Colombia:
– “We need a real revolution and nothing less!”
– “Save the mountain wetlands! Save the planet!”
US: The public execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal?
(AWTWNS 4 May 2015)

This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 4 May 2015 contains three articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.

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Colombia:
– “We need a real revolution and nothing less!”
– “Save the mountain wetlands! Save the planet!”
US: The public execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal?

***********

Colombia: “We need a real revolution and nothing less!”

4 May 2015. A World to Win New Service. Following are excerpts from the 1 May 2015 leaflet of the Revolutionary Communist Group (GCR) of Colombia. For the full text: www.acgcr.org.

The second part, omitted here, describes how “revolutionary action has to become, and we have to struggle for it to become, carried out by millions of people (constituting a genuine movement for revolution led by a party that is really communist and revolutionary, and not just in name).” It extensively quotes a leaflet by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group (awtwtns150330) to sketch out core principles for a communist-led revolution in oppressed countries. This includes the argument as to why, as a crucial part of carving out a new way forward, revolutionaries everywhere should study and debate the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, which addresses the experiences of the first wave of socialist revolutions, proposing a clearer idea of communism as a science and a re-envisioned approach to socialist revolution.

This world is a horror for the immense majority of people, those at the bottom of society, those whose labour makes it function. Not only because of the intolerable conditions people live in but also because of the rise of individualism, ignorance and false illusions promoted by those who benefit from keeping the world as it is, based on exploitation and oppression. More than 25,000 children die of hunger or preventable diseases every day. Youth from the lower classes find themselves increasingly doomed to unemployment and criminalization, and are easy prey for all kinds of degradation. Increasingly, education and health care are commodities, and access to them is more and more difficult. The denigration of women (half of humanity) and their treatment as objects is constantly getting worse, and every day there are more rapes, macho violence and acid attacks. Pornography and prostitution are seen as “employment options”. The environmental emergency is continuing and accelerating. Imperialism’s endless wars and occupations, from Iraq to Afghanistan and from Mali to Syria, have led to a situation where reactionary religious fundamentalism also preys on the masses of people.

These are not just vague generalizations. Just take a look at what has happened in the last few weeks. In disasters like the earthquake in Nepal, the causes are natural but the consequences are the result of human and social factors (a product of capitalist-imperialist domination and semi-feudalism.) The U.S., China and especially India use “humanitarian aid” to maintain this domination. The deaths of thousands of immigrants in the Mediterranean is due to socio-economic conditions and the wars the imperialists have unleashed in Africa and the Middle East. The countless and unrelenting murder of Black youth in the U.S. comes from national and class oppression. The list goes on.

These are not just things that happen “somewhere else”. Thousands of children die of hunger in La Guajira [the peninsula in north-west Colombia], and this country is far above the regional average when it comes to malnutrition. Colombia is one of the countries with the most acid attacks on women, the most victims of people-trafficking and child prostitution. The oppression and despoiling of indigenous minorities, from the Wayuu in the North to the Nasas, Guambianos y Pastos in the south-west, is an every-day affair. Millions of people have been displaced, mainly driven out of the countryside, robbed of their land by the government’s armed forces and paramilitary groups working for landlords and agricultural capitalists. Thousands of youth from the shantytowns have been murdered to swell the army’s body count of dead guerrillas and create fake successes for its “anti-subversive” war. Corporate agriculture and mining companies are increasingly destroying forests, highlands and rivers. The list goes on.

Is there a way out of these horrors? Is it possible to have a country and world that are completely different? Is there an economic, social and political alternative to capitalism, a viable and truly emancipating society? Is it true that the attempts to build a really new, socialist society ended in “failure”? Is looking for some lesser evil all we can do – can we, at most, resist and seek reforms?

The answers to these questions entail enormous consequences – and more questions. They need to be debated more widely and profoundly, but that’s not enough. There are no formulas or recipes. But we do have the rich experience of a whole stage of revolution, more than a century and a half, full of great, concrete achievements, and we have a method and approach, a science based on the rich theoretical and practical legacy of the first stage of the revolution that ended with the restoration of capitalism in China starting in 1976 (capitalism had been restored in Russia since the mid 1950s). And since then there have also been theoretical developments and a rich experience (positive as well as negative) of revolutionary struggles, and resistance that has never given up.

