Sunday, November 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by jongela4peace.
Abayomi Azikiwe speaking at Camp Casey Detroit during the 'Bring Them Home Now Tour' on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 in Grand Circus Park, Woodward at Adams, downtown
For Immediate Release

Media Advisory

Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005

Event: Dec. 1 Day of Absence, Thurs. 1:00pm-8:00pm
Honoring Mother Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Central United Methodist Church
Woodward ave. at Adams, Downtown Detroit
Contact: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War
& Injustice (MECAWI)
Tel. (313) 680-5508

Dec. 1 Day of Absence Teach-In to be Held at Central United Methodist Church

Dec. 1, 2005 represents the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Ala. This courageous act of defiance led to a 381-day boycott and the birth of the modern- day civil rights movement.

The Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 brought a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into the leadership of the mass civil rights struggle that was able to win the abolition of legalized segregation and the acquistion of universal voting rights over a ten year period.(1955-65) Dr. King's latter years (1967-68) saw him take a principled stand against the American war in Vietnam. Today the peace and social justice community is working to end the war in Iraq and to bring the troops home now.

In honor of the legacy of Mother Parks, we are calling for all youth, students, civic organizations, labor unions, clergy, educators, artists, professionals and retirees to take a day off from work, school, shopping, etc., and join us at Central United Methodist Church on Thursday Dec. 1 between 1:00pm-8:00pm for a teach-in on the significance of the continuing work of the civil rights and anti-war movements. We will have films, speakers, panel discussions--1pm-5:00pm-- as well as a public meeting to close the event between 6:00pm- 8:00pm.

At the closing rally starting at 6:00pm a host of community leaders have been invited to speak. These activists include: Rev. Ed Rowe, Pastor at Central United Methodist Church; Maureen Taylor, Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Andrea Hackett of MECAWI; Abayomi Azikiwe, broadcast journalist; a representative of the Gray Panthers organization in addition to other civil rights, social justice and anti-war organizations.

This event is being held in conjunction with other "Day of Absence" actions across the United States including New York, Boston, Oakland and Baltimore where City Councils have passed resolutions supporting commemorative activities in honor of Mrs. Parks. In Detroit the City Council recently passed a resolution recognizing Dec. 1 as a day in recognition of the mother of the civil rights movement.

This program is free and open to the general public.
The article attached below illustrates the national character of the "Day of Absence."

Dec. 1 Day of Absence: A clarion call for unity

By Monica Moorehead
Published Nov 17, 2005 11:31 PM

The Dec. 1st National Day of Absence mobilization against war, poverty and racism continues to galvanize support in the progressive movement. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks, who on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala.

Parks’ heroic action, along with the determination of 40,000 Black people in the city to defeat segregationist restrictions on the buses, helped to launch the modern-day civil rights movement throughout the U.S. South during the 1950s and 1960s. Parks died this Oct. 24, at the age of 92, before she was able to witness this significant milestone in the on-going struggle for the basic democratic rights of Black and other people of color, who are still being treated overall as second-class citizens.

Along with citing the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, the National Day of Absence initiative is an attempt to unite various movements that have been fragmented over a number of decades, particularly the civil rights and the anti- war movements. The initiative calls for no work, no school, no shopping—in other words, no business as usual—to bring more heightened awareness about the connection between the heinous war and racist occupation of Iraq and the deepening cutbacks, wage cuts and steady decline of living standards for workers and the poor at home.

The Hurricane Katrina crisis has helped to shine a special spotlight on the racism and poverty that exist inside the U.S. and the criminal neglect of the government. The main demands to be raised on Dec. 1 are: bring the troops home now; cut the war budget, not health care, housing and education; justice for the Hurricane Katrina survivors, including their right to return; military recruiters out of the schools, and jobs at a living wage and the right to organize in unions.

Over 1,000 organizations and individuals have endorsed nationally coordinated actions around the country. These actions will be taking place in Boston, Washington, D.C., Bremerton in Wash ing ton state, Crawford, Tex., Raleigh, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Buffalo and other cities. NY City Council to hold hearing In New York City, a Dec. 1 march and rally on Wall Street are being planned. March and sound permits have been secured by the organizers. Wall Street is being politically targeted because the central nervous system of U.S. finance capital is Wall Street, home to the Fortune 500.

Whatever political decisions come out of the White House emanate from the economic decisions made on Wall Street, which are driven to make profits and war, not to provide human needs. A youth and student walkout is being organized by the youth group, Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) on Dec. 1. These young activists plan to march to Wall Street following their rally at Union Square in Manhattan. Charles Barron plus 11 other City Council members announced at an Oct. 27 news conference that they are introducing a resolution to honor Rosa Parks on Dec. 1 . The resolution reads in part, “Be it further resolved that the Council encourages all businesses in the city, both public and private to either close on Dec. 1st, or allow the many workers and students in the city who will want to attend Rosa Parks Commemoration events taking place during normal business hours, to take the day off, or leave work and school early with impunity.” A public hearing on this resolution will take place on Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the City Hall Chambers, followed by a vote by the entire City Council. Speakers will include civil rights veterans, trade unionists, students, anti-war and community activists.

