Monday, April 30, 2012

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV News Analysis: 'Egypt's Political Context Getting Volatile'

‘Egypt’s political context getting volatile ahead of polls’

Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire

Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:4AM GMT

It is a very vigorous political struggle that is going to take place over the next several days. The situation there (in Egypt) appears to be very volatile.

To watch this Press TV News Analysis interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire, just click on the URL below:

Political strife among Egyptian political factions as well as pressures from external forces is escalating as the country is getting closer to its first presidential election in the post-revolution era.

Egypt’s list of 13 presidential hopefuls includes Amr Moussa, the former regime’s longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief.

Mohamed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Egypt’s most powerful political group, is also among the presidential contenders.

The polls are scheduled to be held in two rounds. The first would be held over two days on May 23 and 24 while a run-off, if necessary, would take place on June 16 and 17. Final results are expected on June 21.

Egypt's Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF) took power in the aftermath of the last February revolution in Egypt that overthrew former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s Western-backed regime.

The SCAF promised to step down after a six-month period and hand over power to a civilian government, a pledge it has so far failed to fulfill.

The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire, about Egypt’s developments:

Press TV: I would like to make reference to those presidential candidates who have been qualified. We have, on the one hand, a former Mubarak regime official who has been qualified and then the political prisoners who were against the Mubarak regime that have not been qualified. So how likely is everything going to be free and fair in your perspective?

Abayomi Azikiwe: It appears to be a very vigorous debate going on inside Egypt right now leading up to this presidential election. We had the entry yesterday of Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei who has formed a new political party, the Constitution Party, and it appears that he is trying to present a viable alternative to the Islamists and the Salafists who are very active at this point.

Also we have to recognize that there is a tremendous amount of opposition to [former Prime Minister Ahmed] Shafiq and also [Mubarak’s then Foreign Minister] Amr Moussa, because of their connections with the Mubarak regime. So it is a very vigorous political struggle that is going to take place over the next several days.

The situation there appears to be very volatile. Yesterday we had the demonstrations that took place in several parts of the country. At the same time, the more radical secular elements would not participate in those demonstrations because they saw these actions as being exclusively in support of the Salafist candidates and also the other candidates of the Freedom and Justice Party inside Egypt.

So I think this is a very complicated situation going on and it is a very fluid state of affairs in Egypt. But it is very positive that people are given the opportunity to organize coalitions. It is a very interesting political atmosphere to observe because first of all there are many other variables involved. Egypt’s relations with Israel is going to be very important in light of the recent cancellation of the agreement for the supply of natural gas to Israel from Egypt and also the recent controversy involving Saudi Arabia, where there have been demonstrations outside the Saudi embassy.

The economic factors involving the international relationships between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Israel and Egypt and also the United States is also going to be important in determining the coalitions and also the character of the upcoming government. These variables will impact the results of these elections that will take place next month.

Press TV: How likely do you think that foreign hands are involved in trying to make sure that there is a certain amount of chaos on the ground in Egypt?

Abayomi Azikiwe: Well we know that the United States government is very much concerned about the political future of Egypt and there is a lot of stake. The US has a lot of investments in Egypt in regard to the military apparatus there.

We also have to look at the economic status of the military in Egypt. They play a very important role in the political economy of the country and I do not think that the military officials are going to cede total authority to any civilian government without a protracted struggle that is waged by a broad coalition of forces inside Egypt itself.

Then of course we have to look at the role of Saudi Arabia and the [Persian] Gulf states which are watching the situation very closely as well, because they themselves, being mon archical regimes, are very much opposed to any type of popular mass movement that may arise in those states themselves.

They prefer to see a situation in Egypt where there is no genuine democracy at a grass-roots level. It is definitely a political threat to Saudi Arabia and the other states in the [Persian] Gulf. So I think definitely, the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are very much concerned and are watching and trying to influence the developments that are going on inside Egypt itself.

That is why we are seeing this hostility that appears to be directed towards a human rights attorney from Egypt who was convicted in absentia in Saudi Arabia over the apparent insult to the Saudi monarchy. I think this is clearly related to the concern of the Saudi monarchy in regard to the developments inside Egypt.

So I definitely believe that external forces are going to continue to try to influence the political direction of the elections and also the alliances that are constantly changing and re-shaping inside Egypt.

May 15 Trial for Carlos Montes

May 15 trial for Carlos Montes

By Staff | April 26, 2012
Fightback News

Los Angeles, CA - On April 26, Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered a trial to begin on May 15 for Carlos Montes, a longtime Los Angeles Chicano activist in the anti-war, immigrant rights, public education and Chicano liberation movements. The trial will start at 8:00 a.m. at the Criminal Courts Building, 13th floor, Department 100, at 210 West Temple Avenue in Los Angeles.

At the court hearing on April 26, Montes said: “Thank you for showing your solidarity here today in the rain.” He is asking people to plan on attending a part of the trial the week of May 15.

After long oral arguments, Judge Lomeli denied the motion by civil rights attorney Jorge Gonzalez for discovery and to dismiss charges against Montes on the grounds of selective prosecution. This means that the court will not look at the role of the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force in initiating the case against Montes. That will have to be exposed during the trial.

In fact, Montes was singled out for prosecution because of his activism. He is being targeted as part of larger proceedings against anti-war and international solidarity activists. Legal documents show that FBI Special Agent Matt Weber contacted the L.A. County Sheriffs about a 42-year old legal case, the outcome of which is under dispute, and a gun purchase. During his arguments, the district attorney stated that freedom of speech has “limits” for people who are critical of U.S. policy and support oppressed people resisting U.S. wars.

At a previous court hearing, two felony charges were dismissed by Judge Lomeli, but four felony charges remain, dealing with the purchase of a gun in 2009. The trial will deal with these four felony charges. If Montes is convicted, he could face up to 12 years in jail.

Over 40 supporters and activists held a rally April 26 outside the courthouse, chanting, “What do we want! Drop the charges!” The supporters then packed the court room, to express solidarity with Carlos Montes. The activists and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression are launching a national campaign of letter and email writing to pressure L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, demanding that the charges against Montes be dropped.

Montes was arrested May 17, 2011, in a raid by the FBI and the L.A. Sheriffs as part of an investigation of “material support of terrorism” targeting anti-war and solidarity activists. “The current gun charges are a pretext to attack Carlos for opposing U.S. wars,” said David Cid, a Los Angesles area teacher.

Carlos Montes is a nationally respected leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights and anti-war movements. He is a founding member of the Southern California Immigration Coalition, active in East L.A. in support of public education and active in the anti-war movement. Montes helped organize protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota; his name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Minneapolis Anti-War Committee office raid of September 24, 2010, which was investigating “material support for terrorism.”

On May 17, 2011 at 5 a.m., the FBI, along with the L.A. Sheriff's SWAT team, carrying automatic weapons, busted down Montes’ door and raided his home, seizing his computer, cell phones, and files documenting decades of political work. Montes was arrested and released on bail the next morning.

All out for the start of the trial the week of May 15, 2012!

Plan on attending all or part of this important trial - it will take several days. Please send donations and letters of solidarity to our web site: or call the L.A. Committee to Stop FBI Repression at 626-532-7164.

16 Reported Killed in Nigerian Church Service

Prof, 15 others die in varsity church attack

By Kolade Adeyemi, Kano
Nigerian Nation

IT was like a scene from hell. All was solemn. The church service was on. Time was about 8.30a.m.

Suddenly, a huge explosion, preceded by gun shots, deafened the worshippers. The atmosphere became cloudy. There was pandemonium.

Minutes later, all was calm, no fewer than 16 people lay dead – victims of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) thrown into the hall and gunshots by yet unknown assailants.

The attack bore the marks of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram (Western education is a sin).

The scene of horror was a lecture theatre at the old campus of the Bayero University in Kano used as a Christian worship centre.

