• East Coast Conference: The Solution is Eco-Socialism!

    Workers’ Voice presents

    Environmental Crisis?

    The Solution is Eco-Socialism!

    A one-day socialist conference

    November 11 • New Haven, Connecticut

    Bregamos Community Theater

    $25 suggested donation, $15 for student and low income. Includes lunch. No one turned away for lack of funds. Purchase tickets via Eventbrite: Click here.

    More details and full conference schedule soon!

    Keynote Speaker: Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Professor and author at Georgetown University. Drawing from Black radical and anti-colonial thought, his book Reconsidering Reparations ties reparations for slavery and colonialism to the climate crisis.

    Also featuring talks from climate and environmental justice activists and scholars. Framed by the environmental crisis, the session topics also include indigenous liberation, reproductive justice, union struggles, imperialism, and more.

    The conference is accessible by train from NYC via Metro North.

    Workers’ Voice is in solidarity with the International Workers League – FI

  • Online Meeting – U.S. and Brazil: Autoworkers Fight Back!

    Thurs. Sept 28 at 7PM EDT

    Register here: Autoworkers Fight Back! 

    Hosted by the Workers’ Voice Industrial Workers Committee

    The UAW is on strike against the Big 3 automakers. At the same time General Motors workers in Sao Jose de Campos, Brazil are also fighting for a good contract. Workers everywhere are setting an example that withholding our labor is a powerful weapon to take on the bosses and win concessions.

    The UAW strike is one example of the many ways in which the working class is fighting back against capitalist exploitation, but how are industrial workers building international solidarity? How are auto workers fighting the attacks on wages, healthcare, factory closures, and working conditions? What does it mean for the working class that trade unionists are linking with activists in the broader environmental and social justice movements? Join us for a discussion on how these workers are challenging the greed of some of the wealthiest companies in the world.


    Marcelina Pedraza is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and United Auto Workers Local 551 at Ford Chicago Assembly Plant. She is also a member of UAWD, (Unite All Workers for Democracy) and environmental activist in the Southeast side of Chicago.

    Luiz Carlos Prates is on the National Executive Secretariat of the 2 million member union federation CSP – Conlutas and auto worker at General Motors dismissed by the company in 2022 for union activity. 

    Herbert Claros Da Silva is an aerospace worker from Embraer. Leader of Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos e Região. Responsible for International Relations and member of Executive Board of CSP-Conlutas.

    The meeting will be presented with simultaneous translation in three languages: English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

    Download the leaflet to distribute on UAW picket lines, click here
    Help build the meeting and share this image on social media!

  • Workers’ Action newspaper: Autumn 2023 edition!

    The Autumn 2023 edition of Workers’ Action newspaper is now available in print and online as a pdf. This issue is dedicated to the environmental crisis and the working class response. In these pages you’ll find each article focused on topics that address critical issues for the movement like environmental racism, agriculture, social reproduction, and more.  We’ve grown from a 12-page edition to 16 pages, with more articles translated into Spanish! Click on the image to read the paper or message us to get a hard copy.

  • WV fund drive exceeds initial goal! Drive extended until Sept. 30!


    Supporters of Workers’ Voice have enabled us to greatly exceed our Summer Fund Drive goal of $10,000! We decided to build on this success by extending the drive to Sept. 30 in order to raise an additional $4000. Indeed, in the first few days of September, an outpouring of new contributions arrived, pushing us to over $12,500. We are grateful for all of the contributions so far. Thank you!

    • The additional $4000 will help secure travel costs and other expenses for a major ecosocialism conference on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Bregamos Community Theater in New Haven, Conn. Our fourth “Solution is socialism” conference will feature Marxist intellectuals, revolutionary trade unionists, local activists, and international guests to discuss effective methods to deal with the worldwide climate and environmental crisis from the socialist point of view. The conference will feature Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, a professor whose theoretical work draws liberally from the Black radical tradition and contemporary social science. Táíwò is the author of “Elite Capture” and “Reconsidering Reparations.”

    The November conference will also feature Cleber Rabelo, a union construction worker and leading member of the Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado from Belem, Brazil, who has organized with Indigenous communities in the Amazon to stop the extractivist expansion of oil company Petrobas.

    Our goal for “The Solution is Socialism” this year is to distribute more than 10,000 leaflets, put up more than 2000 posters around New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, and have radio and social media advertisements. A $1000 donation can ensure that we have enough funding to properly advertise this event.

    • We will also use the additional funding to send Workers’ Voice representatives to report on strikes and picket lines in different parts of the country. The UAW contract negotiations and potential strike at the Big Three auto manufacturers will present a unique opportunity to build solidarity with on-the-spot reporting, as well as with an online solidarity meeting that will bring together autoworkers from Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S. $500 will help cover the costs to send one of our members for on the ground reporting in Detroit.

    • In subsequent months, Workers’ Voice will be preparing for our second National Congress. To accompany the Congress, we will look to host a big public meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area that will feature international guest speakers as well as members from around the country who are leading important work around the labor movement, the environmental crisis, Ukraine solidarity, immigrant rights, and more. To make this mass meeting a success, we will need to distribute thousands of leaflets and posters; $250 will allow us to hand out thousands of leaflets in the Bay Area.

    As always, if you value the work that we do and feel the same sense of urgency to build a working-class socialist voice, please join us in building Workers’ Voice through our 2023 Summer Fund Drive.

    Click here to contribute.

  • Ukraine: Report from Third International Workers’ Aid Convoy


    Since Spring 2022, the ILNSS has been in regular contact with Ukrainian trade unions and social movements. The Third Workers’ Aid Convoy to Ukraine was organized by the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle between June 14 and June 20, 2023. During this almost one-week visit, we held a series of meetings during which we learned about the situation of Ukrainian workers at the time of war, and discussed the possibility of strengthening our cooperation and developing international support for Ukrainian unions. We expressed our sincere solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and donated money (for daily activities and development of independent labor organizations), technical and tactical equipment (for union members serving in the military), as well as food and hygiene products. The convoy visited the cities of Lviv, Kropivnytskyi, Krivyi Rih and Kyiv.

    Since Spring 2022, the ILNSS has been in regular contact with Ukrainian trade unions and social movements. The idea of convoys was initiated by organizations from Brazil (CSP Conlutas), France (Solidaires), Italy (ADL Cobas), and Poland (IP). At various stages, the initiative was joined by organizations from other countries: Co.Bas (Spanish State), TUC (Liverpool, England), G1PS (Lithuania), STASA (Portugal). The latest convoy also received financial support from the SAC Syndikalisterna union from Sweden and individual donors from all over the world.

    Our international group holds regular meetings, organizes fundraising, and holds events to promote knowledge about the situation of Ukraine’s working-class and trade-union activities in the war-torn country. This is where decisions are taken and further plans are made. The aim of the initiative is to show international support for class resistance against Russia’s imperialist invasion and the Ukrainian government’s anti-worker and anti-social reforms during the war.

    In Ukraine, our partners  are the independent trade unions, some of which are affiliated with the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (Ukr. Konfederatsiya Vilnykh Profspilok Ukraiiny – KVPU), and some operate independently. These are: Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine in the city of Krivyi Rih (ukr. Nezalezhna Profspilka Hirnykiv Ukraiiny – NPGU), the Direct Action student union (ukr. Priama Dia), which operates mainly in Lviv and Kyivv, the Trade Union of Medical Workers and Medical Industry Workers of Lviv Region (ukr. Lvivska Oblasna Profpilka Medychnykh Pratsivnykiv ta Pratsivnykiv Medychnoi Haluuzi), together with the social movement “Be Like Nina” (ukr. Bud’ yak Nina), the Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine in the city of Kropivnitskyi (ukr. Vilna profspilka osvity i nauky Ukraiiny, and the Free Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (ukr.Vilna Profspilka Zaliznychnykiv Ukraiiny – VPZU).

    The idea of convoys is considered something more than just the delivery of essential goods. It also means strengthening contacts and cooperation with the Ukrainian working class, trying to understand the situation faced by the union members, and taking up the subject internationally.

