Solidarity activists are raising their voices against the assassination on May 10 of Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez, a human rights activist in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas well known for holding the authorities to account after the murder of her daughter.

Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez

The following open letter calls on state and federal authorities in Mexico and the U.S. government to ensure the safety of those who stand for human rights.

If you would like to support this statement, send your name and affiliation to reports@socialistworker.org

OPEN LETTER

On the night of May 10, 2017, heavily armed men broke into the home of Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez and shot her 12 times. Several family members survived the attack, but she died soon after en route to the hospital. Miriam was the leader of the San Fernando Collective for the Disappeared (Colectivo de Desaparecidos de San Fernando), a group she founded after her 14-year-old daughter, Karen, was abducted in 2012.

In the face of local and state authorities' indifference, Miriam organized a search on her own, eventually locating Karen's remains in an unmarked grave.

By a narrow majority, 5-4, the US Supreme Court overturned the crucial enforcement provisions of historic 1965 Voting Rights Act. The ruling issued on June 25 is a major defeat for not only voting rights but civil rights.

Some have argued that it is not as bad as civil rights leaders proclaim -- only a setback. But only those unfamiliar with grim realities of US history could make such an argument. What’s been won in the past has several times been reversed or so eroded it lost its effectiveness (more on that later).

The government of Texas, however, understood its significance when it stated after the court decision that it would immediately implement voter identification and redistricting plans that the Justice Department stopped last year.


Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963 by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith, who was convicted of the crime three decades later in 1994. This 50th anniversary tribute was written by Evers’ friend and fellow organizer John R. Salter, Jr. for Against the Current, where it will appear in the forthcoming issue #165.

We are also posting this on a week that is now noteworthy for another event in Jackson, Mississippi, the May 21 primary victory of Chokwe Lumumba for Mayor. Lumumba, a founding member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, ran as a candidate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party on a platform of upholding human rights and strengthening the organization of Jackson residents, particularly the Black and working class majority, through the formation of People's Assemblies. In the last issue of Against the Current (#164), Robert Caldwell spoke with Chokwe Lumumba about his campaign and how it fits into the larger community initiative of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement's "Jackson Plan"--read it here.

ON APRIL 10, PRESIDENT Obama released his formal budget for Fiscal 2014 beginning this October. Liberals should not act shocked and surprised: Obama’s repeated offers to cut Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, and other yet undefined Medicare measures, are a continuation of his practice and approach for the past two years.

[This article was written by Paul Prescod for the Solidarity Political Committee. For information on the April 20 Ecosocialist Conference in New York City, please see their "call to conference" here. A statement by Solidarity’s Ecosocialism Working Group on the Superstorm Sandy disaster is online at the Webzine, as well as an announcement by Nick Davenport of the “Ecosocialist Contingent” here.]

EARTH DAY BEGAN on April 22, 1970 as an environmental teach-in modeled after those on the Vietnam War, initiated by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in response to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. It had resonance because there was a vibrant environmental movement that had been developing. The date was deliberately chosen because it was not during students’ exams or spring break, and 20 million activists participated. Streets, parks, auditoriums, and college campuses were the sites of protests against environmental degradation.

Another important figure related to this was Tony Mazzocchi, a labor leader who took the lead in building strong ties between the union movement, including his own Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers, and the environmental movement.

Is it the stupidity of dysfunctional bureaucrats? The tactical blundering of a likeable president facing an irreconcilable congressional divide? Or is this the cleverest maneuver yet from the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy and the American quality of life? My vote is for clever.

For the moment we are talking about the Sequestration crisis, just the latest of what president Obama himself called many manufactured crises in his inauguration speech. Though it may seem like he is distressed by the perceived gridlock on Capitol Hill, the actual agenda for the long series of bought-off Congresses and corporate-friendly presidents is moving along quite nicely. Across the board discretionary spending cuts amounting to $85 billion have taken effect as of March 1 and will need to be absorbed by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. A total of $4 trillion in cuts are mandated over the decade so far.