The wording of this resolution is similar to one passed unanimously by the Boston City Council on Oct. 26. The Detroit City Council passed a Day of Absence resolution during a Nov. 11-13 National Conference to Feed the Cities, Starve the Pentagon, held in that majority Black city. A people’s victory was won in Baltimore after activists mounted a campaign for the City Council to hold a public hearing on Nov. 16 and allow testimony to be presented as to why a Day of Absence resolution should be passed there.

That pending bill reads in part, “For the purpose of proclaiming 2005 as Rosa Parks Year in Baltimore City and joining the more than 1,000 national and local organizations sponsoring the Rosa Parks nationwide ‘Day of Absence’ in encouraging all public and private businesses and educational institutions located in Baltimore City on Dec. 1, 2005, to either close or allow their workers or attendees time off to attend Rosa Parks Commemoration events taking place during the normal business hours without sanctions.”

Go to for more information on Dec. 1 actions in your area or to organize a local action.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

ROCconference 018

ROCconference 018
Originally uploaded by Kelly Logan.
Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants' Council addressing a plenary session at the National Conference to Reclaim Our Cities in Detroit on November 12, 2005.

ROCconference 039

ROCconference 039
Originally uploaded by Kelly Logan.
Brenda Stokely representing the New Orleans Solidarity Committee of New York City. Stokely is also a leading figure in the Million Worker March Movement.

ROCconference 044

ROCconference 044
Originally uploaded by Kelly Logan.
Teresa Gutierrez, International Action Center representative speaking at the National Conference to Reclaim Our Cities on Saturday, November 12, 2005. This conference was held at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

National Conference to Reclaim Our Cities Meets in Detroit

Gathering calls for a total break with the Bush administration on the war

By Abayomi Azikiwe, EditorPan-African News Wire

DETROIT, 13 November, 2005 (PANW)--Activists from around the United States gathered at Wayne State University in Detroit between November 11-13 to work on a program for reversing the growing crises in urban areas.

"The National Conference to Reclaim Our Cites" (NCRC) attracted delegates concerned about the $500 billion annual defense budget which is draining resources from the vast need for housing, healthcare, quality education, employment, infrastructural development, food, access to water and utilities, environmental safety and community control of police. Under the theme: "feed the cities, starve the Pentagon," the event took a strong position against the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and called for mass actions around the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1.

In the welcoming comments made by Andrea Hackett of the student chapter of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), the host organization, she stated that "I hope all of you will stay long enough to hear our list of speakers who will identify the crisis that we are facing, not just in Detroit but in each city, because it is important to have a dialogue. Visit the literature tables, attend the workshops and move towards a plan of action to reclaim what belongs to the people built upon the wealth of their labor. We have a right to organize and plan to take our cities back."

In the opening plenary on November 12, David Sole, President of UAW Local 2334 in Detroit and a key organizer of the conference, discussed the origins of the NCRC. He recalled that "the city of Detroit announced that it had a $300 million budget deficit and in facing that deficit the city administration called in union presidents from all the various unions representing 15,000 city workers and told us that we had to take a 10% wage cut and take $47 million in medical care cuts. This came on top of two years of wage freezes and inadequate wages before then. At the same time the city announced they were cutting services for the people of the city of Detroit as an inevitable outgrowth of this budget deficit."

Sole then discussed a meeting held between the union leadership and several members of the City Council who were not comfortable with the large budget cuts. After several hours people pointed out practical changes that could be made to mitigate the impact of the fiscal shortfalls. In the end the recommendations did not add up to a lot of savings for the city.

"Some of us raised in that meeting," Sole continued, "that there is one place where there is plenty of money going and that no one talks about and that is the Pentagon budget and specifically the Iraq war. If we don't talk about those funds, then we are just fighting a losing battle. Because you can bring in your own accountants and you can see that the city is broke. You can blame it on a lot of things. In Detroit we have had plant closings and the corporate executives move to non-union areas, they move to the South, they move overseas."

Sole also pointed to the flight to the surburbs where middle-income people have moved out of the city of Detroit. There have also been a diversion of funds to special projects. According to Sole, "they always have money for something they want. A conference center or a stadium. But even given all of these changes over the past decades that have made the city less solvent, the fact is that the money that goes just to the Iraq war, taken from people who live in Detroit and pay taxes, that money alone could more than wipe out the deficit that the city is facing. So there is money in the city but it going to the federal government and not coming back here.....Unless we fight the war we cannot fight for our domestic programs."

Donald Boggs, President of the Metro-Detroit AFL-CIO, also spoke during the opening plenary noting that over $210 billion has already been spent on the Iraq war. Citing statistics compiled by the National Priorities Project, Boggs pointed out that the Iraq war has cost the state of Michigan over $5 billion and the city of Detroit some $369 million, which could have wiped out the budget deficit.

"The president has proposed a budget for 2006 that cuts domestic spending by 7%. Let us be clear what that translates to in the state of Michigan. We will lose another $378 million. For us in Michigan it means that we will be cutting services for veterans, for k-12 education, for our environment, for low income families, for safe communities, for students in college and all of us taxpayers will carry the burden for that," Boggs emphasized.

