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Vol. 74/No. 1      January 4, 2010

Salute fighting workers behind bars
(feature / editorial article)
We extend holiday greetings this week to the 2.3 million fellow workers behind bars in the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Including all those on probation or parole, 1 out of every 31 adults is entangled in the American “justice” system.

We salute Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, René González, and Fernando González, five Cuban revolutionaries unjustly held in U.S. jails for 11 years now. As a result they are, not by choice, on the front lines of the class struggle in the United States. These working-class fighters were arrested for monitoring right-wing Cuban-American groups in south Florida that have carried out armed attacks on Cuba with Washington’s support. Framed up on charges ranging from “conspiracy to commit espionage” to “conspiracy to commit murder,” three initially got life terms and one, Gerardo Hernández, continues to serve a double life sentence. The international campaign to win their release has forced the U.S. government to back down and reduce the sentences for three of these fighters. In the coming year we can build on that momentum to press for the freedom of the five.

Carlos Alberto Torres and Oscar López Rivera, both incarcerated for nearly 30 years, and Avelino González Claudio are three Puerto Rican independence fighters also behind bars, jailed for opposing the U.S. colonial subjugation of their homeland. Native American activist Leonard Peltier has entered his 32nd year of prison on frame-up charges of killing two FBI agents.

Disbarred civil liberties attorney Lynne Stewart sits in a New York City jail awaiting resentencing on her conviction of “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist activity” by sending out a press release for an imprisoned client. Her case is a reminder of the growing number of prosecutions in U.S. courts based on “terrorist” and “conspiracy” charges.

The rulers will use this kind of charge more widely against worker militants as resistance grows to the impact of the capitalist economic crisis. Donnie Thornsbury, former president of United Mine Workers Local 2496 who remains behind bars today, reminds us of this. He was convicted in 1987 on frame-up charges of killing a scab coal hauler during a 1984-85 strike against the A.T. Massey Coal Company.

The cases of Troy Davis, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Kevin Cooper are at the center of the fight against the death penalty, a weapon of terror in the hands of the capitalist class. Davis, a Black man, has been on death row since 1991, framed up for killing a cop. The majority of non-police witnesses who testified against Davis have recanted, but he is still being denied a new trial. Abu-Jamal, a Black rights activist framed up for killing a Philadelphia cop in 1981, remains on death row despite the fact that a federal court has overturned the death sentence in his case. Cooper is facing execution in California for murder based on “evidence” the police had tampered with, according to a state forensics expert. In 2009 there were 52 executions—more -than in 2008 or 2007.

We also greet all those inmates jailed through sweeps by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), as the Obama administration intensifies attacks on the rights of the undocumented.

The U.S. prison system is a fitting symbol of what the dictatorship of capital means for working people—from its shackling of women inmates during childbirth to its abuse of teenagers in juvenile detention centers. Guantánamo is not an aberration but an extension of the prison system at home.

The Militant is proud to offer complementary or reduced-rate subscriptions to men and women behind bars. Requests from prisoners for subscriptions have increased this year. To our prisoner readers and others, spread the word so other inmates can also get subscriptions. Contribute to the Militant Prisoners’ Fund so we can continue this working-class tradition.


Militant Prisoners’ Fund
The Prisoners’ Fund makes it possible to send prisoners reduced rate subscriptions. To donate, send a check or money order payable to the Militant and earmarked “Prisoners’ Fund” to 306 W. 37th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018.
Related articles:
Cops charged of cover-up in death of immigrant
Bay Area meeting demands release of 3 death row inmates
Police use Facebook and Twitter to spy, entrap  
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