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by Gerry Scoppettuolo, Workers’ World 31 May 2007

Working-class global unity was on display in Boston last week, when Teresa Gutierrez, a leader of the NYC May 1st Coalition for Immigrant & Workers Rights, spoke at a May 18 Workers World forum on labor-African American-immigrant solidarity. Local leaders of struggles who spoke included Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner; Josue Renaud, New England Human Rights Organization for Haiti; Bishop Felipe Teixeira, a national leader in the immigrant rights struggle; and Dario Zapata of the MLK Bolivarian Circle. Miya Campbell read the poetry of Langston Hughes at intervals throughout the meeting.

Guiterrez said: “We raised the banner of unity with the African-American community on the issue of justice for Sean Bell. When the verdict came out in New York, our coalition decided to put it on placards. But the people already had signs that said ‘NYPD = ICE’ [New York Police Department = Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. We talk a lot about Black-Brown unity. We have to get to the point where the immigration movement sees the connection between the anti-war movement, the labor movement and all struggles.

“People are dying in detention centers—66 in the past few years. Our struggle is against the class that brings all these problems. We owe it to all the people around the world struggling against imperialism to ratchet up the struggle. Even though May Day was born in this country, immigrants have revived it and it has become a day that galvanizes the movement of labor and immigrant rights. So May Day represents tremendous gains.”

Chuck Turner connected the immigrant rights struggle to the growing Boston fight back against foreclosures in Boston. Turner had led the City Council in the unanimous passage of a just-cause eviction law that prohibits evictions from foreclosed buildings for three years in many cases.

“Housing should be a human right,” he declared, “not a speculative enterprise. It’s not enough to bring justice to those being scammed. We have to go to the next level to get a system of housing in this country that really works for the people.”

Josue Renaud spoke of mass demonstrations in Haiti on April 8 demanding that U.N. forces and the president leave. “Last year the president laid off 10,000 people. Each one supports 10 other people. When Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez visited last year 500,000 people took to the streets to greet him. We denounce the World Bank! Haitian people will fight for their rights!”

Dario Zapata, of MLK Bolivarian Circle said: “Here we breathe the air of solidarity. We are among friends in very difficult times. I am Colombian and here to tell you that the government of Colombia is criminal. The president is a member of the drug cartel and the paramilitary which ‘disappears’ anyone who opposes it. But today the opposition is stronger than ever! Our revolutionary process is going forward! We have the right to self-determination so that productive social forces can be liberated to benefit the people.”

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