"Until we get engaged one-by-one and push organizations and push leaders to do the right thing and until we move to resistance there won't be a change in America. We will continue to waste money in Iraq but more importantly, we will continue to change the standard of living in America," Boggs stated.

"With 6.5 billion people living in the world today over half are living on less than two dollars a day. America is the biggest exporter of worker oppression in the world and we need to stop it starting at home. I can only promise you that as long as I am president of the Metropolitan-Detroit AFL-CIO, yes I will push my leaders, but in the final analysis it is going to take the rank-and-file telling us it is time that we do something about the war," Boggs concluded.

JoAnn Watson, who was recently re-elected to the Detroit City Council addressed the plenary saying that "I am blessed to be here representing the left-wing of the Detroit City Council. All organizations need to have a left-wing, uncompromising soldiers willing to take a stand for peace and justice, calling for freedom now and the taking of no prisoners."

Quoting the late Ms. Fannie Lou Hammer of Mississippi who said during the 1960s that "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired," Coucilwoman Watson acknowledged the work of those who planned the conference including Council President Maryann Mahaffey, the Gray Panthers, MECAWI and others.

Watson then paid tribute to the late Mrs. Rosa Parks who provided the spark for the modern civil rights movement in 1955. "Mother Parks was not just a seamstress she was a revolutionary. She was a co-plantiff in a lawsuit designed to reclaim the right of people in Detroit to elect their own school board. In the long seven hour funeral honoring Mrs. Parks someone should have said that she was a revolutionary."

In a recently passed Detroit City Council resolution submitted by Watson, the legislative body of the municipal government has recognized December 1 as a day of action honoring the late civil rights pioneer. The resolution reads in part that: "Whereas, Mother Rosa Parks' passing on Monday October 24, 2005 has made it all the more timely and necessary that we honor, preserve and draw inspiration from her courage and legacy, and that the tragic Katrina hurricane exposed to the world the continuing urgent need even fifty years later to battle racial inequality, poverty and war, the three things that Dr. King came to see as the main enemies of all human progress, and that the Detroit City Council declares December 1, 2005 Rosa Action Day for Equality, Peace and Economic Prosperity for All, and be it resolved that the Council encourages all businesses in the city, both public and private, to conduct demonstrations on December 1st, or allow the many workers and students in the city who will want to attend Rosa Parks commemorative events taking place during normal business hours, to take time off to demonstrate for social justice in the manner of Mother Rosa Parks."

Workshops Discuss Action Programs

In the workshops that took place between the plenary sessions, the conference participants discussed various action proposals related to the conference theme. There were eight workshops held during the course of the late morning and afternoon. These smaller group discussions took place under the following topics: "The Pentagon Budget and the Crisis of the Cities," featuring Fern Katz of WAND and James Anderson of the Employment Research Associates; "Utilities and the Energy Crisis" with Marian Kramer and Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; "December 1: No Business as Usual--National Day of Absence" with Larry Holmes of the Troops Out Now Coalition facilitating; "Police Brutality, Immigrant Rights and Civil Rights" featuring Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Elena Herrada of Latinos Unidos and Susan Schnur of ATU/Pride at Work; "Housing, Health Care and Urban Pollution" featuring Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council and Randy Block of the Gray Panthers; "Our Economy" with Charles Brown of the Detroit Million Worker March Movement, John Riehl, President of AFSCME Local 207 in Detroit and Paul Street, Visiting Professor at Northern Illinois University; "New Orleans and the Gulf Solidarity Movement" with Curtis Muhammad of the Community Labor United organization and Brenda Stokely of the New Orleans Solidarity Committee of New York City; and "Education and the Military" featuring Isis Smith and Kyle McBee of MECAWI and Jenifer Teed of Finding Alternatives to Military Enlistment (FAME).

The final plenary session held saturday evening featured Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Clarence Thomas of the Million Worker March Movement from Oakland, California, Larry Holmes of the Troops Out Now Coalition, Violetta Donawa of the Wayne State University student chapter of MECAWI, Jerry Goldberg of the A Job is a Right Campaign and Brenda Stokely of the New Orleans Solidarity Committee in New York. This plenary session was chaired by Ann Rall of MECAWI.

In a message sent to the conference from Maryann Mahaffey, the outgoing president of the Detroit City Council, she stated that "Social change starts with mobilization at the grassroots level, so let us use this conference as a catalyst for a national movement in which we unite and say no to corporations that take jobs from the middle class and food from our families. Let us say no to this illegal and immoral war in Iraq that is costing us billions of dollars and starving our cities. Let us say no to laws that violate our privacy and civil rights. But let us unite here today and say yes to working toward a truly democratic America where we can all benefit equally."

Final Resolution Adopted by the NCRC

On Sunday morning a roundtable discussion took place where the outcomes of the workshops were reviewed and several action proposals were adopted. The conference delegates at this closing session agreed to support and work towards building the December 1 Day of Absence activities that will take place around the country. These events will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Rosa Parks' arrest and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights struggle in the U.S.

