The long awaited nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other world powers is to be welcomed. in addition to limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, it also portends a historic change in Middle East regional politics. It’s a step towards a long-term reduction of tensions and the chances of a major war. It is a step towards normalizing a situation where the US has refused to recognize Iran, historically a major power in the region for 3000 years. And it’s a step that enables Iran to develop its economy in ways favorable to its people.
The agreement is lauded by progressives and opposed by most Republicans, too many Democrats, the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, Netanyahu and other right wing forces. CCDS encourages all its members to support adopting the agreement by signing petitions, public education and lobbying Congress.
That doesn’t mean we agree with all its provisions or how it was obtained. Ostensibly about a possible nuclear weapons program in the future, the issue is really about the strategy of maintaining US dominance in the Middle East. The Neocons want to maintain hegemony through use of military force. Multilateral pragmatists in the foreign policy elite, however, understand that US interests in the long term must recognize the actual shift towards a multi-polar world. We are opposed to US dominance by any means, and peace in the region is not served by unquestioning support for Israel. But even from its own perspective, the US refusal to engage Iran ultimately drives that country into closer relations with US perceived rivals, Russia and China. In this way, US imperialism was forced to change its policy.
CCDS supports the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s call for a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, which would require Israel to dismantle its nuclear program. US sanctions against Iran must be ended as soon as possible, as they have hurt mostly the poor, sick and elderly. The US must end its program of covert aggression against Iran which has included cyber attacks, targeted assassinations, drone surveillance and JSOC operations. The US should move to full diplomatic relations with Iran. This would enable more effective actions to counter ISIS, enhance stability in the region, and create a better environment for the working class and democratic movements to organize and advance an agenda of prosperity, collective security and peaceful co-existence.
CCDS NEC, July 31, 2015
From left: Janet Tucker, Anne Mitchell, Pat Fry
By Pat Fry
Photos by Ted Reich
A CCDS panel May 30th at the Left Forum, “Transforming Community and Labor Organizing into Electoral Victory,” was attended by a filled-to-capacity classroom of 40 people at John Jay College in NYC. This was no small feat – as 56 other panel workshops were held at the same time. The Left Forum is an annual 3-day conference attracting more than 4,000 activists and academics, youth, students, socialists, communists and progressives of many stripes. Hundreds of organizations sell books and distribute literature, CCDS among them.
The CCDS panel opened with remarks by Pat Fry, CCDS national co-chair, speaking of the importance of building grass roots campaigns to elect progressives to local, state and national government. Citing the example of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Vermont Progressive Party, Fry said that Sanders’ many campaigns over four decades were successful because they were firmly rooted in community and labor struggles. Vermont through its Progressive Party leads the nation in the number of 3rd party state
legislators, said Fry.
From left: Andrea Miller, Paul Krehbiel, Ethan Young, Rosie Mendez
The Working Families Party successes in New York City and State are another example of organizing independent of the Democratic Party through local coalitions on issues. The WFP recently won a NY State Assembly seat solely on the WFP line in a campaign in Brooklyn, NY that targeted big money developers. Working Families has been successful in organizing election campaigns for the Ferguson, MO City Council and Philadelphia’s mayoral campaign for Jim Kenney with a union-led multi-sector coalition.
There are many lessons to learn from the Chokwe Lumumba mayoral campaign in Jackson, MS running as a Democrat as well as Ras Baraka’s campaign for Mayor of Newark, said Fry. Also important are the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s experience winning races for mayor and a majority of city council seats in CA, and Kshama Sawant’s election victory in a non-partisan election in Seattle, she said. (Continued)
These are examples of how coalition building of labor and community in the electoral arena can win against the rightwing and Wall Street interests, said Fry. “With this panel, we hope to share experiences and lessons of on-the-ground organizing to elect progressives on the inside to be the voice of movements on the outside – in our neighborhoods, precincts, workplaces, unions, peace and justice organizations,” said Fry.
