Newsbits for v. 9.15

Bolivia believes it has found remains of Che--

Bolivian authorities said on Thursday, November 30 that they believed
they had found the burial site of the legendary leftist hero of the
Cuban revolution Ernesto Che Guevara, 28 years after the military
killed him there. The discovery came after investigators were led to
the town and its landing strip by retired General Mario Vargas
Salinas, who buried Guevara and other guerrillas there but did not
recall the exact site of the mass grave. The general, ordered by the
military high command to find the remains, spent 45 minutes on the
landing strip but was unable to locate the exact burial spot.
	A presidential commission appointed to investigate the 1967
death of the Argentine-born Guevara -- Fidel Castro's deputy in the
Cuban revolution -- credited a "stroke of luck" in finding two
witnesses who could help locate his remains. The two unidentified
witnesses provided key information that led investigators to the spot
where Guevara's mutilated and half-burned body is believed to have
been buried shortly after the military killed him on October 9,
1967. Guevara led a nine-month insurrection in the Bolivian mountains
and was executed by an army sergeant on October 9, 1967, a day after
he was captured by Bolivian troops.
	Hugo San Martin, head of the commission named by Bolivian
President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, told reporters the remains were
"located exactly" at a landing strip in the airport in the remote town
of Vallegrande, 480 miles from the capital La Paz. San Martin said
officials would begin digging below the landing strip on December 1 to
exhume the remains. The president ordered that Guevara be given a
Roman Catholic burial. [Reuter]


Native people bury racist rock--

 "Plymouth Rock is a symbol -- a monument to murder, slavery, theft,
racism and oppression. The white man has killed the spirit in the
rock. Things that are dead should stay buried." With these words,
Moonanum James (Wampanoag), sachem of United American Indians of New
England (UAINE), led over 300 Native people and supporters of all
nationalities to Plymouth Rock on November 23.
	About a dozen women, men and children scaled an iron fence,
jumped into the pit where Plymouth Rock is located and buried it with
sand, then planting a Native warrior flag atop it re-enacting the
first burial 25 years ago as part of the celebration of the original
National Day of Mourning. Afterwards, Native singers broke into the
American Indian Movement song.
	The National Day of Mourning is held in protest against the
U.S. mythology of Thanksgiving and the "Pilgrim's Progress Parade" --
a re-enactment of the march of Pilgrims to church, with muskets and
bibles in hand. Commented James, "They want to act as though we sat
down and ate turkey and lived happily ever after. That is simply not
true -- and we keep coming back year after year in order to give
answer to their lies."
	Two days earlier, on November 21, the city of Provincetown
held a celebration of the signing of the Mayflower Compact. A
statement from UAINE was read to the assembled group there, stunning
and angering some. It read in part, "We have no reason to celebrate
the signing of the Compact or the arrival of the Pilgrims. The
Mayflower Compact was a mere corporate agreement of white men agreeing
to stick together."
	"There was no room in that Compact for women, lesbians and gay
men, and the poor, let alone for Native people or our sisters and
brothers of African descent. We call on all oppressed people to unite
and join the fight against the racist and murderous ruling class, and
not glorify the Mayflower Compact, but to condemn it and the system it
created." [Workers World]


Prop. 187 ruled mostly illegal--

A federaljudge struck down central provisions of Proposition 187
on Monday, November 20, ruling without a trial that parts of the
immigration-control measure passed by three-fifths of state voters
last November conflict with federal power over immigration. Temporary
court orders have blocked nearly all of Proposition 187 since its
adoption and remain in effect. The decision by US District Judge
Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles will have little immediate impact, but
her ruling is the first final judgment by a court on any of the
measure's provisions.
	Pfaelzer struck down requirements that teachers, health care
workers, and social workers collect and report information about
applicants' immigration status. She also ruled that Proposition 187
conflicts with federal education guarantees by denying illegal
immigrants public education from kindergarten through high school. The
few other public benefits denied to illegal immigrants by Proposition
187 cannot be withheld unless they are paid for solely by the state,
Pfaelzer wrote. She mentioned prenatal care and long-term care for the
elderly as the only programs falling into that category, although
others may be identified at a later hearing.
	The remaining portions of the law -- including a ban on higher
education for illegal immigrants and heavy penalties for using false
immigration documents -- will be challenged at a trial that has yet to
be scheduled.
	Supporters of Proposition 187 described the ruling as a major
victory, but warned yesterday that the struggle to defend it is not
over. The opposition was frustrated by the decision, but pro-187
politicians like California Governor Pete Wilson say the decision will
"shift the focus [of immigration reform] properly, to the Congress."
Wilson said he will focus on pursuing federal funds to reimburse
California for the cost of providing services to undocumented
immigrants.  California Attorney General Dan Lungren promised to
appeal the ruling, and said he expected the case to be resolved before
the US Supreme Court. He added that his office would concentrate on
defending portions of the law left intact for now by Pfaelzer. [San
Francisco Chronicle, Mercury News]


