The Militant and Elian's Rescue - I

Juan R. Fajardo fajardos at
Mon May 1 00:10:05 MDT 2000

Here's the article from The Militant, which Jose referred to.

Perhaps others will also share the incredulity that I share wiyj Jose on
this one.  My mouth just dropped open when I saw it, and kept doing so
as I read it.  It is such as stretch that it strains credulity, and
makes me glad that I never joined the party, for if ever I would have to
break ranks it would be on this one. There's no way I could with a
straight face ever put forward this line.

As our friend in New Zealand would say, Oh, those Barnesites, what will
they think of next?

- Juan

             [The Militant (logo)]
             Vol. 64/No.18      May 8, 2000

             INS assault in Miami strikes blow to the working

             In defense of the Cuban revolution, in defense of
             the working class!

             Since the day last November when then
             five-year-old Elian Gonzalez was rescued from the
             water off the coast of Florida, the Militant has
             campaigned against the Clinton administration's
             refusal to immediately return him to Cuba.

             We have pointed out that he is one of many
             thousands of victims of the decades-long U.S.
             government policy codified in the 1966 Cuban
             Adjustment Act. That policy is designed to entice
             Cubans into the dangerous Florida Straits on
             flimsy rafts and rickety skiffs with the knowledge
             that if they survive, unlike other immigrants,
             they will be welcomed with aid and citizenship
             papers in the reputed "land of plenty," the
             world's wealthiest capitalist power.


             The Militant has insisted, moreover, that the top
             echelons of the U.S. government, with brutal
             indifference to the consequences for an innocent
             child, quickly came to see how unanticipated
             developments surrounding this case could be played
             to advantage. Elian Gonzalez could be used to help
             the U.S. ruling class polish the tarnished image
             of la migra, its largest and most hated federal
             police force, and to strengthen the executive
             powers of the imperialist state. These are
             strategic goals that rank high with the U.S.
             rulers, as they prepare their arsenal for use
             against working people at home and abroad.

             The April 22 Miami commando-style operation
             carried out in the wee hours of the morning by
             heavily-armed special forces of the Immigration
             and Naturalization Service provides striking new
             confirmation of the Militant's assessment. That
             raid dealt a stunning blow to the right of every
             U.S. resident to be "secure in their persons,
             houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable
             searches and seizures," as provided by the Fourth
             Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, part of the
             Bill of Rights codifying space wrested by the
             toilers over more than two centuries of struggle.
             Every class-conscious worker is obligated to take
             a clear and unambiguous stand against that police
             action, which, in addition to all else, was
             accompanied by chauvinism and anti-immigrant
             prejudice against the population labeled "Miami

             That's why the Militant, whose masthead proudly
             declares it is "published in the interests of
             working people," is campaigning with the headline
             this week: "INS assault in Miami strikes blow to
             the working class." Condemnation of the raid is
             all the more incumbent on those who for more than
             40 years have been the most consistent and
             intransigent defenders of the Cuban revolution.

             Following months of unprecedented publicity, the
             police action in Miami removed a Cuban child from
             the home of relatives who, with no legal custody
             rights, were parading him before the world as a
             trophy of the counterrevolution. For that reason,
             the operation is being hailed by a layer of
             activists in the Cuba solidarity movement as a
             "victory," for which U.S. top cop Attorney General
             Janet Reno and U.S. president William Clinton
             should be sent bouquets of flowers and letters of

             Nothing could be more dangerously false. What's at
             stake is a working-class line of march in defense
             of democratic rights and political space won by
             working people in the United States through two
             revolutions and numberless bloody battles in the
             streets. It is along that road that the Cuban
             Revolution, the first dictatorship of the
             proletariat in our hemisphere, will be effectively
             defended as well.

             Never was there greater need for clarity that the
             government of the most dangerous and brutal
             imperialist power in the world does not act for
             "us." "We" and "they" are two irreconcilable

             Clinton strengthens police powers

             Since taking office more than seven years ago, the
             Clinton administration, with bipartisan backing in
             Congress, has been steadily pursuing a course to
             strengthen police powers while restricting
             political space for the exercise of democratic
             rights. This is the rulers' considered need, an
             anticipation in face of slowly growing political
             polarization and intensified resistance by
             broadening layers of workers and farmers to the
             conditions of their exploitation and oppression.
             The following are just a few of the measures taken
             by the White House, Congress, and the courts:

             Under the banner of "the fight against drugs,"
             Clinton's 1994 Crime Bill assaulted Fourth
             Amendment protections against illegal search and
             seizure in private homes, and the courts have
             virtually eliminated such rights in automobiles.