In addition, a national mobilization in New Orleans scheduled for December 9-10 calling for justice for the communities that have been severely affected and dispersed as a result of the aftermath of Katrina, was endorsed. Also the delegates agreed to work to build demonstrations against the occupation of Iraq on its third anniversary during March 18-20, 2006.

Clarence Thomas of the Million Worker March Movement spoke about the upcoming commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago which represents the symbolic origin of May Day. The conference agreed to support this event in an effort to reclaim May Day as the holiday of working people in United States.

Moreover, the final resolution called upon the elected officials of major American cities to politically break with the Bush administration on the continuing occupation of Iraq and to set a deadline of December 16 to demand the return of tax dollars slated to go to the Pentagon in order to continue the war.

Conference organizers have pledged to transcribe the action plans that emerged from the workshops, the final resolution as well as other important developments during the course of the conference for distribution to the delegates as well as the broader movement for social justice in the United States.

A commitment was made to continue the dialogue generated by the NCRC and to hold another conference sometimes during 2006.

For more information log on to:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

French riot police enforce curfew

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy visited riot-hit Toulouse

The French city of Amiens has become the first to impose an overnight curfew under emergency powers passed by the government to curb the rioting. The measures, which came into effect at midnight, give police extra powers and aim to stop under 16-year-olds going out unaccompanied late at night.

Other towns in and around Paris have imposed their own local curfews. As the emergency decree came into force, sporadic violence was reported for the 13th consecutive night:
-The entire public transport network was shut down in the central-eastern city of Lyon after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a train station
-A gas-powered bus exploded in the suburbs of the south- western city of Bordeaux after it was hit by a Molotov cocktail
-Youths in the nearby city of Toulouse threw firebombs at police and set fire to cars Paris, where the rioting began nearly two weeks ago, was relatively calm with some isolated cases of arson and a dozen arrests, the police said.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, on a visit to Toulouse, said police had reported a "fairly significant fall" in the number of violent incidents across the country by 2200 on Tuesday. State of emergency The emergency powers were approved in a special cabinet meeting earlier on Tuesday.

-Cabinet can declare state of emergency in all or part of the country
-Regional leaders given exceptional powers to apply curfew and restrict movements
-Breach of curfew could mean a fine or two-month jail sentence
-Police can carry out raids on suspected weapons stockpiles
-Interior minister can issue house-arrest warrants for persons considered dangerous to public safety
-Public meeting places can be closed down
-House searches possible day or night
-Authorities can control press or broadcast media, film and theatre performances
-State of emergency can only be extended beyond 12 days if approved by parliament
They allow a state of emergency to be declared in defined areas, restricting the movement of people and vehicles, says the BBC's Alistair Sandford in Paris.

Police are entitled to carry out house searches under certain conditions, and ban public meetings.

Mr Sarkozy, who announced the measures, said earlier: "The violent events that happened in our territory, and the people responsible [for the violence] will be arrested and punished".

But some opposition parties, and the French magistrates association, have described the measures as a danger to civil liberties. Amiens, in the northern Somme region, became the first city to make use of the powers and others are expected to follow in the coming days.

Minors are subject to the law between 2200 and 0600 (2100 and 0500 GMT) unless accompanied by an adult, and are also banned from buying petrol.

Two Paris suburbs, Savigny-sur-Orge and Le Raincy, as well as the historic city of Orleans, have already declared separate curfews not covered by the law.

Social improvements

The nightly protests have gripped deprived areas with large African and Arab communities where unemployment is rife and residents complain of racism and discrimination.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Tuesday the restoration of law and order in those suburbs would take time and hard work. And he also outlined plans to improve opportunities for young people through jobs and education programmes and create an agency to combat racial discrimination.

"The republic is at a moment of truth," he said. "What is being questioned is the effectiveness of our integration model." The unrest was first sparked by the deaths in the run-down Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois of two youths, who were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station.
One man killed
5,873 cars torched
1,500 people arrested
17 people sentenced
120 police and firefighters injured
Figures as of 8 November
Locals said they were being chased by the police, but the police deny this.

The new emergency powers handed to local authorities have been invoked under a 1955 law.

The law was originally passed to combat violence in Algeria in its war of independence against France from 1954-62. It was also used in New Caledonia in 1985.

This is the first time the law has been implemented in mainland France.
Cuba & The Liberation of Southern Africa

Cuba News Editor's Note: This is an exceptionally important and timely contribution which everyone should read carefully, and assimilate thoroughly. Why? For the past two weeks, the Cuban media, in both their print and electronic forms, have been providing extensive coverage to its most famous, and most powerful foreign military activity.

Cuba's immediate, positive response to the Angolan government's call for help to defeat invaders from South Africa, then still ruled by the system of institutional racism known as "apartheid", threatned to overthrow the young Angolan government. Cuba is rightly proud of this episode, in the face of Washington's hostility, which had supported the apartheid system and opposed international actions to overturn that system.

Long daily features, some of the which take up the entire two pages of the centerfold of the Granma daily, have been reminding Cubans of their country's reasons for pride for their role in these decisive anti-apartheid battles at the moment of the 30th anniversary of their commencement. Coming as they do on the eve of Cuba's presentation of its resolution against the US blockade of the island, these commemorations, which aren't acts of nostalgia, but demonstrations of the most practical nature of Cuban solidarity.