New York City Councilmember Rosie Mendez described how she was elected through the efforts of the Coalition for a District Alternative (CODA), the community based activist organization that has elected progressives to the City Council for the last two decades. Members of CCDS have been activists of CODA since its founding in the early 1990s. Mendez is co-chair of the City Council’s Black, Latino, Asian caucus and one of 6 members of the LGBT caucus. CODA asked Mendez to run for the Council seat 10 years ago when she was a tenant organizer and involved in the many housing struggles that CODA helped to build. On City Council, Mendez has been a staunch supporter of public and affordable housing as well as fighting against the police “stop and frisk” policies, racial profiling and an advocate for an independent Inspector General within the NYPD to review police practices.
“I have been in office for 9 ½ years,” said Mendez, “and we have worked to build coalitions to save public housing, to rezone for new affordable housing. It all started with a group of people who decided to embrace democratic politics and push it as far left as we can. To be successful, we need organizations that are politically independent like CODA and that can work to keep elected officials true to the cause,” said Mendez.
Mendez was not able to stay for the entire panel due to the mobilization in the streets calling for the release of Puerto Rican independence fighter and political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, which unfortunately conflicted with the panel discussion. Mendez talked about the importance of the mobilization to win his freedom after 34 years in U.S. prisons. (The march and rally drew 5,000. See
Ethan Young, Portside moderator, journalist and member of the Left Labor Project, talked about lessons of the Jesus “Chuy” Garcia campaign for mayor of Chicago in April, a campaign that stunned the political establishment with a near-win against theneo-liberal Democrat Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago Teachers Union and a coalition of labor, community, African Americans and Latinos were the base of the campaign that began late and with meager finances.
Though Garcia did not win, said Young, he garnered a significant 45% of the vote. Important also were the election of 7 new City Council members supported by labor and community forces which has strengthened the Progressive Reform Caucus in opposition to Emanuel’s Democratic Party machine. “They won in working class neighborhoods running against the strongest mayor that the city has ever seen,” said Young. He also acknowledged weaknesses in the Garcia campaign. “He was not as hard on neo-liberal policies and the police as he could have been and this played a role in his inability to shore up a big enough base to win,” said Young. Nevertheless, Chicago politics have been significantly impacted with an unprecedented challenge to the power of the neo-liberal Democratic Party machine in Chicago, he said.
Paul Krehbiel, a CCDS member in Los Angeles, has spent most of his political life on the outside of electoral politics through his union, organizing to put pressure on elected officials. The rise in right wing candidates throughout the Bush years, the Iraq war and the voter response that put Barack Obama in office showed the importance of working in the electoral arena to defeat the right, said Krehbiel. He drew attention to the Republican Gerrymandering project that moved the political landscape to the right in 2012 electorally even though voters in their majority moved to the left. As an example, he cited Michigan’s votes in 2012 where Democrats won 240,000 more votes than Republicans but elected only 6 Democrats of Michigan’s 15 Congressional seats. He urged reading the 2012 Red Map Summary Report that details how the Republican Party did it – even boasting about it, said Krehbiel.
As an antidote to the Republican Redmap strategy, Krehbiel drew from the lessons of the mid 1990s in Orange County, outside of Los Angeles. Krehbiel was part of a labor-community coalition to register Latino voters, a campaign led by the Southwest Voter Registration Project and Hermandad Mexicana that included student groups, unions, and the Catholic Church. In 1996 these efforts led to the election of the first Latin American from Orange County to Congress, Loretta Sánchez, who defeated a 6-term incumbent an extreme rightwinger Rep. Bob Dornan. Sánchez’ win galvanized a number of other successful campaigns electing Latinos to office.
Andrea Miller, who is the Executive Director of People Demanding Action, the civic arm of the Progressive Democrats of America and the former PDA Co-Executive Director, talked about how she was urged to run as the Democratic Party nominee in Virginia’s 4th CD in 2008. She ran on a program of jobs, Medicare for All and clean energy. An African American woman from Chicago, Miller won 40% of the vote in a predominantly white and rural “Bible Belt” district. Prior to her bid for Congress, Miller was MoveOn.org’s regional coordinator and then statewide coordinator of the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign.