             Following adoption of the White House-initiated
             Illegal Immigration Reform Act in 1996,
             deportations hit a record high over the next two
             years. La migra's hated powers to seize and deport
             suspected "illegal aliens" without right to
             judicial review or appeal have been expanded.

             The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
             signed into law by Clinton in 1996 permits the INS
             to jail immigrants using what it calls "secret
             evidence." It also broadens government powers to
             use wiretaps and hold individuals without bail in
             "preventive detention."

             The U.S. prison population today is some eight
             times what it was in 1971, and nearly twice its
             level when the Great Jailer took up residence in
             the White House in 1992.

             Appeal and parole rights have been further
             restricted, while mandatory minimum sentences,
             longer terms, and even prison labor for the "free
             market" have all become more common.

             During the seven-year administration of the Great
             Executioner, the annual number of state-sponsored
             electrocutions, hangings, and deaths by lethal
             injection have tripled, while the number of
             defendants charged with federal capital offenses
             has tripled since adoption of the
             Clinton-initiated Federal Death Penalty Act of

             The White House has stepped up heavier and more
             deadly arming and equipping of police forces.
             Between 1995 and 1997 alone, the Clinton
             administration gave police departments 1.2 million
             pieces of military hardware, including 73 grenade
             launchers and 112 armored personnel carriers. Use
             of self-repeating handguns with large clips has
             been encouraged and expanded.

             In the name of preempting "terrorist" attacks, the
             Clinton Pentagon has established, for the first
             time in U.S. history, a de facto "homeland defense
             command," preparing the way for the U.S. armed
             forces to openly conduct police operations—now
             prohibited by law—against residents of the United

             Mailed fist and imperial arrogance

             Official sanction by the Clinton administration
             for escalated police violence has led with
             increasing frequency, from one end of the country
             to the other, to cold-blooded murders by cops. The
             roster of names that have prompted outpourings of
             anger and demands for justice in recent months
             alone is long and well-known—Amadou Diallo and
             Patrick Dorismond in New York City; Willie James
             Williams in Valdosta, Georgia; Tyisha Miller in
             Riverside, California; and many others. But we
             should remind ourselves that the pattern of
             domestic police violence does not stand in
             isolation. It goes hand-in-hand with the
             sharpening interimperialist conflict and U.S.
             military aggression throughout the world, from
             Iraq, to Yugoslavia, to the Sudan, to Korea.

             They do at home what they do abroad. Foreign
             policy is always ultimately an expression of the
             real trajectory of domestic policy. Their course
             and objectives have nothing to do with the "rule
             of law." They have everything to do with the
             mailed fist and imperial arrogance of the world's
             one "indispensable nation," as William Clinton
             likes to call the United States.

             The INS raid in Miami, as Harvard constitutional
             law professor and liberal Establishment attorney
             Laurence Tribe has pointed out, was carried out in
             violation of the fact that under the U.S.
             Constitution "it is axiomatic that the executive
             branch has no unilateral authority to enter
             people's homes forcibly to remove innocent
             individuals without taking the time to seek a
             warrant or other order from a judge or
             magistrate." No judge or magistrate "had issued
             the type of warrant or other authority needed for
             the executive branch to break into the home to
             seize the child."

             The INS, with its enhanced powers under the 1996
             Immigration Act, can secure warrants to search
             workplaces for illegal aliens and "to search,
             interrogate and arrest people without warrants in
             order to prevent unlawful entry into the country,"
             Tribe added. "But no one suspects that Elian is
             here illegally." (To the contrary, we would add:
             the U.S rulers' Cuban Adjustment Act is designed
             to entice the maximum number of "Eliáns," all of
             them "legal.")

             La migra's justification for the firepower
             deployed in Miami was the all-too-well-known claim
             of "intelligence" reports of weapons in the house
             or crowd. (How often have workers in the United
             States been victims of "secret intelligence,"
             offered by the FBI and other police agencies,
             informers, and provocateurs to justify murderous

             The timing of the predawn raid, prohibited by the
             terms of most search warrants; the battering down
             of the front and back door; the refusal to seek or
             obtain a court order obliging the family to turn
             over the child (the INS architects of the
             "dilemma" claim their powers are not subject to
             judicial review); the wanton "collateral damage"
             inflicted on the home of the child's relatives, to
             whom the administration had originally "granted"
             custody; the pepper gas sprayed on the crowd
             outside the home; the assault on the NBC camera
             crew—all are elements of the violation of the
             constitutional right to safety and security in our
             own homes that U.S. residents consider among our
             most precious guarantees under the Bill of Rights.
             All were intended to teach a class lesson about
             what "the rule of law" really means to those who
             would resist the advance of the imperial power
             that William Clinton and Janet Reno serve.

