Author: Dan La Botz

Nicaragua Update: Escalation of Ortega’s War on NGOs and Independent Media

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Nicaragua’s eight-month long political crisis is escalating. In the past two weeks, the government of Daniel Ortega has intensified its crackdown on opposition media and on NGOs while facing the US administration’s passage of the Magnitsky-Nica Act legislation. 

The government rescinded the legal status of nine NGOs in one week, at once seizing their assets, freezing their bank accounts, and sending into exile and hiding a new cluster of oppositional leaders. The crackdown began with CISAS, a renowned health promotion NGO led by a vocal feminist opponent to the regime, then CENIDH, the national human rights organization, and then a host of other organizations – from environmental and community development NGOs to economic think tanks that the government itself has relied upon for data and analysis.

Urgent Communiqué about Nicarauga: Government Attack on Human Rights Groups, NGOs, Media

ImageThe following statement is from the Articulación de Movimientos Sociales, the coalition of social movements in Nicaragua.

Alert and Request for International Condemnation: Nicaraguan Government Raids the offices of the principal human rights, non-governmental and media organizations.

URGENT COMUNIQUE December 14, 2018. 2PM (CST) Alert and Request for International Condemnation: Nicaraguan Government Raids the offices of the principal human rights, non-governmental and media organizations.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Promises the “Rebirth of Mexico”

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador took the presidential oath on December 1 and then gave an hour and a half oration to the legislators as well as another lengthy speech to the people of Mexico City gathered in the zócalo, in which he reiterated his campaign promises to end corruption, to bring about economic prosperity, and to lead Mexico into a new historic fourth period of Mexican history, a period of "rebirth." The speech made clear that AMLO, as he is called by his initials in the press, is a reformer, but not a radical and certainly not a revolutionary as his opponents have claimed. His call for an end to neoliberalism and to corruption are accompanied by invitations to Mexican and foreign capitalists to invest and make a profit.

Winter Place Seized; Claus Overthrown; Elves Form Councils, Declare Socialism

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[Nov. 23] – Thousands of Elves seized the Winter Palace and overthrew Santa Claus late last night, ending the Claus family dynasty whch has ruled the North Pole for hundreds of years. “We took advantage of the Thanksgiving reverie at the palace—everyone was drunk—and took control with almost no violence,” said one Elf who preferred not to use his name.

Migrant Caravans Challenge the Continent’s Governments

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Central American migrants, both desperate and courageous, have thrust themselves into the center of Mexican and U.S. politics with their demand for refuge and asylum. As the head of the NGO Pueblos Sin Fronteras told a reporter, “This isn’t just a caravan, it’s an exodus created by hunger and death.”

The Google Walkout: An International Working-Class Movement

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Thousands of Google employees throughout the United States and around the world walked off their jobs yesterday, Nov. 1, “to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone.” Beginning in Singapore and working its way around the globe the movement closed Google offices from Mountain View, California, in Boulder and New York, as well as in London, Dublin, Zurich, Berlin and Hyderabad.

Howie Hawkins for Governor: A Step in the Left Direction

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I write this largely for my comrades in the Democratic Socialists of America but also for all who are interested in building a more democratic, egalitarian, and just society. I argue here for voting for Howie Hawkins for governor, the only progressive candidate for that office on the ballot in New York State, and the only open socialist.

I am convinced that any future mass working class or socialist party in the United States will arise largely out of developments in the Democratic Party.

Nicaraguan Government Attacks and Arrests Opposition Leaders; Nicaraguans in U.S. Demand Their Release; Call for General Strike

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The following statement was issued by Nicaraguans living in the United States.

On the morning of October 14, 2018, Nicaraguan citizens in use of their constitution rights gathered to march peacefully and protest the Ortega regime and to demand the release of all political prisoners. Protestors were met with violent repression and an assault by the police.

Solidarity with Nicaragua: The Long View from Canada

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The essay below was originally delivered as an oral presentation on the panel “Solidarity in the 21st Century” as part of a conference on The Future of the Left in Latin America held on October 5-6 at the New School in New York City. The conference was sponsored by Dissent, The New School, NACLA, and the Open Society Foundation. 

Trump Administration Declares Me an Anti-Semite

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I was born a Jew, had a bris and Bar Mitzvah and attended Hebrew school afternoons and Sundays from the age of 7 to 13. I went to schul with my grandfather on holidays and in 1967 I volunteered to defend Israel in the Six-Day War. But I never got to go to Israel then and since the early 1970s, I have refused to visit because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Shenzhen Jasic Technology: Towards a Worker-Student Coalition in China

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Last month students and recent graduates from more than a dozen mainland Chinese universities stood up in solidarity support with workers of Jasic Technology, a private company listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The student activists include those from the Peking University, Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, and Sun Yat-sen University. They wore t-shirts with the slogan “unity is power” printed in bold red. They produced videos of public speeches and peaceful demonstrations in front of the Jasic factory in the Pingshan District of Shenzhen City, a key node of globalized production in South China. They tweeted open letters and blogs and photos via social media. In response, Jasic management retaliated against workers who initiated to establish a democratic union since this May and refused immediate re-instatement of dismissed workers, triggering waves of rights defense protests and social justice campaigns. As of writing, 14 workers were currently still being detained by local authorities, and 50 students were forcibly taken by the riot police, crushing the worker-student coalition.