In the congregation were students, lecturers and other categories of employees of the university and outsiders.

One of the 16 dead was Prof. Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi of the Department of Library Science.

About 16 others were believed to be injured, some of them critically.

But Kano police spokesman Magaji Majiya said seven people died and that the injured were taken to the Aminu Kano Teaching hospital (AKTH).

University spokesman Mustapha Zahradeen also gave the figure of the dead as seven.

AKTH spokesman Aminu Inuwa said 16 injured people were admitted at the hospital’s Emergency Ward.

But he declined to speak on the death toll.

Andronicus Adeyemo, an official with the Nigerian Red Cross, said a canvas of local hospitals and morgues showed the attack killed at least 16 people.

Some people were injured, though the aid agency did not immediately have an exact figure, Adeyemo said.

After the attack, police and soldiers cordoned off the campus as gunfire echoed in the surrounding streets. Abubakar Jibril, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said security forces refused to allow rescuers into the campus. Soldiers also turned away reporters from the university.

It was gathered that the attack was carried out by gunmen, numbering about 15, who stormed the campus on motorbikes. The gunmen had earlier laid a siege to the area before the arrival of worshipers for the service.

Sources said the service was barely 10 minutes old when sporadic gun shots were heard.

The witness said the gunmen threw some Improvised Explosives Devices in the lecture theatre and opened fire on those who attempted to run away from the scene.

The witness said members of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) later arrived at the scene and engaged the attackers in a gun battle.

JTF spokesman Lt. Ikedichi Iweha said military operatives had been deployed in the area to restore order.

Iweha refused to give further details.

A victim, Faith Onche, a 400-level Accounting student who was hit by a bullet in her arm, narrated how the attack was carried out. She said the congregation had assembled for the day’s service at the open air theatre for interdenominational service. “Just a few minutes later, we heard gun shot sounds a few metres from the arena.

“Initially, it was mistaken by some of us for a burst tyre, until it became sporadic. It then dawned on us that it was a gun attack. At that point, there was stampede everybody scampered for safety,” she said.

She dismissed as false the impression that it was a bomb attack, insisting that she saw the gunmen, who opened fire on the worshipers.

The Indoor Sports complex accommodating Catholic worshippers was splattered with blood.

Many vehicles abandoned by fleeing panic-stricken worshippers, including motorbikes, were at the complex.

Men of the JTF intercepted a Mercedes Benz V Boot suspected to have been primed with explosives when they cordoned off the area. The anti-bomb unit of the police was immediately invited to the scene.

University sources told our reporter that the only time explosions were heard was when the attackers were escaping from the university after the operation, as they intermittently dropped Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to scare people, while they escaped.

Kano was the scene of the deadliest Boko Haram attack so far when almost 200 people were killed in co-ordinated bombings and shootings on the North’s commercial city in January.

Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo on May Day

Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo May 1

By Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez - Apr 30, 2012

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.

Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.

In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower.

“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Pooling Resources

The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.

Banks have pooled resources and cooperated to gather intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an 8 p.m. “radical after-party” in an undetermined Financial District location.

“If the banks anticipate outrage from everyday citizens, it’s revealing of their own guilt,” said Shane Patrick, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team. “If they hadn’t been participating in maneuvers that sent the economy into the ditch, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Police Prepared

New York police can handle picketers, according to Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” he said in an interview.

About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a member of the group’s media-relations team.

Organizers describe the May Day events as a coming together of the Occupy movement, with activists also calling for more open immigration laws, expanded labor rights and cheaper financing for higher education. Financial institutions remain a primary target of the protests.

“Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue to grow in size and risk,” the group’s press office said in an April 26 e-mail.

Planning Since January

Five banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) together held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 43 percent in 2006, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.

Occupy Wall Street began planning for May Day in January, meeting in churches and union halls with a decision-making system that avoids a single leader. Instead, participants rely on group “break-out” sessions in which clusters discuss such tasks as crowd-building, logistics and communications.

About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy legal and medical help; site selection for picketing; purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and how to talk to reporters.

The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name and gender -- he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30, though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the presence of a photographer from Tokyo.

Raging Musicians

Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Park, scheduled events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank blockades.

Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the website. That will be followed by a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for “evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.

Golden Gate Bridge

Occupy-related events are planned in 115 cities throughout the U.S., from college towns such as Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

In San Francisco, demonstrators intend to hold a rally at the toll plaza of the Golden Gate Bridge from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time that “will result in the shutdown,” according to their website.

Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.

“We’re looking forward to vigorously asserting our constitutional right to protest and giving a loud outcry about Wall Street and greed,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping this will make a splash. We hope it will bring a lot of more people into the Occupy movement.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at; Esmé E. Deprez in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Year After Bin Laden's Death: Al-Qaeda 'Far From Defeated'

Year after bin Laden's death: Al-Qaeda 'far from defeated'

11:20 PM, April 29, 2012

The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy commandos a year ago was a setback to al-Qaeda, but the Islamic terror organization remains a potent threat around the world, intelligence experts say.

"It's on the defensive, but it's far from defeated," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

The raid by SEALs removed America's No. 1 fugitive and cracked the mythic status he held among followers for eluding the reach of a world superpower. Bin Laden had been hiding for years in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, when a team of SEALs arrived by helicopter and killed him May 2, 2011.

Bin Laden was the founder and spiritual leader of al-Qaeda and orchestrated not only the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, but also other attacks. Yet the principal strength of al-Qaeda is that it is designed to operate without a central leader, experts say.

Bin Laden stitched together local and regional Muslim militant groups worldwide and encouraged them to act on their own initiative, analysts say.

"He created an organization and developed it," said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA official and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

"I don't think his death fundamentally affects the future of jihadist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Gerecht said. "It was a successful spawning."

In the past year, terrorist groups with ties to al-Qaeda affiliates have established safe havens in eastern Afghanistan and carried out attacks against the capital of Kabul, according to the Afghan government. Al-Qaeda jihadists are insinuating themselves into many conflicts in parts of Africa, the U.S. Africa Command said.

Al-Qaeda is blamed for increasing the bombings in Iraq and has gained strength in southern Yemen, where it has been holding off government troops and is being targeted by U.S. drone strikes.

Al-Qaeda-linked terror plots continued in the years that bin Laden was in hiding and not believed to be in direct contact with plotters. Many were disrupted by foreign and domestic intelligence agencies. Police in New York have broken up several attempted al-Qaeda plots, including terrorists who tried to bomb Times Square and synagogues.

"He built affiliates," said Rick Nelson, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The CIA is continuing to comb through the intelligence gathered at this Pakistani compound, where American commandos flew off with hard drives, documents and DVDs. Analysts say most of the intelligence gathered at his home will contribute to an understanding of how the organization operated but would probably not include "actionable" intelligence, since much of it was dated.

It provides a "historical portrait of al-Qaeda over the years," Riedel said.

The United States has achieved significant successes since the raid, notably the drone strike that killed American jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki in September in Yemen.

Al-Awlaki was an English speaker who produced a stream of propaganda aimed at promoting al-Qaeda globally. He had exchanged e-mails with the U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood military post in Texas.

He was also an operational planner linked to the Christmas Day "underwear bomber" in 2009 who tried to blow up a flight as it was landing in Chicago.

The al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered among the most dangerous and threatening to the United States. White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan called it "the most active operational franchise" in the world.

Still, Brennan said Sunday on ABC's This Week that bin Laden's death "made a tremendous difference. "It's taken away the founding leader of that organization who was … a symbol of al-Qaeda's sort of murderous agenda worldwide."

Brennan said that although numerous gains have been made against al-Qaeda since bin Laden's death, "I don't look at it as a victory. I think … we have to destroy the organization. We have to take all of their operatives, their leaders, their training camps, take away their safe havens. And we're not going to rest."