Miller spoke about the importance of the left running for political office. Though she did not win in 2008, a Democratic candidate now runs in every race in the 4th CD which had been ceded to the Republicans without a challenge. Addressing the question of why she agreed to run in the Democratic Party even though she identifies herself as a democratic socialist, Miller said “one big reason is that African Americans who were 33% of the voter population will not vote for anyone that is not running as a Democrat – no matter who or what.”
Miller came to know PDA because of the organization’s support for her 2008 campaign. She concluded her remarks talking about the importance of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. She credited PDA as instrumental in convincing Sanders to run in the Democratic Party rather than as an independent. Miller urged the left to get involved in electoral politics and one good place to start is to run progressives for district leadership seats of the Democratic Party at the local level. Earlier in the panel, Councilmember Mendez described the same strategy used by CODA in NYC’s Lower East Side.
In discussion, a question was raised about why work in the Democratic Party instead of the Green Party and supporting Howie Hawkins for President. “Don’t the Democrats seize back power at the end of the day?” asked an audience participant.
Miller responded with “Political parties require structure and money. If you can raise the money to purchase voter files and build a campaign that can win very good. But if you can’t, take over someone else’s voter file,” she said.
For a video of the workshop GO HERE
Pete Seeger in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1963
FROM PEGGY SEEGER: “As most of you will know by now, my beloved brother Pete died peacefully, surrounded by close family members, at the Presbyterian Hospital (Columbia), New York City, on January 27th at 9:17 pm. His daughter Tinya, who had been caring for him for some time, was lovingly holding his hand. I was still in mid-air making a frantic attempt to get there from New Zealand. I arrived four hours too late. I take solace from our last phone calls where much was said but unspoken. I know many of you will be saddened by Pete’s death but we must remember that he led a very full and productive life. He leaves a prodigious body of work for us to enjoy, a legacy the enormity of which will continue to grow. He touched so many people’s lives, from children to the golden oldies like myself. As for me, I have lost the last person who has known me from birth and who has always been there for me. I cannot express how heavy losing Pete lies with me. My thanks to all for your kind and thoughtful condolences.
FROM CARL DAVIDSON: CCDS leader Jay Schaffner composed this summary of Pete’s life for his 80th birthday, and Pete only added more in this tradition in his last years, Even as his voice weakened, his message and spirit were strong to the end. We all knew that at the age of 94, this day was coming. Still the news pierced all of our hearts with dismay. Let us stand at attention and raise a fist in salute. A great man has passed, one who touched all of our lives, and will continue to do so.
I Remember Pete Seeger – A Tribute on his 80th Birthday
Pete Seeger – People’s Troubadour, Folk Singer, Clarion for Civil Rights, Labor and Peace, Pioneering Environmentalist, Socialist
Remarks of Jay Schaffner at Evening to Honor Pete Seeger on his 80th Birthsay- Nov. 12, 1999
Brothers and Sisters
I am very happy to welcome you to tonight’s program on behalf of the New York Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It is a real treat to be here to be able to learn from and celebrate with Pete Seeger on his 80th birthday. I guess I should let people in on a little secret – growing up as a child of the 1960s, as a product of the 1950s, of that breed now known as “Red Diaper” babies, I was weaned on the music of Pete Seeger and the Weavers.
Obviously many of you here tonight have also been weaned, sung to and joined in song with one of our country’s unique national treasurers. That’s how Pete Seeger was described a few years ago when he was awarded the Kennedy Center honors. Years after being denied the opportunity to perform on national television, years after the only concert venue that would book Pete were union halls like that of 1199, now the nation was awarding one of its highest cultural salutations to Pete.
But we are honoring Pete for another reason tonight. We are honoring Pete as an individual who fought the good fight, who walked the picket lines, who sang at the rallies, who went south to finish the second American revolution, who early on was one of those we could count on in the fight to end the war in Vietnam, to win the freedom of Angela Davis, or in support of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers.