Don Trudell 1940-2018

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There is no way that I am qualified to write a proper obituary for Don Trudell, a longtime member of the British IS/SWP who taught history and media studies at the American School in London (ASL) when I was a student there. I do not know where he was born, or went to college, or even his full name. The last time we spoke was in the early 1980s, and the last time I spent any significant amount of time in his company was when I was still in high school. Although I dined at his house a couple of times, and chatted with him after class on innumerable occasions, I can’t say that we ever became friends. But he was a singular individual and he left an indelible impression on how I think about the world.

The Unbearable Centrism of Mainstream Documentaries

ImageThe Obamas’ deal with Netflix is the culmination of a worrisome turn in contemporary documentary.

Since the announcement in May of Former President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama’s multi-year production deal to produce narrative and documentary films and series with Netflix, there has been remarkably little conversation about it. Admittedly, there isn’t any work to evaluate just yet, but the news does raise enormously important questions in and of itself.

Mexican Independent and Democratic Auto Unions Form a New Federation

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Mexico’s auto workers are for the first time forming a national federation in what is a very significant development both for Mexican labor and for Mexican society as a whole. Ten organizations representing over 25,000 Mexican workers have committed to the new organization.

NYC DSA's Endorsement of Cynthia Nixon: A Reply to Dan La Botz

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I appreciate Dan La Botz' well-reasoned article, but do not agree with his conclusion.

As usual, Dan's argument is judicious and clear, courteous to other points of view. Such civility is essential to maintaining the health and vitality of a diverse big tent organization like the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA).

Youth and Our Future: An Era of Superficial Outrage Politics?

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Many would like to believe that this American period of rampant national-conservatism is nothing more than a short stay in Republican purgatory. It is a reassuring idea that in a few years, as today’s progressive youth becomes a large part of the electorate, the United States will become a shining example of tolerant and progressive prosperity. Just as neo-conservatives envision a global American hegemony built on capitalism and military strength, some progressives have adopted a belief that the United States is destined to reach national political moksha with strong welfare, a prosperous middle class, and minority rights; the nasty racists and homophobes, the “deplorables”, will soon be outnumbered so vastly in the face of common-sense political ideology that the right will simply cease to exist. Unfortunately, this prophecy has proven a myth for millennials—and the nascent Generation Z doesn’t appear to have better prospects.

Return of the Strike: The Teachers Rebellion in the United States: A Forum

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A Forum on the Teachers Rebellion in the United States with Tithi Bhattacharya, Eric Blanc, Kate Doyle Griffiths, Lois Weiner. Edited and introduced by Jeffery R. Webber

Few anticipated a labour upsurge in the United States in early 2018, and fewer still expected a blaze to ignite among teachers in West Virginia, or for it to spread to Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado. Ellen David Friedman poses one of the questions which immediately springs to mind: “why is this stunning revolt occurring where unions are weak, where labor rights are thin, and where popular politics are considered to be on the Right?”[1]

Nicaragua’s Popular Rebellion Stopped—For Now

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What is the state of the popular rebellion in Nicaragua? What brought about the rebellion? Who is involved in the rebellion? Who are the most important national and international actors? And what is the nature of the Left’s debate over Nicaragua?

President Daniel Ortega’s government has succeeded—for now—in stopping the Nicaragua’s popular rebellion after four months of the most severe repression, including killings, kidnappings, and torture of the regime’s opponents by both the police and paramilitary forces.

Why I Voted Against Endorsing Cynthia Nixon

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The leadership of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted this past weekend by a two-thirds majority to endorse Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic Primary race for New York State governor. The decision reflected similar majorities for Nixon among the total membership of the New York City branches. An accompanying motion also passed that linked DSA’s work on the Nixon campaign to the Julia Salazar campaign in the Democratic Primary for State Senate and tied it to our organization’s support for the New York State Health Act and the a city campaign create for expanded rent stabilization.

Since the majority of my fellow New York City socialists voted to endorse Nixon, I feel obligated as a member of the City Leadership Committee  (CLC) to explain to our members why I cast my vote against, as did eleven other members of the 34-member body, while one person abstained.

Nicaragua in Pain

ImageTranslated from Spanish by Fred Murphy

Writing about Nicaragua is as painful and sad as it is indispensable. Memories of the Sandinista Revolution are still alive for the generation that lived through it. To remain silent would be an affront to those who took part in that memorable insurrection against Somoza.

The American Oligarchy: A Review

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Ron Formisano. American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2017. Notes. Index. $19.95

Consumers of left-wing media are well aware that America is an oligarchy, not a democracy. Everyone with a functioning cerebrum, in fact, should be aware of it by now: even mainstream political scientists recognize it, as shown by a famous 2014 study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page. Nevertheless, it is important to continue to publicize the oligarchical character of the United States, in order to delegitimize the institutions that have destroyed democracy (insofar as it ever existed) and inspire people to take action to restore it. Ron Formisano’s book American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class (2017) is a valuable contribution to this collective project.

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