    Lviv – meeting with nurses and students

    On June 14, the delegation consisting of members of the IP and Solidaires set off from Warsaw. Our first stop, after the border crossing and humanitarian transport procedures, was Lviv. Part of our delegation met there with representatives of the health-care workers and other part with the students.

    Oksana Slobodiana, a nurse and union organizer, and journalist Yulia Lipich told us about the work conditions in Ukrainian health care and the general state of health care. The name of the movement Be Like Nina refers to its initiator, nurse Nina Kozlovskaya, who in 2019 launched a campaign on low wages for medical staff in Lviv. On the basis of the informal initiative, a non-governmental organization was registered (which in itself makes it easier to act and apply for funding), and independent trade unions began to form around it. Now, the movement-association functions as an organizational umbrella and a platform for the development of labor organizations throughout the country.

    Organizations are functioning in Lviv, Poltava, Chernihiv, Kyiv, and more are being formed in Krivyi Rih and Dnipro. In the future, a nationwide unification of new independent unions in the industry is planned. As we learned from Oksana and Yulia, their organization is open to all medical workers: doctors, nurses, medical assistants and caregivers. Their activity is centered on three main principles: gender equality, women’s rights, and direct involvement of members. In Lviv alone, around 200 people belong to the union, but the situation is developing. The union is completely independent from employers, the state, and political parties. Nurses initially contacted large trade unions that already existed in the industry, but they had little or no activity.

    The main problem for health-care workers is low salaries, for many of them further reduced by the top-down obligation to work part-time. Others, in turn, face long on-call schedules and overwork. Depending on the position, form of employment, seniority, and allowances (or lack thereof), salaries range between €50 and €300 per month. By comparison, the prices of products and services in Lviv are quite similar to those in the EU countries, and the cost of renting an apartment is about 400 euros per month. Low salaries also mean problems for the trade union. All of the union’s “assets” come from membership fees, which amount to 1% of wages.

    Among the most urgent needs are the finances necessary for further development. Trade unionists need money to travel around the country, rent rooms for meetings, or purchase electronic equipment to participate in online meetings. However, needs are changing due to the dynamic situation in health care and the situation on the frontline. For the health-care workers, war means frontline emergency services, treatment and transportation of the wounded, overloaded hospitals and outpatient clinics (due to the wounded and refugees from occupied and frontline areas), shortages of medicines and equipment, and increased workloads. Paradoxically, access to health care is also limited for those employed in it. Officially, the state provides health care, but in practice little of it is provided. In addition, not all diseases, especially chronic ones, are covered by the public treatment program. Many treatments are performed only in private clinics, which only few can afford.

    The Medical Workers Union has received an official invitation to join the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle and to participate in an international meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this September. We have donated money for activities to the organization’s account, and more collections are planned.

    The meeting with the student organization Direct Action was attended by a group of students from Ukraine, Poland, and France. The organizers of the meeting were Katya Gritseva and Maxim Shumakov. Maksym told us about the generations of the Direct Action movement. The first generation of the movement was formed right after the collapse of the USSR; the second generation was formed in the second decade of the 21st century and took part in the events on Kiev’s Maidan in late 2013 and early 2014. The third generation was formed more recently and has around 40 members so far, and is distinguished by the fact that it works closely with labor unions at workplaces.

    In addition to Direct Action, there is also an official student labor union, which is completely politically inactive, only socio-culturally, and is closely coordinated with the university. Nonetheless, many people formally belong to the union, as the university gets money for the corresponding number of student union members. Importantly, studying in Ukraine is paid unless you qualify for a scholarship, so many Ukrainian women and men can’t afford to study. It is also worth noting that renting apartments in Lviv during the war became very expensive; moreover, rent is paid in dollars. During the meeting, Katya also told us about the tragic condition of student houses in Lviv and throughout Ukraine: ubiquitous mould, plaster falling off the walls, and most rooms are multi-bedded—and some are even inhabited by stray cats. The youngsters had the opportunity to exchange experiences of university activities and find common ground.

    Direct Action has received money from the International Trade Union Solidarity and Struggle Network for its ongoing operations.

    Kropivnytskyi – meeting with teachers and delivery of equipment for the miners

    On June 15, at dawn, we left for the town of Kropivnytskyi in central Ukraine, where we were met by Volodymyr Fundovnyi and Valentina Nahod from the Free Trade Union of Education and Science of the Kirovohrad region (Kropivnytskyi is the administrative center of the region). We met with them at the school where the union’s office operates. At the request of our hosts, we brought a power generator, an emergency power kit, a telescopic mast, a GSM repeater, telephones, and a set of plugs and adapters. The equipment was destined for uranium miners serving in the army, whose union belongs to the same confederation (KVPU).

    The Free Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine was established in 2003 in response to a wave of protests and public discontent accompanied by the inaction and conciliation of unions existing in the sector. The union is active throughout the country, is independent of political parties, and belongs to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, of which Volodymyr is regional chairman. There are 10,000 members in the region. In addition to teachers (5000 people), there are those working in administration, canteens, technical activities, and cleaning staff. A small group of lecturers at the local university also belong to the union. With the 60 members, they are also the only union at the school where we met.

    Education workers are struggling with low wages. The average teacher’s income is 170 euros, which is just above the minimum wage. Trainee teachers’ earnings are even lower. Pay-raises were scheduled for 2022, but were frozen when the war broke out. As a part of an austerity policy, many are paid a base salary without various allowances.

    Due to the high proportion of women among teachers, few people from the union have been mobilized for the army. Therefore, the teachers support local miners serving in the army in the Kherson section.

    Krivyi Rih – the city of industry and workers’ resistance

    We arrived in Krivyi Rih before dark on June 15. It is a center of mining, metallurgy and radical social protests. Our main partner in this city is the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine (NPGU), which is a part of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU). There are 2500 members of the NPGU in the city, including about 800 women.

    On June 16, at one of the union premises, we met with representatives of the NPGU from various mines. The meeting was organized by Chairman Yuri Samoilov and union secretary Natalia Shubenko. We talked about the realities of work in mines and metallurgical plants and the daily life of an industrial city in the shadow of the ongoing war. The main investors and shareholders in the city are the global giant Arcelor Mittal and Ukrainian oligarchs Ihor Kolomoisky, Rinat Akhmetov, and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky. The latter, a week before the Russian aggression, became famous for his spectacular escape from the country aboard a private plane. On his way to Kharkiv airport, one of the cars traveling in his column fatally hit a pedestrian. For our hosts, Yaroslavsky became a symbol of the “Monaco volunteer battalions”—owners and shareholders of the means of production who took refuge from the war in European resorts and tax havens. It is in these safe places, inaccessible to “mere mortals,” that the decisions on which working and living conditions in the Krivyi Rih now depend.

    Currently, local factories are not using all of their capacity. Many workers are serving in the army (some volunteered, others were mobilized). The city faces periodic power and water supply problems, with Russian rockets and drones (or shrapnel after being shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense) falling on the industrial infrastructure.  The operations of steel mills and mines are linked to global supply chains, which are disrupted by the blockade of Black Sea ports (for which the alternative is overloaded rail transport).

    Some workers are employed on a part-time basis, with no guarantee of working hours or wages that meet the minimum subsistence level, and some are on a standstill. Reforms introduced during the war remove the obligation of employers to pay a standstill, provide minimum paid working time, or pay wages to employees serving in the military. However, in some companies, unions manage to fight for these guarantees to be maintained.

    The union regularly supports members serving in the military by sending them missing equipment not provided by the state. According to Yuri Samoilov, “everyone is asking for drones and thermal vision monoculars,” but boots, sleeping bags, and other outdoor equipment are also needed. For those remaining “in civilian life,” the union buys flashlights (streetlights along the side streets do not work, which is particularly troublesome in autumn and winter) and pepper spray (petty crime has increased in the city due to the war recession and inoperable street lights). However, these are small expenses compared to the tactical equipment that is on the priority list. Our convoy provided miners and metallurgists with drones, thermal imaging devices, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents.