             As if the point needed to be reinforced, two days
             after the INS raid in Miami, the New York press
             reported that cops "in battle gear—backed up by
             search dogs, helicopters and rooftop
             sharpshooters—blocked off streets" for hours in
             the Edgemere section of Queens. They were "acting
             on a tip" that a man wanted in connection with a
             series of shootings was in an apartment in the
             area. He was never found, but others in the
             neighborhood were detained, manhandled, and
             grilled. Get the message?

             Next target: Puerto Rico

             Immediately following the Miami raid, the U.S.
             government announced it would soon begin
             operations with U.S. marshals and other federal
             police agencies to clear the Puerto Rican island
             of Vieques of the protesters permanently camped
             there to prevent the Pentagon from resuming use of
             the island as a weapons-testing site.

             The chauvinist, anti-Cuban, anti-immigrant and
             anti-working-class prejudice that has been used to
             bolster support for the police commando operation
             in Miami is one of its most pernicious aspects.
             High levels of support for the INS raid among
             African-Americans polled in South Florida is one
             register of the successful attempt to bolster
             decades of resentment against many in the Cuban
             community for reactionary ends.

             The pen of leading New York Times columnist Thomas
             Friedman drips with venom as he repeatedly refers
             to the perfidious role of "the Miami Cubans," as a
             bloc, undifferentiated by class or other
             distinction, except to identify some among them as
             "extremists." As a people they bear a collective
             guilt. Whether as residents or citizens, they have
             fewer or lesser rights than "Americans."

             In the aftermath of the INS raid he
             enthusiastically supported, Friedman gloats that
             one can only hope "the Miami Cubans" have been
             reminded "that they are not living in their own
             private country, they cannot do whatever they
             please and that they may hate Fidel Castro more
             than they love the U.S. Constitution—but that
             doesn't apply to the rest of us." This from a
             near-hysterical advocate of tearing up the Bill of
             Rights for all of us, so "the Miami Cubans" can be
             taught a lesson.

             Blanket references to Cuban-Americans living in
             Miami as gusanos, or as the "Miami Mafia" (almost
             more powerful than the imperialist
             state)—references that often crop up among
             supporters of the revolution in the United States
             (see letters page)—are of a similarly reactionary
             and petty bourgeois character. Events surrounding
             the Elián González affair confirm what the
             Militant has long argued: with every passing year
             Cubans and Cuban-Americans living in the United
             States are more and more marked by the same class
             divisions and political polarization as other
             residents. The Cuban bourgeois layers who dominate
             the Dade County political machine are more
             integrated today, not less, with their class
             brothers and sisters nationally. The role various
             of them played in "negotiations" throughout the
             Elián case bears testimony to this.

             Cuban workers in the United States are likewise
             more homogeneous with their class.

             End of an era

             Even the relatively small size and elevated
             average age of the crowds that held vigil in the
             streets around the González home in Little Havana
             should be noted. The virtual absence of the armed
             counterrevolutionary organizations that in earlier
             years would have furnished a cadre and played a
             weighty role in events such as those of the last
             five months is further confirmation that the Elian
             Gonzalez case will be recognized as the end of an
             era of reactionary hopes to influence U.S.

             Imperialist publicists like Thomas Friedman
             notwithstanding, it is not "hard-line" Cubans who
             have "kidnapped U.S. policy on Cuba for all these
             years," and now must be taught a lesson by the
             real Americans for whom he speaks. The space
             enjoyed for many years by forces such as the
             Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) derived
             from the fact that they served the interests and
             policies defended by Washington. Even the
             typically chauvinist image of Cubans as
             uncontrollable extremists has been useful to the
             U.S. rulers and continues to play into their
             hands. As the political advantage of keeping Elián
             González in the United States diminished in
             Washington's eyes, however, the reality of CANF's
             reputed power was exposed.

