Authoritarian Leftists: Kill the Cop in Your Head

By Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

“By most accounts, groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican Independence Movement “set the standard” for not only communities of color but also for revolutionary elements in the white community.”

It’s difficult to know where to begin with this open letter to the various European-american leftist (Marxist-Leninist and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, in particular) groups within the United States. I have many issues with many groups; some general, some very specific. The way in which this is presented may seem scattered at first, but I encourage all of you to read and consider carefully what I have written in its entirety before you pass any judgements.

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Mandela Speaks

Mu’tasim Billah Al Qaddafi: 18 December 1974 – 20 October 2011

“History Will Absolve Me”: Fidel Castro 60 Years Later

Il y a 26 ans, Thomas Sankara était assassiné

Volcano Under the Snow: Death of the 20th Century General Vo Nguyen Giap

Herman Wallace, 71, Veteran Black Panther, Political Prisoner, Honored As a Freedom Fighter

Valiant General, Loyal to his People, General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Homenaje de las FARC al Vo Nguyen Giap, guerrero del siglo XX, arquitecto del futuro

En mémoire de Thomas Sankara, le Che Guevara africain

Hommage à Thomas Sankara

Cameroon Voice

Thomas Sankara

Introduction

« Nous préférons la pauvreté dans la liberté à l’opulence dans l’esclavage» (…) «Acceptons de vivre Africains. C’est la seule façon de vivre libres et dignes» (…) « Où est l’impérialisme ? Regardez vos plats quand vous mangez. Ces grains de riz, de maïs et de mil importés, c’est cela l’impérialisme. »

Introduction

Le concept de développement endogène ou autocentré renvoie au processus de transformation, économique, sociale, culturelle, scientifique et politique, basé sur la mobilisation des ressources et des forces sociales internes et l’utilisation des savoirs et expériences accumulés par le peuple d’un pays. Il permet ainsi aux populations d’être des agents actifs de la transformation de leur société au lieu de rester des spectateurs de politiques inspirées par des modèles importés.

Si le développement endogène vise d’abord à compter sur ses propres forces, pour autant, il ne veut pas dire autarcie.

L’un des théoriciens éminents du développement endogène, le Professeur Joseph Ki-Zerbo, disait:

« Si on se développe, c’est en tirant de soi-même les éléments de son propre développement.» Autrement dit: « On NE développe pas. On SE développe. »

La conception de l’illustre Professeur a sans doute inspiré son jeune et charismatique compatriote. De fait, la Révolution sankariste fut l’une des plus grandes tentatives d’émancipation populaire et démocratique de l’Afrique post-indépendance. C’est pourquoi elle est considérée comme une expérience inédite de profonde transformation économique, sociale, culturelle et politique, comme en témoignent les formidables mobilisations de masse pour amener les populations à prendre en charge leurs propres besoins, avec la construction d’infrastructures (barrages, réservoirs, puits, routes, écoles) grâce au principe de : « compter d’abord sur ses propres forces ».

Pour Sankara, le développement véritablement endogène devait reposer sur un certain nombre de principes, parmi lesquels:

– la nécessité de compter d’abord sur ses propres forces ;
– la participation des masses aux politiques destinées à changer leurs conditions de vie ;
– l’émancipation des femmes et leur implication dans le processus de développement;
– l’utilisation de l’Etat comme instrument de transformation économique et sociale.

Ces principes forment la base des politiques mises en œuvre par Sankara et ses camardes entre 1983 et 1987.

A) Compter d’abord sur ses propres forces

Pour Thomas Sankara, compter sur ses propres forces voulait dire s’appuyer sur le peuple burkinabé pour qu’il pense son propre développement:

«Le plus important, je crois, c’est d’avoir amené le peuple à avoir confiance en lui-même, à comprendre que finalement, il peut s’asseoir et écrire son développement, il peut s’asseoir et écrire son bonheur, il peut dire ce qu’il désire et en même temps, sentir quel est le prix à payer pour ce bonheur»

Le premier Plan Populaire de Développement (PPD) allant d’octobre 1984 à décembre 1985, avait été adopté après un processus participatif et démocratique jusque dans les villages les plus reculés. Le financement de ce Plan était 100% burkinabé. Il faut noter que de 1985 à 1988, donc pendant la présidence de Sankara, le Burkina Faso n’a reçu aucune « aide » étrangère ni des pays occidentaux, France comprise, ni de la Banque mondiale et du Fonds monétaire international (FMI). Il a entièrement compté sur ses propres forces et sur la solidarité de pays amis partageant la même vision et le même idéal.

La mobilisation populaire, surtout avec les Comités de Défense de la Révolution (CDR), et l’esprit de compter sur ses propres forces avaient permis d’accomplir 85% des objectifs du Plan! C’est ainsi qu’en un an, 250 réservoirs furent construits et plus de 3000 puits creusés. Sans compter les autres réalisations dans le domaine de la santé, de l’habitat, de l’éducation, de la production agricole, etc.

B) Refus de copier des « modèles » importés

Thomas SankaraLe concept de développement endogène et le principe de compter d’abord sur ses propres forces sont incompatibles avec l’acceptation de recettes importées. A ce propos Sankara disait :

« Nous rejetons catégoriquement et définitivement toutes sortes de diktats venus de l’étranger » et il dénonçait «les charlatans de toutes sortes qui ont cherché à vendre des modèles de développement qui ont tous échoué ».

Sankara savait bien de quoi il parlait. En fait, depuis les indépendances, les pays africains ont fait l’expérience d’une dizaine de « modèles de développement », mais tous venus de l’extérieur et qui se sont soldés par un échec lamentable, avec des coûts exorbitants pour le continent dans tous les domaines.

A ce propos, le Rapport 2011 de la Commission économique pour l’Afrique (CEA) dit ceci (page 91) :

«La conception de base et le mode de mise en œuvre de tous ces paradigmes viennent de l’extérieur de l’Afrique, même si chaque paradigme a eu de véritables disciples africains. Il est difficile de penser à d’autres grandes régions du monde, ces temps-ci où les influences extérieures sur les questions de la stratégie de base de développement soient aussi répandues»

L’échec de ces modèles confirme le vieux proverbe bambara, repris par le Pr. Ki-Zerbo dans un ouvrage qu’il a édité et publié par le CODESRIA, sous le titre La natte des autres. Selon ce proverbe :

« Dormir sur la natte des autres, c’est comme dormir par terre ».

Ce proverbe exprime une vérité historique, une profonde sagesse, à savoir qu’un modèle de développement imposé de l’extérieur n’a jamais et ne pourra jamais développer un pays, encore moins un continent.

C) Vivre avec ses propres moyens pour vivre libre

Compter sur ses propres forces signifie aussi accepter de vivre selon ses propres moyens en utilisant au mieux les ressources disponibles. C’est le gage de la dignité et de la liberté. Le président Sékou Touré, de la Guinée, n’avait-il pas eu l’audace, voire la témérité, de prononcer, en face du Général de Gaulle en 1958, cette phrase restée célèbre :

« Nous préférons la pauvreté dans la liberté à l’opulence dans l’esclavage».

Thomas Sankara  avait fait sien ce credo du grand tribun guinéen et reformulé d’une manière plus simple et directe la phrase du président Sékou Touré :

«Acceptons de vivre Africains. C’est la seule façon de vivre libres et dignes»

Mais pour « vivre libres et dignes », il faut pouvoir se nourrir soi-même et non dépendre de la mendicité internationale. Car un pays qui ne peut pas se nourrir lui-même risque inévitablement de perdre son indépendance et sa dignité. Sankara avait eu cette interrogation restée célèbre:

« Où est l’impérialisme ? Regardez vos plats quand vous mangez. Ces grains de riz, de maïs et de mil importés, c’est cela l’impérialisme. »

Pour éviter cela, Sankara insistait : « essayons de consommer ce que nous contrôlons nous-mêmes. »

C’est pour atteindre cet objectif qu’il avait mobilisé les paysans burkinabé pour atteindre l’autosuffisance alimentaire qui a permis de renforcer la confiance en soi et la dignité du peuple burkinabé. L’ancien Rapporteur des Nations-Unies pour le droit à l’alimentation, Jean Ziegler, a souligné que ce résultat avait été atteint par une redistribution massive des terres aux paysans combinée à la fourniture d’engrais et au recours à l’irrigation.

L’esprit de Sankara anime aujourd’hui les paysans africains qui se battent pour atteindre la souveraineté alimentaire en transformant les ressources locales et en contrôlant leur propre nourriture contre les OGM que les multinationales occidentales veulent déverser sur nos marchés.

Mais « vivre libre » implique aussi revaloriser les ressources locales pour répondre aux besoins des populations. C’est pourquoi Sankara avait mis un accent particulier sur la nécessité de transformer le coton produit au Burkina pour habiller la population. Le fameux « Faso Dan Fani », le vêtement local, était un exemple de cette transformation du coton pour le marché national. Sankara avait fait un vibrant plaidoyer pour le port du « Faso Dan Fani » au Sommet de l’OUA, plaidoyer salué par des applaudissements nourris des Chefs d’Etat africains.