    The meeting stressed the importance of international cooperation and solidarity. Chairman Samoilov expressed the intention of joining the International Network of Solidarity and Struggle, which the Confederation submitted on our return from Ukraine.

    The next day we met with Vyacheslav Fedorenko of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU), who showed us around the locomotive depot and shared information about working conditions on the railroad. With strikes and industrial action banned, the unionists are focusing on legal spheres of activity and regularly win court cases against Ukrainian Railways[1] for back wages and unpaid allowances. Like other labor groups, railroaders support their members in the military. In addition to binders of documents, the union premises contained boxes of tactical equipment, special clothing,/// and footwear.

    On the same day we took a tour of the town and the mine spoil tips [piles of waste material], during which Gleb Kozlov, an enthusiast of local history and son of a miner, told us about the peculiarities of the local industry and its impact on the environment.

    On June 18, we visited the Sotsmisto neighbourhood, which in 1963 was the scene of workers’ protests and riots against the police and local authorities. We were also shown the site where revolutionary and peasant movement leader Nestor Makhno spoke in 1917. On the same day, we also met with anthropologist Denys Shatalov, who gave us a tour of sites and memorials related to the 1917-1920 revolution and Jewish cultural monuments. Denys also told us about his research on public perceptions of the war.

    Kyiv – meeting with railroad workers and return to Warsaw

    On June 19, we left for Kyiv, where we met Volodymyr Kozelskyi and Valery Petrovskyi of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine. The union is active throughout the country. In Kyiv, it unites 300 railroad and urban transportation workers. With the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the union’s activities in these areas froze. With the outbreak of war, train drivers ran evacuation trains and humanitarian aid deliveries in the frontline areas (often directly under shelling). Today, many male railwaymen are serving in the military and more and more technical duties are being taken over by women. Until recently, they worked almost exclusively as conductors and customer service.

    As in Krivyi Rih, in Kyiv, the union is fighting for payment of back wages and unpaid allowances, and opposes excessive workload. Valery, technician at a passenger train depot, is currently serving in a military unit stationed in central Ukraine, from where he came to meet us. His wife, a conductor and union member, and a group of a dozen men and women working on the railroad serve in the same unit.

    During the meeting, we donated food and cleaning supplies to our hosts, destined in part for the front and in part for lower-paid union members. We had the opportunity to meet with Valery and his wife Luba soon in Warsaw.

    In the evening, we had a short meeting with Serhiy Movchan of the Solidarity Collectives, an organization that provides humanitarian aid in the frontline areas and delivers equipment to union members and social activists serving in the army. In the morning we had a brief meeting with Denys Pilash of the Social Movement (Sotsialnyi Rukh) organization and left for Warsaw. On the way back, we visited Bucha and Borodianka — the towns that were particularly affected by the Russian occupation forces in the spring of 2022.

    Ongoing cooperation – ongoing struggle

    Cooperation with Ukrainian trade unions is not limited to convoy visits. Upon our return, the International Trade Union Network for Solidarity and Struggle donated money to the Medical Workers Union. With funds from French Solidaires, members of the IP bought a wheelchair, which was sent to Lviv. In late June and early July, Valery and Luba of the Independent Railway Workers Union of Ukraine visited Poland and Italy. In Italy, they met with representatives of ADL Cobas and CUB Transport. In Poland, they were given thermal imagers purchased from an international fund.

    A wave of protests and strikes has swept across Ukraine, despite the official ban. On June 23, a protest by medical personnel from the village of Velikyi Lubyn in the Lviv region blocked the road between the towns of Sambor and Turka. The protesters demanded the resignation of a clinic director blamed by subordinates for corruption and mismanagement. On July 15, 2023, a demonstration of health-care workers took place in Krivyi Rih, demanding payment of back wages. Several hundred people gathered in front of the city council building, from where they marched through the city chanting, “Salary!” At the same time, in nearby town of Zhovti Vody, uranium miners refused to go underground until they received their back pay. The list of protests and campaigns is much longer and it deserves a separate publication.

    Some concluding remarks

    Since March 2022, Ukrainian society has been coping with policies of social cuts and deregulation of the labor code. At the same time, it is the working class that keeps the country running by providing functioning infrastructure, products, and services. These are the workers who fight and die on the frontline. Under these tragic circumstances, we are witnessing an unprecedented grassroots mobilization of the society, in which trade unions play an important role. This social mobilization fills the void left by the authorities.

    It can be expected that when the war ends (hopefully with Ukrainian victory), the reconstruction of the country will have a neoliberal shape. Ukrainian authorities are already inviting international investors and promising to make huge profits. Unions will definitely have their hands full of work, and they will need international support.

    There are many indications of growing social discontent in the war-torn and economically depressed country. As we have reported more than once, Ukrainian workers are currently fighting a battle on two fronts. The first is the front of armed resistance against the Kremlin invaders. The second is the front of labor and social rights in the face of deregulation of labor laws and cuts on social spending. International solidarity is needed on both fronts!

    [1] Despite partial privatization, the Ukrainian railroad has managed to avoid being split into separate companies.

    This article is reprinted from: https://litci.org/en/ukraine-report-from-the-third-international-workers-aid-convoy-to-ukraine/



  • Smedley Butler: A gangster for U.S. imperialism


    A review of “Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire,” by Jonathan M. Katz. St. Martin’s Press, 2021.

    Famous in his day but now virtually unknown, Smedley D. Butler was the Forrest Gump of U.S. imperialism. Born to a wealthy and influential suburban Philadelphia family (his father was a lawyer, judge, and later member of Congress for 31 years), Butler enlisted in the U.S. Marines at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War of 1898. At the age of 16 he was commissioned a lieutenant and fought in Cuba against first the Spaniards and next against the Cubans. In his 34-career he fought in most of the major U.S. imperialist interventions in the first part of the 20th century. His story is the story of U.S. imperial expansion up to his death in 1940, on the verge of U.S. entry into World War II. He not only witnessed early U.S. imperialism, he helped create it. And then Butler became its most outspoken critic.

    Jonathan M. Katz has given us a fascinating biography of this forgotten historical figure, along with a history of U.S. imperialism from 1898 to 1931, and a meditation on the traumatic legacy of imperialism. Katz achieves the latter by traveling to all the places that Butler fought in, talking with the people who are descendants of his victims.

    Butler’s career was the stuff of legend. Awarded 16 medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, twice, he rose from lieutenant to brigadier general. During his rise to the top, Butler was in nearly every major U.S. imperialist intervention across the globe.

    U.S. seizes Cuba and the Philippines; invades Honduras, Panama & China

    Butler first fought in Cuba against the Spanish at Guantanamo Bay, when the American and Cuban mambises (Cuban Freedom fighters, most of whom had be former slaves) captured Guantanamo from the Spaniards and set up a U.S. naval base there, the first U.S. overseas military base and still an important base today.

    At the same time that the U.S. was fighting Spain in Cuba and trying to gain control of that island, the U.S. ordered its fleet in the Pacific to attack Spanish forces in the Philippines. U.S. Admiral Dewey attacked Spanish forces in Manila Bay six days after the war started, defeating the Spanish and seizing control of the Philippines. During the peace negotiations with Spain, the U.S. paid $20 million to Spain in exchange for legal recognition of U.S. rule over the Philippines, essentially buying the colony from Spain. This was a double betrayal—earlier, the U.S. had promised the leader of the Philippine independence movement, which had been fighting Spain for decades and was on the verge of victory, that the U.S. would honor Philippine independence. Shortly after the capture of Manila Bay, however, the U.S. denied ever having made such a promise.

    The Philippine independence movement did not accept the double betrayal and continued fighting for freedom. The U.S. was now to fight a three-year brutal pacification campaign, complete with U.S. assassination of Philippine leaders, U.S. concentration camps, and the destruction of entire villages, including the systematic burning of huts as was later practiced in Vietnam. Butler arrived with his regiment to fight in this brutal imperialist war in May of 1899 and was involved in several important battles and the destruction of many villages.