U.S. officials have grown more concerned with Yemen as a spawning ground for terrorism in the wake of political turmoil that led to the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been a U.S. ally in the war on extremism in his country.

U.S drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have eliminated many militant leaders, experts said. Riedel said the strikes are putting al-Qaeda "under enormous pressure."

Despite the toll from drones, disparate jihadist movements in Pakistan have survived and in some cases cooperate in attacks outside their borders. Groups such as the Haqqani network, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba have unleashed waves of violence against Pakistanis, Afghans and in India against Hindus and Jews.

Ultimately, al-Qaeda's future may be determined more by popular revolts across the Arab world then by the loss of bin Laden, analysts said. Al-Qaeda did not trigger the revolts but has voiced support for them. Now that dictatorships have been ousted in Muslim nations such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the world waits to see what regimes will emerge.

"The great Arab revolt will have far greater impact on the future of jihadism than the death of bin Laden," Gerecht said.

US Special Forces Operating In Central Africa

Joseph Kony Hunt: U.S. Special Forces Assist In Hunt For One Of World's Most Wanted Warlords

By DAVID RISING 04/29/12 05:37 PM ET

OBO, Central African Republic -- Deep in the jungle, this small, remote Central African village is farther from the coast than any point on the continent. It's also where three international armies have zeroed in on Joseph Kony, one of the world's most wanted warlords.

Obo was the first place in the Central African Republic that Kony's Lord's Resistance Army attacked in 2008; today, it's one of four forward operating locations where U.S. special forces have paired up with local troops and Ugandan soldiers to seek out Kony, who is believed likely to be hiding out in the rugged terrain northwest of the town. For seven years he has been wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity after his forces cut a wide and bloody swath across several central African nations with rapes, abductions and killings.

Part of the LRA's success in eluding government forces has been its ability to slip back and forth over the porous borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo. But since late last year, U.S. forces have been providing intelligence, looking at patterns of movement, and setting up better communications to link the countries' forces together so that they can better track the guerrilla force.

Sent by President Barack Obama at the end of 2011, the 100 U.S. soldiers are split up about 15 to 30 per base, bringing in American technology and experience to assist local forces.

Exact details on specific improvements that the American forces have brought to the table, however, are classified, to avoid giving Kony the ability to take countermeasures.

"We don't necessarily go and track into the bush but what we do is we incorporate our experiences with the partner nation's experiences to come up with the right solution to go out and hopefully solve this LRA problem," said Gregory, a 29-year-old captain from Texas, who would only give his first name in accordance with security guidelines.

The U.S. troops also receive reports from local hunters and others that they help analyze together with surveillance information.

"It's very easy to blame everything on the LRA but there are other players in the region – there are poachers, there are bandits, and we have to sift that to filter what is LRA," he said.

Central African Republic soldiers largely conduct security operations in and around the town, while Ugandan soldiers, who have been in the country since 2010, conduct longer-range patrols looking for Kony and his men.

Since January, they have killed seven LRA fighters in the area and captured one, while rescuing 15 people abducted by the group including five children, said their local commander, Col. Joseph Balikuddembe.

There has been no contact with the LRA since March, however, according to Ugandan Army spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye, who said the LRA now is in survival mode. The LRA is thought to today number only around 150 to 300 die-hard fighters.

"They're hiding," he said. "They are not capable of doing."

But with Kony still around, there are wide ranging-fears that the LRA will be able to rebuild.

"There's periods of time when the LRA will lie low when the military pressure is too high or where there's a threat that they don't understand such as the American intervention," said Matthew Brubacher, a political affairs officer with the U.N.'s mission in Congo, who was also an International Criminal Court investigator on the Kony case for five years.

"But then after a while after they figure it out, if they have the opportunity they'll try to come back, so it's just a matter of time they'll try to come back. Kony always said `if I have only 10 men, I can always rebuild the force."

Right now, expectations are high of the Americans serving in Obo and Djema in the Central African Republic, as well as those in Dungu in Congo and Nzara in South Sudan.

"For all the communities, the U.S. bases in Obo and Djema means one, Kony will be arrested, and two, there will be a lot of money for programs, humanitarian programs," said Sabine Jiekak of the Italian humanitarian aid agency Coopi.

Central African Republic Deputy Defense Minister Jean Francis Bozize said it's been difficult for the poor country's small military to deal with Kony in the southeast as well as several other militant groups in the north.

An African Union mission expected to begin later this year should help expedite the cross-border pursuit of the LRA.

In the meantime, Bozize said the American forces could make a big difference.

"The involvement of U.S. forces with their assistance in providing information and intelligence will allow for all forces to operate from the same base-level of intelligence ... (giving) better coordination with better results," he told reporters in the capital, Bangui.

But the military mission is not a simple one.

How do you find small groups of seasoned fighters hidden deep in the jungle, who have eluded authorities for decades? How do you prevent brutal reprisal attacks on civilians? How can you bring together several countries' troops to cooperate on cross-border pursuits?

The LRA usually attacks late at night, then melts back away into the jungle. Seasoned bush fighters, they employ many techniques to elude pursuit – walking along rocks or along streams to avoid leaving tracks, for example, and sometimes even marching backward to fool trackers.

Kony has reportedly stopped using radios and satellite phones for communications, instead relying on an elaborate system involving runners and multiple rendezvous points.

Key to his capture is good information from local residents – which they will only give when they can be sure of their own safety, according to American commanders.

"The population have to believe that they are secure and once they believe they are secure from the LRA, you start to deny the LRA the opportunity to attack villages to get people, to get food, to get medicine," Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, told reporters in Stuttgart.

That may take some time in Obo, a town of some 15,000 where around 3,500 people have sought refuge to escape LRA violence in the area.

Rural farmers and others stick to within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the village for safety – originally the area that Central African Republic soldiers were able to patrol but now more a rule of thumb followed by the locals.

They've started recently to venture out farther, emboldened by the presence of the Ugandans and Americans to help the government forces, but are too nervous to stray too wide from the safety of the village.

"They're still scared, they're still wary because Joseph Kony is still out there," said Mayor Joseph Kpioyssrani, looking at the jungle behind him.

Kony's LRA sprung up in 1986 as a rebel movement among the Acholi people in northern Uganda to fight against the Kampala government, but has for decades been leading its violent campaign without any clear political ideology.

Emmanuel Daba, 33, was one of 76 people abducted in the first LRA raid on Obo in 2008 and forced to fight for the guerrillas for two years before managing to escape.

"We were trained to kill – forced to kill – otherwise we'd be killed ourselves," he said outside the tiny radio station where he now works broadcasting messages to try and encourage others with the LRA to defect or escape. "I still have dreams – nightmares."

This year, the U.S. Defense Department is committing $35 million to efforts to find and fight Kony.

Since 2008, the U.S. State Department has sent some $50 million in funds to support the Ugandan military's logistics and non-lethal operations against the LRA, including contracting two transport helicopters to ferry troops and supplies. Another $500 million has been given over that time for the broader northern Uganda recovery effort in the aftermath of Kony's presence there.

In Stuttgart, Ham keeps a "Kony 2012" poster hanging on his office door.

Though he isn't committing to the goal of the viral YouTube campaign to see Kony neutralized by the end of the year, he does define success as either capturing or killing the LRA leader eventually.

"I'm confident that the mission will be successful, but I can't give you a timeline when that's going to occur..." Ham said. "It is one of those organizations that if you remove the senior leader and the small number of those who surround him, I believe this is one of those organizations that will not be able to regenerate."

Uganda Says LRA Is Supported by Sudan


The Ugandan army says the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony is being supported and supplied by the Sudanese government.

The LRA is accused of rape, mutilation, murder and the recruitment of child soldiers.

A Ugandan Defence Force colonel told the BBC they captured a member of the LRA who was wearing a Sudanese uniform, and carried its weapons and ammunition.