In recent years nearly the entire international community formally adopts a resolution at the UN's General Assembly, against Washington's blockade of the island. Here you will find some of the most important of the reasons why the world does this over and over and over. Apartheid ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1990, but in the end it collapsed and was swept away.

Washington's blockade of Cuba has lasted even longer, from 1960 to the present, a stunning 45 years, making it the longest such action, which could more properly be called a seige, in human history, but in time it's got to come to an end as well. And today Cubans are providing doctors, dentists, teachers and nurses throughough the Third World, from Guatemala to Pakistan, from Venezuela to Sri Lanka and many others. And when solidarity was needed in military terms, Cuba responded immediately and with not a moment's hesitation. Some on the political left at the time faulted Cuba for "taking sides" in what they argues was a "civil war" in Angola.

However, whatever national or "tribal" issues at the time divided Angola, they were overshadowed by the intervention of the South African Army which had to be defeated. And it is worth recalling that these Cuban interventions took place during both the very hostile Reagan and the less hostile years of Jimmy Carter. When it was most needed, Cuba was right there. Also greatly worth reading is Gabriel Garcia Marquez' famous essay on Cuba's "Operation Carlota" from Tricontinental magazine: i.html
Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

CUBA AND SOUTHERN AFRICAN LIBERATION: THE UNKNOWN STORY By Isaac Saney [Published on November 4, 2005 in the British daily newspaper Morning Star under the title "The Story of how Cuba helped to free Africa." A Shorter version was, also, published in the November issue of Cuba Si, quarterly magazine of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Britain]. ___________________________________________________________

Cuba's direct, critical and extensive role in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa is little known in the West. November 5th, 2005 marks the 30th anniversary of Cuba's decision to deploy combat-troops, at the request of the Angolan government, to repulse a major South African invasion of October 1975.

In 1987-1988, a decisive battle occurred in the south-eastern Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale. When it occurred, the battle was the largest military engagement in Africa since the North African battles of the Second World War.

Arrayed on one side were the armed forces of Cuba, Angola and the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO); on the other, the South African Defense Forces, military units of the Union for the Total National Independence of Angola (UNITA- the South African-supported organization) and the South African Territorial Forces of Pretoria-controlled Namibia. The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale is marginalized in Western mainstream scholarship, frequently ignored, almost as if it had never occurred.

However, the overarching significance of the battle cannot be erased; it was the turning point in the struggle against apartheid. In Black Africa - particularly in southern Africa -the battle has attained legendary status. It is considered THE debacle of apartheid: a rout of the South African armed forces that altered the balance of power in the region and heralded the demise of racist rule in South Africa.

Thus, the battle is often referred to as the African Stalingrad of apartheid: the decisive event that defeated Pretoria's objective of establishing regional hegemony - a strategy which was vital to defending and preserving apartheid - and directly led to the independence of Namibia and accelerated the dismantling of apartheid. Cuba's contribution was crucial as it provided the essential reinforcements, material and planning. Cuba's involvement in Angola began in the 1960s when relations were established with the Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA). The MPLA was the principal organization in the struggle to liberate Angola from Portuguese colonialism.

In 1975, the Portuguese withdrew from Angola. However, in order to stop the MPLA from coming to power, the U.S. government had already been funding various groups, in particular the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) led by the notorious Jonas Savimbi. In August 1975, South African Defence Forces (SADF), with the support of Washington, invaded Angola. This was followed by a much larger invasion in October.

On November 5th, in response to a request from the Angolan government, the Cuban government initiated the deployment of combat troops in Operation Carlota, named after the leader of a revolt against slavery that took place in Cuba on November 5, 1843. It must be emphasized that all military service in Angola was on a voluntary basis. Cuban military assistance was decisive in not only stopping the South African drive to Luanda, the capital, but pushing [South Africa's troops] out of Angola.

The defeat of the South African forces was a major development in the African anti-colonial struggle. The significance was underscored by The World, the foremost Black South African newspaper, which declared: "Black Africa is riding the crest of a wave generated by the Cuban success in Angola. Black Africa is tasting the heady wine of the possibility of realizing the dream of "total liberation." Cuban involvement in Southern Africa was repeatedly dismissed as surrogate activity for the Soviet Union.

In an acclaimed and award-winning book, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-76, Piero Gliejeses unequivocally demonstrates that:
1) the Cuban government - as it had repeatedly asserted - decided to dispatch combat troops to Angola only after the Angolan government had requested Cuba's military assistance to repel the South Africans, refuting Washington's assertion that South African forces intervened in Angola only after the arrival of the Cuban forces and;
2) the Soviet Union had no role in Cuba's decision and were not even informed prior to deployment. In short, Cuba was not the puppet of the USSR. Even The Economist magazine, in a 2002 article, acknowledges that the Cuban government acted on its "own initiative." In 1987, the FAPLA, the Angolan armed forces, launched an offensive against UNITA. The Cubans had advised against this operation because it would create the opportunity for a significant South African invasion, which is what transpired.

