Poetry for April 10: Zapata/Huerta

Poems for April 10:  Assassination of Zapata and Birth of Huerta

One hundred years ago today, April 10, 1919, government assassins murdered Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.  Here is what Eduardo Galeano wrote about this in his epic Century of the Wind (the third volume of his Memory of Fire trilogy).  Read a review of Century of the Wind here:

1919 Cuautla

This Man Taught Them That Life Is Not Only

Fear of Suffering and Hope of Death

It had to be done by treachery.  Shamming friendship, a government officer leads emiliano-zapata-claudio-osoriohim into the trap. A thousand soldiers are waiting, a thousand rifles tumble him from his horse.

Afterward they haul him to Cuautla and exhibit him face up.

Campesinos from everywhere flock there for the silent march-past, which lasts several days. Approaching the body, they remove their sombreros, look attentively, and shake their heads.  No one believes it.  There’s a wart missing, a scar too many;  that suit isn’t his; this face swollen by so many bullets could be anybody’s.

The campesinos talk in slow whispers, peeling off words like grains of corn:

“They say he went with a compadre to Arabia.”

“Hell, Zapata doesn’t chicken out.”

  He’s been seen on Quilamula heights.”

“I know he’s sleeping in a cave in Cerro Prieto.”

“Last night his horse was drinking in the river.”

The Morelos campesinos don’t now believe, nor will they ever believe, that Emiliano Zapata could have committed the infamy of dying and leaving them all alone.

Ballad of the Death of Zapata

Little star in the night

that rides the sky like a witch,9781568584461

where is our chief Zapata

who was the scourge of the rich?

 

Little flower of the fields

and valley of Morelos,

if they ask for Zapata,

say he’s gone to try on halos.

 

Little bubbling brook,

what did that carnation say to you?

It says that our chief didn’t die.

that Zapata’s on his way to you.

(from Vicente Mendoza, El Corrido Mexicano, Mexico City, FCE, 1976]

 

***************************

Born April 10, 1930:  Dolores Huerta, a “Civil Rights icon,” a living legend and labor activist, this interview was conducted with her in 2017.

Here are the lyrics of the “Corrido de Dolores Huerta” and here is the version with Los Lobos.

En Dawson, Nuevo Mexico
El diez de abril
Nació Dolores HuertaBUSD-Teach-In-with-Dolores-Huerta-0241
Nadie se lo imaginaba
Que ella iría encabezar
Parte del gran movimiento

En Stockton, California
Donde ella se crió
Empezo a ver la injusticia
Que el campesino ha sufrido
Sin la representación
Que una unión le daría

Me acuerdo que allá en Delano
El sesenta y dos
Se asoció con César Chávez
Y entre él y la Dolores
Formularon una unión
Que llegó a cambiar las leyes
Su sentir de mujer
Dirigió por buen camino
Del mejor porvenir
Al humilde campesino
Su sentir de mujer
Le prestó a la unión la fuerza
Te has ganado la flor
De la paz, Dolores Huerta

Después que organizaron
La gente en la unión
Imponieron una huelga
Para hablar de los contratos
También para nagociar
Apuntaron a la Huerta

César Chávez les decía
“Vamos a ganar
Esta huelga sin violencia
La revolución social
Hay que ganarla con la paz
Derramar sangre no es ciencia”https---images.genius.com-ca0eb33dffb6f8ce0110898e1d2158e6.500x500x1

Y un día en Arizona
La gente decía
“Ay Dolores, no se puede!”
La Dolores les contesta
“Esto será nuestro grito
Sí se puede! Sí se puede!”
Su sentir de mujer
Dirigió por buen camino
Del mejor porvenir
Al humilde campesino
Su sentir de mujer
Le prestó a la unión la fuerza
Te has ganado la flor
De la paz, Dolores Huerta

Chicago Elections 2019 — The Aftermath

[This article was written for the People’s Tribune Chicago Area Facebook Page.