The US has sent special forces to help in the hunt for Mr Kony.

The 100-strong mission is working in four bases across Central Africa, where the LRA is moving in small groups, raiding and abducting villagers to become fighters, sex slaves or porters.

An online video produced by the US pressure group Invisible Children earlier this year helped raise international awareness of the LRA's activities.

Last month the African Union set up a 5,000-strong force to track down the fugitive warlord.

Mr Kony and his close aides have been wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court since 2005.

Col Felix Kulayigye of the Ugandan Defence Force told the BBC it had information that the LRA was now moving into Sudan, including areas controlled by the Janjaweed militia which is backed by Khartoum.

"Kony knows we can't enter that region, so when the pressure is high in Central Africa he crosses into the Sudanese border [areas]," he said.

Mr Kony, whose army first emerged in northern Uganda, has evaded capture for more than 20 years as his forces terrorised large areas of Central Africa.

He claims he has been fighting to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical 10 Commandments.

Mr Kony was due to sign a peace deal with the Ugandan government in 2008, but peace talks fell apart because the LRA leader wanted assurances that he and his allies would not be prosecuted.

The BBC's Dan Damon is one of a few journalists who has visited the US forces based in Obo, Central African Republic.

He says fear of the LRA is tangible and real to people in Central Africa, especially in remote areas along the heavily forested and often unmarked borders between Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic.

The US forces told the BBC that they were not hunting for Kony themselves, but assisting local armies and coordinating intelligence and communications.

Maria Wangechi from the medical charity Merlin says the LRA staged its most recent attack two weeks ago, but the presence of the US and AU forces has helped reassure civilians in the region.

The LRA has now split into small groups. The BBC's Dan Damon says they do not use any form of electronic communications, but instead use runners and rendezvous points to keep in touch.

He says that means the US electronic surveillance technology may not be so useful as the hunt for Joseph Kony continues.

Sudan President Declares State of Emergency Along Southern Border

Sudan president declares state of emergency along southern border

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:19 PM EDT, Sun April 29, 2012

(CNN) -- The president of Sudan declared a state of emergency Sunday for cities along the hotly contested border with South Sudan, where Sudanese fighter jets launched at least one attack against their neighbor's ground forces.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said the state of emergency covers cities in the provinces of South Kordofan, White Nile, and Sinnar, which are on the eastern half of its border with South Sudan.

A journalist in South Sudan's Unity state, just over the border from South Kordofan, reported coming under attack by Sudanese helicopter gunships and MiG fighter jets Sunday morning.

Robyn Kriel said she was traveling to the front line with the Sudan People's Liberation Army of South Sudan when they came under heavy fire for 15 minutes. They all took cover in trenches dug by the army, she told CNN.

The SPLA was poorly equipped for the fight, she reported. Soldiers used anti-aircraft missiles and even hand-held weapons that they fired in the air, she said.

Sudan and South Sudan tensions escalate
At least four SPLA soldiers were hurt in the attack, she said.

The South Sudanese military reported another attack on Unity state Saturday, though a Sudanese military spokesman denied it was involved.

South Sudan split from Sudan last year as part of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war in Africa's largest nation. The war left 2 million people dead and ended with the peace agreement that included an independence referendum for the south.

Significant issues between the countries remain unresolved, however, including status of their citizens, division of national debt, disputed border areas and sharing of oil wealth.

Tensions peaked this month when South Sudan seized the oil-producing region of Heglig, a resource that fuels the economies of both nations, from its northern neighbor. Heglig oil facilities account for about half of Sudan's production of 115,000 barrels a day.

South Sudanese forces withdrew days later after Sudan lodged protests with the United Nations and African Union, but South Sudan said it continued to come under aerial and ground attack.

U.S. Eyes Testy China Talks, Chen Backer Expects Chinese Decision

U.S. eyes testy China talks, Chen backer expects Chinese decision

9:29pm EDT
By Aruna Viswanatha and Paul Eckert

(Reuters) - The United States faces a tense week in China as high-level talks on trade and global hot spots like Iran and North Korea open in the shadow of a blind Chinese activist's bold escape from house arrest to seek U.S. protection in Beijing.

The trip to Beijing would have been challenging for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner even without a human rights dispute over Chen Guangcheng, who a U.S.-based group says is hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The May 3-4 Strategic & Economic Dialogue is the last of such annual consultations before political seasons heat up in the United States and China, giving leaders in both countries less flexibility over contentious economic and security issues.

The United States goes into full campaign mode for the November presidential election, while China's ruling Communist Party enters a leadership transition in the fall that has been complicated by a scandal that toppled senior leader Bo Xilai.

Bob Fu, whose religious and political rights advocacy group ChinaAid is the chief source of information about Chen, said he had confirmed "intensive talks" between the United States and China began right after the activist took shelter in the embassy on Friday.

"I was told the Chinese top leaders have been deliberating a decision to be made very soon," Fu said on Sunday by telephone from Texas. A "Chinese official response (is) expected in the next day or so," he added.

The United States has not confirmed reports that Chen, who slipped away from under heavy surveillance around his village home in eastern Shandong province, fled into the U.S. Embassy. China has also declined public comment on Chen's reported escape.

Fu said he got his information from "both sides" in the talks over Chen's fate. The State Department would not comment.

The New York Times, however, reported that Kurt Campbell, an assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, arrived in Beijing on Sunday for talks about Chen, citing unidentified officials in Washington and Beijing. The newspaper said the senior diplomat was photographed in a Marriott hotel.

Chen, a self-schooled legal advocate who campaigned against abortions forced under China's "one child" policy, had been held under extra-legal confinement in his village home in Linyi since September 2010 when he was released from jail.


Washington and Beijing both confirmed on Saturday that the high-level talks would proceed as scheduled, which analysts said indicated efforts to contain fallout from Chen on the larger relationship.

"It is feasible that this will become a very big deal with major negative impact on U.S.-China relations, but it is also feasible and far preferable that this be able to be negotiated quickly and quietly," Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.

The United States seeks more Chinese support in dealing with the nuclear proliferation challenges of Iran and North Korea.

Most experts believe North Korea is preparing for a third nuclear test, in defiance of a raft of U.N. sanctions and pressure from Beijing to desist. In Iran's case, Washington wants Beijing's cooperation on cutting oil imports from Tehran, an important energy source for China.

China has been concerned about the Obama administration strategy of rebalancing its military forces to the Asia-Pacific region, under which the United States has strengthened security ties to treaty allies Australia, the Philippines and Japan.

Underscoring those deepening ties, President Barack Obama hosts Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the White House on Monday, the same day that Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta host their counterparts from the Philippines.

Noda arrives in Washington days after the United States and Japan revised plans to reorganize and streamline U.S. bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa, allowing the allies to move toward closer military cooperation in the region.

The Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin come to the United States amid tensions with China over a South China Sea territorial dispute. Philippine and Chinese ships have faced off near the Scarborough Shoal in waters believed to be rich in oil and gas.

More U.S.-China friction could be in store, as supporters of Taiwan in the U.S. Congress have renewed pressure on the Obama administration to sell new F-16s to the self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as part of the sovereign territory on China.

Obama's presumptive Republican challenger in November's election, Mitt Romney, has painted Obama as weak on China.

In a statement on Chen on Sunday, Romney avoided criticism of Obama's handling of the delicate case, but said: "Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government's denial of political liberties, its one-child policy, and other violations of human rights."

Lieberthal, who was a top Asia adviser in the Bill Clinton administration, said U.S. diplomats have long struggled to handle human rights cases while pursuing other important American interests with China.

