This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 20 October 2014 contains two 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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– “They were alive when you took them, we want them back alive!” – protests threaten political crisis in Mexico
– Ebola: the disease comes from nature, the epidemic of death comes from imperialism
“They were alive when you took them, we want them back alive!” – protests threaten political crisis in Mexico
20 October 2014. A World to Win News Service. Students from a women’s rural teachers’ college in the city of Juarez in northern Mexico are on strike to demand that 43 kidnapped comrades in south-western Mexico be brought back alive. Police and civilian gunmen attacked the students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ training school as they returned from a protest in the city of Iquala on 26 September, killing three students and three other people. Dozens of students were forced into police vehicles and have not been seen since then.
In Juarez, after seizing the school premises and then fanning out through the state to inform people about Iguala, the women students were joined by university students and others in seizing the entrance to the international bridge leading to El Paso, Texas. About 700 people blocked traffic with large banners reading, “They were alive when you took them, we want them back alive”, according to the newspaper La Jornada.
Meanwhile, parents of the kidnapped students travelled to the cathedral in Mexico City where they were greeted with applause, embraces and tears as they entered during a service carrying religious signs and chanting “We want them alive!” They were accompanied by a priest active in supporting migrants and a well-known poet, Javier Sicilia, who has condemned the government for the murder of his son in 2011.
Many thousands of students marched in Iquala and other states across Mexico on 17 and 18 October to mark three weeks since the kidnapping. In a large march in Acapulco, the capital of the state of Guerrero where the murders and kidnappings took place, protesters chanted slogans denouncing the police and drug-gang gunmen as “the same filthy shit”. They demanded the downfall of the state governor, who has tried to blame the killings and kidnappings on the corruption of the Iquala mayor, condemned the country’s three main political parties as partners in organized crime, and proclaimed, “The terror comes from the state.”
At the annual Mexico City International Book Fair, national university students, publishers and others collected more than 3,500 books for the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college.
More demonstrations around the country have been called for 22 October.
Following is a leaflet by the Revolutionary Communist Organization of Mexico, which is leading a National Week of Resistance to the War Against the People 20-26 October. (See aurora-roja.blogspot.com, in Spanish)
Ayotzinapa: Crime and crisis of a rotten, bestial state
The government’s crimes in Iquala, Guerrero, are infuriating. Six unarmed, innocent people murdered by police and armed civilians, a young man with the skin peeled off his face. Twenty-five wounded, two of them seriously. Forty-three students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college disappeared, at least 20 taken away by the municipal police. After a big spectacle about alleged confessions that led to secret mass graves, now we are told that at least the 28 bodies identified so far are not those of the students but victims of other savage crimes.
The federal government led by Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI [the governing party] and the state government of Angel Aguirre of the PRD [“left” opposition party] put off even the appearance of taking action as long as possible, giving Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca, also of the PRD, enough time to clean up the evidence and get away. The archives and computers of the municipal government and the public security forces were destroyed and the arms taken to a military facility.
The army arrived just minutes after the police shooting. They confiscated the students’ phones and refused to call an ambulance for a wounded youth who had been shot in the face. They detained the survivors of the massacre, insulting them and telling the students, “You got what you asked for.”
In June 2013 town mayor Abarca personally murdered the leader of the People’s Unity organization in Iguala, according to the testimony of others who had also been kidnapped but managed to escape. The tortured bodies of the leader and two of his comrades were later found lying along a road. Although an eyewitness testified before the state prosecutor and federal prosecutor assigned to this case, they did nothing, and now the attorney general is lying when he says that his office knew nothing about it. This shows that both the state and federal government covered up these previous political murders and protected the mayor.
Now, facing the massive protests sparked by the 26 September massacre in Iguala, they pretend to be “surprised” to have “found out” that the mayor was involved with organized crime. Their aim is to try and disguise this bloody act of police repression as an “organized crime problem”, even though the attack was launched by the municipal police lead by the police chief, who like the mayor has now fled. Although the whole truth about the Iguala massacre is not yet known, the involvement of gang hit men in political repression cases around the country shows that the problem is not “organized crime”, but that the local, state and federal government all work with organized crime and use it to repress and kill political activists and the people in general.
The problem goes beyond the Mexican government: the government of the United States is the main architect of the so-called anti-crime campaign that has served to justify 125,000 murders, 25,000 disappearances and 30,000 feminicides [serial killings of women], among other crimes. This amounts to a war against the people. After the Ayotzinapa massacre, what is the U.S. government’s advice to us, given by the State Department’s anti-narcotics head? Patience – when what they have done has turned Mexico into a bloodbath. At the same time an article in The New York Times, the “liberal’ organ of the U.S. ruling class, informs its readers that Mexico is “a country accustomed to mass murder”, a racist comment refuted by the massive protests against the mass murder in Iguala that took place in many parts of the country on 8 October.