The South Africans invaded, stopped and threw back the Angolan forces. The fighting became centred on the town and strategic military base of Cuito Cuanavale, which was important as a forward airbase to patrol and defend southern Angola. Pretoria committed its best troops and most sophisticated military hardware to its capture. As the situation for the besieged Angolan troops became critical, Havana was asked by the Angolan government to intervene. On November 15th, 1987 Cuba decided to reinforce its forces by sending fresh detachments, arms and equipment, including tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons and aircraft.

Eventually Cuban troop strength would rise to more than 50, 000, with 40,000 deployed in the south where the major engagements were occurring. Cuba was also able to achieve air supremacy, which was a critical factor in repelling the South Africans. It must be emphasized that for a small country such as Cuba the deployment of 50,000 troops would be the equivalent of the U.S. deploying 1.25 million soldiers.

The Cuban government viewed preventing the fall of Cuito Cuanavale as imperative. A South African victory would have meant not only the capture of the town and the destruction of the best Angolan military formations, but, quite probably, the end of Angola's existence as an independent country. At Cuito Cuanavale, the SADF were dealt a decisive defeat. As the South Africans withdrew, the Cubans, together with Angolan and SWAPO forces, advanced toward the Namibian border.

This advance exposed the insecurity and vulnerability of the South African troops in northern Namibia. This was further compounded by another South African debacle, when on June 27th 1988 at the south western Angolan town of Tchipa a major South African offensive was resoundingly routed when the SADF was encircled. This defeat was described in South Africa as "a crushing humiliation." This defeat on the ground forced South Africa to the negotiating table, resulting in Namibian independence and dramatically hastening the end of apartheid.

In a July 1991 speech delivered in Havana, Nelson Mandela underscored Cuba's vital role:

"The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character. We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defense of one of us.

The defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the struggling people in South Africa! Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been unbanned! The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today! Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation! Cuba's role in Angola illustrates the division between those who fight for the cause of freedom, liberation and justice, to repel invaders and colonialists, and those who fight against just causes, those who wage war to occupy, colonize and oppress."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Event: Fifty Years Plus of Police Brutality
Wayne County Community College, Downtown
1001 W. Fort Street, Detroit, MI 48226
Friday Evening Nov. 18, All Day Sat. Nov. 19

Contact: Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc.
Tel. (313) 587-6466

Detroit Conference Against Police Brutality to Convene Friday, November 18 & Saturday, November 19 at WCCCD

A conference entitled: "Reshaping Community: Ending 50+ Years of Police Brutality" will convene at Wayne County Community College on Fort Street in downtown Detroit on Friday, November 18 beginning with an awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. This event represents a culmination of organizational and mobilization work designed to eradicate the legacy of police brutality and misconduct in Detroit and around the United States.

The DCAPB along with several other progressive groups including the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) will present this two day event aimed at institutionalizing the struggle for effective community control of law-enforcement and the judiciary in every city and town in the nation.

Some of the presenters and honorees that will be involved and acknowledged at the conference includes: Professor Gloria Aneb House, co-founder of the DCAPB, Atty. Ron Glotta of the National Lawyers Guild, Atty. Elliot Hall of the Dykema Gossett law firm, Prof. Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina, Prof. James Jackson, Chair of the Criminal Justice Dept. at WCCCD, Mr. Mackie Johnson, a founding member of the Guardians, Atty. Cynthia Heenan of the NLG, Atty. Hugh Davis of the NLG, Mr. Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Ms. Sandra Hines of the DCAPB, Ms. Tijuana Morris of the DCAPB, Abayomi Azikiwe of MECAWI and the DCAPB, Ms. Valerie Glenn of the DCAPB, artist Drunken Master, Promotor publisher Alex Thompson, The Movement music productions, Mr. Nathaniel Head, Director of Civil Rights for the United Auto Workers (UAW), Atty. George Washington of the NLG, former City Council President Erma Henderson as well as many others.

The conference will open Friday night at 7:00 p.m. with an awards dinner. This event will honor activists who have fought against police misconduct over the decades. We will also pay special tribute to the families of victims of police brutality in Detroit. Tickets are available and can be obtained by contacting the DCAPB at (313) 587-6466.

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, November 19, a full day of plenary sessions, workshops and cultural presentations will examine the history and continuing struggle against police misconduct and brutality. The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality was formed in 1996 and has worked for the last nine years to oppose the abuse of authority by law-enforcement and the courts in the metropolitan area as well as the state of Michigan.

This conference is open to the general public as is co-sponsored by Wayne County Community College.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

In Paris suburbs, anger won't cool

By Katrin Bennhold
International Herald Tribune

Talk to people outside the Bilal mosque in this rundown suburb north of Paris and they will tell you what has gone wrong: why rioters for the past week have confronted the police in overnight bursts of anger in the streets, torching cars, hurling rocks and even firing bullets in the worst civil disobedience in France in more than a decade.

Beyond the poverty and despair of life in the shoddy immigrant communities ringing the shining French capital, local Muslims say, there is no one left with any sway over the rioting youths. Parents, the police and the government have all lost touch, they say.