Vivre libre veut dire encore éviter les pièges et humiliations de la prétendue « aide au développement » qui a plutôt contribué au sous-développement de l’Afrique et à sa grande dépendance. A ce propos, voici ce que disait Sankara :

« Bien sûr, nous encourageons toute aide qui nous aide à éliminer l’aide. Mais de manière générale, les politiques d’aide ont plutôt fini par nous désorganiser, par saper notre sens de responsabilité à l’égard de nos propres affaires sur les plans économique, politique et culturel. Nous avons pris le risque d’emprunter des voies nouvelles afin de réaliser un mieux-être. »

D) Libérer la femme et en faire un acteur central du développement

Un autre trait de génie de Sankara était d’avoir compris que le développement véritable serait impossible sans la libération de tous les groupes opprimés, à commencer les femmes. A cet égard, il disait :

« On ne peut transformer la société en maintenant la domination et la discrimination à l’égard des femmes qui sont plus de la moitié de la société… Notre révolution, durant les trois ans et demi, a œuvré à l’élimination progressives des pratiques dévalorisantes de la femme…Aussi celle-ci doit-elle s’engager davantage à produire et consommer burkinabé, en s’affirmant toujours comme agent économique de premier plan… Ensemble, nous devons toujours veiller à l’accès de la femme au travail. Ce travail émancipateur et libérateur qui garantira à la femme l’indépendance économique, un plus grand rôle social et une connaissance plus juste et plus complète du monde »

En effet, le développement, comme processus de transformation économique, sociale, politique et culturelle, ne peut devenir une réalité sans l’émancipation totale de la femme, la fin de toutes formes de discriminations à son égard et sa participation active dans le processus de transformation. Dans ce domaine encore, Sankara était très en avance par rapport à ses pairs africains et même par rapport à certains dirigeants occidentaux et institutions internationales.

De nos jours, des Nations-Unies aux pays les plus conservateurs, on célèbre bruyamment la « libération » de la femme, souvent plus folklorique que réelle. La lutte pour la libération de la femme est devenue un lieu commun, avec la création de l’ONU-Femmes, les lois sur la parité et d’autres mesures visant à l’émancipation économique, sociale et politique de la femme, autrement dit à son autonomisation.

Ici encore, l’histoire a amplement fait justice à la clairvoyance et à la vision stratégique de Sankara, qui était largement en avance sur son temps!

E) S’identifier avec les aspirations des masses populaires 

Pour Sankara, être révolutionnaire c’est donner la priorité à la satisfaction des besoins essentiels des masses populaires urbaines et rurales. C’est pourquoi il a cherché à se mettre à leur niveau, à épouser totalement leur cause, ce qui a été une des sources de conflits avec les franges de la petite bourgeoisie urbaine qui ne voulaient pas renoncer à leurs « privilèges ». Pour lui :

«On ne fait pas de révolution pour se substituer simplement aux anciens potentats renversés. On ne participe pas à la révolution sous une motivation vindicative ; « ôte-toi de là que je m’y mette ». Ce genre de mobile est étranger à l’idéal révolutionnaire d’août et ceux qui le portent démontrent leurs tares de petits bourgeois situationnistes quand ce n’est pas leur opportunisme de contre-révolutionnaires dangereux »

C’est que contrairement à ces petits bourgeois urbains, Thomas Sankara était en phase avec Amilcar Cabral qui appelait les intellectuels à se « suicider » pour ressusciter comme « travailleurs révolutionnaires » au service de leurs peuples.

Cabral disait : « la petite bourgeoisie révolutionnaire doit être capable de se suicider comme classe pour ressusciter comme travailleurs révolutionnaires complètement identifiés avec les aspirations profondes du peuple auquel ils appartiennent ».

C’est fidèle en cela que Sankara a essayé d’inculquer une autre mentalité à la petite bourgeoisie intellectuelle. Malheureusement, celle-ci était plus prompte à répéter des slogans révolutionnaires qu’à changer de comportement et de mode de vie. En fait, c’est l’un des défis majeurs de tout mouvement de transformation économique et sociale dans les pays africains. En effet, nombre d’intellectuels « révolutionnaires », une fois au pouvoir, tendent à tourner le dos au peuple et presque partout, ils ont engagé la course aux privilèges et à l’argent au détriment de la lutte pour la décolonisation des mentalités et la transformation des structures économiques et sociales héritées de la colonisation.

Une décolonisation au sens de Fanon : « La décolonisation, on le sait, est un processus historique …La décolonisation ne passe jamais inaperçue car elle porte sur l’être, elle modifie fondamentalement l’être, elle transforme des spectateurs écrasés d’inessentialité en acteurs privilégiés, saisis de façon quasi grandiose par le faisceau de l’Histoire…Dans décolonisation, il y a donc exigence d’une remise en question intégrale de la situation coloniale.»

Voilà l’objectif fondamental poursuivi par Thomas Sankara. Mais il s’est heurté à des forces d’inertie, comme la petite bourgeoisie « occidentalisée » qui constitue l’un des obstacles à toute politique de rupture visant à changer la société, les structures héritées de la colonisation. C’est cette force d’inertie qui explique en partie l’échec des partis de gauche en Afrique, notamment dans les pays « francophones ».

C’est cet écueil qui a finalement eu raison du processus révolutionnaire au Burkina Faso et contribué à créer les conditions qui ont abouti à l’assassinat de Thomas Sankara le 15 octobre 1987.

F) L’Etat comme instrument de transformation économique et sociale.

Thomas SankaraSankara était communiste et avait une grande admiration pour les régimes socialistes, notamment Cuba pour laquelle il avait une grande admiration. Il savait que l’Etat était au centre des transformations accomplies dans ces pays.

En dehors de cela, il savait qu’un pays, à peine sorti de la longue et terrible nuit coloniale, ne pouvait se reconstruire sans un Etat actif et engagé. Donc, pour lui, l’Etat devait être au centre du processus de transformation économique, sociale et culturelle. Et c’est sous l’impulsion de l’Etat et de ses démembrements que les masses ont pu être mobilisées pour participer à la mise en œuvre du premier Plan de Populaire de Développement.

Mais quand, après son assassinat, le Burkina Faso s’est agenouillé devant la Banque mondiale et le FMI, l’Etat fut vilipendé et dépouillé de ses fonctions essentielles au profit du secteur privé étranger, avec les conséquences que l’on connaît. Ce recul de l’Etat a entraîné une dégradation des conditions de vie, comme partout dans les autres pays africains.

La faillite des programmes d’ajustement structurel (PAS) et l’effondrement du fondamentalisme de marché ont consacré le retour en force de l’Etat. C’est dans ce contexte que la CEA (2011) et la CNUCED (2007) ont exhorté les pays africains à bâtir des Etats développementistes, pour en faire des agents actifs de leur développement, à l’instar de ce qu’ont fait les « Tigres » et « Dragons » asiatiques ou les BRICS (Brésil, Russie, Inde, Chine et Afrique du Sud).

G) Solidarité contre l’asservissement et le pillage par la dette

A la veille de la fondation de l’Organisation de l’Unité Africaine (OUA) en 1963, devenue Union Africaine (UA) en 2001, Kwame Nkrumah, premier Président du Ghana, leader visionnaire et figure emblématique du panafricanisme révolutionnaire, disait : « L’Afrique doit s’unir ou périr » !

En effet, face à des ennemis puissants et bien organisés qui tiennent à perpétuer leur domination sur l’Afrique pour continuer à piller ses richesses, seules la solidarité et l’union peuvent aider l’Afrique à préserver son indépendance. Panafricaniste convaincu et admirateur du grand dirigeant ghanéen, Thomas Sankara avait fait sienne cette déclaration pleine de vérité et de bon sens du Président Nkrumah. C’est pourquoi, Sankara, son dernier Sommet à Addis Abéba, en juillet 1987, avait apostrophé les leaders africains en leur demandant de former un front uni pour exiger l’annulation de la dette illégitime de l’Afrique, car :

« La dette sous sa forme actuelle est une reconquête savamment organisée de l’Afrique, pour que sa croissance et son développement obéissent à des normes et paliers qui nous sont totalement étrangers. Faisant en sorte que chacun d’entre nous devienne l’esclave financier, c’est-à-dire l’esclave tout court de ceux qui ont eu l’opportunité, la ruse, la fourberie de placer leurs fonds chez nous avec l’obligation de les rembourser. La dette ne peut pas être remboursée parce que d’abord si nous ne payons pas, nos bailleurs de fonds ne mourront pas. Soyons-en sûrs. Si nous payons, c’est nous qui allons mourir. Soyons-en sûrs, également.»

Le Burkina Faso fait partie de plus d’une trentaine d’autres pays africains, appelés « pays moins avancés » (PMA). Selon la CNUCED (2010), dans ces PMA, 6 personnes sur 10 vivent avec l’équivalent de 1,25 dollar par jour et près de 9 personnes sur 10 (88%) vivent avec l’équivalent de 2 dollars par jour ! Cela veut dire que ces pays ont besoin de retenir toutes leurs ressources pour les mettre au service de leur développement. Chaque sou qui sort de ces pays, sous forme de service de la dette ou de rapatriement de bénéfices, serait au détriment du bien-être de leurs populations. C’est pourquoi Sankara avait raison de dire que « si nous payons, c’est nous qui allons mourir ».

Et finalement, l’histoire lui a donné raison avec la décision d’annuler la dette des PMA et d’autres pays, après des campagnes internationales qui ont rendu hommage à Thomas Sankara et au président Fidel Castro pour avoir fait preuve de leadership, de courage et de clairvoyance en dénonçant une dette illégitime transformée en instrument de domination et de pillage des pays du Sud.

Toujours en liaison avec la dette extérieure du continent, Thomas Sankara fut l’un des rares dirigeants africains, sinon le seul, à avoir fustigé et rejeté les politiques d’ajustement de la Banque mondiale et du FMI, qui ont alourdi le fardeau de la dette et appauvri les pays africains. Son gouvernement avait refusé toute forme de collaboration avec ces institutions et rejeté leur « aide ». Il avait élaboré et mis en œuvre son propre programme d’auto-ajustement, qui avait bénéficié du soutien des populations qui comprenaient le bien-fondé des politiques et le sens des sacrifices demandés de tous, dirigeants et citoyens.

H)  La lutte pour la protection de l’environnement

En visionnaire, Sankara avait compris avant beaucoup d’autres, y compris dans le monde dit « développé », l’importance de la protection de l’environnement comme facteur indispensable à la survie même de l’Humanité. Des millions d’arbres avaient été plantés dans le but d’arrêter la désertification. Chaque évènement, baptême, mariage, était une occasion pour planter des arbres. Cela entraîna une mobilisation massive des populations qui ont compris le sens et la portée de telle décision: construire leur pays de leurs propres mains ! Voilà l’idée-force derrière la vision de Thomas Sankara.