We are honoring Pete because he has continued to believe in that dirty word: that dangerous word, and I am not referring to the new national debate on are you now or have you ever been a liberal. Pete has hung in there; Pete is still, heaven forbid, a socialist. We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism are pleased to be able to count Pete and Toshi as our members, as activists who on the eve of the millennium still believe in the possibility of a better world. They still believe in a world free of exploitation, discrimination, racism, sexism, genocide, war and environmental destruction.
In honoring Pete, we are honoring a fine tradition. – A tradition of rebellion, radicalism and revolution. Over two hundred years ago, the revolutionaries of their day decided that things needed to change. These revolutionaries dumped the King’s tea in the Boston harbor, and the American Revolution was born. They built their own revolutionary organization, and they came up with a unique name, the Committees of Correspondence. Our country was built on such rebellion and radicalism.
Our revolution was unfinished. African Americans were held in bondage, women were denied the vote, and only men who owned property were initially franchised. But radicals struggled and persevered. In the first place was the valiant struggle of those enslaved, and their allies the abolitionists, who were initially called crazy, then radicals, then revolutionaries, and then it was a mass movement to end slavery. The bloodiest war in our nation’s history was required to end slavery, to finish the American revolution. We can thank Pete, and Paul Robeson, and Huddy Leadbetter and Malvina Reynolds for forever keeping that drive for equality in our country’s songs. Generation after generation has been brought up singing Go Down Moses and We Shall Overcome.
The Pete’s, and the Paul’s, the Woody’s and the Florence Reese’s took their side with their working brothers and sisters during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and in Pete’s case, into the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. There wasn’t a picket line, that wasn’t loud, shouting and singing. They knew how to picket. There weren’t any Taft-Hartley or Landrum-Griffin laws that prevented solidarity labor picket lines and secondary boycotts.
Then it was my generation’s turn. We traveled south, answering the call of the southern civil rights movement, answering the call of the generations before, those pre-mature fighters against lynching and legal segregation, the communists, socialists, radicals and revolutionaries of their days. The old SNYC, the Southern Negro Youth Congress gave rise to the new SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. And they were joined by the troubadours of their day, including the ever- young Pete.
Years later, one of the earliest advocates for the freedom of Angela Davis was Pete Seeger. And today, Pete is in the front ranks of those calling for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Almost thirty years ago, Angela Davis was on trial for her life. The people’s movement at that time said that if we could win an end to Angela’s solitary confinement, if we could win bail, if we could get Angela to actively participate in her own defense, if we could build such a mass movement, then we could win in the jury of public opinion, political presence, and the actual trial jury.
We in the CCDS are joining today with our members like Pete, like Angela, in fighting for a new trial for our brother Mumia Abu-Jamal. We are saying this brother must not die! We are demanding a new fair trial, a trial that is not filled with tainted evidence. We feel that in such a trial, that we can overcome, that we can win. We feel that such a momentum, such a victory can impact on hate crimes, can be a brake against police terror, and will be a real repudiation of the Klan. We ask you here to join with us in carrying the message of saving the life of our brother to all corners. They said in the past that it couldn’t be done, and we showed them, let’s do it again.
We in the CCDS, feel that there has to be a better way. Mumia is on death row, and the industrial polluters of our country run free. Thousands of children in our country don’t have enough to eat, don’t have decent health care, yet the insurance companies continue to rake in billions. In today’s world, one individual is richer than most nations in the world, and for those of us who do not use Macs, Bill Gates not only has run rough-shod over the competition, but has most of us who use computers, at his mercy, with unstable Windows.
With the end of the cold war, why is our nation’s military budget larger than ever? Why did our Senate refuse to sign onto the call for nuclear disarmament? Why has our country supported the dictatorships in Indonesia, the Philippines, apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, Guatemala, Serbia, and Franco’s? Is there a real need for the rich to get continuously richer, and the poor, poorer. Why can’t we have an increase in the minimum wage to $6.15; why can’t future increases be tied to increases in the cost of living index, why can’t we have a living wage? The answer is blowing in the wind.
