Letters to the Editors

Dear Editors,

The World Health Organization has reported that Cuba has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

A nation-wide screening program began in the 1980s and in 1986 Cuban scientists developed their own HIV test; 268 HIV-positive persons were identified. After the development of a highly active anti-retroviral treatment, Cuba bought drugs for all children who tested positive for HIV at $14,000.00 per person, per year. This expense was incurred despite the deep economic crisis in the early 1990s. The blockage deepened under Bill Clinton and Cuba has produced its own, low-cost, generic HIV medications.

Cuba has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas. My doctors are all from poor countries who have left their homes and people to come to the U.S. for more money while Cuba has graduated more than 20,000 doctors from all over the world, including the U.S., since 1998.1

Now in Greece the bankers are cutting off healthcare and medicine. They must take the Cuban road, or die.

In the spirit of Crazy Horse! In the spirit of Ché! We shall win!

Joe Johnson

Chippewa Falls, Wisconson

Note: Joe Johnson died on August 5, 2015. He wrote these two letters shortly before then.

1 Information is from Huffington Post, Workers World and World Health Organization.

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Dear Editors,

What’s happening in Greece is of real importance to the U.S. working class. I remember Ray Dunne1 telling me that after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he sold revolutionary books to workers coming out of the factories in Minneapolis. They wanted the truth, and were energized by the victory.

I saw on TV the massive party, the dancing in the streets by thousands after the historical NO vote. The working class in Greece, the young people, are ready to fight the bankers. And, if they do fight, they will win.

But, as Trotsky2 said, they have no leadership. They must forge that leadership out of their struggle. They either do that, or they will be ground into the dust by the bankers. They must do as Cuba did and nationalize the banks, shipping—everything—and be prepared to physically fight.

Cuba must take up Greece’s struggle and give leadership. The struggle is worldwide; all the working class of the world needs to help Greece.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the Spirit of Ché! If we struggle we will win!

With warmest greetings,

Love, Joe Johnson

1 Vincent R. Dunne was a socialist leader in the bitterly fought teamsters strikes of 1934-35 that transformed Minneapolis from a notorious open-shop fortress into a stronghold of unionism. This was one of the key victories that inspired workers from coast to coast and contributed significantly to the great upsurge that culminated in the organization of the CIO.

2 Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein on November [O.S. 26 October] 1879 was a Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army. On Stalin’s orders he was assassinated in Mexico in August 1940 by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born Stalinist agent.

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Dear Editors,

Palestinian political prisoners need solidarity.

Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was injured by Israeli guards who attacked Palestinian prisoners in Nafha prison, met with his lawyer from the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association on July 29, 2015. His lawyer reported that prisoners in Nafha are continuing to protest, closing their prison sections and refusing to meet with prison administration until their demands are implemented.

The prisoners are demanding an end to sanctions and punishments against the prisoners in Nafha, the return of the prisoners from Room #85 in Nafha from isolation or transfer, and an end to the night inspections in which Israeli prison guards regularly violently ransack Palestinian prisoners’ belongings in the middle of the night. Room #85 was the first attacked by Israeli guards on Monday, July 27, 2015.

Sa’adat said that the attack on the prisoners in Nafha is part of a general attack by occupation forces against the Palestinian people. He said that the occupation forces have used the excuse of mobile phones to attempt to justify their attacks, noting that it was not a personal attack but a collective assault on all of the prisoners in Nafha.

Addameer said that the attack on prisoners in Nafha is part of collective punishment against Palestinian prisoners, including sanctions imposed on prisoners during the attack on Gaza and proposals to enact a number of racist laws that violate international law and attempt to undermine the accomplishment of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. Addameer also noted that there is an ongoing increase in raids and attacks by special units inside Israeli prisons; there were over 180 such raids in 2014.

Issa Qaraqe, director of the Prisoners Affairs Committee, said in a press statement that the situation in the prisons remains very tense as a result of the attacks by Israeli forces against prisoners in Nafha and Ramon prisons, noting that prisoners in Nafha, Ramon, Eshel, Ofer and Negev prisons have decided to escalate their protest against the prison administration and demand they end their policy of attacks. The prisoners returned their dinners on July 27 and refused to enter the recreation yard or clinic and did not meet with prison officials. Qaraqe noted that these protests are meant to support the prisoners in Nafha prison and not leave them alone subject to violent attacks by the occupation forces.