C’est qu’il avait bien compris très tôt le coût économique et social que son pays risquait de payer du fait de la dégradation de l’environnement. C’est pourquoi l’un des axes majeurs de sa politique de développement a été la mobilisation des populations pour protéger leur environnement.

Sankara avait fait le lien entre le mode de production et de consommation capitaliste et la dégradation de l’environnement :

«Cette lutte pour l’arbre et la forêt est surtout une lutte anti-impérialiste. Car l’impérialisme est le pyromane de nos forêts et de nos savanes. »

Aujourd’hui, les énormes dégâts causés par le changement climatique, du fait du des émissions de gaz résultant du mode de production et de consommation des pays capitalistes, ont confirmé les prédictions de Sankara. Et son pays et le reste de l’Afrique, qui contribuent le moins à cette dégradation par une faible émission de gaz à effets de serre, risquent pourtant d’en payer le prix fort.

En guise de conclusion

Incontestablement, Thomas Sankara était un visionnaire, un leader charismatique et un révolutionnaire sincère. C’est pourquoi il a laissé une empreinte indélébile sur la conscience collective des peuples africains et son action a eu une profonde résonnance au-delà de l’Afrique.

Il était en avance sur son temps. De nos jours, toutes les problématiques au cœur de son combat sont devenues des sujets au centre des débats au niveau national et international: la libération de la femme, la dette, la souveraineté alimentaire, la solidarité entre pays africains, la solidarité Sud-Sud, la protection de l’environnement, etc.

L’Union africaine et les institutions continentales cherchent à forger un nouveau paradigme de développement pensé et mis en œuvre par les Africains eux-mêmes. Cela était l’axe central du combat de Sankara et de certains de ses illustres devanciers.

Certes, comme toute œuvre humaine, celle de Sankara n’était pas parfaite. Elle est critiquable sur bien des aspects.

Mais ce qui est sûr c’est qu’il a montré la voie vers un Autre Développement possible qui s’appuie sur la mobilisation du peuple et la confiance en soi contre les idées reçues et les modèles importés. Sans aucun doute, c’est une voie semée d’embûches mais la seule qui permette de « vivre libre et digne ».

De même que Sankara avait repris les idées et le combat de ses illustres devanciers, de même d’autres sont en train de reprendre ses idées et son  combat, qui sont plus actuels que jamais car, « on ne peut pas tuer les idées », comme il le disait lors d’un discours à la mémoire de Che Guevara, une semaine avant son assassinat.

Thomas Sankara a physiquement disparu mais ses idées et son exemple vont continuer d’inspirer d’autres Africains pour poursuivre son combat et l’idéal pour lequel il a donné sa vie

En ce sens, Sankara n’est pas mort ! Il vit en chacun et chacune de nous!

Demba Moussa Dembele, Président d’Arcade

Présenté au Samedi de l’économie du 03 Aût 2013 au siège de la fondation Rosa Luxemburg à Dakar
En hommage à Sankara, à l’occasion du 30e anniversaire de la révolution du 04 Août 1983

Liste des personnages cités:

Joseph Ki-Zerbo : historien burkinabé, théoricien du développement endogène. Il fut l’un des principaux auteurs de l’Histoire Générale de l’Afrique, publiée par l’UNESCO quand Amadou Makhtar Mbow en était le Directeur Général. Il est décédé en décembre 2006

Kwame Nkrumah : premier président du Ghana, un des principaux leaders du Panafricaniste et éminent révolutionnaire. Il est l’un des Pères Fondateurs de l’Organisation de l’Unité Africaine (OUA) en 1963. Victime d’un coup d’Etat militaire fomenté par l’impérialisme anglo-américain, il mourra en exil. Mais l’Afrique et le Ghana le reconnaissent comme le leader incontesté de la lutte pour la Libération et l’unité de l’Afrique. Son Mausolée trône fièrement à Accra et sa statue au siège de l’Union africaine à Addis Abéba.

Amilcar Cabral : originaire de la Guinée Bissau, dirigeant du Mouvement pour l’Indépendance de la Guinée et du Cap-Vert contre le colonialisme portugais. Il fut assassiné le 20 janvier 1973 par des agents de l’Etat fasciste portugais. Cabral est l’un des théoriciens révolutionnaires les plus originaux en Afrique et dans le Tiers Monde

Sékou Touré : premier président de la République de Guinée, un des Pères Fondateurs de l’OUA. Décédé en 1984

Frantz Fanon : révolutionnaire et écrivain d’origine  martiniquaise, ancien élève d’Aimé Césaire. Il s’engagea aux côtés du peuple algérien dans sa lutte de libération contre le colonialisme français. Il est l’auteur du célèbre ouvrage les « Damnés de la terre », une des critiques les plus pénétrantes du système colonial. Décédé très jeune (il avait moins de 40 ans) emporté par une leucémie.

Related:
Revolutionary Voices Against Imperialism

Real Voices of the 1963 March on Washington

Revisionist history has denied the struggle and programmatic thrust for jobs and freedom

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

MLK Jr., I Have A Dream, 1963, MLK Day
August 28, 1963 marks the 50th anniversary of that fateful day in Washington, D.C. when 300,000 people marched and rallied demanding jobs and freedom. Although in the corporate media this monumental historic event is often referenced, nonetheless, the actual march, the circumstances leading up to it and the organizations and personalities represented at the manifestation, have been largely lost in the public perception of people in the United States.

In typical fashion a brief 10 second clip is taken out of the final speech of the day delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saying “I Have a Dream.” This was of course the greatest speech of that day summing up the mass sentiment of the people.

Other talks, however, addressed the demands of the movement which had grown out of decades of struggle for equality and self-determination of the African American people. Even important and key aspects of Dr. King’s speech require modern re-examination in light of the developments in 1963 as well as what is happening in 2013.

King noted that the U.S. government had given African Americans a bad check that has been sent back marked “insufficient funds.” He also illustrated how then Southern governors utilized “nullification and interposition” to block the enforcement of civil rights and labor laws.

A Historic Legacy of Mass Mobilization

Some 22 years prior to the 1963 march, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin had planned a “March on Washington” demanding the end of segregation in the war industry which was building up ferociously in early 1941. Randolph, a Socialist organizer, labor tactician and newspaper editor, called for 10,000 to come to Washington on July 1, 1941.

The call for a “March on Washington” in 1941 prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 which established the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) on June 25 just six days before the scheduled demonstration. After the executive action by Roosevelt the march was called off.

Although there were other ideas about calling for marches on Washington during the 1940s, none ever materialized. On May 17, 1957, the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom was organized by Randolph and Rustin and supported by the newly-formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headed by Dr. King. At the Lincoln Memorial gathering featured speakers included New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) executive secretary Roy Wilkins, Dr. King and gospel recording artist and Civil Rights Movement supporter Mahalia Jackson performed.

This rally was designed to support the Civil Rights Act of 1957 which empowered the Justice Department to pursue cases involving the suppression of the voting rights of African Americans. The event was attended by 25,000 people where Dr. King delivered one his first national speeches, this one entitled “Give Us the Ballot.”

After 1960, the Civil Rights Movement would take on a more mass character when the student sit-ins began in the South and the people of Fayette County, Tennessee tested the 1957 Civil Rights Act and began to register to vote provoking their evictions by white landowners. The student sit-ins and boycotts lead to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Fayette County struggle prompted the first Tent City of the period where African Americans camped out in opposition to their racist evictions.

Nonetheless, the events of the Spring and Summer of 1963 were critical in the introduction by President John F. Kennedy of yet another Civil Rights Bill in June of that year. The initiative was clearly a response to mass actions in Birmingham, Alabama, Cambridge, Maryland, Somerville, Tennessee, Danville, Virginia, Detroit , Michigan and other cities and rural areas across the country.

In Detroit on June 23, hundreds of thousands marched and rallied in the “Great Walk to Freedom” where Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was first recorded and publicized by Motown Records. His Washington, D.C. version of the same address has gained greater exposure over the last five decades, but was not the first of such a talk.

Other key speakers at the March on Washington were John Lewis, Chairman of SNCC, whose speech was considered so militant that he was requested by the lead organizers to revise it. In the original draft it states that “We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here. They have no money for their transportation, for they are receiving starvation wages or no wages at all.

“In good conscience, we cannot support wholeheartedly the administration’s civil rights bill, for it is too little and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality.”

Lewis also generated controversy when he stressed that “We are now involved in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles?’ The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party?”

Bayard Rustin, often recognized as the actual organizer of the March on Washington, read the demands of the gathering. These demands included that effective Civil Rights legislation be passed immediately with no compromises encompassing full voting rights, the withholding of federal funds to any local and state government that refuses to obey federal civil rights laws, the signing of an executive order ending housing discrimination, full employment, an increase in the minimum wages and other issues.

Women, Civil Rights and the March on Washington

Women played a leading role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It was the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for violating the segregation laws of Alabama that set off the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Without the organizing work of the Women’s Political Caucus in Montgomery which printed the leaflets and circulated them telling people to refrain from riding the city buses, the boycott would have never been successful. Ella Baker, a long time organizer in the Civil Rights struggle was the first executive director of SCLC and would later encourage the youth to form their organization, SNCC, in order to ensure the militancy of their anti-segregation campaigns.

By 1963, women were playing leading roles in Cambridge, Maryland, Somerville, Tennessee and within the ranks of SNCC. Yet at the actual March on Washington, only one woman spoke to the crowd although others performed such as Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson and Joan Baez.

Dr. Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in New York was on hand but was not allowed to address the crowd. Mahalia Jackson, who had performed, encouraged King during his prepared speech to veer away after the gospel artist shouted “Tell them about your dream Martin.”

The only woman who spoke during the rally was film star and stage performer Josephine Baker who flew in from her adopted home of France to participate. Baker’s tenure in France largely resulted from the national discrimination facing African American artists in the U.S. during the 1920s and 1930s.