Yes, brothers and sisters, there has to be a better way. For some few capitalism is working, but not for the overwhelming majority of others. Call it what you want, but I know of no word that describes an alternative to capitalism other than socialism.
You may ask, what kind of socialism? What are your models? And I and members of the CCDS will honestly answer, we don’t know what forms it will take, but this clearly isn’t working. We will say, let’s work together, let’s talk together, let’s debate together, let’s struggle together, and as we do, we will find our way, the way to socialism in the new century.
Our models… we don’t have any, and many of us feel there never were any models, since every country and situation are different from others. We will chart our path as we struggle, the so-called models of the past were in fact distortions of socialism.
What we can say is: If you want to join this struggle with others, if we want to learn from past generations of radicals, revolutionaries, socialists and communists, then we should all want to work together. Join us, let’s work together, together we can struggle and win.
Our struggles, and our childrens’ and their childrens’ struggles will make our revolution. Thank you,
[Jay Schaffner has been an activist since the 60s in Chicago, when he was a member of the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs and Students for a Democratic Society, then helping to found the Young Workers Liberation League, and later becoming part of it’s national leadership. He helped form and was part of the New York and national leadership of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s. He became a staff organizer for the musicians union, Local 802, AFM, later being elected to its executive board, even though he was not a professional musician himself. He helped develop and found Portside in 2000, and now retired, he continues as one of the moderators of Portside.]
State of the Union: Obama Pulled His Best Punches
By Carl Davidson and Harry Targ
Progressive America Rising
In the lead-up to President Obama’s speech Chris Hayes, MSNBC host, presented a segment on the national mobilization of low wage workers in 2013. He described courageous work stoppages by fast food workers, campaigns by public employees, particularly health care and home care workers, and how seemingly isolated pockets of protest spread like wild fire across the nation.
This, Hayes suggested, stimulated progressive groups, selected Congresspersons, and visible pundits such as Robert Reich and Paul Krugman to reemphasize the economic crisis the American working class is facing, particularly youth, people of color, women, and older workers. Hayes suggested that we are on the verge of a new mass movement and that Obama would capture the spirit of this movement in his State of the Union address.
President Obama took the podium a little after 9 pm Eastern Standard Time and presented a State of the Union address that referred to income inequality, the need for immigration reform, creating jobs by renovating the transportation infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse case emissions to forestall climate change.
Specific resolutions and demands were articulated. He did announce that he would use his executive authority to require that the minimum wage of companies with government contracts be raised to $10.10 an hour. He urged Congress, states, and municipalities to follow and raise their minimum wages as well.
He recommended the creation of a new program that would allow workers who do not have pensions to invest in a government created pension fund, similar to 401Ks.
He praised growing government business partnerships and collaboration with colleges and universities to extend job training, make college more affordable, and create a 21st century work force that he claimed could fill the jobs that are not being filled now. Read more of this article »
Student and teachers from the Convention ‘School for Young People’
CCDS 7th Convention Debates Growth
of the Left and the Progressive Majority
in Combating Austerity, War and the Right
[This report was assembled by Carl Davidson, with considerable and valuable help from Cheryl Richards and Ellen Schwartz, our recorders. Others who added a lot were Janet Tucker, Harry Targ, Ted Reich, Pat Fry, Will Emmons, Randy Shannon, Anne Mitchell and Duncan McFarland. Photos by Ted Reich]
Nearly 100 delegates, observers and friends gathered in Pittsburgh, PA for the 7th Convention of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism over the July 18-21, 2013 weekend. The goals of the gathering were to take stock of the political battles since their last convention in 2009, to assess the organization’s strengths, weaknesses and ongoing challenges, and to chart a path of unity and struggle for the upcoming period.