The point is not that we are predestined to win. There is no guarantee that we will triumph. Two possible futures confront each another: Will the imperialists (and their partners and accomplices in the oppressed countries) be able to impose their asphyxiating control and a dark future? Or will society advance on the revolutionary road and put an end to the suffering and poverty that capitalism (and semi-feudalism in many places, to various degrees) imposes on the people, so that once again we can build socialism, this time much better than the experiences of the first stage of the revolution, not as a final goal but as a transition to communism, unleashing a critical spirit in a way that benefits the great majority of humanity? It will take much struggle for this second alternative to win out.

The capitalists-imperialists lead a whole international network of grinding exploitation protected by wars, torture and local dictatorships (whether open or not.) At certain critical moments hundreds, thousands and even millions of people would rather risk their lives than live another day under the conditions they have been forced to endure. In recent years we have seen the outbreak of very powerful protests by hundreds of thousands and millions of people, from North Africa and the Middle East to Brazil.

In many of these places people find themselves paralysed or pulled to choose between unacceptable choices – between more of the same old regimes they have already rejected, or religious fundamentalists whose cruelty to the people is no less than the flunkies for the West they seek to replace. Or between reformist rebel forces whose radicality lies in their means and not the ends they seek, and which can only be considered armed NGOs, versus the old capitalist-imperialist exploiters and oppressors, and their landlord allies in countries with various degrees of semi-feudal relations.

In Colombia today, most political forces claim that we have to chose between the alternatives being presented as part of the current peace negotiations [between the government and the FARC, the guerrilla army led for decades by the formerly pro-Soviet Communist Party of Colombia]. But as we have pointed out on several occasions, despite their chatter about “socialism” and “revolution”, the traditional guerrilla groups do not represent a real way out of the current order. What they mean by socialism and revolution does not go beyond the demands of the revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century. They denigrate real socialism and communism as “utopian” ideals. They are nothing but self-confessed social democrats. In the name of their “realism” their references continue to be “really existing socialism”, or in other words, the phony socialism of the former Soviet Union in the 1960s-80s, and the European social-democratic governments as well. Their programme goes no farther than an “historic compromise”; a close collaboration between all the “nationally present” political parties, theorized and applied by [1970s Italian Communist Party leader Enrico] Berlinguer and other “Eurocommunists”, and also applied by Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular in Chile.

We have to confront these repugnant political options with a plan for social change that is as radical as it is totally realistic, based on a scientific approach to the problems we face and the lessons of  previous revolutionary experiences. Today’s nightmare will tend to get worse unless the people struggle to put society on a completely different path. There is such a different and liberating path – communist revolution. Only revolution, and nothing less than revolution, can emancipate humanity.

A real, concrete revolution is much more than a protest, no matter how big and widespread that protest may be. A real revolution requires the organized participation of millions of people in a determined struggle to dismantle the existing state apparatus and system, and a completely different way to organize society, with completely different objectives and ways of living for the people. Today’s revolutionary struggle must contribute to building, developing and organizing an all-out struggle for a real revolution. Otherwise,  we will have to continue protesting against the same abuses generation after generation in the future…

– Humanity needs revolution and the new synthesis of communism!
– Stop patriarchal denigration, dehumanization and the subjugation of all women everywhere, and all oppression based on gender or sexual orientation!
– Break the chains, unleash the fury of women as a mighty for revolution!
– Stop capitalism-imperialism’s destruction of the planet!
– No more criminalization, police brutality and murder of youth from the popular classes!
Let’s stop thinking like Colombians – think like emancipators of humanity!

 

Colombia: “Save the mountain wetlands! Save the planet!”

4 May 2015. A World to Win News Service. Following is an abridged version of an article that appeared on the Web site of the Colombian Anti-Imperialist Brigades (brigadasantiimperialistas.org). The footnotes can be found on that site.

The paramo is a kind of mountain wetlands unique to the northern Andes. A decision by Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment has signed the paramo’s death warrant by authorizing large-scale mining in the northern reaches of the country’s eastern mountains.

In time-honoured bureaucratic jargon, the government claims that the giant mining companies will strive to avoid affecting “the ecosystemic services” provided by the paramo, as if the paramo were one of the sub-sub-sub contractors employed by officialdom or imperialist corporations.

The official decision is eclectic as well as hypocritical. It claims to recognize the importance of this crucial ecosystem, saying that it has taken into account that water from the paramo “benefits” more than 68 towns, including the city of Bucaramanga. It would be more accurate to say that more than 2.5 million people can’t live without its waters. On the one hand, the decision proclaims that its measures are intended to “improve the quality of life for the paramo’s inhabitants, equitable distribution of opportunities and the preservation of a healthy environment.” On the other, it emphasizes that “the Constitution protects private property, business and initiative”, “obliging the state to be fair and equitable” in relation to big business and its initiatives, and not just protect the small farmers and the miners who live in the paramo and depend on it for their livelihood.