The People’s Tribune encourages reproduction of articles so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

Chicago Elections 2019:  The Runoffs –The Aftermath

Lew Rosenbaum

We said the November midterm elections were a wave of resistance. February 26 was just a prologue to what happened in the runoffs April 2. Here is a summary:

5th Ward: Incumbent Leslie Hairston leads Activist William Calloway by about 150 votes

dyett-main

Jeanette Beatrice Taylor-Azeez (20th Ward)

(Calloway was the young man who made sure that the Laquan McDonald video was made public).  Until the mail ballots are counted, this is considered too close to call. Even if Calloway loses, it speaks to the direction, the possibility of organization around the issues that formed the basis of the Calloway campaign.

15th Ward: Incumbent Ray Lopez beat Rafa Yanez by 20 percentage points (Yanez was backed by unions and had a pretty good program).

20th Ward: Activist Jeanette Beatrice Taylor-Azeez won handily!!! This is very big. Taylor was not only a hunger striker to keep open a school in her neighborhood, but she has been a grass roots activist for 20 years. Working class forces who have been unable to get their demands met for their basic rights, like fully funded public schools, are taking those demands into the electoral arena.

25-sigcho-lopez

Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward)

25th Ward: Byron Sigcho-Lopez beat Alex Acevedo!!! Byron has been a public schools activist for many years, a researcher who exposed the corruption in the UNO Charter School network, and is now director of the Pilsen Alliance.  He embraced the five-point program of the Puerto Rican Concerned Voters, a program that calls for basic rights like housing and health care.  He has also supported the People’s Tribune.

30th Ward: Incumbent Ariel Reboyras turned back the challenge of Jessica Gutierrez, only winning by only 300 votes, 4 percentage points (Reboyras is a Rahm shill who supports the cops; Gutierrez is the daughter of former congressman Luis Gutierrez.)

33rd Ward: Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez leads incumbent Deb Mell by 65 votes with all precincts counted. Mail ballots will determine the winner. This will be very big if she wins — Rossana is a declared member of DSA and her words have been highly publicized, opposing the Chicago machine, supporting housing for all. The Mell family has run this ward for 40 years.

40th Ward: Activist Andre Vasquez soundly defeated long time incumbent Pat O’Connor!!! This is likely the most important race in the city. O’Connor has been in office

40-vasquez

Andre Vasquez (40th Ward)

since 1983, was part of the bloc that prevented Harold Washington from getting work done — the Vrdolyak 29 — and is one of the most powerful aldermen. Vasquez also has the flair of hip-hop performer, because he was one;  and he comes right out of the working class, bringing his personal struggles for housing and education to the electoral arena. He is a DSA member. He was endorsed by United Working Families and Reclaim Chicago.

46th Ward: Incumbent James Cappleman leads Marianne Lalonde by the slimmest margin, only 23 votes. Awaiting the mail ballots to determine the outcome. If Lalonde can make up the difference, this will be almost as big as ousting O’Connor, because Cappleman was appointed to chair the Zoning Committee instead of disgraced alderman Danny Solis. Lalonde is a scientist (literally) with roots in community organizations.  Just taking Cappleman down would be a big win.

47th Ward: Matt Martin soundly defeated Rahm surrogate Michael Negron. Martin was backed by a number of progressives and the United Working Families, and his opponent was a supporter of the cops.

ax224_77e0_9-e1548619332497

Maria Hadden (49th Ward)

In other words, joining the victories from the February 26 election Daniel La Spata (1),(Sue Garza (10), Mike Rodriguez(22), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa(35),  and Hadden (49)) we have definite victories in 20, 25, 40 and 47; too close to call in 33 and 46; and a remarkable showing in 5. (A quick note that we did not mention Mike Rodriguez earlier. Former staffer for retiring alderman Rick Munoz, Rodriguez was tapped to run by Munoz and was also endorsed by United Working Families.

