Sparks of Solidarity: ‘Our intention is to shut down the country’

By Mattie Stardust

Hundreds arrested in immigration raids targeting “sanctuary cities” 

Some 498 undocumented people were arrested late September in immigration raids across the U.S. targeting “sanctuary cities,” or municipalities where local police are limited from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement. Named “Operation Safe City,” the four-day countrywide crackdown included 101 arrests in Los Angeles, 28 in Baltimore and 14 in the District of Columbia, among others. In total, more than a third of those arrested, or 181, had no prior criminal history. (washingtonpost.com, Sept. 28globaltimes.cn, Sept. 29) Since January, ICE arrests of undocumented people without any criminal records have increased by 200 percent. (motherjones.com, Sept. 29)

Sanctuary cities have been a constant target of the Trump administration. An executive order that would have stripped federal funding from hundreds of sanctuary cities was shot down in federal court in April. Undeterred, Trump’s government has sought to fulfill his racist campaign promises through violent, fascist-like raids, rather than through legislation and executive order.

The ACLU has published guidelines on what to do if immigration officials show up at your door, accessible through the ACLU website here.

South African workers strike: “Our intention is to shut down the country”

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South Africa’s largest union, called a one-day strike Sept. 27 to protest against what the union called “state capture and corruption” by the ruling African National Congress government. Workers joined street marches in 13 cities, and held picket lines outside dozens of workplaces throughout the country.

Under President Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s economy has all but grinded to a halt: some 30 million people out of the total population of 56 million are in poverty, with a real unemployment rate of 38 percent nationwide. Meanwhile, an estimated $10.8 billion USD continues to be smuggled illegally out of the county every year to be stored in offshore, untaxable accounts. According to COSATU, “This is the money that will allow South Africa to accommodate all South African students at a university level for free.” The Ministry of Economic Development estimates that corruption costs the South African GDP $1.9 billion USD annually and as many as 76,000 jobs. (cnbc.com, Sept. 27)

“What makes this possible is the fact that our government has been captured. Our government has adopted policies that benefit the private sector and the tiny elite,” reads a statement released by COSATU before the start of the strike. “Workers should push government to stop serving the interests of White Monopoly Capital and the politically connected individuals. The COSATU National Strike is about reclaiming the mandate that was given to the ANC by the voters that was sold to the Guptas and the private sector.”(COSATU.org.za)

COSATU characterized the day-long strike as a success which “unambiguously reaffirmed the character of COSATU, as a militant, radical and class oriented federation of trade unions.” (COSATU.org.za)

China to supply African Union with $100 million in free military aid

In an effort to deepen its ties with countries in Africa, socialist China has pledged to provide the African Union $100 million in free military aid over the next five years, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Defense. The aid will be used to develop the African Standby Force, a peacekeeping force under the command of the African Union. Established in 2001, the African Union represents all 55 countries on the continent for the purpose of promoting peace, sovereignty, unity and economic development. (globaltimes.cn, Sept. 28)

China under current President Xi Jinping has sought to develop political and economic bonds with many African countries through Xi’s signature “One Belt, One Road” initiative. To this end, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army announced the opening of its first overseas military base in Djibouti, in partnership with that country’s government. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the base will further enable China to escort ships through the Gulf of Aden and to render humanitarian assistance in the region. The base will also promote further economic development in Djibouti, said a Chinese government spokesperson. (news.xinhua.net, July 12)

In stark contrast to the imperialist powers’ parasitic presence in Africa, China’s domestic and overseas military personnel will continue to prioritize natural disaster relief, humanitarian missions and anti-piracy efforts, rather than genocide and regime change. A 2015 statement by President Xi summarized China’s orientation to the African continent: “China strongly believes Africa belongs to the African people and African problems should be handled by the African people.” (reuters.com, Dec. 4, 2015)

Cuba recognized for promoting early childhood brain development

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) recognized Cuba as one of 15 countries with initiatives which actively foster early childhood brain development. The report, which was published Sept. 21 under the title “Early Moments Matter for Every Child,” lauded Cuba’s family medical leave and early childhood education policies.

In socialist Cuba, mothers are guaranteed six months paid breastfeeding breaks, as well as six months paid maternity leave. Likewise, fathers enjoy four weeks paid paternity leave. Additionally, all children in Cuba are guaranteed two years of free pre-primary education.

“These policies help parents better protect their children and provide them with better nutrition, play and early learning experiences in the crucial first years of life when the brain grows at a rate never to be repeated,” according to the report.

Fourteen other countries that have enacted similar policies are also recognized by Unicef: Belarus, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Sweden, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. Conspicuously absent from the list are such imperialist powers as the U.S., Britain and Canada.

Some 85 million children under age five live in areas without these key policies in place, including in the so-called “free” capitalist countries. (en.granma.cu, Sept. 27)

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