On Thursday, after rioters disregarded an appeal for calm by President Jacques Chirac, firing bullets at the police for the first time as the rioting spread for a seventh consecutive night, the government held emergency meetings throughout the day. But despite Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's vow that "law and order will have the last word," the police were bracing for more violence as night fell.

In Clichy-sous-Bois on Thursday afternoon, outside the entrance of the Bilal mosque - a converted warehouse where a tear-gas grenade landed on Sunday, stoking fury against the police - celebrations of the end of the monthlong Ramadan fast were overshadowed by the widening disturbances. Opinions about the riots among people gathered at the mosque differed, but everyone from the deputy imam to local council workers and men leaving the midday prayer agreed that the trouble has been compounded by a vacuum of moral authority.

"If you want authority over these kids you need their respect - but all the normal channels of authority lost their respect a long time ago," said Ali Aouad, 42, who has lived in this northeastern town for two decades. "They feel neglected by the government, and the police just provoke them."

Even the government's minister of equal opportunity, Azouz Begag, who himself grew up in an immigrant household outside Lyon, carries no authority here, residents said. "Where has he been? He is representative of nothing and nobody," said a young man of Algerian descent, who identified himself only as H2B.

"He has done nothing for us and now he is trying to compensate by criticizing Sarkozy," the French interior minister, "but it's too late." The crisis has penetrated the top level of the French government, where Nicolas Sarkozy and Villepin, the two most senior ministers, are sparring over how to deal with the violence and have both come under fire for failing to bring the violence under control.

The trouble erupted in Clichy-sous-Bois on Oct. 27 after two teenagers, apparently thinking they were being pursued by the police, fled and were electrocuted when they hid in an electrical transformer. The disturbances have since spread to at least 20 neighboring towns. In the early hours of Thursday, rioters torched 315 cars, burned a car dealership and a local supermarket, and attacked two commuter trains, the police said. Nine people were wounded.

But as appeals for calm by the government fell on deaf ears and a heavy police presence across the northern suburbs only appeared to provoke more violence, a number of local organizations seem to have quietly taken on the task of cooling tempers.

Abderamane Bouhout, president of the cultural organization that manages Bilal mosque, mobilized small groups of young believers during recent rioting to go between the rioters and the police and urge the disaffected youths to express their anger in nonviolent ways. Aouad, who witnessed one such intervention on Monday night not far from the mosque, said it was impressively effective. "It worked," he said. "They went right between the two sides and a lot of the kids listened to them. The damage the next day was a lot less serious than the previous nights."

At the local city hall, Lamya Monkachi says the role of religious personalities along with that of young locals recruited from the suburbs to mediate for the city authorities has been key to reducing the violence in Clichy- sous-Bois in the past two days, even as it intensified in other suburbs. "What helped us here in Clichy to calm nerves was that we work a lot with people who know the local youths and speak their language," she said. There are eight Muslim organizations in Clichy alone that have been mobilized to participate in starting a dialogue with the rioters.

In addition, a group of youths, working closely with city hall, have formed an association in response to the riots last week called Beyond Words. Their representatives - young North African men dressed in white T- shirts with the names of the two dead teenagers printed on the back and the words "Dead for Nothing" on the front - have campaigned for peaceful dialogue.

But, says Marilou Jampolsky of SOS Racisme, a non- governmental organization fighting discrimination, the current government has made such informal mediation efforts more difficult by cutting back public funding for them. "The number of neighborhood organizations that organize sports, help with school work and just generally check up on these kids has significantly declined since this government came to power" in 2002, she said.

SOS Racisme, which also has local branches in suburbs, has lost half its money, she said. One of the most prominent young mediators is Samir Mihi, 28, who has become an informal spokesman for the various groups that have stepped in to calm the violence and mediated between the rioters and the government.

According to Mihi, who grew up in Clichy, the key ingredient for restoring peace in this and other suburbs is to build relationships with the local youths and give them the feeling that their concerns are being heard. "If they listen to us it is because we give them what they most want: respect," said Mihi, who organizes sports activities for teenagers at city hall. "If you respect them, they respect you."

One reason politicians fail to make themselves heard in the suburbs is that successive governments have failed to tackle disproportionately high unemployment and crime rates in the suburban housing projects, leaving youth with few opportunities. That feeling of exclusion is exacerbated by a lack of political representatives of North African origin and other role models, Mihi said.

The lack of moral authority is perhaps most flagrant with the police, locals said, because the interaction between officers and residents is often reduced to frequent and random identity checks that are perceived to be humiliating in the mainly North African communities in the suburbs. At the local market, Muhammad, 24, who declined to give his last name, said such checks sometimes happen even outside his own apartment.

He recounted how the police stopped him as he was walking home the night before. "They grabbed me and touched my hood to see if it was hot or sweaty," he said, describing what he called a regular practice. "If you're caught with a sweaty hood, it means you've been running and that you have probably committed a crime."

Meanwhile, the parents of the teenagers in question lack authority because poverty has often made family life more difficult, says Jampolsky.

Neither do they share the quest for identity so prevalent among the younger generation.