The characteristic of this election is that a large number of the “ins” were turned out.  In some cases, the incumbents faced challenges like they had never faced before. People are dissatisfied with what government has been able to do for them.  To the extent they still think that they can find some redress in the electoral offices, they came to the polls to express that dissatisfaction. That necessarily is disrupting the political stranglehold the Democratic Party has had on Chicago.  This is not simply an ideological battle for an abstract “socialist” idea.  It is a life and death fight carried out for the right to housing, health care, education. It swarms from the polarization of wealth and poverty, that arises from jobs being automated out of existence forever. The old ability of the “Democratic Party machine” to mobilize voters is dissipating, while organizations like United Working Families is staking a claim for the allegiance of workers. Ten of the UWF endorsees are now on City Council, if Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez wins her seat, and that includes the 5 people who are members of the Democratic Socialists of America.

We can’t forget, however, the losses. In the general election John Arena lost his seat on the basis of some overt racist/anti-working class propaganda about his support of affordable housing;  also in the general election corrupt and indicted alderman Ed Burke won re-election with some 54% of the vote. (This could be considered something of a victory since he nearly was forced into a runoff by Tanya Patino, a good candidate, the first time he has faced a challenger since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  But he won.)

And then there is the mayoral election itself.  The landslide victory of Lori Lightfoot (she won every ward and all but 20 of the 2029 precincts in the city) confirms the conclusion that this was a vote against the “ins.”  Lightfoot was able to project herself as an outsider ready to drain the corrupt swamp, at the same time that she had been a Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointee and a high paid lawyer with a “silk stocking” law firm;  while Preckwinkle ran a campaign that emphasized her experience and demonstrated ability to do the job.  It didn’t help that doing the job meant defending two of the most corrupt Chicago politicians and a very unpopular, regressive tax.

The most consistent opinion in the general election at the grass roots was against Bill Daley, scion of the Daley dynasty. There was very little enthusiasm for anyone. Once the runoff campaign began, the inevitability of an African-American woman mayor dawned not only on the electorate, but on the makers and shakers of Chicago politics.  Public worker unions wound up contributing over $4 million to the Preckwinkle campaign (public worker contracts are coming up in a number of bargaining units; pensions are a big shadow over the Chicago budget).  The building trades unions contributed over $500,000 to the Lightfoot campaign (at stake are union construction jobs at the airport expansion).

Meanwhile a mixture of Democratic Party functionaries endorsed each candidate.  One Rahm functionary after another came down on the side of Lightfoot. In the down ballot races, Rahm’s Chicago Forward PAC contributed to all of his incumbent friends and non-incumbent allies running in open races.  With all the money in the election, the turnout was barely more than 30% of the electorate.  And despite the machine money (Union money and boots on the ground), the weakness of the machine was everywhere evident. One significant exception was the failure to oust incumbents on the South and West sides, long the base of support of the Party machine.

One last way to look at this mayoral election:  the precincts that voted against Harold Washington in 1983, that is, that voted for a Republican rather than a Black Democrat, voted in this election for Lori Lightfoot, some in the highest percentages in the city. That is food for thought about what they expect from this candidate.

The tremendous advances that we’ve seen in this election should only whet our appetite, not satisfy us or make us complacent.  In fact, for all that was accomplished, here are a couple of sobering thoughts.

First of all, again about the election turnout.  What do the majority of Chicagoans think about these candidates?  Does the electorate think that voting makes a difference?   In some wards, the cynicism was rife.  But how can you blame people whose votes are taken for granted and whose elected representatives don’t bother to represent? The signs are there that a sleeping giant is awakening, how quickly we don’t know, but direction is more important than speed.

Second, even though we can toss O’Connor overboard onto the trash heap of history, even if we can get rid of Hairston, Cappleman and Mell, even if in Wards 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 22, 25, 33, 40, 46 and 47 the winners are ready to fight for a program of the working class, that still leaves a 80% of councilmen in place; council members who graze in the pastures of wealth.  It will be an uphill battle for the working class, and we’d best remember, happy as we are about where we win,  that the victory is less in the seats captured than in forming ourselves into a battle-ready contingent for future encounters.

We won a lot in this election cycle including the runoffs, we have a potential network of grass roots activists developing across this city. We need to celebrate and lick our wounds and get busy. We especially won the right and responsibility to up our game and keep fighting together for that which did energize the electorate:  the right to housing, education,  police accountability and an end to violence, and all the basic needs of the people.

