Cuba Today and the Campaign to End
the Embargo

August 23rd 9pm ET, 8pm CT 6pm PT

a faces severe economic and pandemic challenges today. Most of them result from the long-standing United States embargo of the island, an imperial campaign that goes back to the founding of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

The “Cuba Today” program will include a video presentation by Merri Ansara, a founding member of CCDS, long-time advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba, and part-time resident of Havana, and discussions led by Ansara and Pat Fry, CCDS founding member and an activist with the New York/ New Jersey Cuba Si Coalition. 

The program will consist of a 30 minute video, comments by Ansara and Fry, and a discussion to follow.

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Who is behind the upsurge of protest in Cuba?

What is the US blockade and what has been its impacts?
 
 
Also excellent are the couple of minutes long video "Cuba's July 11th protests" from Belly of the beast
 
And/or What do Cubans think 


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Statement of the Committees of Correspondence
for Democracy and Socialism on the
U.S. Manufactured Crisis in Cuba


July 13, 2021
 
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) stands with the world’s people in condemning the U.S. government’s efforts to bring the economy and people of Cuba to its knees.
 
The grievances that sparked protests on Sunday, July 11th are based in legitimate concerns about the lack of medicines, medical equipment, supplies, food and electricity. Contrary to U.S. media propaganda, the crisis is rooted in the 60-year economic embargo of Cuba and a deliberate program of internal sabotage of the Cuban government.
 
According to Cuban government reports, “paid agents” of the U.S. organized to turn Sunday’s protests of real concerns into an anti-government “regime change” operation. The U.S. funds $20 million annually to Cuban “pro-democracy” organizations and individuals, and another $28 million annually for the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting which operates Radio and TV Marti with over 100 employees broadcasting non-stop anti-government propaganda. The 7/11/21 protest was preceded by a social media campaign using the hashtag #SOSCuba that had been trending in Florida days before, placing blame for the hardships the Cuban people are facing on the government. It is reminiscent of a scandal that broke last year when CLS Strategies, a company with State Department ties, was found to have flooded social networks with harmful fake news about leftist governments in Latin America. (Common Dreams, 7/13/21, by Medea Benjamin and Leonardo Flores)
 
Despite near-unanimous world-wide condemnation of the U.S. embargo at the United Nations on June 23rd, the Biden administration refuses to rescind – even for humanitarian reasons – the 243 additional sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and its outrageous listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign includes stopping remittances from family members outside Cuba, blocking cruise ships, curtailing most airline flights to Cuba, re-instituting a travel ban for U.S. tourists, and blocking Cuba’s ability to purchase medicines and medical supplies on the world market.
 
The situation is dire. Cuban President Diaz-Canel in speaking to protesters on Sunday explained how hotels have had to be converted to hospitals due to the alarming spike in coronavirus cases which, in turn, has caused periodic and more frequent electricity shortages throughout the country. Lines for food, water and supplies, often at inflated prices, are long. An embargo-caused shortage of gasoline is preventing food grown in the countryside from getting to market in the cities.
 
In response to the humanitarian crisis, the international community has organized against the embargo with a “Syringes for Cuba” campaign to enable the population to be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. The U.S. people have contributed $500,000 for 6 million of the 30 million syringes needed.
 
In a statement on 7/12/21, the Cuban government raised the alarm that the economic measures against Cuba “are intended to present a collapsed country in chaos, in order to provide a social outburst and justify an external intervention.” Indeed, anti-government Cuban Americans in Miami have waged protests much larger than those in Cuba on Sunday. Florida politicians are calling on President Biden to invade the country militarily.
 
On the other hand, following Sunday’s protests, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, called on President Biden to reverse the Trump era sanctions. In March 2021, 80 House members sent a letter to President Biden urging him to end restrictions on travel and remittances, and the following bills have been introduced: the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 (S. 294) by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act (S. 1694) by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and the U.S.-Cuba Relations Normalization Act (H.R. 3625) by Rep. Bobby Rush.
 
This week, a group of Cuban Americans led by Carlos Lazo, a high school teacher who has been organizing monthly car caravans calling for an end to the embargo, is leading a walkathon from Miami to Washington DC to end in a rally on July 25th. Mobilizations to join them are being organized throughout the east coast.
 
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden pledged to renew the engagement with Cuba begun under the Obama administration, and to roll back the draconian sanctions of the Trump administration. After inauguration, Biden said Cuba policy is under review but to date, his campaign promise has not been fulfilled. Now is the time.
 
We call on President Biden to:
 
·    Roll back the Trump era sanctions and remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism by Executive Order.
 
·    End budgets funding organizations and individuals in Cuba;
 
·    Immediately allow the purchase of medicines, materials and medical equipment to ease the humanitarian crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.
 
We urge members and friends to help build and participate in the July 25th protest in Washington D.C and work with peace and solidarity organizations to pressure Members of Congress to co-sponsor the above-listed bills. We must work to once and for all, end the illegal and inhumane 60-year embargo of Cuba.
 
REMEMBERING James E. Campbell, STATEMENT FROM CCDS

by Meta VanSickle

The leadership of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) mourns the death of James “Jim or Uncle-brother” Campbell, one of our founders and member of our Advisory Committee and former elected member of the leadership team. Jim was an activist in support of the rights of workers, people of color, women and was a leader of activism in teacher rights and many other activities both locally and nationally.

To members of CCDS Jim Campbell was a giant. Warm, caring and the salt of the earth, Jim was among those who were able to see furthest down the road of social progress. He touched the lives of countless women and men of all races, nationalities and ages across his beloved south, the rest of our country, Africa and beyond. Jim knew and worked with many leaders of the civil rights and Black freedom movements of the 20th century, including Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, Jack O’Dell, Bob Moses and others. Jim was a leader and groundbreaker, and excelled in many fields, something of a global Renaissance man. In addition to civil rights, Jim was an excellent teacher, organizer, writer, editor, mentor, administrator, and socialist, whose interests and skills also embraced art and science. He was a contributing editor of the leading civil rights journal Freedomways and was national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), to name just two organizations Jim helped lead.

Part of what made Jim Campbell special was his unique ability to connect with people of all walks of life, especially those in the broad multi-racial working class, African Americans and all people of color, and those who have been exploited, oppressed and abused. He had an unparalleled ability to help people feel at home, grow and step forward to become leaders in the fight for social justice and socialism. This was demonstrated by the large number of people Jim brought into CCDS, especially in the south, but also other regions of the country.