"The reality is your ability to work with the Chinese on a whole series of major U.S. equities is adversely affected if you make the focus of U.S. policy an individual case of a dissident," he said.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Black Labor Struggles From Slavery to the Modern Era

Black Labor Struggles From Slavery to the Modern Era

The humanity of Africans is consistently reaffirmed through anti-capitalist movements

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
Editor's Note: The following talk was delivered at a Workers World African American History Month public forum held in Detroit on February 28, 2009. It is being reprinted in honor of May Day 2012.
Two factors have been indispensible in the rise of world capitalism and imperialism: the exploitation of African labor and the theft and utilization of natural resources from the continent. Since the middle decades of the 15th Century the European nations of Spain and Portugual began a process of social violence and political repression against the peoples of Africa. Even today, in the 21st Century, the continent of Africa and its people who have been scattered all over the world, have still not overcome the legacy of slavery, colonialism and imperialism.

However, the conquering and abuse of Africans has not been met with passivity and alienation. Although the ruling class spokespersons and other ideologues of the imperialist system have attempted to distort the developments in the world over the last five centuries, any objective analysis of African history since the advent of slavery illustrates a constant effort on the part of the masses of people to not only resist and overthrow their oppressors, but to also create societies devoid of exploitation and oppression.

Such a response to the invasion and occupation of the African continent and the kidnapping of its people and their enslavement both at home and abroad, should not be suprising. It has been documented extensively that the first cultures and civilizations arose on the African continent.

In the Nile Valley region which encompasses what today is known as Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda and Kenya, the early forms of societal organization and technology developed. The disciplines of architecture, chemistry, biology, written language, complex religious systems and philosophies can be traced to these areas of the continent.

In the field of archaeology, researchers have unearthed the remnants of early humanity in east Africa. Even contemporary genetic and biological research has suggested that all of humanity originated from the African continent.

Continuing into the so-called middle ages in Europe, when that continent was struggling with its own identity and development of stable societal structures, the African people had built large settlements, cities, kingdoms and states in various regions of the continent. To provide just a view examples of this historical process it is necessary to point to some of the well-known achievements.

African Societies and the Rise of Imperialism

The Christian civilizations of Nubia, in what is known today as Sudan, arose as early as the 6th Century. In addition, ancient Ghana developed out of various indigenous groups which came together between the 4th and 11th Centuries. The civilization of Ghana was the precursor to the development of ancient Mali, which matured in the early 13th Century.
Songhai, which developed in the late 15th Century, was largely a Muslim civilization that had a tremendous impact throughout west and north Africa.

In the southwest region of the continent was the location of the early Angolan and Congolese civilizations that fought slavery and colonialism between the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Kingdom of Mutapa, in what is known today as Zimbabwe, was so spectacular that the racist explorers attempted to deny that it was a product of African peoples. In the areas known today as South Africa and Lesotho, some of the earliest cultures and their artistic offerings are still present to provide evidence of the true origins of human society and civilizations.

Nonetheless, the intervention of the Atlantic slave trade, the rise of European colonialism and imperialism and the post-independence phenomena of neo-colonialism has impeded Africa and its people from moving toward genuine political and economic liberation. All during the course of these oppressive phases of African history, the people have continued to create to forms of struggle to meet the challenges of the period.

This struggle has been from the onset an international one centered around fundamental economic issues, i.e., labor and natural resource exploitation, the terms of trade and the allocation of profit. The European countries linked the seizure of land in the so-called "New World" with the removal and extermination of the Native peoples and the capturing and importation of African labor into the entire colonial process.

Eric Williams wrote in his classic book entitled "Capitalism and Slavery" (1944) that a convergence of the interests of the monarchy, merchants and the Catholic Church provided the organizational basis for the Atlantic slave trade:

"When in 1492 Columbus, representing the Spanish Monarch, discovered the New World, he set in train the long and bitter international rivalry over colonial possessions for which, after four and a half centuries, no solution has yet been found.

"Portugal, which had initiated the movement of international expansion, claimed the new territories papal bull of 1455 authorizing her to reduce to servitude all infidel people. The two powers, to avoid controversy, sought arbitration and, as Catholics, turned to the Pope a natural and logical step in an age when the universal claims of the Papacy were still unchallenged by individuals and governments.

"After carefully sifting the rival claims, the Pope issued in 1493 a series of papal bulls which established a line of demarcation between the colonial possessions of the two states: the east went to Portugal and the west to Spain. The partition, however, failed to satisfy Portuguese aspirations and in the subsequent year the contending parties reached a more satisfactory compromise in the Treaty of Tordesillas, which rectified the papal judgement to permit Portuguese ownership of Brazil."

Despite these claims by Portugal and Spain as well as other subsequent western European colonial powers, Africans resisted the onslaught of political domination and economic exploitation. There have been a number of historians who have documented the patterns of slave resistance, rebellion and revolt, in an effort to illustrate the humanity of the African people which the colonialist and slave owners attempted to deny.

Slavery and Pan-African Revolt

Herbert Aptheker in his book entitled "American Negro Slave Revolts" (1943), set out to narrate the continued rebellious character of the African community in the western colonies. The question of fear is important in the entire process of effecting the slave system. The notion that the African was most ideally suited to serve the white man was advanced by the ruling class in order reassure themselves that their captive labor force would not refuse to work, runaway, destroy the master's property or engage in revolt.

Aptheker says in Chapter II entitled "The Fear of Rebellion" that:

"While there is a difference of opinion as to the prevalence of discontent amongst the slaves, one finds very nearly unanimous agreement concerning the widespread fear of servile rebellion. This is true not merely among those historians who show some awareness of mass unrest, but even among the larger number who either ignore or positively deny widespread plots and revolts."

Aptheker continues to examine this historical occurence within the psyche of the slave master class by pointing out how European and European American historians respond to the idea of a rebellious slave population. Aptheker makes reference to historians from various ideological orientations:

"Thus, references to this fear, not infrequently joined with an expression of wonder at its presence, are to be found in works dealing with the institution of slavery in Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. The same is true of more extended studies by such scholars as James Schouler, Herbert L. Osgood, William E. Dodd, Carl R. Fish, Emory Q. Hawk, and Ulrich B. Phillips.

"Very recently Clement Eaton devoted several pages to a discussion of this phenomenon. Of course, the discovery of a plot or the suppression of a rebellion, if publicized, invariably evoked fear--indeed, terror--but these manifestations will be noted as they occurred. There is also evidence that this fear existed quite independent of any connection with an actual outbreak." (p. 18)

Why should the fear of resistance and rebellion strike such a sense of terror into the slave master class? It is the irreplaceable role of African labor in the entire economic system of slavery. This dependence on the labor of the captive nation was not only due to the predominance of African labor in the agricultural and domestic realm of production but also in the craft and industrial sectors.

Origins of the African Working Class

The African slave laborers were involved in every major industry operating within the South. One noted southern novelist Nelson Page, wrote at the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865 that Africans constituted "without rival the entire field in industry labor throughout the South." Page went even further and claimed that "ninety-five percent of all the industrial work of the southern states" was carried out by the slaves.

The African artisan and mechanic oftentimes was not confined to the plantation system. In urban areas these slaves were hired out by their masters to work in the fields of carpentry, animal husbandry, and production. Consequently, the skills utilized by the Africans gave them greater mobility and access to resources. In some instances, these slaves were allowed to earn money on their own. There were those who utilized these earnings to purchase their freedom and the release from enslavement of their family members.

In the South at the conclusion of the antebellum period (1790-1861), approximately 90 percent of the African people were enslaved. The existence of "free blacks" in the South was a problem for the white slave owning class as a whole. The condition of the so-called free blacks was highly precarious. They were subjected to institutional racism, harrassment and sometimes re-enslavement.

Even in the North where slavery was outlawed leading up to the Civil War, Africans were by no means free of racism, national discrimination and oppression. About five percent of the African population lived in the northern states during the period leading up to the Civil War. The Africans residing in the northern states had more personal freedom, but at the same time they did not have any guarantees of employment, housing or other amenities offered to the whites.