With a lot of rhetoric about “harmonizing” and “seeking balance” between the these two sectors, and promises of “preventing” and “attenuating” “disturbances to the ecosystem,” the decision approves mineral rights concessions in the area. Above all, it gives carte blanche to big imperialist companies like  Eco Oro (the notorious Canadian gold mining company formerly known as Greystar), AUX Colombia and Leyhat, among others. In confirming already existing titles to enormous tracts of land granted by the previous government, the state has chosen to ignore the negative experiences so far. For instance, as the decision itself admits, Eco Oro’s 850 drill holes (averaging more than 400 metres deep) have “often been badly managed, affecting the surrounding vegetation.”

Imperialist capital has shown a voracious appetite for the paramo. These ecosystems were formed over millions of years by means of a complex interaction between the evolution of a wide variety of plant and animal species and geological transformations, creating a diverse topology marked by mountain ranges, rivers and valleys. This is the world’s highest natural ecosystem. It gets stronger sunlight (due to the high altitude) and has a greater variety of plants than any other mountain ecosystem on Earth. It is a continuous source of very pure water, and by storing carbon dioxide it acts as a buffer against global warming. It is also a biological corridor for a wide variety of animal life.

The straw-like frailejon and giant senecio plants are highly adapted to the extreme climate, the cold and wind, strong solar radiation (due to the thinner atmosphere at high altitude) and humidity. Their thick trunks retain water.  These plants are the main ground cover in the paramo, protecting many smaller plants and animals. This coverage also protects the soil, regulating the circulation of water, an extremely important feature of mountain wetlands in Africa and Oceania as well as Latin America. Not only does it limit the evaporation of rain water, it also retains water from the fog that covers much of this area most of the time. The vegetation structure captures water and leads it underground, keeping the soil from drying out and preventing erosion. The moistness of the high mountain soil is also due to the slow decomposition of organic matter because of the cold, and the specific characteristics  of volcanic cinders. These soils can be considered “mineral peat bogs”. Black and deep, they are natural sponges that can hold as much as twice their weight in water, collecting all the rainfall during the winter months (up to 500 mm) and then releasing it slowly during the dry season. It could be said that every cubic meter of paramo “produces” a litre of water daily.

Mountain wetlands are the source of most of the drinking water for cities, irrigation water for food crops and hydroelectric power in the northern Andes, from north-east Peru to north-western Venezuela. For example, Bogota, with eight million inhabitants, gets 70 percent of its water from one single such wetland, called Chingaza.

For many reasons, human activities (farming, mining, etc.) in these wetlands tend to be intensive and generally unsustainable. This was true to a lesser degree even before Columbus. The remnants of many forests have been cut down and the wetlands drained, leaving eroded pastures and barren crop land. Mining in mountain wetland is bad for agriculture and livestock, though the wetlands’ chief importance is as a source of water and for biodiversity. By the early years of the 21st century about 30 percent of all the world’s mountain wetlands had been totally transformed or ruined. Another 40 percent have been negatively modified. Only about a third are still in natural conditions, mostly in inaccessible areas. A large part of the world’s surviving mountain wetlands are in Colombia, the source of the country’s hydraulic wealth some people brag about – or used to.

In the last few years the Santurban paramo, which used to extend over 142,000 hectares in the departments of Santander and Norte de Santander, have been repeatedly threatened by large-scale mining projects. Although small mines have existed here for centuries, these are mega-mines to be dug and operated by transnational companies. Mining associations have began to proclaim that the paramo no longer exists and therefore can’t be defended.

The damage from mining will range from the destruction of the exceptional soil to the massive contamination of water bodies with cyanide (a poison used separate out minerals). Since these ecosystems are fragile, damage to one element can have a cascading effect. Santurban is not the only paramo in danger – mountain wetlands all over the country are under attack. Right now 448  mining rights contracts have been awarded in 26 paramo areas. Rights to disregard environmental protection rules have been awarded in 347 cases already.

It’s not just the high wetlands that are at stake. We are facing an unprecedented global environmental emergency, whose consequences could be a climate change both irreversible and devastating. As the prominent climatologist James Hansen warns, our planet is nearing a tipping point, with temperature ranges that humanity has never before experienced. Once that point is crossed, the situation would be irreversible for many generations and many of the species of life on Earth would go extinct.

