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Vol. 72/No. 43      November 3, 2008

‘We need a workers and farmers gov’t’
(lead articles)
Students in Texas hear socialist candidate speak

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas—Róger Calero, the Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate, campaigned here October 14-15, speaking to more than 130 students at college meetings in two Valley cities. The meetings reflect the growing interest in the socialist campaign.

At the McAllen campus of South Texas College, Calero spoke to 90 students in a debate with Brownsville Municipal Judge Ben Neece representing the Libertarian Party. The meeting was sponsored by the student government.

During the discussion many of the questions centered on the candidates’ views on the economy. The Rio Grande Valley has the lowest income in Texas and high unemployment. In the rural areas of the Valley the poverty rate is 52 percent and unemployment is 30 percent. These official figures are understated and don’t include residents without papers.

The majority of the students are Chicano or from Mexican families.

Neece told the students, “We are all partly responsible for the crisis, living our middle-class lives, relying too much on credit. But the government is also responsible. They have been meddling in the free workings of the economy.” He pointed to the Libertarian platform that calls for no government interference in the economy.

“Let the economy alone and it will repair itself,” the judge said.

Calero responded, “This crisis is part of the normal workings of the capitalist system that is once again bringing the world to the edge of financial collapse. This crisis will continue and will deepen. The only solution is to build a movement that will throw the billionaire ruling families out of power and replace them with a government of workers and farmers.

“You can see elements of that movement already beginning,” he said, pointing to the “massive demonstrations led by immigrant workers in May of 2006, and again in 2007 and 2008.”

“You don’t have to accept the brutality of capitalism,” said Calero. “Don’t let them tell you that we are ‘all in this together’ or that everyone is ‘middle class.’ Join in the struggles of workers and farmers,” he urged the students. “You can be part of this revolutionary movement, part of making history.”

One student asked Calero, since the socialist candidate was against the “bailout,” what did he propose to get the economy get moving again.

“We can’t patch up their system,” Calero answered. “We call for measures that respond to the attacks on our class, that unite workers. For a shorter workweek with no cut in weekly take-home pay to spread around the available work. We are for a massive program of public works to give jobs to millions building schools, roads, and hospitals. Such a program can build comfortable and affordable housing for millions.”

Another student said he saw a news program about the housing “glut.” “Why build more homes,” he asked, “if there are too many already?”

“They say there is a housing surplus,” Calero responded, “but like all ‘surpluses’ under capitalism, they won’t build more because they can’t profitably sell them, not because there is a lack of need.”

In response to a student’s question about women’s right to choose abortion, Neece said that he could not support government interference in the matter because his party’s principles opposed all government interference.

Calero pointed to his campaign platform’s stand for abortion rights and said that in addition to supporting women’s legal right to choose abortion, “We have to campaign to reopen facilities and break down barriers to women exercising this right.”

The following day Calero participated in a teach-in of some 40 students and professors at the Edinburg campus of the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) on “The Cost of Building a Border Wall,” sponsored by the UTPA Political Science Association, Students for Peace, Young Democrats, and the Resist the Wall Coalition.

Calero spoke on a panel with UTPA professors Rod Summery and Samuel Freeman and Veronica Villarreal of the La Unión del Pueblo Entero.

Calero pointed out that the wall is not designed to stop immigration, but to deepen divisions. “Its purpose is to create fear and divert us away from the class nature of our problems.”

In an exchange on the value of actions organized by students in protests at the wall Calero said, “Don’t let anyone tell you the actions you organize in the streets and in teach-ins like this don’t matter. They do!”

“And we need to organize a different kind of government,” he continued. “A workers and farmers government, to invite our Mexican brothers and sisters on both sides of the wall to tear it down with us and to use those materials pictured in the slides shown here today to begin to build the houses and schools we need.”


Georgia: Kennedy backs legalization for immigrants

ATLANTA—Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice president, talked with immigrant workers in jail awaiting deportation, poultry workers, and students on several area campuses during an October 10-14 campaign stop in Georgia.

“It’s been quite a year,” she told an Atlanta campaign rally of more than 30 supporters, referring to the unfolding capitalist financial crisis. “The wealthy billionaire rulers in the United States and throughout Europe are trying to find something to shore up the capitalist system and insure the flow of their profits.”

“The solution of the capitalist politicians in Congress—including our opponents, Barack Obama and John McCain—starts with how to protect the wealthy and stabilize their system,” Kennedy said. “They put it in the framework that ‘we’ will have to sacrifice. But they’re talking about us, not them. The socialist campaign starts with what is necessary to defend the toilers of the world from being devastated by the deepening economic crisis. We are proud that we opposed the $700 billion giveaway to the banks.”

Kennedy was joined on the platform by Eleanor García, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate. García described how the socialist campaign has joined in the fight to stop the execution of Troy Davis and in the fight against the arrest of immigrant workers in raids in Laurel, Mississippi, and Greenville, South Carolina. García and campaign supporters traveled to both towns following the raids to extend solidarity to the workers detained.

Ilsa Hernández, an activist in the fight to defend immigrant workers, hosted a reception for Kennedy at her restaurant, Latino Express, in Carrollton, Georgia. Seven workers from Honduras and one from Nicaragua attended the event. One worker came on his lunch break from a nearby poultry plant.

Kennedy joined about 30 immigrant rights supporters to meet with immigrant workers at Stewart Detention Center, a private prison in Lumpkin in west Georgia. Hugo, a construction worker from Mexico, said that agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came to his trailer claiming to be looking for someone else. They arrested him and his girlfriend instead. “We demand the government immediately halt all deportations and extend legal status to all undocumented workers,” Kennedy explained.

Hugo described a four-day hunger strike the prisoners carried out to protest the bad food and small portions in the jail. The food got a little better after their action, but then it went back to what it had been. As punishment, the jailers took away outdoor privileges and television for a week.

Kennedy also spoke at a class on African history at Spelman College and campaigned from a table at the weekly Market Friday on campus.

Kennedy also spoke at a meeting sponsored by Common Ground and Students for Peace at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens. She completed her stop here with a visit to the Georgia State University (GSU) campus in Atlanta, where she met with students, including four from Socialist Endeavor.

While in Georgia, Kennedy was interviewed by the Red and Black student newspaper at UGA and the GSU Signal, the campus paper at GSU. She was also interviewed by the Hispanic News Service, a Spanish-language radio news service that broadcasts in the southeastern United States, and Prensa Alterna, an Atlanta-area Spanish-language newspaper.

Clay Dennison, Eleanor García, and Loretta Van Pelt contributed to this article.
Related articles:
SWP presidential campaign tour schedule
List of states with SWP presidential campaign on the ballot
Financial crisis sparks interest in socialism
SWP candidate: ‘Stop execution of Troy Davis’  
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