Now comes the real work.

 

Poem for April 4: In Memoriam, Martin Luther King, Jr. — by June Jordan

th

[On April 4, 1968 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  For April 4, 2019, I choose to read/reprint this poem, by the widely acclaimed, politically engaged poet, June Jordan (1936-2002).  The Poetry Foundation web site biographical page for June Jordan quotes an interview with the poet:  

In an interview with Alternative Radio before her death, Jordan was asked about the role of the poet in society. Jordan replied: “The role of the poet, beginning with my own childhood experience, is to deserve the trust of people who know that what you do is work with words.” She continued: “Always to be as honest as possible and to be as careful about the trust invested in you as you possibly can. Then the task of a poet of color, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks…I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach more extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something. I feel that it’s a spirit task.”

Martin Luther King’s enduring gift to his political descendants is his “work with words.”  LR]

 

In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.

I
honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born
America
tomorrow yesterday rip rape
exacerbate despoil disfigure
crazy running threat the
deadly thrall
appall belief dispel
the wildlife burn the breast
the onward tongue
the outward hand

deform the normal rainy

collection_jjordan12016_0

June Jordan

riot sunshine shelter wreck
of darkness derogate
delimit blank
explode deprive
assassinate and batten up
like bullets fatten up
the raving greed
reactivate a springtime
terrorizing
death by men by more
than you or I can
STOP
       II
They sleep who know a regulated place
or pulse or tide or changing sky
according to some universal
stage direction obvious
like shorewashed shells
we share an afternoon of mourning
in between no next predictable
except for wild reversal hearse rehearsal
bleach the blacklong lunging
ritual of fright insanity and more
deplorable abortion
more and
more

 

[The poet can be heard reading her poem here.  Her poem “Apologies to All The People Of Lebanon” can be read here (Aja Monet performs the poem here].

Chicago Elections 2019: The (April) Day Of

Chicago Elections 2019:  April 2

by Lew Rosenbaum

This is more than a guide to the election map of April 2, 2019.  Enough people are talking

Chicago_Mayor_Election-0ead1-3596

Mayor Emanuel isn’t running, but his fingerprints are all over the crime scene.  He has personally given thousands from his campaign war chest; and his PAC, Chicago Forward, has spread money like peanut butter on the campaigns of his allies.  He’s hoping to preserve his “legacy” by ensuring that his friends remain in their seats.

about how this election could transform city council, how there are some exciting candidates as well as a load of incumbents deserving to be retired. We don’t have 20-20 hindsight yet, so we can’t offer perfect predictions of what will happen.  But here’s the deal:  a debate about major questions of our survival is raging across the electoral landscape.  Whether or not you will have a house or home to return to;  whether or not your neighborhood school will be replaced by privatized charters; whether or not mental health clinics will be restored;  whether or not police will continue to terrorize our communities; these are real debates taking place from wards on the south side to the north.

The demands that people have been making, for example for police accountability and for housing as a human right, have pushed a new crop of candidates into the electoral arena.  As much focus has been on the individual candidates, we should be paying at least as much attention to the movement on whose waves these candidates are riding. And while there is a significant amount of simply populist backlash to turn the long term incumbents out, the real catalyst to the emergence of the new crop of challengers is the anger — righteous and deep — of the people.

Let’s look at some of the wards up for grabs.

Ward 5: Activist William Calloway, best known for his efforts to bring the video of the murder of  Laquan McDonald to the public, has forced incumbent Leslie Hairston into a runoff.  His main support comes from the South Shore neighborhood, but he has gotten an endorsement from the other Hairston challenger, Gabriel Piemonte, whose base is in Hyde Park.  Hairston came close to winning outright, so this will be a difficult one to flip. What makes this race even more interesting is that Willie Wilson endorsed Calloway over Hairston (no love lost between Wilson and Rahm Emanuel).  Wilson took more African American majority wards than any other candidate in the February election. A Calloway victory holds the most promise for the workers of the fifth Ward.

Ward 15: Rafa Yanez led 4 other candidates to force Rahm Emanuel rubber stamp Ray Lopez into a runoff, but just barely.  Yanez had union support in the first round and continues with union support and the endorsement of United Working Families.  A former policeman, he has been vocal in supporting the NoCopAcademy campaign and exposing abuse in the police, not as a matter of bad individuals but as a systemic problem.  Rafa Yanez has the movement support that could make a change in the ward.

Ward 20: Nine candidates vied in February to replace retired/indicted alderman Willie

ct-illinois-election-early-voting-20160929

David Orr retired as County Clerk. He has played a role in the elections often endorsing candidates opposing the incumbents.  This is an indication of fissures developing in the Democratic Party itself.

Cochran.  Of these, Jeanette Taylor and Nicole Johnson made the runoff.  Jeanette, with 29% of the vote, came to the attention of Chicagoans with her participation in a hunger strike to keep Dyett School open.  She earned her right to be part of that group, by decades of volunteer work leading the Local School Councils in the neighborhood.  Her fight for public education is not a whim; it’s life or death, a matter of survival for her, her children and the families where she grew up.  Incidentally, she apparently just joined DSA.  Jeanette Taylor shows something about how the programmatic demands of the people are embodied in the candidates themselves.

Ward 25: In 2015, Byron Sigcho-Lopez and other challengers almost forced Danny Solis into a runoff.  This year Solis decided not to run, after the FBI got him to wear a wire to establish corruption among the aldermen.  Byron is in a runoff this time against Alex Acevedo, a machine hack.  Hilario Dominguez, a teacher and one of the other candidates with progressive endorsement, has endorsed Sigcho-Lopez, who has impressive credentials fighting for public education and against charters (he did a lot of the work uncovering the corruption in the UNO charter network).  He is also an activist in Pilsen Alliance and embraced the “Five Point Program” of the Concerned Puerto Rican Voters, a model of the fight for basic needs.  The movement around Byron Sigcho-Lopez provides an opportunity to develop a citywide network of fighters against gentrification and for public education.

Ward 30: Ariel Reboyras, the incumbent in the ward and Rahm Emanuel shill, is best known this year as the man who went to the West Coast to research police oversight practices, and came back with two proposals to divert from the Chicago Police Accountability Council, or CPAC.  Jessica Gutierrez, daughter of former Congressman Luis Gutierrez, is in the runoff challenging Reboyras. To some extent this campaign reflects an opposition to Emanuel and the whole police accountability question. A vote for Gutierrez could solidify that opposition.

Ward 33: Rossana Rodriguez has become the star of the runoff season.  She actually polled more votes than the incumbent, but not enough to win outright.  Rodriguez has run as a Democratic Socialist;  the incumbent, Deb Mell, is the daughter of long time Chicago pol Dick Mell, a loyal follower of Rahm Emanuel.  More important than her star quality is that Rodriguez has embraced the NoCopAcademy campaign, supports CPAC, wants an elected school board, and seeks housing as a human right.  Endorsed by United Working Families, a citywide movement is coalescing around the Rossana Rodriguez. campaign.

Ward 40: Alderman Pat O’Connor was part of the Vrdolyak 29 that obstructed Mayor Harold Washington’s program in 1983. He never apologized for his participation in this racist, anti-working class cabal.  As the floor leader in city council for Mayor Emanuel, O’Connor did Emanuel’s bidding for the last eight years.  When Alderman Ed Burke was indicted 6 months ago for extortion and then stripped of his chairmanship of the powerful finance committee, Emanuel placed O’Connor in his place.  In that role just last week he prevented a referendum from reaching the floor of the Council that would tax sales of homes more than $1 million.  That tax would provide funds for services for the homeless. Andre Vasquez was the first among challengers to O’Connor’s seat and will face him in the runoff.  Coming out of the hip-hop movement, Vasquez has embraced everything decent that O’Connor opposes.  He’s endorsed by United Working Families and points out that his winning this office would allow for the further development of a Socialist Caucus of aldermen. Ousting O’Connor by itself would be a worthy achievement. As with a number of other wards, here too the movement for affordable housing for all, for public schools, for police accountability could be solidified with the victory of Andre

Erika and other challengers in 46th ward

Before the February 26 election, the challengers in the 46th ward agreed to support whoever got into a runoff against Alderman O’Connor

Vasquez.