Jim understood issues from genetic literacy to Jim Crow and was able to converse about each. CCDS provided a sample of Jim’s work in the booklet you received today. One quote from Jim is,

“Those who promote scientifically disproved racist theories do so for one reason, and one reason only. To divide people by race in order to weaken the human race so those in positions of power can perpetuate and expand their power and privileges. In the era of capitalism, those in power are capitalists, the owners of the means of production. They seduce others to help strengthen them to help carry out their program of private profit accumulation by using fairy tales about the unfitness of others. The results have been disastrous.”

The profits and power of capitalism are boosted by super-exploiting people of color. People of color also suffer greater discrimination, oppression, and repression across all areas of life. The civil rights movement and other social justice movements were and continue to combat this evil. Jim Campbell was at the heart of these struggles. Through his work, which spanned nearly three-quarters of a century, Jim Campbell made huge contributions in the struggle to end white supremacy and all forms of injustice, and lay the foundation to build a better, fairer society based on socialism. The articles and remembrances in the booklet give a picture of some of Jim’s magnificent contributions.

Jim Campbell will not be forgotten! Jim Campbell: Presente!
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

By Mark Solomon, Pat Fry, Anne Mitchell
February 3, 2021

Jim Campbell, Presente!


Jim Campbell – educator, mentor, socialist, activist, and intellectual – passed away January 30, 2021 at the age of 95. Members of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, an organization to which Jim devoted much energy over three decades as a national co-chair and organizer, mourn his loss and celebrate his life.

A son of the South, Jim came from a prominent Charleston, South Carolina family whose ancestors were enslaved Africans. He became a Montford Point Marine during WWII after giving up on the Air Corps due to racial segregation. Jim moved to New York City in 1957 seeking a career in acting. He was active in community theatre, and was the source of his distinctive voice and projection.

He later began work as a teacher and later administrator in the New York City public school system in the period of community control of schools. Later he became a Vice Principal at the Bank Street School. He retired in 1991 and moved back to his hometown of Charleston where he soon became a well-known social activist and mentor to young people in labor and civil rights struggles.

Jim’s teaching career included 9 years in Tanzania where he taught English and observed the residue of colonialism. He joined in the efforts of the Julius Nyerere government in transforming Tanzania toward a socialist society.

As a teacher at the Carl Bloice Institute for Socialist Education over the past few years, Jim held sway over young activists who said they could not get enough of hearing and learning from him during the course of weekend long seminars on social justice theory and practice.

Over a lifetime of activism, Jim worked alongside of some of the most prominent political figures of the 20th century - the civil rights strategist Jack O’Dell with whom he shared an apartment in Harlem, Malcolm X with whom he had a close relationship and worked with the Malcolm X University, Bayard Rustin who was an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, Fannie Lou Hammer whom he housed when she came to testify before the Democratic National Convention’s Credentials Committee about the near death beating she received in a Mississippi jail cell for registering Black people to vote, and Bob Moses whom he worked with on the Algebra Project that used math literacy as an organizing tool to guarantee quality public education. He was a contributing editor for Freedomways, the journal co-founded by W.E.B. and Shirley Graham DuBois.

The past 30 years in Charleston since retiring were filled with efforts to support organizing struggles of the longshoreman’s union, and as a leader of the local branch of the NAACP. He became deeply involved in bioethics, serving as an outside voice on medical ethics at the University of Virginia Medical School, and was a strong voice in ending discriminatory practices against Black women.

He spearheaded a study circle of CCDS activists and friends on the Democracy Charter, a project of civil rights strategist Jack O’Dell, using as a framework the book, Climbin’ Jacobs Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O’Dell, edited by Nikhil Pal Singh. The study resulted in an educational booklet published by CCDS, The Struggle for a Substantive Democracy: An Organizing Framework and Study Guide for Activists.

Jim’s papers are archived at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston. Last year, the Avery Center awarded the Jim Campbell Student Leadership Scholarship to several young people, a recognition of Jim’s strong force and influence with youth, his resolute and unwavering devotion to education and social justice.

Jim Campbell, Presente!
JIm Campbell, Dave Dennis, and Bob Moses
Jim Campbell, Presente!
Bob Moses, Presente!
Pete Seeger on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

REVISITING 'AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM:'
HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI 
an August 5, 2017 repost

Harry Targ

Continued study and research into the origins of the folk music of various peoples in many parts of the world revealed that there is a world body-a universal body-of folk music based upon a universal pentatonic (five tone) scale. Interested as I am in the universality of (hu)mankind-in the fundamental relationship of all peoples to one another-this idea of a universal body of music intrigued me, and I pursed it along many fascinating paths. Paul Robeson, Here I Stand, 1959.

America’s destiny required the U.S. “…to set the world its example of right and honor…We cannot retreat from any soil where providence has unfurled our banner. It is ours to save that soil, for liberty, and civilization….It is elemental...it is racial. God has not been preparing the English-speaking and teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth.” Senator Albert Beveridge, Indiana, Congressional Record, 56 Congress, I Session, pp.704-712, 1898).

In these early August days we reflect on the decision to drop atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. The official explanation for the use of these horrific new weapons was that they were required to end the World War in Asia. But subsequent historical research has indicated that the United States chose to drop the bombs to threaten the former Soviet Union and as a result to facilitate the United States construction of a post-war world order that would maximize its economic and political vision.

United States foreign policy over the last 150 years has been a reflection of many forces including economics, politics, militarism and the desire to control territory. The most important idea used by each presidential administration to gain support from the citizenry for the pursuit of empire is the claim that America is “exceptional”. 

Think about the view of “the city on the hill” articulated by Puritan ancestors who claimed that they were creating a social experiment that would inspire the world. Over three hundred years later President Reagan again spoke of “the city on the hill.” Or one can recall public addresses by turn of the twentieth century luminaries such as former President Theodore Roosevelt who claimed that the white race from Europe and North America was civilizing the peoples of what we would now call the Global South.  Or Indiana Senator Beveridge’s clear statement: “It is elemental….It is racial.” From the proclamation of the new nation’s special purpose in Puritan America, to Ronald Reagan’s reiteration of the idea, to similar claims by virtually all politicians of all political affiliations, Americans hear over and over that we are different, special, and a shining example of public virtue that all other peoples should use as their guide for building a better society and polity.

However, the United States has been involved in wars for 201 years from 1776 to 2011. Ten million indigenous people had been exterminated as the “new” nation moved westward between the 17th and the 20th centuries and at least 10 million people were killed, mostly from developing countries, between 1945 and 2010 in wars in which the United States had some role. In addition, world affairs was transformed by the use of the two atomic bombs; one dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 instantly killing 80,000 people and the other on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 killing another 70,000.