Protests and denunciations from Palestinian prisons to the streets of Gaza echoed a call for justice and freedom for Palestinian prisoners, following an attack on July 28 by Israeli prison guards on Palestinian prisoners in Nafha prison, including Ahmad Sa’adat.

The PFLP, Sa’adat’s left-wing political party, organized several rallies and marches in Gaza, denouncing the attack and demanding freedom for Sa’adat and his fellow prisoners. One march, on the evening of July 28, wound through Jabalya refugee camp, another marched in Rafah, a third rallied in Nuseirat refugee camp, and a fourth in Khan Younis. On the morning of July 29, a rally in Gaza City marched to the United Nations headquarters condemning the attack by Israeli forces on Sa’adat and his fellow prisoners, with wide participation by many organizations. Jamil Mizher of the PFLP spoke, calling for a broader solidarity campaign for the prisoners on an international level, to provide political and legal support for their struggle.

In addition, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, denounced the attack by Israeli occupation forces on Sa’adat, an elected PLC member, calling it a “heinous crime against the Palestinian popularly elected representative.” He called for a special unified session of the PLC in the West Bank and Gaza to address the attack on Sa’adat and the ongoing arrests and imprisonment of elected Palestinian parliamentarians and to develop a program of joint work to free the imprisoned representatives and all Palestinian political prisoners.

Bahar called on Arab, Muslim and international parliaments and parliamentarians to denounce the crimes of the occupation against Sa’adat and his fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and to take all steps to pressure Israel to release the kidnapped deputies and to raise this issue in all international forums.

Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners!

Information about Samidoun:  

Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, is a network of organizers and activists, based in North America, working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom. Samidoun developed out of the September-October 2011 hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, seeing a need for a dedicated network to support Palestinian prisoners. We work to raise awareness and provide resources about Palestinian political prisoners, their conditions, their demands, and their work for freedom for themselves, their fellow prisoners, and their homeland. We also work to organize campaigns to make political change and advocate for Palestinian prisoners’ rights and freedoms.

Samidoun seeks to achieve justice for Palestinian prisoners through events, activities, resources, delegations, research and information-sharing, as well as building bridges with the prisoners’ movement in Palestine. We seek to amplify the voices of Palestinian prisoners, former prisoners, prisoners’ families, and Palestinian advocates for justice and human rights by translating, sharing and distributing news, interviews and materials from Palestine.

In solidarity,

Steven Katsineris, July 29, 2015

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Dear Editors,

Full disclosure. I’ve lived in a cage since 1996—in Administrative Segregation since 2010. I’m responsible for all of that.

It’s Thursday, July 16, 2015, as I write this—another day in paradise wasteland.

On Tuesday, Officer Timothy Davison escorted me from a dayroom back to my cell. He was “really happy” about having visited his daughters in Chicago the previous week. It had been “a great visit!” (He’d missed “Ribfest”—because he had to work instead—in a chronically understaffed system where hurried, inadequate training and immediate Ad Seg post assignments put ill-equipped new guards with prisoners often publicly described as “worst of the worst.”)

He told me, “I’m just working for a paycheck to take care of my responsibilities.” (Which is true for most prison employees I’ve met in the past 19 years.)

Davison was friendlier than most people I’ve known in life, on either side of the prison walls.

Wednesday morning, yesterday, Davison was working on another Ad Seg pod escorting another prisoner from another dayroom to another cell. And he was murdered by that prisoner, who’d somehow manipulated handcuffs from behind his back, wrestled Davison to the ground, grabbed the iron bar used to open food slots in cell doors, and used it to beat Davison in a gruesome, fatal manner—another example of the ever-present violence in prison. “Lock ’em up and throw away the key.” Dehumanization simply doesn’t work.

Davison was murdered by a prisoner with a violent past, including assaults that brought him back to prison with a life sentence after an initial incarceration, including at least three separate assaults against guards in here since then. Yet the way the prisonocracy operates, Davison probably didn’t know any of that.

Ultimately, a society intent on retribution may get that in ways not envisioned. Texas taxpayers bought that model of justice with three-billion-plus dollars this year.

Timothy Davison’s daughters will likely never know how happy he’d been for their time together during that last visit.

Prisonocracy will likely avoid its responsibility in his death. Even though its own Administrative Segregation Plan states, “to the extent possible, administrative segregation areas shall be staffed with experienced correctional officers.”

Does any of this matter to you? It matters to me. All lives matter.

—Christopher Dye

Write to:

Christopher Dye, 805217

3899 State Hwy 98

New Boston, Texas 75570