Paris rioting enters second week

The unrest has been spreading

More cars and shops have been set alight in Paris' suburbs, as youths rioted for an eight consecutive night.

Most of the attacks are again taking place in the largely immigrant area of Seine-Saint-Denis, where about 1,000 police have been deployed. The violence, which has engulfed a dozen towns around the capital in the past week, was triggered by the deaths of two teenagers of African origin. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has pledged to restore order. He was speaking in parliament, following criticism at the government's failure to end the violence.

Violence spreading Thursday night's incidents occurred in several towns, including Aulnay-sous-Bois. As on previous nights, gangs of youths armed with bricks and sticks have been roaming the streets of housing estates. Dozens of cars have been set ablaze, as well as shops and a warehouse. On Thursday the violence also spread beyond the Paris region for the first time, with reports of cars on fire in the central town of Dijon.

The unrest began after teenagers Bouna Traore, aged 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station in Clichy-sous-Bois. Local people say they were fleeing police - a claim the authorities deny. A criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry have been opened. 'Troublemakers' Mr de Villepin said restoring order was his "absolute priority".

In scenes of escalating unrest overnight on Wednesday, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs. At least 177 cars were also set alight. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who earlier met the dead teenagers' families, said the violence was "not spontaneous" but rather "well organised". He said the government would not allow "troublemakers, a bunch of hoodlums, think they can do whatever they want".

On Thursday afternoon, Mr de Villepin held talks with Mr Sarkozy, other ministers, as well as MPs and mayors from affected towns. The areas affected are poor, largely immigrant communities with high levels of unemployment. Minister for Social Cohesion Jean-Louis Borloo said the government had to react "firmly", but added that France must also acknowledge its failure to deal with anger simmering in poor suburbs for decades. Muslim leaders have urged politicians to show respect for immigrant communities.

Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, said people in the suburbs "must be given the conditions to live with dignity as human beings", not in "disgraceful squats".

Clichy-sous-Bois: Two teenagers die in electricity sub- station on 27 October. Successive nights of rioting follow rumours they were fleeing by police. A number of people arrested or injured.

Aulnay-sous-Bois: A flashpoint after violence spread from Clichy. Shots fired at police and cars and shops set ablaze. Further trouble in eight nearby suburbs, with more shots fired at police.

Others: Police report incidents involving gangs of youths in town in the suburban departments of the Val-d'Oise, Seine-et- Marne and Yvelines. Reports of petrol bombs thrown at a police station in the Hauts-de-Seine.

Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2005/11/04 02:20:33 GMT

French police sent to riot towns

The unrest has been spreading

A thousand police officers are being deployed in the suburbs of Paris, after seven consecutive nights of rioting. The officers will be stationed in Seine-Saint-Denis, north- east of Paris. Half of the department's 40 towns were affected by violence last night.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has been holding emergency crisis talks, following criticism at his failure to end the violence. So far, police on Thursday night have reported a small number of incidents. In Seine-Saint-Denis, a number of cars were set alight, projectiles were thrown at police and fires were reported in two towns.

The unrest has also spread beyond the Paris region for the first time, with reports of cars on fire in the central town of Dijon. The riots were triggered by the deaths last week of two teenagers of African origin. Bouna Traore, aged 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station in Clichy-sous- Bois. Local people say they were fleeing police, a claim the authorities deny.

A criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry have been opened.


Mr de Villepin said restoring order was his "absolute priority". In scenes of escalating unrest overnight on Wednesday, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs. At least 177 cars were also set alight.

On Thursday night, 1,000 police will be stationed near car showrooms, shopping centres and government buildings in Seine- Saint-Denis. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who earlier met the dead teenagers' families, said the violence was "not spontaneous" but rather "well organised". He said the government would not allow "troublemakers, a bunch of hoodlums, think they can do whatever they want".

On Thursday afternoon, Mr de Villepin held cross-party crisis talks with Mr Sarkozy, other ministers, MPs and mayors of the some of affected towns. Mr de Villepin and Mr Sarkozy and are likely rivals for the presidency in 2007, and their different approaches to the rioting had split the cabinet. Mr Sarkozy has caused controversy with his strong language, labelling the rioters as "scum" and saying many of the suburbs need "industrial cleaning". Mr de Villepin has preached a more conciliatory message, urging ministers not to "stigmatise" vast areas.


Francois Masanet, secretary general of the French police union, described the situation as "dramatic", and warned that the violence could escalate. The areas affected are poor, largely immigrant communities with high levels of unemployment. Minister for Social Cohesion Jean-Louis Borloo said the government had to react "firmly", but added that France must also acknowledge its failure to deal with anger simmering in poor suburbs for decades.

Ruling UMP MP Jacques Myard said the violence was a failure of the French model of integration, but that the government had been weak. It had "accepted, step-by-step, that every night youths burn cars, destroy business and so on. Those guys will use the pretext of everything to riot, to demonstrate, to destroy", he said.

Muslim leaders have urged politicians to show respect for immigrant communities. Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the Paris mosque and the president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, said Muslim immigrants in the suburbs "must be given the conditions to live with dignity as human beings", not in "disgraceful squats".

Story from BBC NEWS: