Sparks of Solidarity: News Briefs
By Mattie Stardust
Immigration arrests up under Trump
Jesus Lora Lopez was a 16-year resident of Willard, Ohio, where he and his spouse recently bought a home for their four children. In 2008, as a result of a routine traffic stop, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) found that Lopez had entered the country illegally. Because he was steadily employed, Lopez was able to secure yearly work permits, allowing him to remain in the country legally. All of this changed without warning however, when in March, 2017, ICE revoked Lopez’s working papers, cuffed an electronic monitoring device to his ankle and told him to say goodbye to his family. Lopez was being deported to Mexico.
U.S. President and reactionary billionaire Donald Trump, who was elected on a platform of racist immigrant- and Muslim-bashing, has at least in part fulfilled his campaign promises: only 100 days into the Trump administration, ICE arrests have shot up by 38 percent compared to the same period last year, under the Obama administration. Undocumented people like Jesus Lora Lopez, who have no criminal records, have constituted the bulk of the increase in arrests under Trump, jumping up some 152 percent from last year.
Despite the drastic uptick in arrests, deportations have actually fallen by more than a quarter this year as immigration courts struggle with the enormous backlog generated by Trump’s arrest-happy ICE. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to hire some 125 additional immigration judges over the next two years to expedite backlogged deportation cases. (USAtoday.com, May 17) Until then, former president Barack Obama will continue to hold the dishonorable distinction of having deported more people than any other president in history.
Solidarity with the Peruvian national mineworkers’ strike!
Thousands of mineworkers in Peru walked off the job July 19 in the country’s second national mineworkers’ strike in two years. Workers represented by 56 unions voted in May to authorize a strike to protest President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s proposed labor reforms. According to National Federation of Mining, Metallurgical and Steel Workers of Peru president Ricardo Juarez, the proposed legislation would gut worker safety regulations, eliminate job security and force workers, rather than mine owners, to fund their own unemployment insurance.
Due to the extensive increase in automation in Peruvian mines, the bulk of which are owned by foreign investors, the strike seems to be having a limited effect on production, according to the Ministry of Energy and Mines. (Reuters.com, Jul. 19) Now more than ever, global solidarity, especially from workers in the imperialist countries, is needed to overcome this onslaught of austerity and automation.
Peru is the world’s second biggest supplier of copper, silver and zinc.
Hundreds protest Trump education secretary at Denver event
Conservative lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is no stranger to left-wing protest. ALEC routinely draws criticism and protest for its behind-the-scenes support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, efforts to gut public healthcare and legislation to criminalize transgender people, among other sinister undertakings.
But during its annual public policy meeting Jul. 19, held this year in Denver, Colo., the hundreds of protesters amassed outside the venue had their sights set on one thing:
“My biggest fear is [Education Secretary Betsy DeVos] is going to destroy the public education system completely,” said Suzanne Ethredge, president of the Pueblo Education Association union. Ethredge, along with a dozen other PEA members, had driven over a hundred miles to attend the protest. (DenverPost.com, Jul. 19)
“She needs to do what’s right by students and educators and not what’s right by the corporate interests that are trying to make profits off of education,” said Mike Wetzel, a spokesperson for the Colorado Education Association union. (Time.com, Jul. 20)
Betsey DeVos, who was nominated by fellow racist billionaire President Donald Trump to head the Department of Education in Feb., 2017, has made a career out of privatizing public schools in her home state of Michigan. By working to defund public education and encourage the growth of private, often religiously affiliated schools in Detroit, DeVos and company effectively sidestepped decades of hard won legal protections for students and teachers. Far from improving the efficiency of education, DeVos’s reforms have been called “the biggest school reform disaster in the country” by founding director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans Douglas N. Harris. (NYTimes.com, Nov. 25, 2016)
In private charter schools, CEOs and majority shareholders write curricula based on what is profitable, not what’s in students’ best interests. Union contracts can be subverted, exposing teachers to even lower pay and often discriminatory work environments. And without any semblance of democratic oversight, structural racism, which already pervades the public school system as it currently exists, is allowed to flourish.
The protest began outside the Denver, Colo. capitol building, marching half a mile to surround the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the ALEC meeting took place. No arrests or injuries reported.
Cholera epidemic spreads in Yemen amidst Saudi and U.S. attacks
Non-governmental aid organization Oxfam has called Yemen’s cholera epidemic the worst in recorded history. In just nearly three months, from April 27 to July 19, Yemenis reported 368,207 suspected cases of cholera. It took the Haitian cholera outbreak, previously considered the worst in modern history, a full year to produce a similar number of cases in 2011. Since April, approximately 5,000 new suspected cases are reported every day, according to the Univ. of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (cidrap.umn.edu, Jul. 21)
Yemen, the second-largest country in the Arabian peninsula, has been under attack by the U.S.-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since it ousted pro-Saudi ruler Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in early 2015. In addition to Saudi bombings and blockades, Yemen’s medical and food infrastructure have been directly targeted by U.S. drone strikes. Even the United Nations has been compelled to note that U.S. drone strikes claimed more Yemeni civilian lives than Al Qaeda did from 2014-2015. (news.vice.com, Sept. 15, 2015)
Despite the unimaginable carnage brought on by U.S. imperialism and its reactionary Gulf state puppets, the Yemeni Houthi resistance leader Sayyed Abdel-Malik Badreddine Al-Houthi reaffirmed the movement’s continued support for Palestinian liberation and anti-Zionism. (almasdarnews.com, Jul. 21)