According to Philip S. Foner and Ronald L. Lewis in their study entitled "Black Workers: A Documentary History From Colonial Times to the Present" (1974), in the northern states fewer Africans had access to the skill trades of the times. The utilization of discriminatory laws and social practices served to keep blacks confined to menial work which inherently paid smaller salaries, and as a result, kept the majority of the population in this region in poverty.

Foner and Lewis indicate that:

"Consequently, black workers in the North suffered more from economic deprivation, poor education, inadequate housing, and nutritional maladies than whites. Their precarious social, economic, and political position meant that they would compete for jobs with newly arrived immigrants, such as the Irish, who learned very quickly that blacks were a ready scapegoat." (p. 3)

The same above-mentioned authors also pointed out the terror tactics carried out by white racists in the economics sphere:

"When blacks could find employment in the North, they frequently encountered white mobs who drove them from their jobs. The 1834 riot in Philadelphia, for example, was precipitated by the convictions among white workers that whites could not find jobs because employers preferred to hire blacks.

"The most dramatic evidence of the powerlessness of northern blacks, however, was the frequency with which blacks were kidnapped by unscrupulous whites who, sometimes in collusion with local officials, whisked them off to the South to be sold into slavery." (p. 3)

In the northern cities many Africans were confined to occupations in the hotels, restaurants, and saloons. Nonetheless, the poor wages and working conditions lead to the formation of labor organizations. In New York City, even prior to the Civil War, the Waiters Protective Association was formed by Africans employed in the industry. The organization was so successful that they advised some white counterparts on how to form a separate group.

The prevailing ideology of racism in the northern areas prevented whites from accepting Africans as their counterparts within an industrial organization or employee association. For example, the leader of the Typographical Union in Philadelphia, John Campbell, published a book at his own expense which propagated the believe that African people were inferior to whites and should not be involved in an organization alongside European Americans.

In the northern areas where Africans were subjected to national discrimination and oppression, some began to organize to improve their conditions. The American League of Colored Laborers was formed in New York City in 1850. The Vice President of this organization was anti-slavery agitator and abolishionist, Frederick Douglass.

The League was concerned about the disadvantaged situation of black laborers and sought to advance unity among the workers operating as mechanics and artisans. In addition, the League sought to promote training in agriculture, commerce and the industrial arts, including the establishment of businesses themselves.

Another current operating at the time was the advent of the Convention movement that brought together African people yearly beginning in 1830. Foner and Lewis reports that:

"The Negro Convention movement was another insitutional response to the problem of restricted labor mobility. During the Antebellum Era, black leaders gathered in conventions, on both the local and national levels, to discuss issues of mutual concern and to reach some agreement as to an appropriate group response.

"One of the most interesting corrective proposals called for the construction of an 'industrial college' for black youth. This idea gained currency at several conventions during the 1840s and 1850s, and won the support of the most prominent black leaders. Unfortunately, no funds could be obtained for an industrial college before the Civil War." (5)

The General Strike and the Civil War

Historian W.E.B. DuBois in his book entitled "Black Reconstruction: An Essay Toward A History Of The Part Which Black Folk Played In The Attempt To Reconstruct Democracy In America, 1860-1880", makes the claim that in response to the split within the American bourgeoise, where the northern industrialists and the southern planters went to war over the economic future of the United States, the nearly 4 million Africans enslaved in the South engaged in a general strike.

Since the Union army and the federal government did not see a direct role for the work force of the slave system, it was no use seeking a solution with the military forces of Lincoln. Eventually by the middle of 1862, the Lincoln administration understood that the African people would have to be brought in as soldiers in the Union Army in order to win the war against the Confederacy.

DuBois says in "Black Reconstruction" that:

"It must be borne in mind that nine-tenths of the four million black slaves could neither read nor write, and that the overwhelming majority of them were isolated on country plantations. Any mass movement under such circumstances must materialize slowly and painfully. What the Negro did was to wait, look and listen and try to see where his interest lay.

"There was no use in seeking refuge in an army which was not an army of freedom; and there was no sense in revolting against armed masters who were conquering the world. As soon, however, as it became clear that the Union armies would not or could not return fugitive slaves, and that the masters with all their fume and fury were uncertain of victory, the slave entered upon a general strike against slavery by the same methods that he had used during the period of the fugitive slave. He ran away to the first place of safety and offered his services to the Federal Army.

"So that in this way it was really true that he served his former master and served the emancipating army; and it was also true that this withdrawal and bestowal of his labor decided the war." (p. 57)

The war would take nearly four years to complete before Lincoln's soldiers would finally triumph over those of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. The South was left economically devastated and structurally destroyed. It has been reported that approximately 186,000 African soldiers fought in the Union Army to end slavery and preserve the United States as a nation.

In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect granting freedom to the Africans in the slave states. A greater incentive was provided for the slaves to leave the plantations and work toward the eventual defeat of their masters. With the economic basis of the system collapsing rapidly, the eventual rise and predominance of industrial capitalism was assured.

Under these conditions as well, the African masses would continue to play a pivotal role in the economic development of the United States and the capitalist world. Nonetheless, even after the Civil War concluded with the defeat of the Confederacy, it would take another 100 years to bring any significant weakening of the social system of racial segregation and racial capitalism in the South.

The fact of the matter was what DuBois described also in "Black Reconstruction":

"The South counted on Negroes as laborers to raise food and money crops for civilians and for the army, and even in a crisis, to be used for military purposes. Slave revolt was an ever-present risk, but there was no reason to think that a short war with the North would greatly increase this danger. Publicly, the South repudiated the thought of its slaves even wanting to be rescued.

"The New Orleans Crescent showed 'the absurdity of the assertion of a general stampede of our Negroes.' The London Dispatch was convinced that Negroes did not want to be free. 'As for the slaves themselves, crushed with the wrongs of Dred Scott and Uncle Tom--most provoking--they cannot be brought to 'burn with revenge'. They are spies for their masters. They obstinately refuse to run away to liberty, outrage and starvation. They work in the fields as usual when the planter and overseer are away and only the white women are left at home.'"

Such a delusional outlook on the part of the southern planters would inevitably lead to their defeat in the war. However, the old system of slave labor would not be ended with the conclusion of the war.

Toward the Self-Organization of African Labor

During the Reconstruction period, the commitment of the federal government was not adequate. By the conclusion of the 1860s, there were white vigilante organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, which was formed by former Confederate military officials such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, that targeted Africans and radical politicians. By the conclusion of the 19th Century the system of institutional racism had been securely established.

Donald G. Nieman, editor of "African Americans and Non-Agricultural Labor In The South, 1856-1900", wrote in the introduction that:

"African American workers played an integral role in the economic life of southern cities and towns. As they had during slavery, blacks continued to work as carpenters, plasterers, painters, blacksmiths, masons, and common laborers, providing the skills and muscle essential to urban growth. They played a vital role in transportation, working as teamsters, on the docks as stevedores, and on the railroads as section hands, firemen, porters, and brakemen.

"African Americans were also prominent in the service sector, where they worked as barbers, cooks, waiters, laundresses, and domestic servants. Black women, who were far more likely to work outside the home than white women, were especially important service workers, providing most of the South's domestic servants and laundresses. In an age before labor-saving household appliances, they performed arduous household chores, contributing to the quality of life of white middle-class families." (P. viii)

Despite the large scale African labor force which entered into direct competition with whites after the conclusion of the Civil War, the practice of racial exclusion prevailed in the unions. One stark illustration of this policy was the exclusion of Lewis H. Douglass, the son of Frederick Douglass, from the Columbia Typographical Union in Washington D.C.

When Douglass challenged the exclusion, his detractors claimed that the denial was not based on race but that he had worked as a printer in the West without being a union member. Douglass and his allies waged a struggle around this issue which was covered in a weekly African American newspaper, the New National Era, published in Washington, D.C. However, many other craft unions responded to this struggle with policies that actually enhanced the racial exclusivism of their labor organizations.