    Butler and his regiment did not fight for the entire Philippine War; they were needed in China, where the Boxer Rebellion, an uprising against European and American domination of China, broke out. So on June 18, Butler and his regiment arrived in China for what was the U.S.’s first undeclared (by the U.S. Congress) war on another country. Butler fought against Chinese troops in both Beijing and Tianjin. The imperialist powers essentially won the war, re-establishing commercial ties and investments in China and imposing harsh conditions on the country in the 1901 “peace” treaty.

    After a short time in the United States, Butler again went overseas, this time in 1902 to the new colony of Puerto Rico, to train in jungle warfare and to prepare for the possible construction of a canal in Central America. But before long, in March 1903, Butler and his troops (he was now a decorated Captain for his role in China) were sent to invade Honduras, the first of what would be six invasions by the U.S. in the next several decades. Soon after, in December 1903, he and his troops were re-deployed to the newly independent country of Panama, which the U.S. had helped to create after the Colombian Congress rejected a proposed U.S. canal across the Isthmus of Panama. Butler stayed in Panama until shortly before the construction of the canal started, essentially providing the military forces for the new puppet-regime of Panama.

    After a brief time in the U.S, during which Butler fell in love and got married, he was again stationed in the Philippines as the U.S. sought to establish a naval base at Subic Bay, a deeper port more suitable to U.S. warships than Manila Harbor. In the Philippines Butler showed increasing signs of an emotional breakdown and erratic behavior—what we would now associate with PTSD. He returned to the U.S. and temporarily left the Marine Corps to rest and recover, working for a short time as the boss of a coal mine in West Virginia.

    Overthrowing government of Nicaragua; invasion of Mexico

    Returning to the military in 1909, Butler was promoted to major and placed in charge of a brigade of 1000 troops. His first assignment was to the new U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone. On his way, he and his troops were diverted to Nicaragua, to support the efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government there. As soon as the president learned of the approaching Marine Corps invasion, he fled to Mexico. The U.S. Marines stayed to support the new pro-U.S. government. The United States and U.S. companies took direct control of parts of the Nicaraguan government and economy, including the Nicaraguan Custom House.

    Butler returned to Panama in late 1910, after he had made detailed and careful reconnaissance of Nicaragua. He and his troops returned to Nicaragua in 1912 when the U.S. regime collapsed, and Butler fought a brutal war against the leaders of the Nicaraguan independence movement, eventually defeating their forces and killing their leader.

    Butler again returned to his command in Panama City, but in January 1914 he and his troops redeployed to Veracruz, Mexico. At the time, U.S. capitalists owned approximately 27% of all Mexican land and most of the oil production. Almost immediately, he was sent as a spy to Mexico City. After his return, Butler and special President Wilson’s special representative John Lind developed detailed plans to invade and conquer Mexico, which they then sent to Washington. And on April 21, after an altercation between U.S. sailors and Mexicans in Tampico (an incident known as the Tampico Affair and used in the U.S. as a pretext for war, just as the sinking of the Maine was used to justify the 1898 Spanish-American War, the U.S. launched their second invasion of Mexico, following Butler’s plan. In Veracruz Butler and his troops met with fierce resistance in what for the Marines was their first experience with urban door-to-door combat, what would eventually become a Marine Corps specialty.

    The U.S. occupied Veracruz, Mexico’s principal port on its eastern seaboard, for seven months. While Butler and his troops fought fiercely, killing an estimated 10,000 Mexicans, Butler himself viewed the war that he had helped to plan as immoral and pointless. He viewed the Tampico Affair as “a joke” in a letter to his father, one of the few members of Congress to vote against the war (the vote, by the way, took place after the war had started). Butler would later remark that whenever there is some international intrigue, look for oil deposits if you want to get to the bottom of it.

    Haitian independence movement is crushed

    Butler and his men did not stay long in Veracruz (his troops were replaced by the U.S. Army); they were rushed to Haiti in 1915. U.S. and European powers had controlled Haiti after the defeat of the Haitian Revolution. Haiti’s Central Bank was located at 55 Wall Street in the headquarters of National City Bank of New York, now called Citibank. When World War I broke out, the U.S. moved to secure complete control of Haiti, including seizing its gold reserves and placing its custom houses under the direct control of a U.S. bank.

    Using a pretext of a murdered political leader, Wilson ordered an invasion of the country. Marine General Littleton Waller, known as the Butcher of Samar (Philippines) for his actions in the Philippine war, appointed Butler as his second in command. Together they again crushed the Haitian independence movement, known as the Caco Resistance. In the process, Butler developed the fundamentals (also based on his experiences in Cuba and the Philippines) of modern counter-insurgency warfare, which he used in Haiti. Hoping to return to Mexico to fight against Pancho Villa, Butler was ordered to remain in Haiti, where he essentially re-enslaved the Haitian people and created a local military force, trained and equipped by the U.S., to maintain U.S. control in the absence of U.S. forces. This too became a staple feature of U.S. imperialism.

    In 1916 Butler briefly left his command in Haiti to invade the Dominican Republic under orders from Wilson. Following the usual pattern, the U.S. used a pretext to invade a country in order to further the profits of U.S. corporations and banks, then established an essentially puppet government to protect U.S. corporate interests. Following the pattern Butler had developed in Haiti, the U.S. established a local military, La Guardia, to protect U.S. interests. U.S. troops were finally withdrawn in 1924 after the Guardia and its commander, Rafael Trujillo (later the longtime dictator) were firmly established.

    When the U.S. declared war on Germany in April 1917, Butler was eager to be sent to Europe to join the fighting but was kept in Haiti because he was deemed essential to the U.S. occupation. Finally, in 1918, he got his chance, arriving in France, ravaged by both war and the influenza virus shortly before the war ended and before he could see combat.

    By the end of the First World War, Butler’s career as a gangster of and for capitalism was coming to a close. He became commandant of Quantico Marine Corps base, the headquarters and major training facility of the Marine Corps. While there he established the Marine Corps football team and built their stadium, which still bears his name. He also started large-scale Civil War re-enactments as a way to publicize the Marine Corps, and not incidentally, to glorify the slaveocracy’s war of succession. He also took a two-year leave of absence (from January 1924 to December 1925) to act as the police chief of Philadelphia, one of the most corrupt and violent cities in the U.S. at the time. He employed many of the same brutal tactics domestically that he had used overseas. Butler was welcomed back to the Marines in 1926, just in time to be sent on his last intervention, this time again to Shanghai, China—the second of what would be three U.S. invasions of China in the 20th century.

    Veterans march on Washington

    Butler retired in 1930, deeply burned out and facing financial problems. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1932 but was defeated. He also started moving left politically as a result of his experiences, both overseas and domestically. A major turning point occurred in 1931-32 as a result of veterans’ protests.

    The vets started organizing in 1931 to demand payment of their First World War bonus. Facing the high unemployment and poverty of the Great Depression, the veterans were often destitute and needed the promised bonus. They started marching to Washington, D.C., where they established a tent city in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol building. By June 1932 over 45,000 vets, their wives, and their children were camped in D.C. The camp was multiracial and had vets from all parts of the country. The protesters became known as the Bonus Army. They succeeded in getting the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill authorizing what in today’s dollars was $46 billion in aid for veterans. The U.S. Senate failed to act, however. When the D.C. police refused to act against the protesters, President Hoover called out the U.S. Army. General Douglas MacArthur was sent in to clear the camps, along with his aide, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower. George Patton led the cavalry charge against the vets in what became known as the Battle of Washington.

    This was a hard pill for Butler to swallow. He had visited the camp and was very supportive of the vets, both privately and publicly. They, in turn, respected and were inspired by him. The attack on the vets by the U.S. military and established politicians (many, like Hoover, he had known for years) removed the scales from Butler’s eyes. (For a rich and deeply informative history of the vets’ struggle, see “The Bonus Army: An American Epic,” by Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, 2004).

    Fascist plots against Roosevelt

    But Butler still had a few more lessons to learn. In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. Many in the U.S. ruling class were unhappy with his election and there were at least two fascist plots against FDR. One was by the Liberty League, a group of powerful and rich business leaders that included the owners and leaders of Du Pont, General Motors, General Foods, Sun Oil, and J.P. Morgan. The second was organized by the American fascist and bond salesman Gerald McGuire. McGuire tried to recruit Butler as the symbolic leader of the planned coup. Some members of the ruling class opposed Butler and sought to recruit MacArthur as a more reliable “leader.” Butler exposed the effort to recruit him in the press and condemned the fascist efforts. A congressional committee was convened to investigate and after a perfunctory set of hearings, tried to cover-up the entire plot with little investigation.

    Butler knew Benito Mussolini personally and had a deep dislike for him and for Hitler—viewing both leaders and all forms of fascism as a threat to democracy. After he had exposed the coup plotters and was ignored, he realized that the real gangsters and criminals were the ruling class in the various advanced countries. He started to speak out against war and imperialism.

    In 1935, Butler completed his journey from a gangster of capitalism to antiwar activist with the publication of his pamphlet “War is a Racket.” Based on his speeches to veteran groups and the general public, this 18-page pamphlet is now considered a classic and can and should be read by all antiwar activists. Here is what Butler wrote in the first two paragraphs: “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international is scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    “A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

    Katz’s narrative moves back and forth from Butler and his times to present-day America and the many places Butler invaded, making this an interesting book that should be read by socialists and antiwar activists. But Katz also shows a great deal of sympathy for Butler as a heroic and tragic figure, downplaying the fact that Butler was also a monster and primary builder of the U.S. imperialist empire. Butler has so much blood on his hands that no amount of antiwar or anti-imperialist activity can wash it away.

    Another criticism I have with the book is that the title is misleading: the book is certainly about the making of the “American Empire,” but it is not about its breaking. The empire is still strong and dangerous. It will be up to the international struggle of people in the United States and the people oppressed by U.S. imperialism to break the empire.

  • GOP presidential candidates take aim at immigrants


    As the presidential election season comes around the corner, the drum beat of racist anti-immigrant populism is picking up tempo. We must dedicate our energy to fighting back against these attacks and defending our communities.

    All three frontrunners of the GOP primary—Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy—are carrying out a political offensive against undocumented immigrants. All three of these ghouls have put out statements promising that if they are elected president, they will utilize their executive power to strip birthright citizenship from the children of undocumented migrants, with the goal of deporting the whole family. It is unlikely that any of them would have the ability to strip birthright citizenship were they to reach office, since previous attempts (like that of Trump in 2018) have all failed to do so. Nevertheless, their venomous statements should be taken as a signal that they will ratchet up anti-immigrant policies and sentiment.

    Birthright citizenship in the United States exists under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, clearly stating: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”[1] This means that regardless of the legal status of the parents, any and all children physically born within the borders of the United States are citizens and thus enjoy full citizenship rights, which prevent their violent seizure, concentration camp detention, and deportation by the state. The proposed revision of this amendment would strip citizenship from millions of second-generation immigrants, leaving them vulnerable to deportation to countries they may never even have visited. In essence, it could leave millions in a stateless limbo.

    Examples of the result of such policies are found around the world, like the permanent second-class nature of immigrant workers in countries such as Kuwait, where they are subject to routine abuse by their employers with little protection from existing institutions.[2] The same can be observed in Sweden, where the only option available for rejected asylum-seekers who seek to stay is in what the Swedes call a “parallel society,” where immigrants are pushed into low-paying jobs with no access to the ‘famed’ Swedish welfare system, becoming an effective underclass.[3]

    Our denunciation of GOP anti-immigrant populism should not be confused as a call to support the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election, or any election for that matter. When the Democrats are not spineless in the face of GOP bigotry, they are complicit in the oppression of the immigrant working class, as we see with Biden’s incapacity to halt deportations or shut down the concentration camps on the border,[4] as well as Democratic Party-run California’s complicity in the torture of immigrant strikers by private-prison guards in Texas.[5] The only path to liberation lies in the hands of the working class itself, not in the laps of bourgeois politicians.

    Unsurprisingly, the first to propose the policy of stripping citizenship from the children of undocumented parents was Trump.[6] His well-known use of anti-immigrant rhetoric throughout the years is again repeated with added insult to immigrant communities. Just like his first presidency, today he spews accusations against undocumented immigrants, weaponizing the derogatory term “illegal aliens”, calling them “the meanest people you will ever see”, and “criminals.” As unsurprising as it is unoriginal, this proposal rapidly picked up steam among his base, as well as with the other GOP primary contenders.

    Pathetically following Trump’s example (even his mannerisms!), DeSantis also calls for the stripping of birthright citizenship.[7] Just like Trump, he calls immigration through the southern border an “invasion” and promises to hold a hard line against undocumented immigrants. DeSantis already has a recorded anti-immigrant agenda, as seen with his current term as governor of Florida with the passing of the anti-immigrant law SB 1718, which among other things, restricts undocumented immigrants from regular employment.[8] And this is the same blood-thirsty politician that advocates utilizing drones to bomb “Mexican cartels” south of the border under the pretext of the “War on Drugs” and a farcical fear mongering of an ongoing “invasion.”[9] Considering that he, like the rest of these depraved GOP frontrunners, conflates undocumented immigration with drug-smuggling and criminality, he implicitly advocates the bombing of innocent people on both side of the Mexico-U.S. border.

    Finally, Vivek Ramaswamy[10]—the billionaire newcomer to the GOP primary—is the latest candidate to announce his intention to strip away birthright citizenship. But he is even more cunning; he combines pro-family rhetoric with anti-immigrant populism. To an NBC reporter, Ramaswamy state: “The family unit will be deported, as a unit. We will never separate families.” When the journalist asked him if he intended to deport the naturalized children of undocumented immigrants, he answered, “Yes. That is correct.” He proceeded to raise contentions about the 14th Amendment and the legal right to citizenship for children born on U.S. soil. Subsequently, after claiming that he would follow the “letter of the law to a tee,” he ended by saying that “we will never use separation of families as a deterrent. I think that that is a mistake. I am a pro-family person.” The vulgarity and cynicism of such a statement is plain to see. Under his presidency, immigrant families can sleep soundly knowing that they won’t be separated; instead, they will simply be kidnapped by ICE agents as a unit and removed from U.S. soil by force.

    Underneath the thin veneer of claiming that all they want is “legal immigration for people that meet the requirements,” as Vivek states, there is a sludge of racist and anti-worker sentiment. These scum are for the terrorizing of Black and Brown working-class immigrant communities with the final solution of removing them from this country.

    For the U.S. capitalist class, immigrant workers are tools to be used and discarded on a whim. If it would benefit the bosses to have a larger reserve army of labor, they can have it with immigration. If they want to tighten the labor market, they can restrict immigration. But they will always keep oppressive policies pressing down on the necks of undocumented immigrant workers. By keeping them in a status of legal uncertainty immigrant workers can be super-exploited by their bosses, since speaking up can easily mean the loss of one’s job, if not outright arrest and deportation. A vivid example of this is found in every piece of produce harvested by immigrant hands, in every restaurant meal cooked, in every construction site. The United States, a state organized for the benefit of the U.S. ruling class, will always maintain immigrant workers in precarious working and living conditions. The benefit they reap from this is the stifling of immigrant grievances, since to complain, to organize for change, becomes even more of a risk when the threat of deportation looms over their shoulders.

    But immigrant workers do not always keep quiet. As the historic 2006 one-day immigrant-worker strike demonstrated, immigrants are integral to the U.S. working class, and at the slightest flexing of their muscles, they can make the likes of Trump, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy squirm like the worms they are. The fact that birthright citizenship is enshrined in the Constitution should be of no consolation to us, since time and time again the U.S. bosses’ state has demonstrated that when their Constitution is in the way of their machinations, they will trample it without a second thought. Only organized revolutionary mass action by the workers can rip concessions from the oppressive U.S. state; only community self-defense can protect immigrants from the violence of ICE.

    This is why Workers’ Voice calls for Open Borders Now! Nobody is illegal on stolen land! For an immediate end of all deportations! Abolish ICE! Shutter the concentration camps! Public inquiry into human rights abuses by immigration authorities! Immediate, accessible, and quick path to citizenship for all those who work and live in the United States!



    [2] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/kuwait



    [5] https://workersvoiceus.org/2023/04/27/camp-guards-violently-break-immigrant-hunger-strike/

    [6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gankXvAXS7k

    [7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZaZ_VHk1I4

    [8] https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2023/html/3092



    Photo: Justin Hamel / UPI

  • Unionized women in Colombia’s tuna industry struggle against exploitation



    This information in this article is based on interviews with members of the Socialist Workers Party, the section of the International Workers League – Fourth International / Liga Internacional de los Trabajadores in Colombia.

    In the Caribbean city of Cartagena, Colombia, the Union Sindical de la Industria Alimenticia (USTRIAL) represents and mobilizes more than 300 women workers who work for SEATECH International. In this tuna industry, 1800 workers, mainly women, work under intensely exploitative conditions cleaning and canning tuna for the international market. The outsourcing of the industry, which began in 1998 in order to eliminate union influence and increase exploitation, resulted in companies supplied with extreme working hours and the absence of union representation.

    Van Camp’s is one of the brands using SEATECH tuna from Colombia.

    In 2008, labor militants here formed Manos Muertas (“Dead Hands,” in reference to the carpal tunnel suffered by many women working for SEATECH as a result of the repetitive movements they make during long working hours). Manos Muertas was not a union per se but a social organization with the aim of documenting abuses of women workers and supporting them in their medical claims. In this way, strong relationships were formed with the workers.

    During this time, a union already existed at SEATECH, although its behavior favored the company rather than the workers in struggle. The comrades of Manos Muertas formed USTRIAL in 2010 to create a militant, democratic, and militant union that would truly fight for the interests of the workers instead of collaborating with the bosses. Sixty-five workers founded it, and others soon joined. In response, SEATECH fired almost all of them, replacing them with workers from nearby Barranquilla. For a time, USTRIAL disappeared because of the dismissal of its affiliates. USTRIAL responded with a legal action with the state, claiming that the firings were illegal, which it won, resulting in the reinstatement of the workers.

    Since then, USTRIAL has had to fight against the arbitrary dismissal of its members. Although there are multiple unions within SEATECH—the largest being the bosses’ union—it is the members of USTRIAL who suffer arbitrary repression for the simple fact of being part of USTRIAL and claiming their just rights. Today, there are several USTRIAL members that SEATECH has prohibited from entering the factories because of its fear of their union work. They are still formally employed and receive their salaries but cannot work in the factory.

    The formation of USTRIAL led to improvements in working conditions. Previously there were hardly any labor protections; now vacation periods, reduced workdays, and medical recommendations were achieved (this last victory is significant since a third of the 1800 workers suffer from physical illnesses due to SEATECH’s exploitation).

    The tuna industry continues to generate high profits at the expense of the welfare of its workers, the vast majority of whom work not directly for SEATECH but for its suppliers. Outsourcing work is the reality for at minimum one-third of the Colombian working class.

    In 2021, at the height of the pandemic in Colombia, a social mobilization broke out throughout the country. The Colombian masses took to the streets against a tax reform proposed by then-president Ivan Duque that would have increased taxes on broad layers of society. This triggered a general rebellion in a context of the health crisis, unemployment, poverty, and violence. USTRIAL, with a history of militant struggle and confrontation with the forces of law and order, participated in this process.

    USTRIAL promoted popular assemblies in which Cartageneros in action could learn about the political situation and develop a collective response. USTRIAL generated support among the working-class neighborhoods of the industrial zone of Cartagena to blockade the industrial headquarters and in this way contribute working-class strength to the national strike that was taking place. And although the strike was dispersed by the armed forces of the state, the action demonstrated the initiative of the workers to boost their social strength and strengthen the uprising in the streets.

    Today, USTRIAL represents more than 3000 SEATECH workers. It remains in a state of struggle against a bosses’ policy of slander, harassment, surveillance, and firing of its members. For socialists, USTRIAL is an expression of how to promote a combative and democratic trade unionism in the struggle to promote a militant workers’ movement. Just these past few weeks, USTRIAL has been providing support to a group of residents who are threatened with eviction from their homes by a construction company.

    Top photo: Women workers in a tuna canning plant in Barranquilla, Colombia, near Cartagena.

  • Building the Sept. 17 climate march: Climate and social reproduction



    As fire storms, droughts, killing winds, and inundations redefine the experience of daily life around the globe, the burden falling on women, birthing people, and other care givers, i.e., those assigned by society to the main tasks of social reproduction, has proven to be extreme and disproportionate. In moments of warming induced disaster or displacement, the tasks of caring for the home, children, and the elderly, which are distributed unequally in capitalist society, grow dramatically.

    In semicolonial countries, where women are responsible for 60-80% of food production and the backbone of small-scale and subsistence farming and livestock rearing, extreme weather induced by emissions from the advanced capitalist countries and predatory imperialist smart-agricultural schemes have brought new displacement and degradation. Exposés of imperialist-funded developmentalist programs in Africa, cloaked as climate solutions, have shown how they are also tied to coercive contraception campaigns and population-control schemes that attack reproductive freedom.

    On the other hand, the right to bear healthy children is severely compromised by the failures of capitalist governments to provide emergency relief from extreme heat. Studies show that exposure to the new heat is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for pregnant people, more preterm births and stillbirths, and more catastrophes, especially for Black women—who are deeply affected by racism in medical care to begin with. Thus, women in both the advanced capitalist and the semicolonial worlds are facing new dangers.

    Weather-related disasters are not the only contexts in which gender discrimination plays out. Extreme extractivism is also a key source of displacement. Women forced to migrate from regions made dangerous by the man camps of the fossil fuel and “green capitalist” mineral industries suffer special risks of sexual violence on the road. In short, due to the oppression of women and non-conforming gendered people in all capitalist societies, the impact of the crisis is gendered on a continuum of pain that is the most severe in the oppressed nations but still important to our strategy in the advanced capitalist world.

    As ecosocialists struggle for a revolutionary response to the climate crisis, we must begin by foregrounding the special impacts of warming on women because of their unpaid work in social reproduction, their foundational place in food production, and their socially induced vulnerability to violence. And we must fight to see that our unions and movement organizations do the same. This should  include popularizing the understanding that not all gendered solutions to the climate crisis are equal. The solutions promoted by the large imperialist-run organizations are, more often than not, contributing to the problems rather than mitigating them.

    The context for these schemes includes the imperialist drive to increase extreme extractivism and predatory large-scale industrial agricultural schemes due to the global crisis of the capitalist economies. Despite the huge amount of profit being made by big business, the big players are simultaneously facing a general decline in the rate of profit. They are privileging the pillaging of entire regions in a great steal of the riches of nature with super-exploited labor and selling it as a boon to economic “development.”

    In South Africa, for example, UN women’s think tanks advocate achieving women’s liberation by their incorporation as miners without questioning the resulting gendered shape of their experiences of sexual harassment; unequal wages; the triple day of wage labor, unpaid food production, and domestic responsibilities; and the accompanying destruction of traditional sources of subsistence and resilience.

    In a 2018 study, “Beyond Extractivism: Feminist Alternatives for a Socially and Gender Just Development in Africa,” Zo Randriamaro points out that “large-scale mining negatively impacts rural women’s land rights and their access and control over and use of natural resources.” In many rural contexts, the study points out, since women oversee food production for consumption and household income, they are most affected by the land expropriations for mining. They are rarely compensated with land of the same quality, and the pollution of soil and water that they originally accessed increases the time they must spend to provide from substitute sources. Often compensation for land goes to a male head of household, further reducing female autonomy and safety.

    Similar problems exist in imperialist developmentalist schemes in agriculture. Amanda Shaw and Kalpana Wilson, writing in A Journal of Feminist Geography (2017), have challenged the philanthropic efforts of the Bill Gates Foundation, which in Africa has mixed populationist measures with the false solution termed “climate-smart agriculture.” Female small farmers are rendered suitable for transformation to farm workers on large foreign-owned industrial farms via coercive injectable contraceptive programs divorced from larger health initiatives. Shaw and Wilson term the whole process “necro-populationism.” The authors of Other USAID programs tie coercive contraception to aid packages for agricultural development.

    A close examination of the situation suggests that a key task for ecosocialists is to popularize a deep understanding of the gendered impact of warming and the false green tech solutions being promoted by the U.S. elite. We must build a working-class organizing base that promotes leadership by those who have radicalized due to their experience of climate chaos. Our movement can only be strengthened by an orientation to the working and farming women who have already lived a climate disaster in which their care work exploded in intensity and who today fight to resettle. They are central to planning the socialist future.

  • 50 years after the coup in Chile: Some political lessons

    Fifty years ago, on Sept. 11, 1973, the military in Chile, supported by right-wing capitalist forces and the United States, overthrew the Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende. The coup opened a reign of terror, in which thousands of political activists—including leftists from other countries who had sought refuge in Chile—were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. Declassified U.S. documents later revealed that the CIA and other U.S. government agencies were deeply involved in disrupting the Allende government from the time it was first elected in 1970.

    Allende and his supporters had claimed that their popular front government was carrying out a “peaceful road to socialism,” but this was contradicted by the fact that the governing coalition included capitalist parties. While some reforms were won, such as a general pay increase and a few nationalizations and land reform measures, the working class was largely held back from the process of self-organization. As the right-wing campaign of sabotage and economic disruption mounted in the days before the coup, Allende gave even more concessions to the pro-capitalist forces and the military apparatus and refused to take measures to arm and mobilize the working class until it was too late to carry out an effective defense.

    Below we reprint an article published on the 49th anniversary of the coup, in 2022, by MIT, the Chilean section of the International Workers League – Fourth International.


    It has two faces. One, the rich experience of organization of the Chilean workers’, popular and peasant movement accumulated in the previous decades and which made Allende’s victory possible in the period 1970-1973. Two, the defeat imposed by the bourgeoisie that used the Armed Forces to stage the coup d’état and began to reverse the path taken by a whole generation of highly politicized workers ready to change the country.

    It is not easy to draw historical lessons without a deep analysis of the main actors’ actions and omissions. From then on, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party (which today are once again part of a government) have devoted themselves to sanctifying Allende’s image. They have tried to hide the fact that the Popular Unity’s (UP) leadership, and not exclusively the right wing and the Nixon government, wrecked the dream of millions of workers.

    At that time, the illiterate population in Chile reached almost 7 million people; more than half a million houses were lacking. Malnutrition affected more than 19% of the children of working families. Meanwhile, the state allowed two companies, Braden Copper and Anaconda Copper Mining (Rockefeller and Rothschild families) to mine copper almost unchecked since 1905. In total, they had accumulated 4 billion dollars in profits. Allende was elected because his programme proposed the nationalization of large-scale copper mining, i.e. precisely of those two plundering companies, thus breaking Chile’s economic dependence on American imperialism. On the other hand, the recovery of natural resources would provide the basis for the technological and industrial development of the country.

    Was a peaceful road to socialism possible?

    The need for a coup d’état was anticipated by a sector of businessmen who conspired to increase the polarization in the country even before Allende’s inauguration, with the complicity and funding of the CIA (investment in Frei’s candidacy in 1964; meetings between Agustín Edwards and Kissinger in Washington).

    The UP’s programme was more than ambitious. It was impossible to achieve its demands in a peaceful capitalistic way. Allende proposed this dangerous experiment: to implement a state- planned economy at the service of the large exploited and impoverished majority; and to do so, to expropriate the strategic companies by means of bourgeois-democratic mechanisms (elections, Parliament, courts of justice, and preserving the structure of the Armed Forces, whose senior officers maintained close ties with big business and the U.S. military). This false idea contradicted all the workers’ struggles, from the mancomunales, Recabarren, the saltpetre and coal strikes to the Federación Obrera de Magallanes, Clotario Blest, and the CUT in 1953, etc. Allende wanted businessmen and bankers to allow themselves to be stripped of their source of privileges by legal means. That is why the world looked astonished at the Chilean road to socialism, which would only manage to take a few steps during the thousand days of the UP government.

    Soon, the workers saw that their government limited itself to dispatching bills, while they advanced an extraordinary organization beyond labour issues. While, on the one hand, Allende called for “putting their shoulder to the wheel” to increase production, and, on the other, pleaded for the support of the Christian Democrats (DC) in Parliament, the unions gave way to the Cordones Industriales, a real embryos of workers’ power. There they decided on production and priority distribution to the population, took over more factories for the public sector, and organized committees to control prices and ensure supplies in the face of the black market promoted by the bosses. Opposite to that, the government appointed UP officials as political interveners to run the nationalized companies, instead of promoting real workers’ control.

    In this explosive situation, the Communist Party was the right leg of the UP, promoting class collaboration, i.e. the alliance with a supposedly progressive sector of businessmen. It had to stop any threat to institutionality and maintain the peaceful coexistence with capitalism, dictated by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR to the Communist Parties around the world. The CP of Chile tied up the CUT [1] through its main leader. The Minister of Labour, Mireya Baltra, ordered the evictions of the occupied factories that were not in the government’s nationalization programme, accusing their workers of “playing into the hands of the right-wing.” On Sept. 11, the day of the coup, Baltra was confronted by the Vicuña Mackenna Industrial Cordon workers, ready for self-defense: “No small talk, comrade, where are the guns?” They did not intend to defend La Moneda [2], but their factories and towns.

    Against all revolutionary feeling, Allende insisted on respecting democracy, trusting that the supposedly constitutionalist generals of the army (including Pinochet) would respect his presidential mandate until the last day. It should be recalled that during August 1973, a group of sailors exposed to parliamentarians from many Popular Unity parties a series of seditious meetings held by high-ranking officers who were preparing a coup to overthrow the president. Even so, the warnings were not heeded and led to the arrest of 83 sailors loyal to the government, who were tortured by other members of the navy. Meanwhile, Allende sought the support of the DC bench in Parliament, and yielding to their pressure, ordered the disarmament of the few workers and popular sectors that had realized by that time that self-defense was more than necessary and that they could not trust the military.

    The magnitude and brutality of the corporate rage unleashed especially against the most organized sectors of the working class, villagers and students, is unmatched by the many massacres suffered during the republican history of the country. It was an extermination of the workers’ movement and its new organizations: Cordones Industriales, Trade Unions, Communitary Committees, Peasants Committees, Mutual-help housing construction teams, people’s supply committees, etc. It was the regression to zero of the Social Property Area and of the Unified National Education programme.

    There is a historical example of Mapuche peasants and workers in the mountainous area of Valdivia. Their self-organization to develop forestry activities led to the formation of the Panguipulli Forestry and Timber Complex, which provoked exemplary repression.

    The military junta concentrated the executive and legislative powers, and thus annulled the Agrarian Reform. The restitution of land to the large landowners deepened the dispossession of the Mapuche people and facilitated the concentration of hundreds of thousands of hectares in the hands of the Matte and Angelini families, which led to the emergence of private forestry companies.

    The counter-reforms were driven by the business class that sought the reduction of state economic intervention in order to expand the private business niche. In fact, the Chicago Boys, the group of Chilean economists cheered by Milton Friedman who installed neo-liberalism during the dictatorship, were already being formed in 1955, in the midst of the Cold War, as part of the imperialist plan to stop the advance of communist ideas in Latin America. The dictator Pinochet only facilitated the implementation of this plan. With no trade-union resistance and with power in their hands, the military junta signed the laws drafted by the bourgeoisie to plunder the country and dispossess the workers.