The participants came from all sections of the country: from California to Florida, from Texas to Boston, and many points in between. Almost all were deeply embedded in mass struggles—trade unions and community organizations, women’s groups, civil rights organizations and peace and justice coalitions. Many had also taken part in a variety of independent electoral battles against the GOP and the right, and everyone had been in the streets during the battles against the wars, the Occupy upsurge and for justice in the Trayvon Martin case.
Kicking off the meeting was a “School for Young People.” That innovation started a day before the main sessions of the convention. The presence of 20 young activists—men and women, of several nationalities, fresh from many battles, especially in the South—added a dynamic quality to all the discussions for the entire weekend.
“We appreciated the steps CCDS has made to accept the need for youth leadership in the socialist left and progressive movements,” said Will Emmons of Kentucky. The students saw the school as a “good first start,” and looked forward to more and better efforts in overcoming the intergenerational divide in much of the socialist movement.
The convention itself was organized into five plenary sessions and 16 workshops, with a cultural event and dinner on Saturday evening. It opened for the youth school and other early arrivers Thursday evening with the showing of the new film, “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot,” an inspiring story of the battles of Anne Braden and her husband, Carl Braden of Kentucky, in decades of battles against white supremacy and other fronts in the class struggle across the South. Filmmaker Anne Lewis from Texas was on hand to lead a discussion that followed.
All the convention’s deliberations were organized around a “main resolution,” with the various plenaries and workshops dealing with its different sections. The five plenary topics were 1) assessing the concrete conditions, 2) the terrains of struggle against austerity, 3) the climate change crisis, 4) strategic formations and the progressive majority, and 5) the quest for left unity.
Time of Day: The Opening Plenary on Concrete Conditions
“What time is it?” asked Mildred Williamson, a CCDS national committee member from Chicago, in her remarks opening the first plenary session, which was chaired by Randy Shannon of Western PA. “It’s a time of economic, social, environmental, and racial injustice on steroids.” she continued, “a time of no respect for humanity.” She proceeded to spotlight the full range of current conditions with the lens showing the inter-connection of class, race and gender. “What time is it?” she repeated, “As long as Black and brown lives are thought of and treated as disposable, in a 21st century-three-fifths-of-a-person fashion, it will be impossible to achieve working class power in this country. Economic and social policies are literally destroying Black and brown lives, and simultaneously further weakening working class power…. we must fight with humility and purpose to strengthen and promote radicalized thought and action in the quest for social justice, human rights and working class power. This requires a fresh look at what it means to be ‘Left’ in this phase of capitalism.”
Williamson concluded by posing the most poignant questions to the delegates:
“What is the winning strategy to reduce the number of white working class people from voting against their own class interests, especially since fewer are unionized and fewer live in integrated communities? What will be the winning strategy to achieve left unity – and just what does that mean today? How can we build respect for youth in leadership of social justice movements while still showing simultaneous respect for elders? How do we fully move our thought and action from the multiracial unity ‘slogan’ to normalized, genuine demonstrations of respect for multiple cultures, gender expressions and sexual orientations? These questions–and more tough ones–need answers in order to chart the path forward in the quest for working class power. Let’s work on them at this convention and thereafter.”
Read more of this article »
The vast wealth amassed by US finance capital has been created over many decades by working people in this and many other countries. The unsustainable disparity in wealth under capitalism has resulted in a profound global social and economic crisis. Unbounded greed drives the moguls of Wall Street to push austerity on its victims to rescue themselves from the crisis.
The people’s fightback has taken many forms.The campaign to restore the federal financial transactions tax is one of these fights. It offers a chance to take back speculative gains and apply them to health care, education, housing, infrastructure and other job-generating programs that meet human needs.
A 0.5% tax on stock sales over $100, plus a lesser levy on other financial trading, will generate as much as $350 billion per year. Together with a long-delayed peace dividend and the establishment of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare system, we will see the end of the recession and a path forward.