There was one outspoken newspaper that supported Douglass in the dispute over the racist action. The Boston Daily Evening Voice not only believed that Douglass should be admitted into the Columbia Typographical Union, but it also championed solidarity and unity among both black and white workers. The paper's editorial position was that the white workers could not ignore or engage in discrimination against black workers because it would undermine their on power as a class.

The Boston Daily Evening Voice had editors who were previously associated with the Abolitionist movement and supported black labor rights within the context of fulfilling the promises of a radical reconstruction of the United States after the conclusion of the Civil War and slavery. Nevertheless, the policy of the Voice was not accepted by the dominant trends within the white labor organizations.

The first labor federation to be formed in the aftermath of the Civil War was the National Labor Union (NLU) which was founded in Baltimore in 1866. Approximately 60 delegates attended the Baltimore inaugural gathering and were said to represent some 60,000 workers. At this meeting the plight of African workers was raised in a document entitled "The Address of the National Labor Congress to the Workingmen of the United States." The document was presented at the 1867 convention and stated in part that "Unpalatable as the truth may be to many, Negroes now occupied a new position in America, and the actions of white workingmen would determine whether the ex-slaves would become an element of strength or an element of weakness" in organized labor.

Nonetheless, the call to address the plight of African working people went unheeded. The Boston Daily Evening Voice criticized the NLU for its refusal to take actions aimed at the organization of African workers. The Voice declared that it was a "disgrace that several members were so much under the influence of the silliest and wickedness of all prejudices as to hesitate to recognize the Negro." The paper went on to argue that the labor movement dominated by whites would "never succeed till wiser counsels prevail and these prejudices are ripped up and thrown to the wind." (Foner and Lewis, p. 9)

By 1869, the NLU convention was attended by a delegation of African American workers. The convention still did not go on record as favoring a unified labor movement but instead called upon the organization of African workers into separate labor organizations. Isaac Myers of the Baltimore Colored Caulkers' Trade Union Society, addressed the NLU convention that year. Just four years prior to this event, in 1865, the white caulkers and carpenters had attacked their black counterparts and driven them from the shipyards where they worked.

It was this incident that lead to the organization of his union in addition to the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company that contracted the three hundred workers who were forced from their jobs. Myers would be a prominent figure in the struggle of African workers for many years.

On July 20, 1869, the State Labor Convention of the Colored Men of Maryland called for the convening of an African labor conference in December of that year. At this meeting Colored National Labor Union was formed.

According to Foner and Lewis:

"The delegates lost little time addressing the problems of black workers. They established a permanent National Bureau of Labor with offices in Washington, D.C., to furnish informaiton about employment opportunities in various parts of the nation, to lobby for legislation insuring equality of employment opportunity, and to negotiate with 'bankers and capitalists' for financial assistance in establishing cooperative business ventures among blacks. The bureau, composed of the chief officers and nine-man executive committee of the CNLU, was direct in its declaration that the 'question of the hour' was how the black worker could 'best improve his condition.' The CNLU also encouraged blacks to organize at the state and local levels, cooperatively pooling their wealth, since 'without organization, they would stand in danger of being exterminated.'" (Foner and Lewis, p. 11)

Unfortunately other objective factors would prevent the CNLU from reaching its full potential. The failure of Reconstruction and the prevalence of white racist para-military organizations such as the KKK terrorized African workers and their families and in many cases drove them away from their places of employment.

By the time that the federal government had abandoned its national policy through the Republican Party for Reconstruction in the South, the CNLU had began to seriously decline. With the failure of most white workers to support the advancement of African labor, the only option black workers had was to continue their alliance with the Republican Party. The Republicans had no real program for the economic equality of the African masses.

Foner and Lewis point out that despite its short-lived existence the CNLU did have positive effects:

"Even though its life was short, the CNLU influenced the founding of numerous state labor organizations among blacks. The most significant spin-off organization established in the South was the Alabama Negro Labor Union (ANLU), founded by James Rapier. An officer in the CNLU, rapier labored vigorously to organize black workers in Alabama. After conferring with local black leaders, he agreed to spearhead a state labor convention at which delegates would discuss 'the working conditions of colored farmers in Alabama,' possible sites where blacks might emigrate, and educational opportunities available for blacks in the state.

"After thoroughly investigating those topics, about fifty black delegates from across the state gathered in Montgomery on January 2, 1872, to discuss their findings. The proceedings of the ANLU convention were presented in 1880 before a U.S. Senate Committee investigating the causes of the Kansas Exodus of 1879. Today, little of the ANLU's history can be reconstructed, but records indicate that the organization was still active in November 1873." (Foner and Lewis, p. 13)

Black Militancy and The Knights of Labor and the AFL

Two other labor federations would gain predominace during the later years of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The Knights of Labor was formed in 1869 and began a campaign to recruit African workers. The formal policy of the Knights of labor was not to exclude any man based upon race. Women were not admitted until 1881.

Africans in the South responded enthusiastically to the possibility of joining a labor organization. However, the white ruling class elements in the South responded in many cases with violence against African Americans who sought to challenge the slave-like conditions in operation during the post Civil War period between the late 1860s and the 1880s. In Little Rock, Arkansas in July of 1886, three assemblies of the black Knights of Labor had organized a strike demanding an increase in wages and better working conditions.

White landowners declared the strike an act of rebellion and subsequently organized a militia to break the work stoppage. By 1886, African Americans numbered 60,000 within the 750,000 member Knights of Labor. In certain southern states the membership among African Americans grew rapidly. In Virginia, Africans constituted 50 percent of the Knights 15,000 members. Nonetheless, many Africans felt that the union leadership was not taking a militant stand in regard to demanding full equality for its membership.

The discontent within the Knights of Labor came to a boiling point when in 1886 the organization would hold its national convention in Richmond, Virginia. Frank J. Ferrell, an engineer and the only member of the New York delegation to the convention, had gained considerable notoriety as the most prominent African American in the labor movement. Ferrell was recognized in the black community as a militant and a socialist. However, the convention announced before it began that Ferrell would not be given accomodations at the hotel where the convention was taking place.

Perhaps the most critical events occured in 1887 when the sugar workers in Louisiana went on strike for higher pay and better working conditions. This was not the first time that there were strikes in the sugar industry. Previous attempts were broken when state militias were formed by the landowners and politicians which drove the workers back to the plantation work places at gun point.

In an effort to break the strike of November 1887, the sugar plantation owners agreed to a $1 a day wage on the condition that the Knights of Labor not be recognized as the bargaining agent for the workers. The African workers refused this offer and continued the strike. Soon enough many black leaders of the strike were harrassed, beaten and arrested by the authorities. African American families were driven out of their homes and two arrested men were taken out of their jail cells and lynched. Despite this reign of terror, the national organization of the Knights of Labor did not take militant action in defense of the black workers.

Foner and Lewis pointed out the significant impact of these events on the Knights of Labor as an organization:

"To black workers, the sugar strike of 1887 had been a terrible lesson. Even though nine thousand Negroes had refused to accept a higher wage in order to secure the recognition of their union, that same organization refused to support them. Once again a union demonstrated to black workers that labor solidarity was an ideal that did not include Negroes, and in the end this realization helped to undermine the Knights of Labor.

"As it became increasingly clear that most white Knights were refusing to accept the principle that black and white economic problems bound workers of both races together in a common cause, and as the somewhat opportunistic strategy of the national leadership became more and more apparent, interest among black workers began to fade. By 1890 it ceased to exist at all. By then the Order had abandoned the black worker, as many Negroes suspected it would all along and refused to take a stand even in general terms against the rising tide of racial segregation. In 1894 the Knights announced that the only solution to the "Negro Problem' in the United States was to raise federal funds for the deportation of blacks to Africa." (p. 19)

By the mid 1890s, the Knights of Labor had gone into rapid decline. In 1895 they were virtually non-existent as an effective labor organization.