Comparing the image of exceptionalism with the domestic reality of American life suggests stark contrasts as well: continuous and growing gaps between rich and poor, inadequate nutrition and health care for significant portions of the population, massive domestic gun violence, and inadequate access to the best education that the society has the capacity to provide to all. Of course, the United States was a slave society for over 200 years formally racially segregated for another 100, and now incarcerates 15 percent of African American men in their twenties.

Although, the United States is not the only country that has a history of imperialism, exploitation, violence, and racism US citizens should understand that its foreign policy and economic and political system are not exceptional and must be changed.

Finally, a better future and the survival of humanity require a realization, as Paul Robeson suggested, that what is precious about all people is not their differences but their commonalities. Exceptionalist thinking separates people and facilitates decisions like the dropping of the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sharing what we have in common as human beings, both our troubles and our talents, is the only basis for creating a peaceful and just world.
 
“Malvina Reynolds is one of my heroes. She wrote a poem that I especially like”: Pete Seeger

 If this world survives,
And every other day I think it might,
In good part it will be
Because of the great souls in our community.
There are a lot of them.
I've seen them walk
In lonely thousands down the city streets,
Or stand in vigils in the rain,
Or turn the handle of a print machine,
Or empty their purses as the plate comes by.
Or gaze into the camera's eye,
And answer the question: ‘Will the world survive?’
And they have said,
‘We'll try. We'll try.’ ”
Elements of a socialist housing policy: 
Linking the short-term
with the long-range

By Jay Jurie

A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel began with a headline many no doubt found shocking: "When Wall Street owns your house: Big investors become landlords, tighten Orlando housing market." The article went on to describe how "a growing number of property management companies owned by private equity firms...are becoming major players in the single-family home rental market in metro Orlando". This latest "robber baron" trend is national in scope and sits atop an already large and rapidly expanding crisis in access and affordability relative to all forms of housing.  

In their State of the Nation's Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found "Households that weathered the [COVID-19 pandemic] without financial distress are snapping up the limited supply of homes for sale, pushing up prices and further excluding less affluent buyers from homeownership. At the same time, millions of households that lost income are behind on their housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure..." Originally set to lapse on August 1, 2021, and under pressure from progressive housing advocates, President Biden worked with the Centers for Disease Control to extend until October 3rd a moratorium on eviction for those in counties with "high and substantial levels of virus".  Temporarily, this order may keep a roof over the heads of millions of people. 

While accentuated by the virus, the housing crisis is intrinsic in nature. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), there were over 680,000 homeless in the US in January 2021, and from 2007 to 2021, the number never dropped below 500,000. During this same period, the NAEH reported 6.3 million households spent more than 50% of their income on shelter, a figure that has gone up since 2007.  

While some socialists may be unfamiliar with aspects of this crisis, surely most are aware of, and not surprised by, its overall and widespread existence. Socialists understand that at its core the crisis exists because housing is understood in our present society as just another commodity to be bought and sold rather than an essential necessity. That is, "shelter" is not properly understood alongside food and clothing as a basic human need.  

Housing as a commodity is very much subject to a supply and demand market cycle, subject to manipulation as well as chronic crisis. For instance, in order to maximize profits, builders may at times squeeze supply. Because it is an essential necessity and because the crisis nature of the cycle is fundamentally permanent, the lack of supply, most especially of affordable housing, must be considered an example of market failure, requiring governmental intervention.  

What's proposed here is presented in a nested approach to tackling and restructuring housing policy along socialist lines. Items can be taken individually and tailored relative to local circumstances, and not all items pertain to all circumstances. But if taken from immediate fixes to the transformative, what is suggested is a very rough outline for the waging of a comprehensive housing campaign toward an eventual goal of a fully socialized housing sector: 

--Oppose de facto redlining. While redlining as a legally-allowable practice has been banned, the differential and inequitable flow of investment capital to markets, aka uneven development, remains a virtually universal practice. Besides strengthened laws and enforcement, another essential solution is public banking, an essential counterpart to a socialist housing policy, which must have a mandated responsibility for directing resources to underserved communities and neighborhoods.

--Oppose displacement & gentrification. Cities, especially of larger size, have embarked upon various urban "revitalization" schemes, often funded through tax increment financing, the result of which locales are declared "blighted" and existing low-income residents are displaced, sometimes for more exclusive housing development, and sometimes for cultural amenities such as convention centers, stadiums, ballfields, entertainment districts, and so on, largely of benefit to urban professionals, suburbanites, and tourists. These practices must be challenged and countered through community control.

--Oppose evictions and foreclosures. Extend moratoriums and financial relief for those in debt. Under current pandemic housing assistance programs, housing payments made in arrears by government are basically pass-throughs, "welfare for landlords and banks." Renters and homeowners behind on monthly payments, leases or mortgages gain extra time with a roof over their heads, which is beneficial, but often a day of reckoning is only staved off. Most of the resources allocated by the federal government for pandemic-related relief have yet even to be distributed by the states to their intended target populations. We must participate in struggles to extend moratoriums and for funds to reach those in danger of losing their homes.

--Seek lasting solutions for homelessness. First and foremost, this involves promotion of a "housing first" approach, making the provision of stable housing the first priority. "Tiny houses" that only build the slums and blight of the future should be avoided. Other impermanent resolutions should be regarded as band-aid fixes, and supported only when confronted by a true housing emergency of crisis proportions. Too often "temporary" measures become "permanent" solutions that are then blamed for failure, and the public is deceived into believing homelessness is intractable. One area to be investigated would be the exercise of eminent domain over abandoned commercial properties suitable for conversion to housing stock.

--Advocate for inclusionary and cluster zoning and re-zoning. Both should be oriented toward densification in tandem with efficient infrastructure service delivery and mass public transportation. Inclusionary zoning must also mean multi-unit or other forms of affordable housing are equitably distributed across the landscape, not just in existing low-income neighborhoods. There will be tremendous opposition from homeowners in predominantly white upscale neighborhoods, but privilege should not allow the affluent to buy their way out of social responsibility. Cluster zoning for new development or redevelopment should maximize conservation of commons and other open space, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and other environmental considerations. Amenities integral to housing and settlement patterns should not be the exclusive province of the rich, but readily accessible to all.

--Support rent control and controls on mortgage payments. "Balloon" payments and other lending predatory practices must be outlawed. Monthly housing costs should be no more than 1/4 of income. It would be the response of public housing boards (see below) to match income levels with housing costs and adjust appropriately.