This environmental emergency is reaching enormous dimensions. Approximately half the world’s rain forests, concentrated along the equator, have been cut down for agriculture, wood and livestock raising. (Here in Colombia, every year 336,000 hectares of forest and native vegetation are cleared, an area equivalent in size to the country’s Atlantico department.) Much of the land that used to grow crops has been sterilized or dried out by excessive use, especially in the 40 percent of the world’s land surface that is arid or semi-arid. Globalization’s catastrophic effects on the environment have been most felt in the oppressed countries, but have been disproportionately caused by the imperialist countries. The big companies and governmental authorities know about the damage being caused, but they cannot escape the “expand or die” logic of capitalism…

Colombia’s economy, or in other words the whole network of its productive activities, is dominated by imperialism. Decisions about what is produced, how and for what are determined by the imperialist monopolies’ needs for profit extraction and not the needs of the country’s people. Under this system the Colombian economy is addicted to foreign capital investment and adjusts to its needs. For example, the state has set targets to double the amount of coal mined and quadruple gold mining, tripling the amount of land given over for mining leases. It has also given high priority to geological surveys “so that private enterprises can better assess the risk level of their investments.”

The  Colombian state is part of the global capitalist-imperialist system, and so it has to respect that system’s rules of the game. The official national plan for development includes modifying legislation, making labour costs more “flexible” and giving out mining rights and permits for environmental damage, all to attract imperialist investment seeking profit opportunities. This state also uses the most vicious violence, through its legal armed forces and/or its illegal armed groups, to guarantee access to land for multinationals. This process of injecting foreign capital into the country also brings profits to the Colombian ruling classes, especially through state revenues and their participation in major projects as junior partners.

This is why it is an illusion to focus efforts on getting the state structure to implement reforms, vote for “good” candidates in elections, lobby for legislative reforms, etc. As long as this type of state exists it will guarantee the system’s functioning through both fooling people and repression. No one can reform a state that serves a system that can’t be reformed.

We call on those who are seriously concerned by the destruction of the environment in the Santurban mountain wetlands and who see the broader framework of the dangers brought by the global destruction of ecosystems; and those who feel a moral obligation to build resistance against the sacrifice of natural resources for the sake of the drive for profits: Follow your convictions that this rising and spreading resistance is right, don’t give up your decision to stop nature-destroying projects, no matter who is carrying them out. Don’t trade your principles for “intelligent” and “realistic” agreements with one or another section of the oppressors, and start looking for the underlying causes of this situation that has made you become active. Don’t back up when you find out that nothing but the truly revolutionary transformation of society, the overthrow of the capitalist-imperialist system, can change the direction this planet is heading in. Join together with the others who are now really working to take things in that direction so that together we can shoulder this tremendous task: we need a revolution, nothing less.
– end item-

 

The public execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal?

4 May 2015. A World to Win News Service. The following appeared in the 4 May 2015 issue of  Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (revcom.us).

Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the most well known political prisoners in the U.S., has been unjustly imprisoned in Pennsylvania for nearly 35 years. A well known revolutionary journalist and former Black Panther, he was tried, convicted, and given the death penalty for the murder of a cop – in a trial that was a complete travesty of justice. He was denied the right to serve as his own attorney, barred from the courtroom for half the trial with an overwhelmingly white jury; the prosecution claimed Mumia had confessed, which was a lie. Mumia spent a quarter of a century in solitary confinement on death row until courts overturned his death sentence while affirming his conviction, leaving him to face the prospect of life in prison without parole. There has been an international movement to free Mumia and throughout all this, Mumia has continued to denounce the crimes against humanity perpetrated by this system in both audio and written commentaries. The following article by Linn Washington Jr is reprinted with permission from the author.

In August 1936 nearly 20,000 excited spectators filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. That hanging would be the last public execution in America.

Although states across this country have banned executions in public as barbaric, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution. This time it is an inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is experiencing a barbaric “slow execution” through calculated medical mistreatment and medical neglect.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most widely known prison inmate in America, is gravely ill, hardly able to walk or talk because of severe complications related largely to the diabetes which medical personnel inside a Pennsylvania prison failed to diagnose for months. Those prison personnel either did not detect the diabetes earlier this year while giving Abu-Jamal numerous blood tests that easily identify the elevated blood sugar levels of diabetes or did not inform him of the blood test results.

That failure to find his raging diabetes – a disease easy to diagnose and easy to treat – led to Abu-Jamal’s emergency hospitalization at the end of March, after he collapsed, unconscious and in sugar shock. At the time he was finally transported to the hospital, Abu-Jamal was on the verge of a potentially fatal diabetic coma.