             Beginning from the moment decisive action was
             taken in February 1996 by the Revolutionary Armed
             Forces of Cuba against the Brothers to the Rescue
             abortive overflight provocation, and culminating
             with the frustrating failure of the campaign to
             "keep Elian Gonzalez in the 'free world,'" any
             pretense that there is a politically homogeneous
             Cuban-American organization, let alone an armed
             group, weighty enough to substantially influence
             Washington's policy towards Cuba has been
             shattered. The fiction of a monolithic,
             non-class-divided Cuban community, kept in line by
             a powerful rightist cadre, backed and pandered to
             by Washington, has lost credibility. The
             self-serving notion that Miami is not subject to
             the same laws of class struggle as the rest of the
             United States has been further weakened.

             The issues surrounding the INS raid in Miami are
             of vital importance to the workers movement.
             Millions of working people feel nothing but
             outrage at the rulers' trampling on our most basic
             rights and political space, our livelihoods, our
             very life and limb. The regressive burden of the
             bourgeoisie's tax policies; the inevitability of
             banks and government agencies foreclosing on small
             farmers squeezed by the ever-increasing weight of
             giant monopolies; the brutal indifference to human
             life symbolized by the deadly police assault on
             the Branch Davidian compound in Waco—if the only
             voice working people and worse-off layers of the
             middle classes hear speaking out against such
             indignities are those of reaction, if no angry and
             determined working-class voice is heard pointing a
             class-struggle way forward, then the radical siren
             song of fascist demagogues will gain an ever more
             receptive ear.

             Our battle to return Elián González to Cuba is not
             yet over. It would be futile to predict how much
             longer it will take. But with each passing day it
             becomes clearer that the U.S. ruling class in its
             majority has become convinced that the gains from
             preventing the boy from going home has been
             exhausted. His use value to them has been
             exhausted. The "caring president" has moved on to
             other priorities.

             The people of Cuba have won.

             The massive mobilization of ordinary Cubans, day
             after day, month after month; their determination
             to prevent the arrogant imperialist power to the
             north from stealing a child; the spotlight of
             publicity around the world—that is what finally
             made it impossible for the U.S. government to
             sweep the increasingly embarrassing affair (their
             own creation from the beginning) under a rug. "One
             day longer"—the battle cry of workers and farmers
             everywhere—is the banner under which the Cuban
             people marched.

             Cuba's unforgivable offense

             As many times before over the last 40-odd years,
             the U.S. rulers are arguing among themselves over
             how to continue punishing the working people of
             Cuba for the unforgivable affront of creating the
             first free territory of the Americas. The
             propertied families are divided, as always, over
             how best to advance their objective of overturning
             the revolutionary state power on U.S.
             imperialism's doorstep. There is no truce, even
             for a day. But by drawing a line in the sand, the
             people of Cuba have shown the U.S. rulers they
             have misjudged the moment in history. Not for the
             first time.

             As we share the sweet taste of victory with our
             cocombatants in Cuba, however, communists and
             class-conscious toilers in the United States must
             be both clear and intransigent about the class
             political issues involved—the character of the
             U.S. imperialist government and its armed
             agencies. Our future—in fact the future of the
             world—depends on it.

             The muddle-headedness—at best—in facing these
             class questions within what is broadly thought of
             as the Cuba solidarity movement is a mortal
             danger, including to the Cuban Revolution itself.
             Every step taken by the U.S. ruling class to close
             political space for working people within the
             United States—to restrict the exercise of
             democratic rights temporarily wrested through
             bloody struggles—is a blow against the Cuban
             Revolution as well.

             When the victorious October Revolution was obliged
             by the unfavorable world relationship of forces in
             1918 to sign the rapacious Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
             with German imperialism in order to buy time to
             save the state power of the workers and peasants—a
             very special period in the young Soviet
             republic—V. I. Lenin led the fight within the
             Bolshevik leadership to take that necessary step.
             Parliamentary deputies in Germany calling
             themselves socialists voted to ratify that same
             treaty in the German Reichstag, arguing there was
             no reason not to do so since the Bolsheviks
             themselves had signed the onerous terms.

             The Bolsheviks' unforgettable reply to them—as
             recorded by Leon Trotsky, organizer of the Red
             Army and Lenin's chief negotiator at
             Brest-Litovsk—was: "You swine. We are objectively
             compelled to negotiate in order not to be
             annihilated, but as for you—you are politically
             free to vote for or against, and your vote implies
             whether or not you place confidence in your own

             For the working-class movement in the United
             States today, the same class principles are at
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