--Campaign for the creation of public housing boards with wide-ranging authority. These would not be a repeat of mid- 20th Century authorities that built "public housing" or "projects" such as Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis intended to stigmatize and warehouse minorities and the low-income. Democratically-elected, these boards would have a variety of responsibilities, among the most significant of which would be the construction of new housing and the gradual assumption of existing housing stock ownership. Such boards would be the centerpiece of a transition to a socialized housing sector.

--Actively promote direct public investment and involvement in new construction. Housing should be viewed the same as health care, where a publicly-financed, owned, and operated system must replace the present dysfunctional for-profit private industry. Housing planning, including location and design considerations, should be conducted under the auspices of local elected boards. These boards would serve under enforceable guidelines that stipulate transparency, accountability, and participation while strictly prohibiting corruption, favoritism, and other inimical practices.  

--Gradually exert public ownership over existing housing stock through buy-outs. To be clear, what's argued here is not government seizure of mom-and-pop backyard apartments, although Bloomberg.com has reported on a forthcoming ballot initiative in Berlin that might serve as a model. If passed, this measure would require governmental expropriation of 3000 corporate-owned apartments. What's proposed here is government investment in the housing market over the course of time. This would be accomplished by the purchase of properties through linkage fees, low-income housing tax credits, Robin Hood taxes, public banking, and other financial means. As housing is foreclosed upon or otherwise comes up for sale, it is publicly-acquired, it undergoes rehabilitation and necessary repairs, and the housing board would allocate residential units, at affordable rates, as community land trusts or housing co-operatives.

--Support a democratic, rational, and equitable housing allocation system. Especially as housing stock would come increasingly under public control, there must be a mechanism for disbursing living space, which should be carried out based on a demonstrated need basis. This should be an administrative function of the local public housing board. 

None of the above will happen overnight, nor on its own. Not only must public opinion be changed, but statutory and institutional frameworks must be as well. Like much else we need as a society, we're going to have to fight Corporate America every inch of the way to take back what's been stolen from all of us.
Report from CCDS National Coorinating
Committee Meeting July 18th

Time of Day

The filibuster, voting rights and 2022 Elections Carl Davidson

Carl says we’re in worse shape than we think we are. We’ve accomplished a good alliance between the progressive democrats and Biden, largely thanks to Bernie Sanders, who has risen to a position of greater importance. But what’s problematic is the balance of forces is extremely narrow, and can turn against us in the next 16 months. The filibuster is a key element. To get anything passed, easier in the House, it requires 60% to pass anything. The filibuster today is mainly a reactionary tool. It can be removed by 51 votes or 50 votes plus the VP tiebreaker, but two Democratic senators will not vote so there are only 48. Mitch McConnell deliberately placing the Republican Party as obstructionist. The only way anything can be passed is during reconciliation process which only requires a majority.

If the Democrats can’t hold on to their current position in the mid-terms, the “new Republican Party”. The old Republican party is dead, replaced by a Trumpite cult with a fascist core.
The Koch Bros have created a more powerful apparatus than the republican party itself. They don’t necessarily agree with the Trumpists, but are behind the Rightwing White Christian Nationalists.

It is placing enormous burdens on women in terms of abortion rights, and severe curtailment of the right to vote, which the Kochs are working on every aspect of.
We need to find ways of unseating every Republican within 100 miles of where we are – if we can elect a progressive Democrat, good, but we should replace them with (almost) any Democrat.

Harry Targ asked for groups that are working against Republican hegemony. Answer: Working Families Party, PDA, Justice Democrats.

Pat Fry agrees with Carl’s overall assessment. She recalls a discussion we had a few meetings ago, where Randy said we are looking at the end of neoliberalism. She is coming to believe that assessment is on target: Biden is beginning to tackle the whole privatization, deregulation, tax cuts for the rich agenda. Social programs in his budget is huge, and his strong endorsement of voting rights. We are seeing a turning point away from the neoliberal agenda. Answer: Carl says yes, neoliberalism is exhausted in case of what can be done. On the domestic

Ellen Schwartz ranted about how we’ve always been told how important it is to support some mope of a democrat, and that has brought us to where we are now, where it really is essential to stop the fascists. Carl said these are different times.
Paul Krehbiel agrees with Carl. The critical issue is the filibuster.

Karl Kramer talked about how the pandemic has changed the economic landscape. E.g., instead of austerity measures, governments focused on “stimulus” payments, getting money in the hands of the people, which would be spent locally, building the economy. Redefines the role of government in the economy. A major battle is taking place in the Federal Reserve, over whether the priority should be addressing inflation, or racial inequality. And the $4B spending package Biden has included in his spending bill, aimed at continuing the neoliberal international agenda.

Pat has somewhat different from Karl’s analysis, based on a Code Pink webinar last week, there is a second “pink tide” arising in Latin America. There are 39 countries under the foot of the US in terms of sanctions, that’s in order to protect the dollar as the international currency. That is beginning to crack: El Salvador is going over entirely to bitcoin.

Harry said, “Neoliberalism is not dead in most US states, the red states.”

Jay Jury said re: Neoliberalism. Crudely, I’ve divided modern economics into “austerity” v. “prosperity,” with “austerity” being the Neoliberal side of the fence. But because austerity dries up everything except profit-taking, it needs a fig leaf. That’s where fascism steps in. Trump tried to put that in place, but he was nowhere close to being effective enough to do that competently.

Presentation by Carl Davidson and
discussion on the following papers

Bill Fletcher: The Modern Tecumseh and the Future of the US Left

Bob Wing: The White Republic and the Fight for Racial Justice

There have been a number of responses to this : To see them go to https://www.organizingupgrade.com/

Carl also recommended reading “Organizing Upgrade”.
Gary Huicks said the analogy with Gramsci is brilliant, but comparing the south of the United States with the south of Italy during the fascist period, there are sharp similarities.
Pat cited the increasing activism by Native Americans, the Red Road Totem Pole Journey from the Salish Sea to Washington, DC. https://juustwa.org/9952-2/ , https://earthministry.org/event/washington-dc-red-road-to-dc-totem-pole-journey-event/ amazoncom
Janet Tucker said we might think of avenues we might take as an organization to follow up on these questions. She is reading “Counter-Revolution of 1776, The: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” by Gerald Horne. This book Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War. (Gary recommends Horne’s book of which Counter-Revolution is a sequel: “Black Comrades of the Crown” (which also includes a lot of info about Tecumseh).
Membership Report by Steve Willett & Paul Krehbiel

Steve showed the membership graph of new and current members. We’re currently at a kind of plateau but very low.
Paul urges people to get the Jim Campbell memorial book, read all of it, and learn how Jim built relationships to people and brought them into organizations.
Jay asked about chapter building.
Gary suggests it’s time to revisit the work of Jack O’Dell.
Pat urged everyone to attend the Jim Campbell memorial a week from Friday, put together by the CCDS Ed Fund. Links to RSVP will be sent out.
It was moved and approved to restart the membership and recruitment commiottee.


Finance Report by Meta Van Sickle

$5600 in bank account which has been stable for over a year. Quickbooks has changed from $40 to $50/month but that won’t affect our bottom line much.
Harry moves the CCDS treasury donate another $150 to the Cuba syringe campaign. Motion passed

Committee reports

Labor Committee report by Paul

They are talking about reevaluating what the committee does, how it works. Looking at what they can focus on that everyone can work on. They’ve had some good discussions on importance of PRO act, Voting Rights act. They’re mostly talking about union organizing campaign in Alabama, and the difficulties of organizing a company like Amazon. The Teamsters are considering making Amazon organizing a priority. A successful campaign can have a great effect on the political landscape in this country.

Peace and Solidarity

Harry reported that under Pat’s leadership the committee wrote a Cuba solidarity statement, began distribution of that statement electronically, including on FaceBook a post with a graphic of all the countries in the UN that voted against the embargo and those that did not so vote -- that was the US and Israel.

For the next committee meeting Ira Grupper recommended a speaker on Haiti and it was recommended that when we have an important speaker that we make it available to our entire membership.

The committee has discussed Biden foreign policy, not noticeably different from what preceded it.
New Cold war particularly against China

Hybrid war strategy, which means starving other nations, particularly in the Global South, until they give up their progressive agendas.

Increases in military spending, new nuclear weapons.

Gary pointed out that we have the great China Reader which needs to be distributed. And, harking back to the time of Day, Pat referred to the relationship of China to the Pink Tide, we need to pay more attention to that.

Marilyn reported that Pastors for Peace is making plans for a new caravan to Cuba. We should keep an eye on that.

Tom says, re, Pink Tide, especially in the Caribbean basin, and Central America and Mexico, the Caribbean itself, there is a concerted attack going on by US Imperialism. The old Teddy Roosevelt idea that the Caribbean is an American lake, is still in place.
Pat doesn’t see the northern part of Latin America as being notably different from the rest of the region.

Harry adds that the Peace & Solidarity Committee is working with the Mexico Solidarity Project.

Karl stated that in the “Northern Triangle”, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, things have been going backwards. Governments are more authoritarian, more push for foreign direct investment and more attacks on indigenous and Africa-descended communities. He also said the conversion to Bitcoin is opposed by the people of El Salvador.

Pat reported that most of the money has been raised to purchase 6 million syringes, and the first shipment is ready to go, but because of the virulence of the virus in Cuba nobody can accompany it. Donations can be made until the end of the month. This campaign has a US Dept of Commerce license. The syringes have to be made in the US, under the license, and shipped from here.

Tom reminds us that there is a campaign for a City Council resolution against the embargo in NY. Even if they don’t succeed in this incarnation of the City Council, there are a number of putatively progressive new council people who have been elected, which can change the outcome of the next iteration of the campaign.

Socialist Education Project by Harry

Harry reported on the 4th Monday (canceled for July)
Report on Jim Campbell Memorial booklet Erica Carter

The memorial committee met a few times, came up with structure for the document, the document came out to 60 pages, includes links to videos. Once they had the structure set up, everyone contributed and it was able to be done very efficiently.
Erica Karl Carl Janet Harry are on the committee.

Paul recommends we put together a distribution plan, NEC can approve.

Medicare for All Update Group -- Marilyn Albert

The group plans a series of one-hour meetings with update on what’s happening on M4A on federal level and states where there is activity. Marilyn can do the update, and they’ve asked Corinne Frugoni to present on doctor’s attitudes toward M4A.

The reconciliation bill contains expansion of tradition Medicare Benefits to cover dental, vision and hearing. There is a proposal which advocates are attempting to insert that would lower the eligibility age. And allow import of drugs from Canada. And provide a “Medicare-like” option for people in the states that refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA. If these changes are made, Medicare will be able to undermine the Medicare Advantage plans and provide impetus for M4A. Marilyn thanks the work of Bernie Sanders.

http://healthjusticemonitor.org/ provides a daily newsletter on the situation with M4A.
Email her: marilynjoalbert@gmail.com if you have suggestions for educational topics or to be added to the CCDS update group.

Jay said a recent Counterpunch article speaks of Democrats being lukewarm on M4A. He adds that the July 24 march, proposed as a national M4A march, some fascist organization managed to worm into the organizing committee, causing several groups to pull out.

Tom added that in New York, with the exception of SEIU 1199, CUNY professors’ union PSC, and NUSNA the nurses’ union -- most unions opposed M4A and went for a Medicare Advantage plan. The legislature had an opportunity to pass something and didn’t.

Fighting White supremacy series- Paul

There was a webinar jointly held with the CP (People’s world and Online University of the Left), had about 50-55 people at the height of attendance. There were positive comments about it. In the planning meetings for this one some other ideas came up, so they will be discussed by the planning committee.

Next NCC Meeting: October 17, 2021
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Medicare for All Updates for Busy Activists

Do you want regular, fact-filled, and brief presentations about the Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care movement?

Come to the “Improved Medicare for All Update Group” Zoom meetings. On a quarterly basis, a one hour meeting will include a review of important Federal and State developments, and will also include an educational presentation, with plenty of time for questions.

The agenda for the August 25th meeting will be:

·       Update on Federal Medicare for All developments, including the Bernie Sanders proposals to Expand Medicare now in the Congressional Reconciliation Bill. Update on California Single Payer movement and contributions from other states. Marilyn Albert will open.

·       Educational topic: “What do doctors think about Medicare for All/Single Payer?” Dr. Corinne Frugoni will open.

·       Questions and Answers, Discussion.

Send an email to m4aupdategroup@gmail.com and you will receive instructions to join the Zoom meeting on: Wednesday, August 25th 8pm Eastern Time, 7pm Central Time, and 5pm Pacific Time. 
At a Massive Union Rally, the Promise of a Better South
Striking mine workers in Alabama bring together the whole wide world.

To get to the big ballpark in Brookwood, Alabama, you drive down the Miners Memorial Parkway. The road goes by the local headquarters of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), and close to the Miners Memorial monument, which remembers 13 miners killed in a 2001 explosion. A lot of coal miners work in Brookwood, and a lot have died here. Right now, more than a thousand are on strike there, at the Warrior Met Coal. It sits just off the same road. 

On Wednesday morning, a line of buses lumbered down the winding road through the woods, and a line of pickup trucks piled up behind them. All passed the ​“We Are One” UMWA signs lining the road for miles before turning into the ballpark, where the sprawling open grass was dotted with tents and a stage. Entire families, most of them in camouflage UMWA t‑shirts, lugged their folding camping chairs and shade umbrellas out past the low white tornado shelters and down to the grass. The strike at Warrior Met has been going on for four months. But on this day, the rally was on. 

Several thousand people showed up for what was billed as the ​“Biggest labor rally in Alabama history,” a claim too good to check. What was certain was that this was not a single rally for a single local of a single union. This was the entire labor movement, showing up to say that they have not forgotten a long and grinding struggle. 

After the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem, and a reverend’s prayer to ​“change the mindset” of scabs and coal mining company owners — something even God might find difficult — the rally commenced. For hours, a procession of UMWA officials and leaders of other unions cycled across the stage, giving speeches that varied in inspirational quality. Attendees sought to maneuver their seats into the small patches of shadow that moved slowly across the scorching grass. Enormous quantities of bottled water, Krispy Kreme donuts, and popsicles were handed out from supply tents. People chatted, and prayed, and listened to various singers, and were together. 

Many unions had sent buses full of supporters from all across the South. There were more than a dozen CWA members from Atlanta who worked for AT&T, decked out in red shirts. There was a gaggle of UAW members. There were Teamsters, and teachers, and government workers, all proudly in their union t‑shirts. There were union officials from Georgia and Kentucky and Tennessee and South Carolina. There were presidents of locals from other states, climbing the stage to present $500 checks to the strike fund. There was an entire tent full of longshoremen wearing custom-made white t‑shirts that said ​“Port workers in solidarity with mine workers.” They had come from Charleston, Jacksonville, and Mobile, Alabama, on a single bus that stopped in each city, collecting the comrades. 

In addition to all the union member guests, at least half of the crowd was made up of retired UMWA members and their families, as if to demonstrate the ​“We Are Everywhere” slogan on all the camo shirts. These people also came from all across the country. One 76-year-old former coal miner nicknamed ​“Mouse” had taken a bus the week before from his West Virginia home up to New York City for a protest that the strikers held in front of the Blackrock headquarters in Manhattan; this week, he had taken another bus 18 hours to Brookwood for this rally. Asked why, he jabbed his finger forward and said, with force, ​“It helps my union brothers.” 

Brookwood, Alabama is not a convenient place to get to, even if you live in Birmingham. The fact that thousands of people from across the country had clambered into buses for interminable trips to sit at this rally under the sweltering sun, for people they did not know, was remarkable. I spoke to many of these attendees and, to a person, the question of why they had gone to all the trouble to show up was answered as if it didn’t require any explanation at all. ​“Solidarity,” they said. ​“They supported us, so we’re supporting them.” ​“This is what the union’s about.” To take a 30-hour round trip on a bus was, for them, a no-brainer. This is what the union’s about. For one day, this was just common sense. But in the context of the United States of America in 2021, this was a rare sight to behold.

The crowd at the Brookwood rally was multiracial. Not multiracial like a fashion ad, or a painstakingly assembled corporate board, but a large group of Black and white people united for a common purpose. The UMWA miners who are on strike at Warrior Met now are an integrated group, and so their supporters in the community are integrated as well. There were both Black and white people serving as Marshals at the rally, and helping to run it, and speaking from the stage, and sitting in the crowd. The majority of the people from other unions who had shown up in support were Black. The longshoremen were almost all Black, the CWA workers from Atlanta were almost all Black, and on and on.

Many of the UMWA members in attendance, and certainly most of the older retirees, were white, religious, and Republican. The entertainment at the rally was almost all gospel and religious music. Singer after singer appeared between speeches to proclaim the glory of the Blood of Jesus. One retired miner made it a point to tell me, at the end of an interview, ​“I’m a Trump guy.” Across the grass, some of the Black CWA members from Atlanta toted ​“Strike for Black Lives” signs. At no point during the long, hot day did I see a bit of animosity — or, indeed, even a mention of political differences — between the members of the crowd. (The one exception was a single angry interloper who began pushing people and trying to start a fight before being hustled away by a large crowd of miners. I was told that he was a scab worker sent in to try to disrupt the rally. The fact that he walked out in one piece is a testament to the professionalism of the union.)

I am from the South. I was born in the South, I grew up in the South, and my entire family lives in the South. I have never in my life seen a racially and politically integrated crowd of people in the deep South, utterly united for a cause, as I did at this rally. The only things that come close are church events or football games, which I would argue lack the socially redeeming qualities of yesterday’s event. It is possible, down South, to get a racially integrated crowd where everyone agrees politically, but to get thousands of Black and white people whose politics range from strongly pro-Trump to strongly pro-Black Lives Matter together in a single place, in total unity of purpose, with virtually no conflict, and without being the explicit result of trying to assemble such a crowd to satisfy some sort of demographic diversity goals — well, that just doesn’t happen that much, ever.

This is the promise of unions. Not just better wages, or better working conditions, but a better society. Unions offer a frame for human interaction that does not otherwise exist. Our everyday experience in a society that is racially segregated, unequal, and politically polarized tells us that getting young and old and Black and white and left and right all together for something should be extraordinary or impossible; but at a union rally, where everyone’s common interest is plain to see, it becomes natural. It is only because the strength of unions within southern communities has become so rare that the sight of yesterday’s rally was so abnormal. Were there more strong unions, the South could be a very different place.

What the UMWA offers to the people of Brookwood is a vision of the world in which your enemy does not have to be someone of a different race or different political party. For those who believe in the union, there is a much more compelling enemy. It is an enemy they can see every day that they sit out on the picket line, watching cars drive by them, towards the mine. The back of the stage at the rally held a large banner with a picture of working people on it, and a header that read ​“Which Side Are You On?” One side of the banner said ​“UMWA,” and the other side said ​“Scabs.”

As the rally neared its end, a folk singer got up to perform a song he’d written to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s ​“All You Fascists Are Bound to Lose.”
“I’m gonna tell you scabs, we’re gonna win this strike,” he crooned. ​“And I’ll die a union miner, but you’ll be a scab for life.” 
 