The fact is that in the days after this murderous attack, no prominent government member and no major leader of any of the main political parties anywhere in Mexico unambiguously denounced these abominable crimes nor called on people to protest. In addressing the nation, President Pena Nieto could not even bring himself to use the word “murder”. Instead, he referred to “people whose human rights were affected.” Why? Because despite all the disputes among them based on their petty ambitions, they know that this state cannot do without political repression against the people, that such repression is essential to protect the capitalist state that is inevitably characterized by the wealth of a few and the poverty of the majority, the oppression of women, the domination of the indigenous peoples, the destruction of the environment and all the other evils that are endemic under this system.
The Iguala massacre is not an “anomaly”. It is a continuation of the hounding and repression of the combative Ayotzinapa students that previously led to the police murder of two of them in 2011, and it is part of a long history of massacres, disappearances, rapes and tortures by the armed forces, police and paramilitaries since the massacres of 1968, 1971 and the “dirty war” – including the massacres in Acteal, El Bosque, El Charco y Aguas Blancas, the 2006 wave of murders in Oaxaca, the repression on Atenco carried out by all three major parties that left two dead and two dozen women raped by the police that year alone, and the army’s execution of 21 people who had surrendered in Tlatlaya last June.
The basic problem is this criminal and illegitimate state, and the inhuman and oppressive capitalist system this state serves and protects. It is not simply a question of corruption, bad politicians or the policies of one or another of the main political parties that represent the ruling class.
The broad and indignant protests against the barbarity in Iguala have provoked a political crisis within the reactionary state that opens new perspectives for the struggle against this state and this system and to put an end to the war against the people. It has revealed, for all to see, the systematic terror that props up the system in Mexico, a country that “world leaders” recently proclaimed “exemplary” because of its anti-people structural reforms. On 2 October the streets of Chilpancingo resounded with a massive outpouring of indignation, a megamarch that drew people from other states. On 8 October angry protesters filled the Zocalo [Mexico City’s central square] and surrounding streets. There were marches in at least 25 states, and other protests in more than 20 countries around the world.
It is essential to intensify and broaden these protests even more and carry the exposure and denunciation of the Iguala massacre and the war against the people far and wide and deeply, so that more and more people see that this state is not negligent, it is criminal, and strengthen their combativeness and organization, contributing to preparing the terrain to get rid of this illegitimate state through revolution.
Down with this state that tortures and murders to defend the unspeakable interests of a handful of people! We need a state that protects and serves the people, that encourages and nourishes people’s creativity and their struggle to transform the world in the interests of the immense majority. To hell with this system of injustice, impunity, oppression and hunger! We need a new, socialist economic and social system committed to the emancipation of humanity. This great transformation can only be won by means of a conscious and determined struggle of the masses in their millions. “Impossible”? It’s time to stop complaining about people’s supposed “apathy”. Once again the people are beginning to awaken. Every conscious person has the responsibility to spread the truth about this state’s atrocities. It is the duty of every communist and revolutionary to help people develop the consciousness, combativeness and organization they need to liberate themselves.
– end item –
Ebola: the disease comes from nature, the epidemic of death comes from imperialism
20 October 2014. A World to Win News Service. The followings is from the 13 October 2014 issue of Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. (revcom.us)
As of the end of September, over 7,500 people had been infected and more than 3,500 people had died in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Medical experts estimate that at least three times that many are now infected and warn it could spread to other African countries. Cases have now been reported in other countries including the U.S. and Spain. The non-profit organization Save the Children estimates that five people are infected every hour in Sierra Leone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced computer models that show if the epidemic isn’t stopped quickly, as many as 1.4 million people could die by January 2015!
Ebola is not a mysterious new disease. Though an outbreak on this scale and scope has never occurred before, scientists have known about the dangers of Ebola for nearly 40 years – since the virus was first identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
“This is a disease that’s eminently stoppable with basic public health measures, the most basic infection control measures that we generally follow, should be following, in our own hospitals,” surgeon and health care policy author Dr. Atul Gawande told Democracy Now! (October 7).
So why are so many being infected? Why are so many getting so sick and dying?
Ebola may arise from nature — but it’s the system of imperialism that has made it so deadly to so many.
A top World Health Organization (WHO) official recently stated the epidemic hasn’t become so large because of the nature of the virus, but because of the nature of “affected populations”, their “health systems”, and efforts to control its spread. So what’s behind that?
When two American doctors were infected in July, they were airlifted to the U.S., placed in highly advanced health care facilities, extensively tested and monitored, and given the world’s most advanced experimental medications – and they lived.