Take it back! Make Wall Street fund a recovery for Main Street:
- Improved Medicare for all
- Decent affordable housing
- Safe & healthy environment
- Quality universal education
- Good jobs with dignity for all
- Bring them home: Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure
Both Representative John Conyers’ Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act (HR.870) and the Sanders-McDermott American Health Security Act (S.915-HR.1200) employ such a financial transactions tax to fund their goals.
A financial transactions tax, known globally as the Robin Hood Tax, was in place in the US until 1966. Forty countries have it right now. Other countries are weighing its launch. The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism urges all to join the new coalition being formed to push this campaign forward. Go to http://www.RobinHoodTax.org
to get plugged in.
It’s not a tax on the people, but a tax for the people.
I Fell in Love with Cuba
Interview with Liu Yuqin,
Ambassador of China
By CLAUDIA FONSECA SOSA
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann
"I’m sad and happy at the same time," said Liu Yuqin, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, upon receiving the Order of Solidarity recently granted to her by the Cuban Council of State. "Sad, because my stay in Cuba is ending, and happy because the relations between Cuba and China are getting deeper with each passing day," she commented during a visit to Granma a few days before returning to her country.
Cuba has been linked to a good part of your diplomatic career; what does this mean to you?
From 1996 to 2000 I was the Political Counselor at the Embassy of China in Havana. Ten years later I returned as the Ambassador, a posting I conclude this year 2012. I also worked at the Latin American Department of the Foreign Ministry in China and from there I was closely linked to subjects related to the island. I can affirm that I owe a lot to Cuba.
From my childhood I learned about the Cuban Revolution. I began admiring Fidel, Raúl and all the leaders of their historical generation. Of course, at that time I could not imagine that years later I would be so closely linked to this country, nor foresee that I would be representing my country here. This is a people I admire for its resistance to adversity and for its happiness. I have sincerely enjoyed my diplomatic mission in Cuba, and I believe in these years I fell in love with the country.
How do you assess the state of the bilateral relations?
The links between Cuba and China keep consolidating not only in the political and economic areas, but also in culture, health and education, among other aspects. We have established a very important and mutually beneficial strategic cooperation.
At present, China remains the second trading partner of Cuba. And, even as the world economic crisis has affected all of us, the trade between both nations is increasing.
We have made great progress in biotechnological cooperation. A number of products are already being jointly produced, such as monoclonal antibodies and interferon, and there are plans to produce other medicines.
The first group of Chinese students who were learning Spanish at Cuban Universities has already graduated. This is very important for us, because the relations between China and the Latin American countries are at a very good point and we have a shortage of Spanish’ speaking staff. There are also many young Chinese students who come to Cuba to study medicine.
There is a favorable climate and great political trust between both nations. For example, in July last year, the Cuban Government received the visit of Vice President Xi Jinping. This meeting was an important step for the present and future relations, evidence of which was the signing of 13 agreements for commercial and economic exchanges.
You had the opportunity to live and work on the island at different moments of the revolutionary process. Could you see any transformations between the Cuba you left 11 years ago and the one you are leaving now?
My first posting here was in the midst of the difficult years of the Special Period. It was clear that the Cuban economy had deteriorated; there were problems with public transport, very few products in the markets. I remember the blackouts.
Ten years later I returned and saw a prettier and more dynamic Havana. There are more cars circulating, particularly more public transport. There are more restaurants of different categories, a greater offer at the agro markets and there is a happier and more hopeful environment.
I really feel glad for all Cuba has achieved. I congratulate you for the successful coordination of the Congress of the Communist Party and hope the coming holding of the Conference is equally successful. Cuba is moving forward in the path of socialism.
What are the main internal challenges China is facing at present?
Improving the standard of living of the population has always been a main task for the Chinese government, and in this sense we have taken important steps particularly in the last 30 years. We will continue developing our economy so that our growth remains stable. We will continue the reforms and opening up. We will endeavor to fulfill the commitments outlined in the 12th Five-year Plan. My country promotes a policy of peaceful development and will continue working for its people through a socialist way with its own characteristics. The most important thing is that each country can decide its own destiny. Cuba and China agree on this.