Hamilton Nolan is a labor reporter for In These Times. He has spent the past decade writing about labor and politics for Gawker, Splinter, The Guardian, and elsewhere. You can reach him at Hamilton@​InTheseTimes.​com.
From the CCDS Socialist Education Project...
A China Reader


Edited by Duncan McFarland

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project and Online University of the Left


244 pages, $20 (discounts available for quantity), order at :


The book is a selection of essays offering keen insight into the nature of China and its social system, its internal debates, and its history. It includes several articles on the US and China and the growing efforts of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples.

Click here for the Table of Contents


















Taking Down White Supremacy 

A Reader on Multiracial and Multinational Unity 

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

166 pages, $12.50 (discounts available for quantity), order at :


This collection of 20 essays brings together a variety of articles-theoretical, historical, and experiential-that address multi-racial, multi-national unity. The book provides examples theoretically and historically, of efforts to build multi-racial unity in the twentieth century.

      Click here for the Table of contents

For Brother Glen 

“When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground…”
—African proverb (gender-adjusted)

I.
No bald “Build Back Better” slogans for
a burned Bruce library—
a Glen library gone—pick up the pieces, 
Carry on… 

II.
I couldn’t breathe…
black cat dander, goober dust, rabbit foot
spook-ism; viral droplets of Madison Ave.
messaging: “Yes, we Can and bottle Jim
Jones Juice for regime Change you can
believe in…”

I couldn’t breathe…
droplets of dung from charlatans riding
bareback and backwards on donkeys
Every 2-4 years—Trapping Negroz in pigment
of their imaginations—whooping, hollering, 
happy dancing on ice…for The Audacity of Dope

I couldn’t breathe…
Ecstasy/rhapsody of nodding out icons—heroes/sheroes—
swept up in rapture of Kool-Aid colonial euphoria—
Where mentors acted like random bus brutes, when facts
threatened to f-up their 
Highs…

I couldn’t breathe…
quarantined, on timeout, socially-distanced, isolated, 
Unappreciated; trapped, trampled, crushed wasting a-
way out West—killing me softly for my words, my poem
“The Coming of Christ**”

Yet, one slow blues Saturday a steel, velvet-wrapped
Voice of spirit-stirring
North Star stripe issued from the radio and snapped
me to attention!
It had thunderous timbre! It had Freedom’s Journal, 
Liberator, Emancipator tone that snatched my collar!
It had Douglass DNA that infected my marrow! It had
Shedding—reading newswire copy on-the-air at age 11—
And it had harnessed horsepower enough that even the
Godfather of Soul had to “Say it loud!” rechristening it 
“Ford!”

It had Ida B-like command of KPFA’s mighty signal—and
showered ice-cold Wikileaks over 1/3 of the Golden State;
It had hot blue flames melting masks of black elected officials
guarding freezers stuffed full of corporate cash…

It had laser precision—surgically removing word walls
metastasized in the mind of a slutty professor; Teaching
Lil’ Negroz in Teddy P-tones,“You gotta let him go, if he
looks like another Booker TKO—Or, “more effective Evil!”

It swelled from studios, stages, street corners, churches,
bookstores, bars, lecture halls, flatbed trucks, speaking truth to
The People 
igniting each political explosion with a 4 word fuse:
Power to the people!!” 

Well done, Brother! May the Ancestors be pleased
as you kneel near 7 mounds and salute 7 trees
guarding them at the African Burial Ground as
You leave Lower Manhattan, see Sun Ra, Saturn/beyond…




 © 2021. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.

Coal Miner’s Son
Rich Trumka, 1949-2021
by BY HAROLD MEYERSON AUGUST 5, 20212
prprinted from American Prospect

Rich Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO who died suddenly today of a heart attack, was born and raised in Nemacolin, a small town near Pittsburgh. If anyone could claim to be a son of the white working class—that onetime anchor of the New Deal coalition that has drifted steadily rightward in recent decades—it surely was Trumka. His father was a second-generation Polish American who worked in the mines; his mother was an Italian American homemaker. Trumka himself worked in the mines while attending college, and once he got his law degree, he became a staff lawyer for the United Mine Workers. He was no stranger to the rituals of Pennsylvania blue-collar, white manhood, deer hunting most particularly.

This backstory made Trumka’s efforts to course-correct that white working-class rightward movement all the more authentic and blunt. In the summer of 2008, when that rightward movement was taking the form of opposition to Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency, Trumka, then the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer, went to Pittsburgh to address the convention of the Steelworkers and confront that opposition head-on. 

“We can’t tap dance around the fact that there are a lot of white folks out there who just can’t get past this idea that there’s something wrong with voting for a Black man,” Trumka said. He talked about his recent discussions with his onetime Nemacolin neighbors, and recounted what he had told them: that Obama’s policies would help working-class voters of all races, and that there was “only one really, really bad reason to vote against Barack Obama. And that’s because he’s not white.”

Those were his people who’d gone astray, and Trumka (with the help of the great labor speechwriter Jim Grossfeld) would do his damnedest to bring them back to where they could help themselves by voting for progressives. He repeated versions of that speech throughout the fall, and its YouTube recording went viral, which was a first, surely, for any presentation by a union official.

Trumka knew that labor needed course corrections if it was to pull its weight in the battle for a more social democratic America.

Despite his efforts, Trumka knew that labor alone couldn’t really arrest the rightward drift of working-class whites. That, he knew, would require the Democrats to end their romance with globalization, with budget-balancing, with the lures of the market. Like many labor leaders I’ve known, he privately loved Bernie Sanders and his social democratic platform, even as realpolitik dictated his support for Democratic lesser-evils. One element of the tragedy of Trumka’s sudden death is that he didn’t live to see the enactment of some of that platform under the presidency of Joe Biden (assuming, of course, that the Democrats actually enact it).
Trumka also knew that labor itself needed course corrections if it was to pull its weight in the battle for a more social democratic America. As president of the legendary but much shrunken United Mine Workers (a post to which he was elected when he was just 33 years old), he led one of the few successful strikes of Reagan-Age America, a nine-month pitched battle against Pittston Coal, which was determined to claw back much of the pay and benefits that previous generations of mineworkers had won. At Trumka’s direction, mineworkers participated in nonviolent civil disobedience and community organizing, and the union also waged the kind of successful public relations campaign that would have been anathema to John L. Lewis, its storied president from the 1920s through the 1950s. Lewis’s mineworkers had so much power that they didn’t need PR to win strikes. Trumka, understanding that those days were gone but that militancy was still, as ever, indispensable, steered the union to an improbable victory.
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In so doing, he made himself one of the union leaders to whom labor progressives turned in 1995 when they sought to oust Lane Kirkland, for whom hardline Cold War anti-communism mattered more than the American labor movement’s dwindling prospects, from the AFL-CIO presidency. The ticket of John Sweeney for president and Trumka for secretary-treasurer prevailed at the Federation’s convention that year, a changeover symbolized by Trumka’s acceptance speech, in which he reeled off a list of labor champions that included such Kirkland-regime bête-noirs as prominent feminists, minority activists and DSA founder Michael Harrington. (At the mention of Harrington, one old guard union leader on the podium visibly blanched.)