But in West Africa people are dying – untreated – by the thousands? Why? Because distribution of medical facilities, personnel, resources, and research is grotesquely lopsided in a world dominated by capitalism-imperialism. People in West Africa live in abysmal poverty – Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia are among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 161st, 176th, and 181st, respectively. Many lack basic necessities like sanitation and clean water. In Liberia, 80 percent of people don’t have toilets or running water! There is no electricity, there are food shortages, and most people live on less than $1.50 a day. Similar conditions exist in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
All this despite – or rather because of – the fact that imperialism has plundered the continent of Africa for over 500 years – extracting enormous wealth in coffee, diamonds, gold, oil, rare minerals like coltan (for cell phones), bauxite for aluminium, wood (from Africa’s irreplaceable rain forests) – and in slaves.
As a result, health care systems are nearly non-existent. Health care spending in Sierra Leone amounts to $96 per person per year. In Liberia it’s $65 per person. In the U.S., it’s 136 times larger –
$8,895 per person. These countries are ruled by despots and gangsters installed or backed by one imperialist power or the other. They cannot and will not mobilize the people to help combat this outbreak – including educating people in the nature of the disease and preventive measures – because their rule is based on controlling and suppressing the masses. Now, the countries’ meagre health care systems, already devastated by years of civil wars and coups between one rival gang of reactionaries or another, have collapsed.
Most health care workers have had no access to inexpensive medical supplies like masks and disposable gloves, so many have contracted the disease and died. Most hospitals are closed. People are dying from diseases that are treatable. Pregnant women bleed to death delivering babies. Infant mortality rates are rising. Dead bodies of Ebola victims lie in the streets and on treatment centre floors – sometimes for days – before they are picked up by the authorities, infecting even more people.
People are told they must get treatment for the sick, but there are no hospital or treatment centre beds. There are only a few ambulances in each country to take people to the hospitals and treatment centres that are still open. Private taxis cross the countries as patients try desperately to get help –and accidentally infect other people. Sick people are put in “holding centres” where patients with other diseases are mixed with people who have Ebola, spreading it even more. Others are forced to fend for themselves on the streets.
People are hungry and angry. Governments in the region, backed up by the U.S., France, and Britain, have responded with force. Quarantines and curfews have been imposed at the point of a gun. In late August, Liberian troops opened fire on a crowd protesting a quarantine in West Point township and hit a 15-year-old boy named Shakie Kamara. He bled in the street for half an hour until an ambulance came, and he died the next day. People are being isolated from others and left to die until the epidemic “burns itself out”.
There are no stores of advanced testing equipment and there are extremely limited supplies of the experimental medicine (ZMapp) that may have helped save the lives of the two American doctors (and none in West Africa). Why is this the case? One reason: While billions are poured into developing medicines for those living in imperialist countries, next to nothing is invested in vaccines for Ebola and other “tropical” diseases because it wouldn’t be profitable to sell in Africa. WHO reports what it calls “neglected tropical diseases” such as dengue fever affect more than a billion people in the world and kill up to 500,000 a year. A study commissioned by WHO found that between 1974 and 2004, of the 1,500 new drugs that were made available worldwide, only 10 targeted these tropical illnesses.
The capitalist-imperialist system is no more “humane” and “caring” than it was at its capitalist birth 500 years ago –when Africans were being hunted down, captured, shackled, and sold into slavery.
What makes the indescribable suffering unfolding before our eyes in West Africa so intolerable is that it’s unnecessary. The world does not have to be this way. The problem isn’t human nature – it’s the nature of the system. Capitalism is an economic system and a political order enforcing it that is driven by the competitive accumulation of profit. This dynamic leads to and takes place through an enormous chasm between a handful of developed imperialist countries and the bulk of humanity living in countries exploited and shackled by imperialism. That’s why the enormous storehouse of medical knowledge and the mind-boggling development of medical technology are strangled within the confines of private property and profit-making.
Under a different economic and social system, things can be – and have been – radically different. Between 1949 and 1975, China was a revolutionary socialist state, led by Mao Zedong. It had been ravaged by centuries of feudalism and then over 100 years of imperialist subjugation and plunder. So when the revolutionaries took power, the vast majority of people had no access to medical care, and there was very little medical technology available. But the revolutionary state, led by Mao, was guided by the principle that people are the most precious thing. They made it a top priority to educate and mobilize people to develop and apply low-tech methods to attack terrible and debilitating diseases that had tormented people for centuries, like malaria and various water-borne diseases.
Later as socialist China developed, tremendous advances were made in medical treatment, because research and development were not constrained by maximizing profit in competition with other capitalists.
Today, nearly 40 years after socialism’s defeat in China, technology, especially medical technology, has, in many respects, advanced tremendously. Yet here we are, witnessing preventable death and needless horrors that evoke the world of centuries ago – all because capitalism stands in the way of utilizing the knowledge and technology humanity has developed.