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   Vol. 67/No. 23           July 7, 2003  
Fight like Calero, fight to win!
Róger Calero, who beat back Washington’s effort to deport him, has launched a speaking tour to turn his victory into a springboard for other struggles for justice. Across the country and internationally, he is going back to those who supported his defense campaign and to seek out other fellow working-class fighters. His defenders are organizing a “Fight Like Calero—Fight to Win” tour to explain the lessons of how the campaign was won and to join with others standing up to attacks by the bosses, the cops, and the government.

Calero’s tour is about linking up with other immigrant workers resisting similar deportation threats, spreading the lessons of his fight and its trajectory in continuity with other defense efforts waged by the vanguard of the working-class movement over decades, and, in doing so, maximizing the chance that the percentage of fights against Washington that end in similar victories is raised. The stakes are significant, since the assault by the employers and their government against immigrant workers is at the spearpoint of the antilabor offensive by the ruling class.

Calero and his defenders didn’t simply put up a fight. They fought to win. They knew the U.S. legal arena, especially the immigration system, is rigged against working people. So they launched a campaign that was public, vocal, broad, and nonpartisan, drawing on the best traditions of the working-class movement.

Defenders of Calero, a Militant staff writer and an editor of the Spanish-language socialist magazine Perspectiva Mundial, told the facts of the case, raised funds for legal and publicity expenses, and put pressure on the government to drop the case. They told how he was arrested by immigration cops on his way back from reporting assignments in Cuba and Mexico, and how U.S. authorities were trying to deport him based on a minor offense on his record that the immigration agency itself had waived a decade ago when it issued him a green card. They pointed out that Calero faced what tens of thousands of other immigrant workers are subjected to. And they presented this as an attack not just on him but on all immigrants, on the rights of journalists, on the rights of all working people.

The campaign tapped into the ongoing labor resistance. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789, of which Calero was a member when he lived in Minnesota, adopted the antideportation effort as its own and helped raise substantial funds for the campaign in the broader labor movement. Other unions and many immigrant rights organizations pitched in as well.

There were no guarantees that Calero’s fight would succeed, or how long it would last, but the odds were maximized by this stance. As the protest messages poured into the immigration offices and the case received media coverage, it became a hot potato for the government—it was the wrong fight at the wrong time for them.

Defenders of Calero are now using the outcome of this fight as a tool for other defense efforts. Some, like Omar Arango in Newark, New Jersey, have drawn on the approach taken by Calero’s defense campaign and won a victory of their own against the immigration cops. Another fight that has been intertwined with Calero’s is the campaign for justice for Serafín Olvera, which recently won the conviction of three cops involved in the brutalization that resulted in his death. Over the past few months, wherever he traveled, speaking about his case, Calero pledged to spread the word about other struggles for justice. These include the campaign against the frame-up of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, the effort to free the Puerto Rican political prisoners, the fight by garment workers at Point Blank in Miami to win recognition of their union, and the struggle to free the Cuban Five.

Meeting those commitments, Calero and his defenders are joining with other militant workers to spread the message about their common struggles and saying: “Let’s fight together to win!”
Related articles:
Calero begins international speaking tour in Houston  
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