Baker told the crowd that “I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents, and much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, ’cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world. . . .

“I am not a young woman now, friends. My life is behind me. There is not too much fire burning inside me. And before it goes out, I want you to use what is left to light the fire in you.”

After the demonstration Baker wrote to King saying “I was so happy to have been united with all of you on our great historical day. I repeat that you are really a great, great leader and if you need me I will always be at your disposition because we have come a long way but still have a way to go.” She signed the Aug. 31 letter, “Your great admirer and sister in battle.”

The full dimensions of the March on Washington need further exposure to the masses within the U.S. Even today in 2013 there is a need for a march for jobs and freedom.

Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois died on the same day that the March on Washington took place. His death was announced at the rally as well as an acknowledgment of his shift to the left in his latter decades.

Du Bois spanned the political spectrum from Civil Rights and Pan-Africanism to World Communism. All of these currents and their glorious histories have much to inform us about the struggle that we need to wage in the years to come.

File:March on washington Aug 28 1963.jpg



Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email


Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy and the Labor Movement
How the Government Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Assassination of Martin Luther King and the Suppression of the Anti-War and Peace Perspectives
10th Annual MLK Day Focuses on Labor and Repression
The Revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tools for Freedom
MLK: Stop The Wars. Stop The Crimes Perpetrated By The Wealthy Elite
Martin Luther King Jr.: A Time to Break the Silence
Martin Luther King Jr.: Praised in Words, Defamed by Deeds
Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream
Martin Luther King Jr: I’ve Been to the Mountaintop
Martin Luther King Jr: The Birth of a New Nation
Martin Luther King Jr.: Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
Martin Luther King Jr: Loving Your Enemies
Martin Luther King Jr: Lincoln Memorial Address

Reflections of Fidel: Objective Truths and Dreams

Mu'ammar and Fidel
Muammar Qaddafi_Fidel Castro
The human species reaffirms with frustrating force that it has existed for approximately 230 million years. I do not recall any affirmation that it has achieved any greater age. Other kinds of humans did exist, like the Neanderthals of European origin; or a third, the hominid of Denisova in North Asia but, in no case are there fossils more ancient than those of the homo sapiens of Ethiopia.

On the other hand, similar remains exist of numerous species living then, such as dinosaurs, the fossilized remains of which date back more than 200 million years. Many scientists talk of their existence prior to the meteorite which struck the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, provoking the death of these mammals, some of which measured up to 60 meters in length.

Equally known is the prehistory of the planet which we today inhabit, which broke away from the solar nebula and cooled as a compact, almost flat mass, constituted by a growing number of well defined materials which, little by little, acquired visible traits. It is not as yet known how many remain to be discovered, and the previously unknown uses which modern technology can contribute to human beings.

It is known that the seeds of certain edible plants were discovered and began to be used around 40,000 years ago. There is also confirmation of what was a sowing calendar, engraved in stone approximately 10,000 years ago.

Science must teach all of us to be more modest, given our congenital self-sufficiency. In this way, we would be more prepared to confront and even enjoy the rare privilege of existing.

Countless generous and self-sacrificing people, in particular mothers, whom nature endowed with a special spirit of sacrifice, live in this exploited and plundered world.

The concept of fathers, which does not exist in nature, is on the other hand, fruit of social education in human beings and is observed as a norm in any part of the world, from the Arctic, where the Eskimos are to be found, to the most torrid tropical jungles of Africa, in which women not only look after their families, but also work the land to produce food.

Anyone who reads the news arriving every day on old and new behaviors of nature and discoveries of methods for confronting events of yesterday, today and tomorrow, will understand the exigencies of our time.

Viruses are transforming themselves in unexpected forms, hitting the most productive plants or animals which make possible human alimentation, making the health of our species more insecure and costly, generating and aggravating illnesses, above all among the elderly or infants.

How to honorably confront the growing number of obstacles suffered by the inhabitants of the planet?

Let us think that more than 200 human groups are disputing the Earth’s resources. Patriotism is simply the widest sentiment of solidarity achieved. We should never say that it was only a little thing. It evidently began with family activities of reduced groups of people which historians describe as family clans, to explore ways of cooperation among family groups who cooperated with each other in order to undertake tasks within their reach. There was a struggle among family groups in other stages, until they reached higher levels of organization such as, doubtless, tribes. More than 100,000 years went by. Recollections written on sophisticated parchment, however, date back no more than 4,000 years.

The human capacity to think and develop ideas was already notable, and I sincerely do not believe that the Ancient Greeks were less intelligent than contemporary humans. Their poems, their philosophical texts, their sculptures, their medical knowledge, their Olympic Games; their mirrors, with which they set alight enemy ships by concentrating the sun’s rays; the works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Archimedes and others, filled the ancient world with light. They were men of exceptional talents.

After a long road, we arrived at the contemporary stage of human history.

Critical days were not long in presenting themselves for our homeland, at 90 miles from the continental territory of the United States, after a profound crisis struck the USSR.

From January 1, 1959, our country took charge of its own destiny after 402 years of Spanish colonialism and 59 as a neo-colony. We no longer existed as indigenous peoples who did not even speak the same language; we were a mix of whites, Blacks and American Indians who formed a new nation with its virtues and defects like all the rest. It goes without saying that the tragedy of unemployment, underdevelopment and an extremely poor level of education ruled on the island. The people were in possession of knowledge inculcated by the press and literature dominant in the United States, which was unaware of, if it did not scorn, the sentiments of a nation which had fought with arms over decades for its independence and, in the end, also against hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the service of the Spanish metropolis. It is essential not to overlook the history of the “Ripe Fruit,” dominant in the colonialist mentality of the powerful neighboring nation, which made its power prevail and not only refused the country the right to be free today, tomorrow and for ever, but attempted to annex our island as part of the territory of that powerful country.

When the U.S. Maine battleship exploded in the port of Havana, the Spanish army, comprising hundreds of thousands of men, was already defeated. Just as one day, on the basis of heroism, the Vietnamese defeated the powerful army endowed with sophisticated equipment, including Agent Orange, which affected so many Vietnamese for life, and Nixon, on more than one occasion, was tempted to use nuclear weapons against that heroic people. It was not by chance that he fought to soften the Soviet position with discussions on food production in that country.

I would not be clear if I do not point to a bitter moment in our relations with the USSR. This was derived from our reaction on learning of Nikita Khrushchev’s decision related to the 1962 October Crisis, the 51st anniversary of which is this October.

When we found out that Khrushchev had agreed with John F. Kennedy to withdraw the nuclear missiles from the country, I published a note of five points which I considered indispensable for an agreement. The Soviet leader knew that initially we warned the Chief Marshal of the Soviet rockets that Cuba was not interested in being seen as an emplacement for USSR missiles, given its aspiration to be an example for other countries in Latin America in the struggle for the independence of our peoples. But despite this the Chief Marshal of those weapons, an excellent person, insisted on the need to have some weaponry which would deter the aggressors. Given his insistence on the issue, I stated that if it seemed to them an essential need for the defense of socialism, that was different, because, above all else, we were revolutionaries. I asked him for two hours so that the leadership of our Revolution could make a decision.

In relation to Cuba, Khrushchev had conducted himself with much dignity. When the United States totally suspended the sugar quota and blocked our trade, he decided to buy what that country had ceased to import, and at the same price; when, a few months later, that country suspended oil quotas, the USSR supplied us with the necessities of that vital product without which our economy would have suffered a major collapse. A fight to the death had been imposed, given that Cuba would never surrender. The battles had been very bloody, as much for the aggressors as for us. We had accumulated more than 300,000 weapons, including the 100,000 we had taken from the Batista dictatorship.

The Soviet leader had accumulated great prestige. As a result of the occupation of the Suez Canal by France and Britain, the two powers which owned the canal and, with the support pf Israeli forces, had attacked and occupied the waterway, Khrushchev warned that he would use his nuclear weapons against the French and British aggressors who had occupied that point. Under Eisenhower’s leadership, the United States was not disposed at that moment to involve itself in a war. I recall a phrase of Khrushchev’s at that time, “Our missiles could hit a fly in the air.”

Not long afterward, the world found itself enveloped in extremely grave danger of war. Unfortunately, it was the most serious as yet known. Khrushchev wasn’t just one more leader, during the Great Patriotic War he was outstanding as Chief Commissar of the defense of Stalingrad, now Volgograd, in the hardest battle waged in the world, with the participation of four million men. The Nazis lost more than half a million soldiers. The October Crisis in Cuba lost him his position. In 1964 he was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.

It was supposed that, although at a high price, the United States would keep to its commitment not to invade Cuba. Brezhnev developed excellent relations with our country. He visited us on January 28, 1974, developed the military might of the Soviet Union, trained many officers of our forces in the military academy of his great country, continued the free supply of military armaments to our country, promoted the construction of a water cooled electronuclear power station at which maximum security measures were implemented, and gave support to our country’s economic objectives.

Upon his death on November 10, 1982, he was succeeded by Yuri Andropov, director of the KGB, who headed the funeral ceremony for Brezhnev and took possession as president of the USSR. He was a serious man, that is my appreciation of him, and also very frank.

He told us that if we were attacked by the United States we would have to fight alone. We asked him if they could supply weapons free of charge as had been the case. He replied in the affirmative. We then communicated to him, “Don’t worry, send us the weapons which the invaders took from us.”

Only a minimum of compañeros were informed of this matter, given that it would have been highly dangerous if the enemy had this information.

We decided to ask other friends for sufficient weapons in order to organize one million Cuban combatants. Compañero Kim Il Sung, a veteran and impeccable combatant, sent us 100,000 AK rifles and their corresponding park without charging a cent.

What contributed to unleash the crisis? Khrushchev had perceived Kennedy’s clear intention to invade Cuba as soon as the political and diplomatic conditions were prepared, especially after the crushing defeat of the mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion, escorted by assault warships from the Marine Infantry and a yanki aircraft carrier. The mercenaries controlled the airspace with more than 40 aircraft including B-26 bombers, air transport planes and other support aircraft.

A prior surprise attack on the principal airbase did not find our aircraft lined up, but dispersed to various points, those which could be moved and those that lacked parts. It affected just a few. The day of the traitorous invasion our planes were in the air before dawn, headed for Playa Girón. Let us just say that an honest U.S. writer described it as a disaster. Suffice it to say that at the end of that adventure only two or three expeditionaries were able to return to Miami.

The invasion programmed by the U.S. armed forces against the island would have suffered tremendous losses, far higher than the 50,000 soldiers they lost in Vietnam. They did not then have the experience that they acquired later.

It will be recalled that, on October 28, 1962, I stated that I was not in agreement with the decision, not consulted with or known by Cuba, that the USSR would withdraw its strategic missiles, for which launch pads were being constructed, to a total of 42. I explained to the Soviet leader that this step had not been consulted with us, an essential requisite of our agreements. The idea can be put in one sentence, “You can convince me that I am wrong, but you cannot say that I am wrong without convincing me,” and I enumerated five points, to remain sacrosanct. 1. An end to the economic blockade and all measures of commercial economic coercion exercised by the United States in all parts of the world against our country. 2. An end to all subversive activities, the launching of landing of arms and explosives by air and by sea, the organization of mercenary invasions, filtration of spies and saboteurs, all of these actions carried out from U.S. territory and some complicit countries. 3. An end to pirate attacks perpetrated from bases in the United States and Puerto Rico. 4. An end to all violations of our air and maritime space by U.S. warplanes and warships. 5. Withdrawal from the Guantánamo Naval Base and the return of the Cuban territory occupied by the United States.

It is equally very well known that the French journalist Jean Daniel interviewed President Kennedy after the October Crisis; Kennedy recounted the very difficult time he had experienced, and asked him if I was really aware of the danger of that moment. I asked the French reporter to travel to Cuba, to talk with me and clarify that question.

Daniel traveled to Cuba and asked for an interview. I called him that night and conveyed to him that I wanted to see him and converse with him about the issue, and suggested that we talk in Varadero. We arrived there and I invited him to lunch. It was midday. I turned on the radio and at that moment a glacial dispatch announced that the President had been assassinated in Dallas.

There was virtually nothing left to talk about. Of course, I asked him to tell me about his conversation with Kennedy; he was really impressed with his contact with the president. He told me that Kennedy was a thinking machine; he was really traumatized. I didn’t see him again. For my part, I investigated as far as I could, or rather, imagined what happened that day. Lee Harvey Oswald’s conduct was really strange. I knew that he had attempted to visit Cuba not long before the assassination of Kennedy, and that it was supposed that he shot at a moving target with a semi-automatic rifle. I am very well acquainted with the use of that weapon. When one fires, the sight moves and the target is lost in an instant; something which does not happen with other types of firing systems. The telescopic lens, of various degrees of power, is very precise if the weapon is supported, but obstructs when used against a moving object. It is said that two lethal shots were fired consecutively in a fraction of a second. The presence of a lumpen, known for his trade, who killed Oswald in no less than a police precinct, moved by the pain that Kennedy’s wife would be suffering, would seem to be a cynical joke.

Johnson, a good oil magnate, lost no time in taking a plane headed for Washington. I do not wish to make imputations; that is a matter for them, but the plans were to involve Cuba in the assassination of Kennedy. Later, after some years had passed, the son of the assassinated President visited and dined with me. He was a young man full of life, who liked to write. Shortly afterward, traveling in a stormy night to a vacation island in a simple aircraft, it apparently failed to find its goal and exploded. I also met in Caracas with the wife and young children of Robert Kennedy, who was Attorney General, and a negotiator with Khrushchev’s envoy and had been assassinated. Thus the world marched on since then.

Very close now to ending this account, which coincides with the 87th birthday of its author on August 13, I ask you to excuse me for any imprecision. I have not had time to consult documents.

News dispatches talk almost daily about issues of concern accumulating on the world horizon.

According to the Russia Today television channel website, Noam Chomsky stated,”’he U.S. policy is designed to increase terror.”

“According to the eminent philosopher, U.S. policy is designed so as to increase terror among the population. ‘The U.S. is conducting the most impressive international terrorist campaign ever seen […] that of the drone planes and the special forces campaign…’”

“The drone planes campaign is creating potential terrorists.”

“In his view, it is absolutely amazing that the North American country performs on one hand a massive terror campaign that can generate potential terrorists against oneself, and on the other hand it proclaims that it is absolutely necessary to have mass surveillance to protect against terrorism.”

“According to Chomsky, there are many similar cases. One of the most striking, in his opinion, is that of Luis Posada Carriles, accused in Venezuela of participating in an attack on a plane aboard which 73 people were killed…”

Today, I am especially recalling the best friend I had in my years as a political activist – a very modest and poor man forged in the Bolivarian Army of Venezuela – Hugo Chávez Frías.

Among the many books which I have read, impregnated with his poetic and descriptive language, there is one which distills his rich culture and his capacity for expressing his intelligence and his sympathies in rigorous terms, through the 2,000-plus questions put to him by the likewise French journalist, Ignacio Ramonet.

On July 26th this year, when he visited Santiago de Cuba on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos M. de Céspedes garrisons, Ramonet dedicated to me his latest book, Hugo Chávez Mi primera vida. (Hugo Chávez: My First Life).

I experienced the healthy pride of having contributed to the drafting of this work, because Ramonet subjected me to an implacable questionnaire, which, despite everything, served to coach the author on this material.

The worst thing is that I had not completed my task as a leader when I promised him to revise it.

On July 26, 2006, I fell seriously ill. As soon as I understood that it would be definitive, I didn’t hesitate for an instant to announce on the 31st that I was resigning from my posts as President of the Councils of State and Ministers, and proposed that the compañero designated to exercise this task should immediately proceed to occupy it.

I still had to complete the promised revision of One Hundred Hours with Fidel. I was prone, I feared losing consciousness while I was dictating and sometimes I fell asleep. Nevertheless, day by day, I replied to the devilish questions which seemed to me to be interminably long; but persisted until I finished.

I was far from imagining that my life would be prolonged another seven years. Only in this way did I have the privilege of reading and studying many things which I should have learned before. I think that the new discoveries have surprised everyone.

In relation to Hugo Chávez there remained many questions to answer, from the most important moment of his existence, when he assumed his post as President of the Republic of Venezuela. There is not one question to respond to in terms of the most brilliant moments of his life. Those who knew him well know the priority he gave to those ideological challenges. A man of action and ideas, he was surprised by an extremely aggressive illness which caused him great suffering, but he confronted it with great dignity, and with profound pain for his family and close friends who loved him so much. Bolívar was his teacher and the guide who directed his steps through life. Both of them brought together sufficient grandeur to occupy a place of honor in human history.

All of us are now awaiting Hugo Chávez, Mi Segunda Vida (Hugo Chávez: My Second Life). Without him, nobody could write the most authentic of histories better.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Agosto 13 de 2013
9 y 5 p.m.

Cuba Debate

Fidel not only belongs to Cuba, he belongs to this world of ours, to this Our America

fidel_chavez

Brother, ¡Hasta la victoria siempre! And may you have very many more birthdays among us, giving demonstrations of this integrity which you have given all your life, giving demonstrations of courage, example, and driving forward, as always, the waves of the peoples.

Homeland is humanity: it is the legacy of what is the living embodiment of Comandante Fidel Castro.

When you meet with Fidel Castro, he is going to ask you 100 questions in the first five minutes. He wants to know about everything.

Fidel is a boy of 75 years, a dreamer, an example without any doubt to all of us, and for entire generations of Latin Americans, Caribbeans and fighters all over the world.

Fidel can show his face with total integrity and absolute morality, not only to the Cuban people, but to all the peoples of the world. Cuba blockaded, almost without resources from the material point of view, but led by Fidel and constructed by his people, has entered the 21st century in a social situation which is the envy of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Here there are historic differences which will remain and are already sown in the judgment of history.

Many years ago, Fidel said, “History will absolve me,” I saw a book around here titled Absolved by History. Your face is infinite, gigantic, before the history of our peoples, and from there, Fidel, nobody will ever be able to extract you.

I feel the honor of being close to Fidel. And my gratitude and my admiration are only comparable with my affection.

I wish to honor Fidel and his long walk among us in order to awaken us.

At the end of the 80’s, Fidel said that a new revolutionary wave of change, a new wave of peoples, would be unleashed on the continent when it seemed – as some naive people pointed out to him – that we had reached the end of history, that history was petrified and that there were no more ways or alternatives…

When many people began to surrender and give in, Fidel continued saying, new waves will come. We are seeing the beginning of these new waves.

Fidel continues being in the frontline of battle: he has never left it and never will leave it. From the trench of ideas, this great father of revolutionary men and women of Our America has continued directing us. More than ever, his word is necessary and illuminating, now when the empire is counterattacking.

Forty centuries remain for him, because the image of Fidel Castro is written for the pages of the history of our peoples for ever.

Fidel, who sees everything, is wiser with every passing day. His wisdom has grown like his white beard.

Fidel Castro is the Caesar of dignity and socialism.

These comments by the Comandante Supremo of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, were compiled from Tribute to Fidel Castro, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, August 13, 2001, based on the book Absolved by History; President Chávez’ speech on the 10th anniversary of the Cuba-Venezuela Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement, November 10, 2010; Cuentos del Arañero, a book by Orlando Oramas and Jorge Legañoa; Las Líneas de Chávez: La function debe continuar, August 15, 2010; Hugo Chávez Nuestro, a book by journalists Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Luis Báez; Las Líneas de Chávez: Fidel… ¡Viva Fidel!, August 16, 2009; Chávez’ words on the rugby field, University of Córdoba, Argentina, July 21, 2006; Exchange of Messages between Fidel and Chávez, September 15, 2010, published in Granma; and Chávez’ words at the signing of agreements between Venezuela and Cuba, Caracas, January 24, 2007.

gramma.cu

Fr. Miguel d’Escoto – Open letter to President Obama

Ideology, Organization and the Mass Struggle

Lessons from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, 2008-2013

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Capitalism inside the United States is in terminal crisis. Since 2007, the banks and corporations have shed millions of jobs, taken trillions of dollars in bailouts from the federal government and the Federal Reserve and seized the homes of millions of people throughout the country.

In the city of Detroit, which was the most industrialized metropolitan area in the country, has been under a process of capitalist restructuring since late 1950s accelerating in successive waves during the mid-1970s, the mid-1980s and of course reached unprecedented levels over the last six years.

This restructuring was designed to address inherent problems within the capitalist mode of production and relations of production. The trade union movement, which in many ways through its leadership, had abdicated to the anti-communism and racism of the Post-World War II period, was not shielded from the attacks that began to occur during the 1980s when hundreds of thousands of industrial jobs were eliminated in the auto industry.

In providing higher salaries and living standards for the white working class during the post-World War II period, the ruling class through the state was attempting to win the allegiance of the white population in order to intensify the repression and exploitation of African American workers but also the proletariat in general. Both internationally and domestically, the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America were identified as the principal enemy of the capitalist system in the U.S. through their purported susceptibility to national liberation struggles and communism.

Nonetheless, this strategy opened the way ideologically for placing anti-capitalist perspectives on the defensive within the mass media, the education system and the political culture. Yet it was the advent of the mass Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s combined with the rise of the national liberation movements and socialism internationally that created broader avenues for democratic expression within the U.S.

Observing and assessing the changing racial character of the rural and urban working class and the militant upsurges of the post-World War II period, the ruling class, in order to preserve and enhance its rate of profitability, began to relocate its plants into non-unionized areas of the South and outside the U.S. The working class and national movements inside the U.S. were not prepared for this major shift. What has happened over the last three decades is the greater impoverishment of the nationally oppressed and the working class as a whole.

The Struggle for a Moratorium of Foreclosures, Evictions, Utility Shut-offs and Debt-Service

In 2006-7, our mass work in Michigan was informed through direct observation and experience that a major crisis had developed in the housing industry. The housing crisis was an outgrowth of the loss of jobs and income and the role of the banks utilizing those assets ostensibly owned by working people to further their exploitation and impoverishment.

We began our struggle against predatory lending and home seizures through the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) which was formed in 2002 on the eve of the imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq. Our principal slogan was “Money for Our Cities, Not for War!” This slogan highlighted the escalating contradiction under capitalism where the living standards of the people, particularly the nationally oppressed, were worsening while expenditures and the costs of imperialist war were escalating.

MECAWI developed a program based upon developments at the height of the Great Depression during the 1930s when a movement of workers, the unemployed and African Americans fought against mass evictions, lay-offs, political repression and racism. We drafted leaflets calling for a moratorium, an immediate halt, to all foreclosures and evictions in the state of Michigan pending the outcome of the economic downturn which had hit the state first and with a vengeance.

This demand struck directly at the property rights under capitalism of the banks and corporations to seize the homes of working people based upon the interest of the ruling class, the real owners of capital. Our first successful project took place in late 2007 when we mounted a community campaign on the northwest side that saved an African American woman activist’s home from seizure by HUD and the banks.

In 2007 and 2008 we took people to the State Capitol in Lansing for the governor’s “state of the state” address to call for the declaration of an economic state of emergency and the imposition of a moratorium on home seizures. This movement grew during 2008, a national election year, when the economic crisis deepened.

In the Spring of 2008, State Senator Hansen Clarke recognizing the work that we were doing, in consultation with MECAWI, drafted a bill which would place a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures. At this point through MECAWI, we formed a new and broader alliance called the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions. Later during 2009 we added utility shut-offs to the focus of Moratorium NOW! Coalition since direct observations and involvement viewed massive utility shut-offs as a form of eviction through illegal lockouts from apartments and homes.

Of course through mass action which included marches at the leading Detroit and Michigan outlets of the largest banks in the country, home defenses, the consistent propaganda offenses against the failure of the state government to address the housing crisis and pointing to the central role of the financial institutions in the burgeoning economic crisis, we were able to influence the political atmosphere locally, statewide and nationally.

By the Fall of 2008, the crisis would reach a boiling point when the Congress was compelled to provide over $700 billion to bailout the banks, insurance companies and the auto industry. Obama’s election and the so-called stimulus package of 2009 could not conceal the worsening situation inside the U.S.

The crisis of capitalism is not only confined to the U.S. it is in fact a worldwide crisis. In Western Europe massive unemployment, deepening poverty and the imposition of austerity illustrates that the crisis is not episodic but chronically systematic. The capitalists, both politically and ideologically, have no ideas beyond the enactment of draconian cuts in employment, social programs, public services, pensions and education combined with state repression.

Since 2011, the housing crisis has further crippled the cities’ capacity to maintain services. The banks are also at the root of the crisis of the cities because some of the same financial instruments that were used to destroy the housing sector and enrich the ruling class were utilized to strangle the urban areas in municipal debt.

In 2012 it was revealed that the municipal bond market was a $3.7 trillion industry. In Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan, municipalities are being placed under emergency management in order to guarantee the payment of fraudulent loans to the banks.

The municipal debt crisis has been best exemplified in Stockton and San Bernardino, California, Jefferson County, Alabama, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Providence, Rhode Islands, Chicago, Illinois and a host of other cities and towns across the U.S. The banks are saying that they should be paid first even if there are no resources left to maintain civil servants, municipal services, public pensions, public transportation and public schools.

Consequently, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition’s focus has expanded to also include the demand for a halt to the payment of debt-service to the banks. In Detroit, the banks are saying that the majority African American city owes in excess of $16 billion to these same financial institutions that wrecked the municipality through capital flight, home foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs.

Undoubtedly, the struggle against emergency management, which strips all of the limited authority of municipal governing structures in the efforts to force total subservience to the banks, represents an assault on bourgeois democracy. Nonetheless, this process is clearly designed for the purpose of economic exploitation and political repression. The movement against emergency management is being forced to address the principal role of the financial institutions in the urban crisis.

Bourgeois Democracy and the Character of the Capitalist State

V.I. Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, wrote during the early days of the first socialist transformation of a capitalist state that “The forms of domination of the state may vary: capital manifests its power in one way where one form exists, and in another way where another form exists—but essentially the power is in the hands of capital, whether there are voting qualifications or some other rights or not, or whether the republic is democratic one or not—in fact the more democratic it is the cruder and more cynical is the rule of capitalism. One of the most democratic republics in the world is the United States of America, yet nowhere (and those who were there after 1905 probably know it) is the power of capital, the power of a handful of billionaires over the whole of society, so crude and so openly corrupt as in America. Once capital exists, it dominates the whole of society, and no democratic republic, no franchise can alter the essence of the matter.” (The State, pp. 20-21)

Therefore, our overriding objective is the replacement of the capitalist system with socialism. However, strategic objectives must be reached through tactics which are aimed at the mass mobilization and organization of the workers and the oppressed. The capitalist system must be exposed at its root as being incapable of addressing and solving the problems of the workers and the oppressed.

Once the people realize that the system is not only in diametrical opposition to their class interests but also has no ability to address the central problems they face, we can then move towards revolutionary organization for the removal of the exploitative system and the replacement of capitalism with socialism, where the workers and the oppressed will own and control the means of production.

As revolutionaries we can work in mass coalitions and at the same time maintain our independence politically and organizationally. In Detroit we have done this through the housing struggle and the various campaigns against emergency management.

As Mao Tse-Tung wrote in 1938, “In short, we must not split the united front, but neither should we allow ourselves to be bound hand and foot, and hence the slogan of ‘everything through the united front’ should not be put forward… Our policy is one of independence and initiative within the united front, a policy both of unity and of independence.” (The Question of Independence and Initiative Within the United Front, pp. 4-5)



Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email

Malcolm II: The passing of Malcolm Shabazz by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Malcolm II: (1:57) (the passing of Malcolm Shabazz) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

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On a Long March: Red Ant Dream

By Bernard D’Mello
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You are far away from the sterile atmosphere of much of academia with its politically correct but spineless professors.  You are miles away from intellectuals who detest both the Indian state and those who live by the revolutionary ideal.  Just as well to be nowhere near those who run with the hare and hunt with the hounds — say they abhor the status quo but despise those who have embraced the political means necessary to get rid of the existing state of affairs.  You are also insulated from propaganda of the kind that is around every day on the TV news channels.  Their careful placement of the camera keeps the real, wholly different, story from reaching the public.  In sharp contrast, Sanjay Kak’s new film, Red Ant Dream, takes you right to where you’ve been denied access — the political world of “those who live by the revolutionary ideal in India”.

The darkness is illumined by the headlights of heavy vehicles, huge dumper trucks; there’s an industrial complex in the background as two fugitives (our presumption) meet.  The camera moves to the forest where the Maoist guerrillas are on the move in the darkness of night.  With the approach of dawn, they are exercising.  On a well-paved highway, security-force personnel are jogging.  Not too far away, preparations are on for a public meeting; a Hindustani revolutionary song plays in the background.  The All-India Radio (AIR) announces that operations will continue till the Maoists “halt violence and come forward for talks”.

The words of the anti-imperialist, socialist revolutionary, Bhagat Singh (in 1931) appear on screen: “Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist . . . that war shall be incessantly waged.”

The Revolutionary and the Angry Poet

The camera is focussed on an armed squad of Maoist guerrillas on a trail in the forests of the erstwhile Bastar division in southern Chhattisgarh.  Their transistor radio tells them what they very well know — that “the government is more or less prepared for a long-drawn battle with the ultra-leftists”.  The camera then switches its location to Punjab.  There are portraits of Bhagat Singh, just 23 years of age when he was hanged by the British on 23 March 1931, and the Punjabi radical poet, Avtar Singh Pash, 38 when he was assassinated by religious fanatics in 1988, by a strange coincidence, on the very day that Bhagat Singh was killed.