By the time Trumka succeeded Sweeney as the AFL-CIO’s president in 2009, the Federation, like the labor movement itself, was a much shrunken entity. Despite the best efforts of unionists of all tendencies, labor had (and has) been unable to overcome the legal obstacles that made it prey to American business’s pathological opposition to worker power. A number of major unions, including the Teamsters and the Service Employees, had left the Federation in 2005, and the decline in membership had forced cutbacks at the AFL-CIO. In recent years, a number of the Federation’s largest unions—the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in particular—pitched in during election season to pick up some of the slack created by the Federation’s diminished membership and finances.

Despite these constraints, Trumka continued Sweeney’s commitment to working closely with other progressive movements, to pushing the policy envelope leftwards (Trumka chaired the board of the Economic Policy Institute), to promoting a vision of the common good that was sometimes broader than that of some of his union brothers and sisters. He was a staunch supporter of immigrant rights, and in an interview last weekend, he backed universal COVID vaccinations because they saved workers’ lives; other unions, while supportive of vaccinations, have resisted vaccine mandates in the workplace.  

Trumka had announced that he would step down at the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention next year. For now, he will be succeeded by Federation Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, at least until the executive committee meets to designate a successor. Shuler, the first woman to serve as secretary-treasurer, and now the first as provisional president, was widely expected to run to succeed Trumka next year, with her core support coming from the building trade unions. (Shuler was previously an activist and then an official of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.) How Trumka’s death will affect what appeared to be shaping up as a genuine contest for the AFL-CIO presidency between Shuler and a challenger backed by more progressive unions (such as the Flight Attendants’ Sara Nelson) is anybody’s guess. 

Under Biden, a number of the causes Trumka had promoted for decades have begun to bear some fruit. The reconciliation bill that will be presented to the Senate contains provisions greatly increasing the financial penalties on employers who violate the worker rights laid out in the National Labor Relations Act, one element of the wholesale rewriting of labor law that Trumka had long advocated. He leaves a labor movement battling against the plutocracy that has surged over the past four decades, with the tenacity that he himself repeatedly displayed. 
Successful U.S. Campaign to Send 6 Million
Vaccination Syringes to Cuba

By COHA Editorial Team
From Washington DC
 
On Tuesday July 20, 2021 representatives of Global Health Partners held a press conference and presented a certificate to the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC symbolizing a donation of six million syringes to Cuba for their COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Thousands of Americans have shown their concern for the wellbeing of the Cuban people by donating over $500,000 to send those six million syringes to the island. The first shipment of two million syringes left the United States and arrived at the Cuban port of Mariel on Saturday, July 17.
 
The purchase and shipment was organized by Global Health Partners, a humanitarian organization that has been sending medicines and medical supplies to Cuba for 27 years.
Among the groups that raised funds are the Saving Lives Campaign (a coalition of dozens of organizations opposed to the embargo), CODEPINK, The People’s Forum, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and two Cuban American groups—the No Embargo Cuba Movement and Puentes de Amor.

“We are delighted that so many Cuban Americans donated to this campaign,” said Carlos Lazo of Puentes de Amor. “They understand how important it is to show love for the Cuban people in their time of need.”

“While the pandemic has left people around the world crying out for cooperation and solidarity, the Biden Administration has responded to the hardships in Cuba by doubling down on Trump’s crippling sanctions,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, author of several books on Cuba. “But we are proud that, unlike our government, the American people have responded with generosity and compassion by donating funds to buy millions of syringes.”
At the press conference, the donor groups announced that they will begin to raise funds for medicines and medical supplies, including antibiotics, analgesics, contraceptives, vitamins and medicines for people with hypertension, cancer and diabetes. 
 
Cheryl Labash (National Network on Cuba), Michelle Ellner (CodePink), Kymone Freeman (solidarity activist), Felix Sharpe Caballero (Project El Pan), Medea Benjamin (CodePink), Leonardo Flores (Code Pink), Martha Allen (Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press).

Support in front of the Cuban Embassy in DC
Credit: COHA
The campaign was joined by demonstrators expressing solidarity with the Cuban people, opposing Washington’s latest threats of intervention under the pretext of “humanitarian concerns” and denouncing the 60 year embargo against the island nation.

COHA urges the Biden Administration to heed the call of the large majority of nations in the world and the Cuban people themselves, not the hardliners in Miami, to end the embargo against Cuba and reset its policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean based on respect for the sovereign equality of nations.

Its own COVID-19 vaccine 

Thanks to the island’s well-established biomedical industry, Cuba has developed its own COVID-19 vaccine and has already administered over 8 million doses. But due to the U.S. blockade of Cuba and the economic impact of COVID-19, including the shutdown of the island’s billion-dollar tourist industry, the Cuban government has been unable to purchase the 30 million syringes it needs to vaccinate its people. Global Health Partners put out an urgent call for funds and groups all over the country responded.
 
Raising the funds turned out to be the easy part; buying and shipping the syringes became a nightmare. Technically, medical supplies are exempt from U.S. sanctions, but Global Health Partners still had to obtain a licence from the U.S. Commerce Department, which was a long and cumbersome process. Adding to the difficulties, the global demand for syringes outstrips supply, so major manufacturers didn’t want to be bothered navigating the banking and licensing issues related to Cuba sales. Global Health Partners spent months trying to find companies willing to sell to Cuba and a shipping company willing to deliver the syringes. 
Credit: COHA

Now that the first shipment has left U.S. shores, Bob Schwartz, Executive Director of Global Health Partners, is elated. “When we first started this campaign in May, we had a goal of raising $100,000 to send about 2 million syringes to Cuba. But the response to our call has been enthusiastic and overwhelming,” he said. “We’ve already raised more than $500,000 to purchase 6 million syringes, which is a great way to support Cuba’s very ambitious campaign to vaccinate the entire population before the end of the year. We thank the dozens of organizations and thousands of generous donors who helped save Cuban lives and show friendship with our island neighbors.”
 
[Main photo: Rodney González, Chargé d’affaires at the Cuban Embassy, welcomed the donation of six million syringes]
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