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On many fronts

Wisconsin struggle moves forward

Published Jul 29, 2011 8:18 AM

The candidate for senator who was endorsed by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO won a landslide victory on July 19 in the first of nine summer recall races. He is Sen. Dave Hansen, one of the 14 state senators who opposed the assault on collective bargaining rights led by Gov. Scott Walker and his pro-corporate cronies in February.

Carlos Montes, wearing cap.
Photo: Committee to Stop FBI Repression

That Hansen overwhelmingly defeated the reactionary Republican candidate demonstrates strong opposition by workers and their allies to the reactionaries’ attack on union rights, public education and health care. The recalls have become a focal point in the effort to push back the right wing and their extreme anti-worker, austerity agenda.

The labor federation’s “Truth Tour” bus that began rolling through the state on July 16 is mobilizing for the recall elections set for Aug. 9 and 16. This tour is bolstered statewide by tens of thousands of poor and working people, who are knocking on doors, making phone calls and protesting. They are confronting Walker and his cohorts wherever they show up.

“The people of Green Bay are sending a strong message to undemocratic leaders who are ramming through attacks on Wisconsin workers and communities,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Wisconsin will not stand for it.” (www.wisaflcio.org)

Building a strong mass movement

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, the Milwaukee-based immigrant rights organization, supports the recalls and the mass mobilizations for them. However, she emphasizes the critical importance of the growing Latino/a community in the United States and the power of independent, grassroots struggle.

Neumann-Ortiz, writing in the July issue of Voces de la Frontera newspaper, says in an article entitled “The Latino Vote in 2012” that the 2010 Census recorded that Latinos/as account for 5.9 percent of Wisconsin’s population, or 336,056 people. Milwaukee County has the largest concentration of Latinos/as with 126,039, followed by Dane County (Madison) with 28,925.”

She explains that there has been a 74 percent growth in the Latino/a population in Wisconsin since 2000, with significant growth in rural districts where the billion-dollar dairy and agricultural industries are based. Moreover, the article reports that the census counted 50.5 million Latinos/as in the United States, equaling 16.3 percent of the entire population. The Latino/a population accounted for most of the nation’s growth — 56 percent — between 2000 and 2010.

“Politicians from both parties should not take the Latino vote for granted,” wrote Neumann-Ortiz. “Voters who want to see change happen cannot just expect change to be delivered from the ballot box. We must continue to build an organized community that advocates for its rights in the workplace, in schools, and in every aspect of our lives, and that forms important alliances in order to create a strong mass movement to achieve the economic and social justice we seek.” (www.vdlf.org).

With Latinos/as now making up 15 percent of Milwaukee’s residents and the African-American community comprising 40 percent, oppressed peoples now make up the majority population of this working-class city. This is an important development and bodes well for the growth of mass struggle here.

Fighting FBI repression

As part of building this progressive mass movement, the Milwaukee Committee to Stop FBI Repression is hosting a community forum on July 30 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Room 181 of the Student Union.

The event’s flyer reads, “On Sept. 24, the FBI raided the homes of prominent anti-war, immigrant rights, and international solidarity activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Since then, 23 activists have been subpoenaed to a Grand Jury investigation and the home of prominent Chicano immigrant rights organizer Carlos Montes was raided.

“The FBI is attacking these activists because of their political activity. The U.S. government is using a 42-year-old charge from 1969 to prosecute Carlos Montes today for a weapons and ammunition charge, and four charges of perjury on his weapons permit, and his next court date is Aug. 12. Montes is facing decades in prison. The activists have chosen to fight back, uniting hundreds of labor, community, and student organizations, which all condemn this wave of FBI repression.”

The public forum will feature Montes via live satellite; Tom Burke, national spokesperson for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Professor Ahmed Mbalia of Africans on the Move; and others. For more information, call 608-658-5480.

For information and to support the people’s movement in Wisconsin, see www.defendwisconsin.org, www.vdlf.org, www.wisaflcio.org, wisaflcio.typepad.com and www.wibailoutpeople.org.