It’s the 23rd of March 2011, the double death anniversary, and people are on the march shouting “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long live the Revolution) and “Death to Imperialism” (Samrajyawad Ka Nash Ho), the very slogans Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt — who while throwing harmless bombs in the central assembly on 8 April 1929 to “make the deaf hear” — first raised.  Revolution has “been a long time coming”, but surely it’s going to be a “long, long time before the dawn” (the lyrics of that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, “Long Time Gone”, seem to cross my senses).  Unlike much of the academic discourse that has made its peace with the status quo, the degenerate, unscrupulous and callous system, Kak’s film doesn’t prevaricate — it’s in solidarity with the Revolution.

Pash, “the angry poet for a generation” who was inspired by “the armed uprising that flared briefly in the village of Naxalbari in far away Bengal”, has harsh words for the security-centric ruling classes, for whom the biggest threat is internal.  As he puts it (recited by the Punjabi revolutionary intellectual, Satnam, author of the Penguin tract, Jangalnama):

If the security of the land
calls for a life without conscience
. . .
then the security of the land
is a threat to us.

“The insurrection in Punjab”, inspired by Naxalbari, “was violently snuffed out”, but the revolutionary spirit can never be extinguished.  The camera follows a procession to Pash’s village, Talwandi Salem, in the district of Jalandhar.  At the venue there are revolutionary songs.  Elsewhere, security forces are on the move; the AIR Kolkata correspondent reminds listeners that “the Prime Minster Manmohan Singh has repeatedly pointed out that the country’s greatest threat to internal security has been from the Maoists”.  The camera is again on the Maoist guerrillas on the move.  The film’s narrator tells us how the Dandakaranya forests emerged as “the centre of what is known as the Maoist insurgency”.  As the camera follows the trail of the Maoist guerrillas, the voice of Azad speaks of established violence, the violence of the oppressors and the terror it has unleashed.  In his view, “self-preservation is possible only through [people’s] war”.

No Way Out But To . . .

The guerrillas decide to rest; they are relaxed, smiling and laughing; some of them are telling the interviewer their stories — how their induction began with the coming and going of the Maoist militia, becoming a part of the Bal Sangham (children’s squad), then the Chetna Natya Manch (the cultural front), later the Gram Raksha Dal (village defence militia), and from there, to the pinnacle, with obvious pride, the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and participation in an ambush.  A young woman guerrilla, speaking of private vigilante and state repression, says: “I’ve seen all this with my own eyes, the rapes and beatings, jungles being combed by the police.  We realized there’s no way out but to fight, to take up a gun, and fight”.

Initially, these young guerrillas, men and women, knowing that they are on camera, seem to be making the adjustment, just like any of us would if we were placed in front of a webcam.  But very soon they seem to feel as if they are in control; that metaphorical wall between the maker of the film and the guerrillas seems to have vanished.  The latter are no longer that conscious of the camera.  Their real personalities begin to appear, and from then on one begins to get a feel of the life they are living, the way they are thinking, for they are now no longer self-conscious before the camera.  This was a very precious moment for me, as if I was in the company of those guerrillas and they were feeling comfortable giving me a glimpse of their real selves.  This is really one of the film’s high points, something very precious.  I was particularly touched by the woman’s narrative, her description of ongoing, almost daily, happenings.

The female comrades are touching, indeed, inspiring.  One can imagine what they do, and no less, alongside their male comrades — their bravery, their tenacity, and the unimaginable hardships they willingly undergo and seek to overcome.  Dandakaranya Red Culture seems to be really something that has taken root in these young women and men, shaping their thinking and their conduct.  They have left their families for a new home — they have become a part of the big revolutionary family where there’s warmth, where there’s mutual help, where there’s a spirit of sharing joy and sorrow.  If you were to ask me, I would say that all of this reflects the spirit of a people fighting for what they believe is right.  Marvellous!

The camera switches to Punjab again.  It’s 22 March 2011 and we are in Khatkar Kalan where separately the Congress Party and the Akali Party are holding rallies to commemorate, indeed, “lay claim to the dead socialist revolutionary”, Bhagat Singh.  The Congress has all along used the public memory of the revolutionary martyrs, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to gain political ground, yet the fact remains that it unequivocally disowned the political practice of these revolutionaries who are revered for upholding the dignity of the people of India.  Bhagat Singh really hit the nail on the head when he said — and in this, he has proved prophetic — in a communication to young political workers on 2 February 1931, at a time the Congress was contemplating a compromise with the British government:

[W]hat difference does it make to them [workers and peasants] whether Lord Reading is the head of the Indian government or Sir Purshotamdas Thakordas?  What difference for a peasant if Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru replaces Lord Irwin!

The camera quickly leaves the establishment parties’ rallies and comes to a procession and gathering of the Lok Sabhyachar Samiti (People’s Cultural Front) where there are speeches and revolutionary songs.

‘Nature Too Awaits the Revolution!’

We are then taken to the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha in eastern India in the midst of the Save Niyamgiri Movement against the mining of bauxite over there.  “This Vedanta [the transnational corporation, Vedanta Resources] . . . [is] going to consume this mountain . . . Niyamgiri is under attack”.  There’s a shot of the company’s industrial installation, presumably the alumina plant with a tall chimney from which a white smoke clouds the green hills.  “[W]e’re not going to let go.  There’ll be a fight, a fierce one.  Be sure of that!”  There is an attempt to explain with the help of metaphors: “See, what they’ve [Vedanta has] done is put a pot of water to boil.  [Now] they have to put rice [the alumina] in it to cook.  [But] the rice is with us; they only have the pot.  The precious thing inside the Niyamgiri mountain — if we don’t let them have it, they’ll be in a lot of trouble. . . .”

The camera goes to the Gandhamardan Hills, also in Odisha where the company, then government owned, was forced to withdraw.  The anniversary of that people’s movement brings the adivasis of Niyamgiri to Gandhamardan.  One hears the sweet sounds of a stream as the adivasi leader Lingraj Azad of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS, translated as Save Niyamgiri Committee) pleads: “Learn from history; partake of the present; anticipate the future . . . We have a slogan — If you want to live, be ready to die; at every step be ready to fight.”

The scene shifts to Lakhapadar at the crest of the Niyamgiri Hills.  We are in an adivasi hamlet . . . “that is stubbornly refusing to be displaced.  There’s no guerrilla army over here but war is still being waged”.  A determined, defiant villager, Ladda Sikaka, local leader of the NSS, speaks:

[W]e fought earlier too, with foreigners; we are not afraid of the fight.  If we die our children, our grandchildren will continue the fight.  We’ve survived the ages because Niyamgiri is there, mother-earth is there.  Only if she survives will we survive . . .  This struggle . . . it’s not about our survival, no, it’s about everybody’s survival. . . .

By the side of a road, trees are laden with dust, what with the steady stream of dumper trucks.  It is clear that the authorities and the company have little concern for the preservation of the natural and the socio-cultural environment, no concern for the rights of the people.  We might soon be witness to scarred landscapes, ruined streams, polluted air and deforestation here too — the costs of capitalist progress and development.  India’s new financial aristocracy is callous and rapacious; it’s heavy handed; it insists on operating on its own terms; it wants to make as much profit as possible, grow as rapidly as possible.  Nevertheless, what one is witnessing is not unique — it’s all about capitalism’s unsustainable appropriation of use values from nature and its unsustainable dumping of the resulting “waste” of production and consumption on to nature.  But if we have anything to learn from the morally sensible Ladda Sikaka and his ecological awareness, nature has to be regarded as a subject, like a human being, with rights that have to be respected.  In the words of the Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse: “Nature too awaits the Revolution!”

Bhumkal and the Commune

The camera takes us to Bastar once again.  The celebrations are beginning; witness the song and dance, the drums beating away in rhythm, the blowing of the horn, and drama.  It’s the Bhumkal centenary festivity being organised by the Janatam Sarkar (people’s government) of the Dandakaranya wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).  The legacy of Gunda Dhur, the inspirational adivasi hero who had fought against British imperialism (colonialism) as the leader of the Bhumkal Rebellion of 1910, is evoked for inspiration.  This revolt is particularly important for the Gondi Maoists, because the adverse impact of colonial land and forest administration policies on the tribal peasantry of Bastar was its proximate causes.  The zamindars and tribal headmen had then mostly collaborated with the British colonialists for they had gained from the land revenue system that the latter had instituted.  And the transfer of power in 1947 brought almost nothing in terms of recompense for the Gondi peasants.

A poster with a quote from Mao’s Little Red Book reads: “Without a People’s Army the masses will not achieve anything”.  The Maoist insurgency reclaims the history of adivasi revolt against the British and “fashions it into a weapon”.  The birds too seem to be celebrating; they’re chirping as the drums beat away.  Smoke from a chimney of the industrial complex is sucked back into it.

School of Counterinsurgency

It’s time though for the dramatic entry of a counterinsurgency expert.  A trumpet blows.  We are in the Counter-Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Kanker, Chhattisgarh.  As the jungle warriors in the making are being trained, a forceful voice, that of Brigadier B K Ponwar, Ret’d, Director of the CTJWC commands our attention:

[O]ver here in Bastar where almost 10,000-15,000 sq. km of territory across the Indravati River [has been usurped] . . . [where] the Naxalites have been running their own kind of Jan Adalats and . . . other kinds of activity . . . land allotment . . . [they] say “the water, forest, land is ours”. . . .  [U]sage of territory becomes ownership of territory . . . [W]e have to bring order in this disorder . . . the Security Forces [have to lead] the advance because the philosophy of the Naxalites is that “power flows from the barrel of a gun”. . . .  [P]opulation is the centre of gravity.  Whichever side the population tilts [towards], that side wins.