In the aftermath of the decline of the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor began to gain prominence in the 1880s and 1890s. Nonetheless, the AFL maintained some of the same racial policies that served to undermine the Order. Samuel Gompers, the leader of the AFL, made public statements to the effect that the interests of African American workers could not be ignored because it would ultimately have a negative impact on their white counterparts.

However, many white workers refused to accept the organization of their African American counterparts as essential. A significant number of whites opposed the recruitment, organization and membership of African Americans within the AFL. Therefore, to the extent that Africans were involved in the AFL, they were organized in many cases into separate locals based on race. When whites opposed the granting of charters to these racially segregated locals, the national leadership of the AFL did not insist that these racist policies be overturned.

During the first two decades of the 20th century racial tensions in the United States escalated. There were white mob attacks on African communities in Atlanta in 1906 and Springfield, Illinois in 1908. With the commencement of World War I, racial antagonism boiled over through incidents involving black servicemen during 1917. The conditions of African American soldiers in France during the War have been well documented.

After the conclusion of World War I a series of race riots erupted throughout the United States, with the most well known taking place in Chicago during the so-called "Red Summer" of 1919. During the 1920s, migration of African tenant farmers and workers into the northern industrialized cities would continue at an accelerated pace.

The collapse of the United States economy in 1929, sent shockwaves throughout the society as a whole. African Americans were deeply affected by these developments since their economic position was far more precarious than their white counterparts. However, during this period, Africans joined nationalist and socialist political formations including the Communist Party. Eventually, as a result of the labor upheavals of 1934, the Committee of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was formed in 1935. This formation and its approach to organizing black labor would usher in a new era of working class struggle in the United States.

The CIO and the UAW: Struggles From the 1930s to the 1960s

With the New Deal policies of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, a new emphasis was placed on the plight of the unemployed and impoverished within the United States. These new programs grew out of the labor and mass struggles of the early and middle 1930s. In theory the burgeoning industrial unions of the CIO did not oppose the non-discrimination provisions in the Wagner Act. The AFL affiliated unions that formed the CIO had already taken a position at variance with the other organizations that upheld the racist practices of the white dominated locals and national officials.

Consequently, the CIO had an advantage over the AFL in that the production industries where many African Americans were concentrated, such as meat-packing, auto, rubber and steel, were increasingly organized by the new labor federation. Even in the South where AFL locals had rejected African workers support during the 1917 tobacco industry strike, would by 1936 be organized by the CIO. Also the National Maritime Union (NMU), which was formed in 1937 accepted African American seaman on an equal basis. As a result its black membership flourished resulting in the election of Ferdinand C. Smith, an African American co-founder of the NMU, as first secretary and vice-president.

During this period, the CIO supported black organizations such as the National Negro Congress (NNC), which was a broad front of African American organizations that encompassed liberals, socialists and communists. When the AFL expelled the CIO in 1937 under the charge of dual unionism, the CIO had already established thirty-two international unions. In 1938 it officially changed its name to the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

In regard to the recognition of the United Auto Workers union in Detroit in 1941, the participation of African American workers was essential. Henry Ford's paternalism toward the black community had bought the loyalty of a number of key church leaders and businessmen. However, the support for UAW recognition was sealed when major African American organizaitons such as the NAACP and NNC convinced the 17,000 black workers at Ford to not allow themselves to be used by the corporation. Consequently, on April 11, 1941, Ford gave in to the strikers demands and recognized the UAW.

During the years of American involvement in World War II (1941-1945) more Africans migrated to the northern industrial states. Employment grew and support for the UAW and the CIO reached historic proportions. However, after the war the governments FEPC policy was revoked and discrimination was no longer an issue in industry. This was of course influenced by the return of millions of white and black workers to the U.S. labor force that fueled competition for jobs and housing in American towns and cities.

The revolutions in Vietnam, Korea and China as well as the expansion of the influence of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II became the central focus of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. In addition, the national liberation struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America gained strength. The post World War II period was one of optimism and intensive efforts aimed at ending colonialism and racism throughout the world.

This new atmoshpere influence the leadership of the CIO when in 1949, it barred executive committee members from belonging to the Communist Party and other left organizations. Later there was the expulsion of five thousand members of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America. Other Unions refusing to accept the Cold War policies of the Truman administration were also expelled.

As a result of these political developments, the non-discrimination policies of the official trade union movement was crushed. In 1950, there were efforts made to organize against racial discrimination in the labor market. That June, a National Labor Conference for Negro Rights was convened. By the following year plans were formulated to establish a permanent organization that was formed in Cincinati on October 27, 1951. The organization became known as the National Negro Labor Council. The NNLC set two major objectives: to eliminate job discrimination against African Americans in industry and to also crush institutional racism within the union movement itself.

However, the NNLC became an immediate target of the right wing anti-communist forces controlling the federal government and the union movement. NNLC leaders were called before Congress and accused of being communists and disloyal to the United States. Eventually the organization was forced to dissolve. The struggle against racism in industry and in the trade union movement suffered a serious setback.

Despite these problems, a new phase of the civil rights movement was to emerge with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in December of 1955. Some of the key leaders in the Boycott, such as E.D. Nixon and Rosa Parks had been affiliated with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the NAACP. The mass support for the civil rights movement by 1960 was forcing the recently merged AFL-CIO (1955) to at least pay lip service to non-discrimination.

By the late 1960s, with the emergence of the Black Power movement, African American workers took on a more militant posture in regard to fighting racism in industry and within the unions. The formation of the Freedom Labor Unions in the South in 1965 and the Revolutionary Union Movements in the plants in Detroit and other parts of the country in 1968, had a tremendous impact. Black workers began to engage in agitation and wildcat strikes independent of the more conservative union leadership.

The Transformation of Capitalism and the Working Class

However, by the 1970s, the United States economy began to sink into a protracted crisis of a political nature. The Vietnam War drained the state of much needed resources to end racism and poverty. The impact of automation and the shifting of industrial facilities to the non-unionized areas of the South and outside the United States increased unemployment and the decline in real wages. This trend was also influenced by the Arab oil embargo in 1973.

With the advent of Reaganism in the 1980s, the conditions of working people declined further. African American workers were most seriously affected in this process. By the beginning of the 1990s, more militant action was required. The rebellions of 1992, signalled the discontent of African and Latino workers in California and other parts of the country. The number of African Americans in industry had declined significantly and the rise of a new phase of militarism hampered any possibility of an employment-driven economic recovery.

Today the decline in the capitalist system is quite evident with the rising unemployment rates, epidemic home foreclosures and evictions and the militarist policies of the United States ruling class. Just over the last year more than three million workers have been thrown out of their jobs. The crisis has now beome a political one due to the fact that every program aimed at improving the economy only results in worsening conditions for the working class.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have further wasted trillions of dollars of tax monies from working class families. Even Democratic Party politicians in the Congress and White House, who are elected with a mandate to end wars, reduce military budgets, create jobs and establish a national health insurance program cannot do so because of the symbiotic relationship between this party and the bourgeosie.

Nonetheless, the political, economic and ideological collapse of capitalism and imperialism provides openings for the African peoples and the working class in general. There have been efforts organized to impose state and federal moratoriums on home foreclosures and evictions. A rebellion in Oakland illustrated the growing anger and frustration of young people who have no future under the capitalist system.

However, there is much more to come in the months and years ahead. The terminal crisis of capitalism is worldwide. The banking systems from Asia to Europe and the United States are rapidly crumbling. The is no future for the working class and the nationally oppressed outside of socialism and genuine national liberation.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. The writer has been a researcher for many years in the areas of African and labor history in the United States and the world.