Jobs Not War: Let’s Forge Ahead Together
The progressive movement is at a crossroads. As pressure from finance capital builds for President Obama to gut or restrict his recovery agenda, the progressive majority is trying to organize a fight back. Public expression of the anger and frustration of the people whose hopes for change seem to meet so many obstacles must be organized. Mass action and political action together can bring change.
We have just published a new booklet that analyzes the roots of the current crisis and offers a program of struggle for full employment as the progressive way out of our crisis. It title is “Its Time to Fight for Full Employment.” We need your help now to fund the printing and distribution of this important publication, sponsored by the CCDS Labor Committee. Click here to purchase it via PayPal
It’s especially timely as a tool to build for the town hall meetings for HR 5204, John Conyers full employment bill.
The weight of the economic crisis has been shifted from the bankers to the people through growing unemployment and slashed budgets for human needs and infrastructure. After looting the treasury the neo-liberal politicians cry “deficit” and refuse to fund continued unemployment compensation, COBRA healthcare support, extension of Medicare physicians compensation, and emergency funds to prevent massive layoffs of teachers and firemen by local governments.
Now the “deficit fetishists” are sharpening their knives to slash social security and Medicare while continuing their global war policy.
More than ever the progressive movement needs a socialist left that can help educate about the class basis of political developments and the interconnection of class, race and gender. With this understanding, CCDS participates in the struggles of the progressive majority, works to build unity of progressive forces, and promotes advanced demands like the struggle for full employment.
A full employment and industrial policy that promotes green jobs is essential to ending the economic crisis. A movement for full employment will change the political dynamic in our country from a defense against the far right to an offense against the financial-military-oil oligarchy.
Please chip in $5 or more to help us pay for an initial printing of 1,000 copies of our new booklet. We will send you a copy right away.
And please sign up to sustain CCDS now to help us grow our organization and build the movement for change.
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After the Convention:
For a Plan of Action
By Carl Davidson
Following this Convention, CCDS needs to hit the ground running with a clear program of action. We want clear and concise answers to the question often posed, ‘What is CCDS Doing?’ While it’s never been the case than the vast majority of our members have been inactive, it’s also been the case that we haven’t always focused our diverse activities in a way that made the organization more effective, more visible and thus better able to grow.
We need to better organize our activities on two fronts at once, the mass democratic and the socialist. The two are necessarily linked, but not the same.
ON THE MASS DEMOCRATIC FRONT:
–-Peace and solidarity. We need to press for ‘Out Now’ as a demand expressing the urgency of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and any other similar conflicts that might arise. If Obama doesn’t reverse course and is suckered in by the ‘Long War’ advocates, it will destroy him, his presidency and anything decent he wants to accomplish. The fight for peace and the fight for economic justice are linked in a way that has never been more clear. Obama can chart a path to recovery or he keep us in the quagmire of unjust wars. But he can’t do both, and we need to be the clear, insistent and determined voice delivering exactly that message. Educational work within the working class around the Gaza crisis and the Agent Orange crimes also stands out as a priority in solidarity work. Read more of this article »
By David Schweickart
First, the context: ‘Economic Democracy: A Worthy Socialism that Would Really Work’ laid out a model that was to form the basis of my book, ‘Against Capitalism,’ published by Cambridge University Press in 1993.
The article, like the book itself, was a theoretical response to the triumphalism of the TINA crowd (There Is No Alternative) that followed the collapse of Soviet Union and the rejection of socialism by its satellite states in Eastern Europe. ‘A Worthy Socialism’ was intended to demonstrate rigorously that there is an alternative, at least in theory: an economically viable form of socialism that would be more democratic than capitalism and at least as efficient.
‘Against Capitalism’ made the same point, but extended the argument further. Economic Democracy would be not only as efficient as capitalism and more democratic, but also more rational in its growth, more stable, more egalitarian, less prone to high unemployment, more ecologically friendly.
Read more of this article »