The Brigadier obviously knows Karl von Clausewitz’s On War (1932) well.  Footage of a Maoist video of 23 October 2005 shows the destruction of homes and hearths.  Nothing is spared, not even the traditional musical instrument.  “[T]he Salwa Judum thugs turn their fury on this too”.

The camera is again in the Counter-Terrorism College.  The jungle warriors to be are being trained in the ambush of a Maoist camp.  But footage from a government propaganda video interrupts the “ideal war” being “fought” in the “clinical neatness” of the training camp.  The video is about the Salwa Judum and it is “meant to underline the spontaneity of this counter-revolt against the Maoists”.  But unfortunately for the government, as Mahendra Karma (the founder of the vigilante group, Salwa Judum) addresses his followers, he lets the cat out of the bag when he says:

You are not alone in this movement.  [The] administration is with us, government is with us. . . . [T]he Militia people . . . if they don’t come, then burn their village. . . .  [I]f they don’t come here, then we will have to kill them.

As Karma talks of the administration, there is a shot of K R Pisda, the District Magistrate of Bijapur, sitting there.  R S Dwivedi of the Chhattisgarh Police is also there and he says:

The Naxalites . . . their strength is the people, [but] if the people are not with them, where will the Naxalites be?

Those Devils of Established Violence

The scene shifts once again to the Maoist guerrillas on the move in the forest.  I must admit, though I’m now a senior citizen, when I watch these guerrillas wandering, it gives me the feeling of freedom from a lot of millstones that tie me down and there’s something romantic about that kind of freedom.  Wish I were there with the guerrillas and the swallows!  Meanwhile comrade Azad, member of the Party’s Politburo and its spokesperson, is being interviewed.  He’s talking about Operation Green Hunt (the Indian state’s latest armed assault on the Maoist movement) and the movement’s resistance to it.  And, there’s some footage of a Maoist video of 20 October 2005 that takes you to Mankeli village in Bijapur block.  The popular Maoist leader Koval has been killed and his wife is describing what happened:

[H]e was unarmed and had my son with him.  They grabbed him too.  They beat up my husband very badly.  Then they attacked him with axes and knives, gouged his eyes out, and ripped his chest open . . . they chopped off all his limbs; the head was badly crushed. . . .

We’re back to the guerrillas being interviewed.  When they got wind of what had happened, they began to pursue those devils of established violence that had by then moved on, burning another village along their way.  “We followed them . . . surrounded them . . . 24 cops fell in that incident . . . we left after that, taking our injured comrades with us. . . .”

The camera switches to the Chetna Kala Kendra, Barnala, Punjab where a play on the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 is on, but soon goes back to Brigadier Ponwar and his training of dogs (assisting the jungle warriors) to fight the guerrillas.  But before long, thankfully, we’re back with the guerrillas and they’re talking about an ambush they set up in which three policemen surrendered.  “On behalf of the Party we explained to them that you too have come from amongst the poor.  We don’t kill those who surrender. . . .”  Footage of a Maoist video shows a guerrilla interrogating two cops who had surrendered.  “We’ll let you off . . . you’re not our enemy . . . Where were you hit?  I’m a doctor I’ll treat you. . . .”  The guerrillas do not engage in unnecessary and indiscriminate violence; for them, even the cops are not beyond redemption, this, even as they know what the counterinsurgents do when they capture one of them, for instance, the utter cruelty and callousness with which comrade Koval was killed.

‘Just Kill Him, Is That Clear?’

The camera moves back to the Bhagat Singh anniversary at Rampura Phul.  A leader of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Punjab is speaking: “This is not the world Bhagat Singh dreamt of . . . that freedom hasn’t arrived. . . .”  Then at the Deshbhakt Yadgar Hall in Jalandhar, Amolak of the Punjab Lok Sabhyachar Samiti blends the past with the present, Bhagat Singh and his comrades, the Ghadari comrades and the Royal Indian Navy mutiny of 1946, with the people’s resistance of today.  Pash’s “We Shall Fight” is recited by Satnam as the guerrillas are on the move, again in the forests of southern Chhattisgarh.  As they reach a village, there are greetings, the shaking of hands, Red Salutes.  In the company of the villagers, they are explaining the intricacies of a particular ambush they had executed.  Next, they are in Ongnar, a village where five residents have been killed.  The camera shifts to Brigadier Ponwar holding forth on “The Naxal Challenge”, with a PowerPoint presentation, and quoting one of the founding leaders of India’s Maoist movement, Charu Mazumdar.  But soon we hear the voice of Azad again, for the last time, taking about the victims of the so-called development process and making demands that “fall within the ambit of the Indian Constitution” but which he knows the Indian rulers will never accept.  So, in his view, armed resistance with the support of the people is the only way out.

The camera moves to a seminar hall in Delhi on 3 August 2010 where a public meeting is demanding a judicial inquiry into the assassination of Cherukuri Rajkumar, alias Azad, 58.   Satnam is speaking: “I knew that when they lay their hands on someone like him, they will not let him go”.  And, there’s Satnam again, this time reading Pash’s poem “The Constitution”:

[D]on’t read it
Its words exude the chill of death
. . . If you read this book now
you’ll become an animal —
a sleeping animal.

“A seditious poet he certainly was, Satnam adds.  What follows is an audio of a “Police Wireless”.  A cop in the field is receiving instructions from his headquarters: “[J]ust be on high alert and if any journalists come by to cover the Naxalites, just get them killed [my emphasis].  Is that clear?”

Guerrillas among the People

We are in the Niyamgiri Hills.  Water from a stream gently flows by.  The drums beat away, there’s dancing, and singing.  But Vedanta’s demand for “a million tonnes of alumina in a year, that’s an appetite that can level a mountain top in a few years”.  Guerrillas are on the move once more.  They are at the village where a memorial to the martyrs of Ongnar is set up.  People are paying their respects with flowers . . . with tears.  A female guerrilla is remembering the martyrs, their good deeds.  Onward to Punjab where Amolak is talking about Pash’s recounting of Bhagat Singh reading Lenin’s State and Revolution in his cell at the time when his hanging was due — “one revolutionary is in dialogue with another”.  Revolutionaries killed in police “encounters” (cold-blooded murders) in Punjab in 1970 are being remembered.  The voice of Gudsa Usendi, the Maoist spokesperson in Dandakaranya, is announcing a major victory of the PLGA over the police forces in Gadchiroli district.  The guerrillas and the people are dancing, celebrating into the night. . .  It’s dark . . . a torchlight is illuminating the pictures of the martyrs.  Elsewhere, Brigadier Ponwar’s jungle warfare training is in progress.  But, not to worry, the guerrillas are among the people.

In Solidarity with the Revolution

There’s no resolution, so to say, at the end of the film.  One can almost recognize the loose ends.  Perhaps the way the film ended, that’s how it should have ended, for frankly, there is not going to be any near-term resolution of the major contradictions that plague Indian society.  If I were to be pinned down into deducing the politics of this film, I would no doubt say that it is in solidarity with the Revolution.  The film, when the camera is in Bastar and in the Niyamgiri Hills, brings to us the culture of vitality over there, a way of life that is rooted in nature and in the struggles of the adivasis who are closest to nature, this culture blending with that of the Maoists who have brought to the adivasis memory and dreams of “far away insurrections and revolutions — Naxalbari, China, Russia, even the Paris Commune of 1871”.  These struggles, as the film makes clear, are about survival and about creating new worlds.  From Bhagat Singh to Azad, it’s truly been a long march without end.  And, it’s going to be “a long, long time before the dawn”.


Red Ant Dream / Maati Ke Laal (2013)
120 minutes; English version, with subtitles
Direction: Sanjay Kak
Photography: Ranjan Palit, Sanjay Kak and Setu
Sound Design: Madhu Apsara
Writers: Sanjay Kak and Tarun Bharatiya
Editing: Tarun Bharatiya
www.redantdream.com

Bernard D’Mello is deputy editor, Economic & Political Weekly.

Tribute to Al Hajj Malcolm Al Shabazz from the African Revolutionary Movement

By Gerald A. Perreira
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May 13, 2013

Africans all over the world mourn the death of Al Hajj Malcolm Al Shabazz, grandson of the great African revolutionary, Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz (Malcolm X). ARM is in no doubt that this young African freedom fighter, who was using his legacy to inspire a whole new generation, was targeted for assassination. Anyone familiar with the aims and objectives of COINTELPRO can immediately read the signs. He was under constant surveillance as a result of his activism at home and abroad and the circumstances surrounding his death reeks of a set up. The Empire is in deep crisis and knows that the final blow will come from the mounting internal resistance to its reign of terror. Young Malcolm’s assassination comes at a time when the Empire’s state terrorist apparatus is intensifying its harassment of militant African organizations and leaders, and has recently placed Assata Shakur at the top of its most wanted terrorist list.

We send our deepest sympathy to the Shabazz family. As revolutionaries we know only too well the toll that our struggle takes on our families and the sacrifices they must make. The Shabazz family has made the ultimate sacrifice too many times, and it is with deep appreciation and respect that people all over the world are praying for and with them at this time.

The corporate media’s shameless attempts to discredit this young warrior, has fallen largely on deaf ears, since it is clear to all that these agencies of mass deception are simply in the service of Empire. There is hardly an African family in the Diaspora whose young sons have not had issues with ‘the law’. As many African scholars have noted, it is in fact ‘the law’ that has issues with our youth who are targeted globally. Truth be told, no youth on this earth has suffered more than African youth. No amount of slandering or character assassination by a discredited corporate media can detract from the stature of this young son of Africa who is mourned worldwide.

May Allah welcome him as a martyr, who died like his grandfather, in the service of his people.

In unity and struggle,

Yahaya Ezemoo Ndu
Chairman,
ARM (African Revolutionary Movement)

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Gerald A. Perreira
International Secretary,
ARM (African Revolutionary Movement)

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