Despite Abu-Jamal’s obvious painful and deteriorating medical condition, Pennsylvania prison authorities have barred him from receiving access to or consultation from medical experts assembled by his supporters. Those experts could provide the quality of care unavailable at either the demonstrably incompetent or malignant infirmary inside the prison where he is housed or that non-prison hospital authorities utilized.

The refusal of Pennsylvania prison authorities to either properly diagnose and treat Abu-Jamal or permit him access to non-prison medical personnel who could effectively treat his conditions fuel justifiable and understandable fears among his far-flung supporters that anti-Abu-Jamal forces are trying to effectuate the death sentence that hung over him on death row for 28 years before it was voided by reason of constitutional flaws cited by a federal court. Abu-Jamal initially was convicted and received a death sentence during a controversial trial in 1982, where he was found guilty of killing a Philadelphia policeman.

“They are outright killing him in front of us,” Pam Africa said. Africa, a close associate of Abu-Jamal and head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, visits him regularly. “He is in pain. His skin is so bad from that rash that he looks like a burn victim,” Africa said. “This is f*%king horrible …”

Abu-Jamal was still seriously ill when he was returned to prison after spending just a few days in a nearby hospital intensive care unit, yet prison authorities ordered him returned to his prison cell after keeping him in the prison infirmary for only a few days following his return from the ICU. Authorities returned him to his cell despite his visibly weakened condition, dramatic 50-lb. weight loss, laboured breathing, swelling of his body parts and open sores on his skin from a rash.

These authorities certainly knew that Abu-Jamal’s weakened condition would make it difficult for him to seek help by walking back to the infirmary, which is the distance of about three city blocks from his cell. Certainly authorities knew the difficulties facing Abu-Jamal even in obtaining meals from the dining hall, a nearly two-block distance from his cell.

Prison Radio, the San Francisco-based entity that has broadcast Abu-Jamal’s prison commentaries for decades, recently issued an update on his condition utilizing information provided by Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya, following her latest visit.

According to that report, “He is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat – he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.”

Prison Radio, a few days before that undated report on Abu-Jamal’s condition, had released information that Pennsylvania prison authorities were refusing proposals to address Abu-Jamal’s worsening medical condition. (Such proposals are not out of line. Millionaire John DuPont, serving time in a Pennsylvania prison for murder, was allowed to have his medical issues treated by his own private physician at his expense.)

Prison Radio reported that prison authorities had notified Bret Grote, a lawyer for Abu-Jamal, that they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by his own doctor, and that they had denied access for that doctor to even communicate with prison medical staff to assist or direct Abu-Jamal’s care. Prison officials are refusing to allow regular phone calls between Abu-Jamal and his doctor and they said they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by an endocrinologist (a diabetes specialist).

Charges that prison authorities are deliberately mistreating Abu-Jamal are routinely dismissed as hyperbole in the media despite abundant examples of mistreatment endured by Abu-Jamal and other inmates.

For example, in 2010 an inmate serving a life sentence like Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania prison authorities challenging their refusal to provide him with medical treatment for acute kidney stones despite a previous court settlement where authorities had agreed to provide that inmate with the needed treatment.

That inmate, Walter Chruby, secured an injunction from a judge in Pittsburgh ordering immediate treatment. Chruby’s lawsuit, according to a court ruling, found that immediately after he won that first court order for treatment, prison authorities “began withholding or intentionally delaying adequate medical care…”

The medical mistreatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal comes at a time when callous law enforcement, particularly brutality and fatal shootings by police, is in the national spotlight. Abu-Jamal, in his books and commentaries produced in prison, has been a strident critic of inequities in the criminal justice system. The medical mistreatment of Abu-Jamal is rife with callousness and inhumanity.

Abu-Jamal’s supporters are mounting petition drives and protests to push Pennsylvania prison authorities to permit adequate medical treatment.

Here are contacts to call:

Tom Wolf, PA Governor: 717-787-2500 • governor@PA.gov
508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120

John Wetzel Secretary of the Deparment of Corrections • ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov
717-728-4109 • 717-728-4178 Fax
1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050

John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102
570-783-2008 Fax
301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932

Susan McNaughton, Public Information Office PA DOC
DOC Press secretary: 717-728-4025 PA DOC• smcnaughton@pa.gov
Public Information Officer, SCI Mahanoy

Jane Hinman 570-773-2158; then dial zero
SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102 • 570-783-2008 fax
301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932

– end item-

3 thoughts on “Colombia:
– “We need a real revolution and nothing less!”
– “Save the mountain wetlands! Save the planet!”
US: The public execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal?
(AWTWNS 4 May 2015)

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