Ward 46:When the votes were counted after the February 26 election, less than 300 votes separated the three top challengers to incumbent Jim Cappleman, gentrifier extraordinaire.  Any of the three would have been a vast improvement over the man Emanuel tapped to take Danny Solis’s (the alderman who wore the wire, ward 25) position on the Zoning Committee. That lot fell to Marianne Lalonde, a PhD chemist who is also on the Board of a shelter for homeless women, Sarah’s Circle.  She is a fierce advocate for people experiencing homelessness, a big problem in Uptown where this ward is located.  Cappleman gained about 44% of the vote in February; Lalonde’s chances are improved by the fact that the other challenger candidates have endorsed her. Getting rid of Cappleman would be advantageous by itself.  A victory for Lalonde could strengthen an already strong movement for housing and education in this ward. 

Ward 47:  Alderman Pawar decided not to run for re-election and instead to run for treasurer.  Nine candidates vied for this office. Matt Martin won 40% of the vote and will face Michael Negron in the runoff.  Martin is endorsed by United Working Families and has a good chance of winning this seat.

53039203_408679889895392_6608008554437672960_n

On February 26, volunteers pack the 49th Ward office of Maria Hadden turning out the vote that gave her practically a 2 to 1 margin of victory.

We should at least note that Democratic Socialist  Daniel LaSpata beat incumbent Proco “Joe” Moreno by a 2 to 1 margin; and Democratic Socialist Carlos Ramirez Rosa retained his seat with 60% of the vote. Maria Hadden ousted incumbent Joe Moore by an almost 2 to 1 margin; Moore held his seat for 28 years and operated as a gatekeeper for Rahm Emanuel.  But we should also note that John Arena, a champion of affordable housing, lost his seat because of racist and anti-homeless smear by his challenger.   Most of the African American incumbents on the South and West side retained their seats regardless of their sycophant connection to the Democratic Party machine.

The Mayor: If you have read this far, you are perhaps wondering if we are ever going to discuss the mayoral race.  For a race between deeply flawed candidates, this campaign has ignited considerable passion.  Of the original 14 candidates, few would have predicted that two African-American women would face off against each other.  That the next mayor will be an African American woman is pretty remarkable in this city.  One, Lori Lightfoot, is best known as a Rahm Emanuel appointee to the police review board as well as a federal prosecutor and a lawyer for one of the most connected law firms in the city. Her defense of police in, for example, the Rekia Boyd murder, has earned her the enmity of the police accountability movement.  The other, Toni Preckwinkle, chairs the Cook County Democratic Party.  She is the ultimate insider with scads of experience as an alderman and also as the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.  Anyone in politics as long as Preckwinkle would have to have ties to the corrupt (ties to the recently indicted Ed Burke and the disgraced Joe Berrios).

Preckwinkle has raised over $8 million for her campaign, while Lightfoot in excess of $4 million.  Preckwinkle’s top donors include various branches of SEIU for about half of her donations (teachers’ unions have contributed about $400,000).  Lightfoot has gotten about $500,000 from the Laborers Union and has been endorsed by the Plumbers.  It appears that the Building Trades have more confidence in a Lightfoot administration, while public workers and service workers unions think they have more to gain from Preckwinkle winning.  The newspapers (Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, Crain’s) have endorsed Lightfoot. Both Lightfoot and Preckwinkle style themselves as progressive and independent, though their claims make one wonder if we are speaking the same language.

As we said above, the passions are running high in this campaign among activists. The opinions on both sides are understandable, and the objectives (stopping a cop supporter vs dealing a blow to “the machine”) are worthy.  A number of the activists on both sides of the divide recognize that, no matter who wins, the movement is going to have to fight like hell.  And, with respect for the passions of those involved, that is the word we want to leave you with:  no matter who wins, we are going to have to fight like hell.  Thankfully, with the rising movement in the wards around the fight for survival, a citywide movement of those at the bottom will be much more possible.