To be sure, this “crisis” is not a crisis at all for the president and the congress, since they’ve been intending to see these cuts enacted in some form all along. As Jeffrey Sachs observed in his recent Financial Times op-ed: “The administration is now vigorously blaming the Republicans for the pending cuts.

WE KNOW ABOUT heroes of social justice and liberation who come “organically“ from the movements: Nelson Mandela. Rosa Parks, Ella Baker and Martin Luther King, Jr. Eugene V. Debs. Chico Mendes. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Heroes of grassroots resistance in Palestine, in the Philippines, in Central America and so many other struggles, those with names we know and so many more we don’t.

Then there are those heroic individuals who seem to come out of nowhere, perhaps influenced in some ways by the atmosphere of dissent but with no indication that they ever were, or intended to be, part of an organized movement let alone symbols of it. That’s who Bradley Manning seems to be, pretty much an ordinary guy with ordinary human qualities and problems -- who didn’t check his moral compass at the door when he signed up for the military.

Maybe he was indirectly influenced by the example decades earlier of Daniel Ellsberg, who revealed the “Pentagon Papers” with their revelations of the lying fraud behind the United States’ war in Vietnam. Maybe not. In any case, you can and should read the statement of this hero here.

Because of the political and judicial climate at the time of Daniel Ellsberg’s revelations, Richard Nixon’s attempt to destroy his life didn’t succeed.

The Forward on Climate demonstration in Washington, DC on Sunday, February 17th will be a landmark event in the history of the US environmental movement and a major step forward for the struggle. Radicals and revolutionaries, including Solidarity along with other socialist organizations, are organizing an Ecosocialist Contingent at the demonstration. (Details of the contingent are at the end of this article.)

Despite great advances in changing popular consciousness on the gravity of the ecological crisis, mainstream environmentalism has been ineffective at dealing with the crisis because its ideology is based on a compromise with capitalism. The leadership of these mainstream groups hope to introduce reforms and regulations that will supposedly make the system sustainable. But this goal is impossible, as ecological sustainability runs counter to the profit motive and imperialism.

The following article was written prior to the resolution of the so-called "fiscal cliff:" a term used to describe the across the board tax increases and would have forced spending cuts on midnight of the new year. The House of Representatives passed a Senate bill on January 1st, 2013 which temporarily avoids this event with President Obama signing it soon afterwards. Rasmus outlines the fight and probable future sell-outs.

LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON, December 28, President Obama held a press conference reporting on the status of negotiations on the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Having met with House and Senate Democrat and Republican leaders earlier the same day, in his press conference Obama reported both sides had made progress during the day toward an eventual deal. Senate leaders Reid and McConnell were in fact working on an agreement as he spoke, Obama noted.

Whatever Senate leaders Reid and McConnell may work out will almost certainly come to a Senate vote by December 31st. Less certain is whether the House of Representatives will allow a vote on the same Senate package to be taken by then as well. An ominous indication of what the details of the Senate version might be were hinted by Obama during his press conference, as he indicated the deal would require “the wealthiest to pay a little more” and that spending would be cut “in a responsible way”.

THE UNITED STATES government, following an old and well-rehearsed script, declared its full support of “Israel’s right to defend itself.” This is a rather technical term, which requires translation into ordinary English: It means “Israel’s right to routinely squeeze and starve the population of Gaza and assassinate their leaders until they attempt to fight back, at which point Israel is fully entitled to massacre them from air, sea and land.”

Other specialized language needs translation too, including this sample from the Israeli military spokesperson: “We take special care to avoid hitting or killing civilians.” The translation: “We are going to kill a lot of civilians.”

This terminology of military spokespeople applies of course not only to the present Gaza “conflict,” but almost universally to others from the U.S. war in Afghanistan to the closing days of the war in Sri Lanka. It has become especially applicable these days to U.S. drone warfare, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, where it is self-verified by simply defining all male victims as presumed “militant combatants,” whether they were planting IEDs or digging a hole to plant their crops.