    Pinochet was also generous with fiscal resources. He financed the bailout of banks in the 1981-82 economic crisis; He granted millions in subsidies to the private sector to “encourage investment,” such as Decree Law 701, which contributed 75% to pine and eucalyptus plantations and was maintained for almost three decades. Once again, the Matte and Angelini families made a mint out of state money to expand their businesses. The forestry industry was driven by CORFO (Corporación de Fomento), which was directed by … Julio Ponce Lerou, the former son-in-law of Pinochet and today a lithium magnate.

    During the first years of economic liberalisation, Chile’s foreign debt increased from 3.5 to more than 17 billion dollars while GDP fell by 14.3%. The working class began to bear the brunt of the recession: between 1973 and 1982, unemployment rose to 23.7%. Many factories went bankrupt: the entire textile and clothing sector, footwear, and household appliances. The bankruptcy of emblematic textile factories such as Bellavista Tomé, Paños Oveja Tomé, or those that were the object of millionaire swindles such as Loza Penco, plunged entire regions such as Biobío into unemployment and poverty.

    Genocide and agreed impunity

    The transition to democracy cost the maintenance of neoliberal capitalism and absolute impunity for Pinochet and all the generals who were former members of the military junta. This “justice as far as possible” promoted by Aylwin reassured the right wing and the coup-majority of the DC, which he himself had led. The victims of crimes against humanity (i.e. against the civilian population, committed in a planned manner by agents of the state) were more than 38,000 people during the 17-year dictatorship: political prisoners, exiles, executed, exonerated, slit throats, burned, tortured and disappeared detainees. The data are in the reports of the Rettig Commission (Aylwin government), the Valech I Commission (Lagos government) and the Valech II Report (Piñera government).

    The investigations sought only the recognition of the victims in order to establish economic compensation for survivors or relatives. No government ordered the military justice system or the intelligence bodies (DINA, CNI, DICOMCAR, DINE) to hand over information on the crimes. There is no public register of the total number of people charged with those crimes. Most of them are serving sentences in Punta Peuco Prison or Cordillera Prison, built especially for them. Of all the prisoners, 95 are former generals and retired high-ranking officers, who also receive millionaire pensions, between 800,000 and 3 million pesos. Worse still, Ricardo Lagos established a ban on declassifying details of the Valech I Report for a period of 50 years, not even for judicial reasons, with the excuse of protecting the integrity of the victims who dared to testify.

    Impunity also benefits direct collaborators of the dictatorship: former ministers, court judges, and business families (Edwards, Kast, Yarur, etc.). Many of the dictatorship “apprentices” (Allamand, Espina, Longueira, Chadwick) still play important roles in the right-wing parties UDI and Renovación Nacional.

    The lessons the left has been unwilling to learn

    The parties with which workers and peasants had historically identified themselves were literally dismantled. The case of the MIR [3] is perhaps the most dramatic because it was almost completely annihilated. It cannot be said that they were wrong to raise the banners of the exploited. But it can be said that their policy of accompanying Allende in his “peaceful road,” without anticipating measures against the enraged business response, was absolutely wrong. The consequence was suffered by the working class, which was advancing in its revolutionary consciousness. This is the most important lesson for the Chilean left.

    The MIR tried to promote socialism, substituting guerrilla [action] for workers and bypassing their experience of struggle and organization. However, not all parties had the same policy in the UP. The CP kept the workers at bay so that Allende could negotiate with the employers inside parliament and vouch for the military as guarantors of the presidential commitment to the Constitution. This was not a mistake but a betrayal.

    The discussion with these parties is still pending, and there are many other political mistakes that need to be clarified. But the common point is that they are responsible for a part of the conditions that caused the death of thousands of brave and trusting workers. It can never be proved that the aspiration for socialism was the wrong thing.

    Was the tragic defeat of the UP caused by the working class? Clearly not. The 1973 coup was the counter-revolutionary response of the Chilean bourgeoisie, which met with no resistance because the self-defense of the workers and the people was never advocated or even allowed by Allende.

    The hardest lesson

    Since 1990, the bosses have had the support of every government to increase their wealth. The privatization of companies initiated by the dictatorship was deepened, allowing the scandalous concentration of incredible fortunes in 20 families. The plundering of foreign companies at the beginning of the 20th century continued with the mining concessions. Chile, as in colonial times, continued to depend on the export of raw materials, with no industrial or technological development of its own, with cheap labour. All this was guaranteed by the 1981 Labour Code, which created subcontracting, atomized trade unions, and swept away labour rights. The dictatorship was governed by and for businessmen. It supported the development of traditional economic groups and created new ones.

    In short, the same state that drowned in blood the advance of the working class during the Popular Unity (UP) period remains intact to this day—with its legislative, judicial and military apparatuses—in the hands of the economic groups that benefited from the coup and have deepened the loss of social and labour rights, increasing exploitation.

    The continuity of Pinochet as commander in chief and of the economic liberalisation plan drawn up by José Piñera and Jaime Guzmán were the bargaining chip in the new democracy of the agreements, with the consent of the CP and the PS. This is how reassurance was established for the handful of businessmen and Pinochet’s friends who bought state-owned companies at a bargain price or to whom industries still in state hands were transferred: Soquimich, LAN Chile, IANSA, CAP, ENTEL, ENDESA; which increased the fortunes of economic groups and created new ones.

    The families that have amassed fortunes in 30 years are also corrupt. They evade taxes, they collude, and steal from the Treasury. They control the courts, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Armed Forces, and they have increased their wealth even during pandemics. They are the Luksic, Paulmann, Piñera, Angelini, Matte, Cueto, Solari, Von Appen families. They are Ponce Lerou, Salata, Saiéh, Yarur…

    The 1970-1990 period of our history shows that there is no peaceful road to socialism because the response of the bourgeoisie and imperialism will never be peaceful. Moreover, the current corruption in bourgeois democracy, the effects of the pandemic, and the environmental and economic crisis, push to greater levels of barbarism and put on the agenda the urgent need for socialism, with the nationalization of the entire economy, workers’ and popular control of the means of production and wealth distribution and political power in the hands of the working class.

    In order not to fall into the same capitulation of the UP to the bourgeois state, it is fundamental that the working class raise the question of the military rank and file, who also have working-class origins, in order to avoid new violent repression or massacre of the mass movement.

    To achieve a deep social change, we must tirelessly show the need to reclaim unions and fighting organizations for the workers. If the Chilean working class coalesces to wrest political power from the owners of the country, the incredible force unleashed on 18 October 2019 would find a channel do grow. A small hint of workers’ power was demonstrated on 12 November. On that day, a partial strike in manufacture sector in conjunction with the great street mobilization achieved what not even all the territorial assemblies and cabildos [4] would have achieved: to put a government on the ropes, forcing it to back down by conceding to something that would never have been possible, such as the 10% withdrawals of pension savings.

    Finally, if the Constitutional Convention had been accompanied by workers’ and social organizations’ mobilizations similar to those of 12 November 2019, the Convention independent members would undoubtedly have been pushed, not by the ruling parties of the last 30 years, but by those of us who defend the banners of 18 October: an end to the AFP and the Labour Code, an end to the Water Code and the mining and fishing concessions, the restitution of the native peoples’ lands, the immediate release of all imprisoned Chilean and Mapuche fighters, the recovery under workers’ and communities’ control of all natural resources.

    Our history of struggles and defeats shows us each time that it is only the workers who are capable of destroying the capitalist state and pushing for the social transformation we need to survive barbarism. Our class must take up this path again. Only in this way, the working people, with power in their hands, will be able to correct the course diverted by the claudication of the CP and PS and build a socialist society where there are neither exploiters nor exploited.


    [1] – CUT: Central Única de los Trabajadores (United Workers’ Central).

    [2] – La Moneda (Palace): the Chilean house of government.

    [3] – MIR: Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Leftist Movement)

    [4] – Means of organization of the youth, ordinary people and native people in the current revolutionary process.