Lesbian activists murdered in Oregon--

 The bodies of two missing lesbian activists were found in the
back of their Toyota pick-up truck the evening of Thursday, December 7
in Medford, Oregon. Michelle Abdill, 42, and her partner of 12 years,
Roxanne Ellis, 54, were last seen alive on Monday, December 4 at about
5 p.m. after Ellis, who ran a property management company, was
scheduled to show a rental duplex. Abdill went to the duplex to help
Ellis jump start her car, and both women disappeared.
	A cable company employee discovered the pickup belonging to
Ellis parked behind an apartment building and notified police who
towed the truck to a city garage, where its exterior was examined for
evidence before it was opened. Police found Ellis's and Abdill's
bodies in the camper shell attached to the pickup.
	Both women fought anti-gay ballot measures in Oregon and it is
suspected that their apparently violent deaths are linked to their
outspoken support for gay rights. The two had received threats in the
past and police are investigating the murders as hate crimes.
	The Medford Police Department are trying to locate a male who
may have information about the disappearance of two local women. The
man was last seen at the same time and place where the two women were
last seen.
	The possibility that their abductions may have been linked to
their activism sent a shiver of fear through the gay community. "We
have no reason to discount those fears and we are not," Sgt. Mike
Moran said. "We want as a department not to work up people
unnecessarily about an issue we haven't proven yet, but we are taking
it as a very viable option."
	Please send notes of support and sympathy care of PFLAG
Ashland/Rogue Valley POB 13, Ashland, OR 97520; or to the Pacific
Northwest Regional Director: CandSteele@aol.com. [PFLAG, AP]


Chinese women refugees fleeing forced abortions--

Nineteen Chinese women have been waiting at the Kern County Lerdo
Detention Facility, near Bakersfield, California, to be deported to
the People's Republic of China (PRC) by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) since mid-November. Eight of the women
left China 2 1/2 years ago aboard the ship, "Golden Venture," and have
been incarcerated by the INS ever since. Their asylum applications
were turned down because the INS does not recognize those fleeing
forced abortion as genuine refugees. They have received final orders
for deportation, and the INS has stated that it is just a matter of
getting the actual vehicle to deport them. Nine other women from the
"Golden Venture" were accepted into Ecuador as political refugees on
October 6.
	The waiting women have staged a hunger strike since November 9
to protest their deportation. The women are under 24-hour medical
supervision and several are extremely ill.
	Most of the women left China because of the country's
"one-child" policy, experiencing forced abortions and
sterilizations. Chinese citizens have been arbitrarily detained and
tortured by local officials in connection with the birth control
campaign. Upon return to the PRC, these women will likely face prison
terms, torture, or other forms of ill treatment for opposing the
"one-child" policy.
	The deportation of these women to China would be particularly
tragic at this moment, because Congress may soon restore the policy
under which they would be eligible for asylum. The House has already
passed such a provision in H.R. 1561, The American Overseas Interests
Act. Bipartisan negotiations in the Senate could lead to floor
consideration of S. 908, the counterpart legislation, in a few
days. Additionally, the House Judiciary Committee has added a similar
provision to H.R. 2202, the Immigration in the National Interest Act.
	If you would like to protest the deportation write to First
Lady, Hillary Clinton, The White House, Washington, DC 20500;
Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General, United States Department of
Justice, Tenth & Constitution, NW, Washington, DC 20503; Commissioner
Doris Meissner, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 Eye
Street, Washington, DC 20536; and your Senators and
Representatives. [Amnesty International and People of the Golden
Vision]


Latinos poised to march on Washington--

Bolstered by the Million Man March, organizers of Coordinadora
'96 are preparing for the first ever national rally of Latinos to the
steps of the Capitol. The date has been set for October 12, 1996. The
march has been in the works for at least two years.
	While the recent march of African American men was a ritual of
atonement, Latinos say their march must be a rite of affirmation, to
"welcome ourselves to America." "If nobody else will welcome us, we
will welcome ourselves," says Juan Jose Gutierrez, national
coordinator of Coordinadora '96 -- Campaign '96 and executive director
of One Stop Immigration.
	Government statistics show that urban Latinos generally suffer
the same poor socio-economic conditions as urban African
Americans. They must also contend with anti-immigrant hysteria and an
attack against their language and culture, evidenced by the
English-only movement. This, despite the fact that more than 95
percent of Latinos -- including many whose roots in "America" predate
Columbus' are U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
	Pedro Aviles, director of the Latino Civil Rights Task force
in Washington D.C. promises 100,000 Latinos from the D.C., Maryland
and Virginia areas, saying that the march should appeal to the broad
and diverse Latino communities.
	Although many say Latinos do not have leaders who can rally
hundreds of thousands of Latinos to the nation's capital, Gutierrez
disputes this. "We do have leaders of tremendous stature -- they're
just not recognized by the media." Most of the organizer of
Coordinadora 96 are human rights and immigrant rights activists
who have a long track record of organizing. [Chronicle Features]


Workers suffer under the gap--

 For many years, the GAP bought clothes from a factory in El
Salvador called Mandarin International. The workers at this factory
organized the first union in any Central American "maquila" (free
trade zone). The GAP's factory fired 350 workers and beat hundreds
this spring in retaliation for creating the union, reports the
Catholic Archdiocese in El Salvador. When international protests
escalated in the fall, the GAP fled -- leaving hundreds of workers
jobless.
	At $4 billion annual sales and $310 million annual profits,
the GAP is one of the largest apparel companies in the world. However,
the GAP's El Salvadoran workers earned only 16 cents for every $20
shirt they assembled. The GAP pays workers only 18% the cost of living
for the average El Salvadoran family. Workers have no access to social
security upon retirement because the GAP steals its proportion of
social security taxes.
	The GAP hired a colonel from the El Salvadoran Army as its
personnel director and 50 ex-soldiers as armed guards who routinely
beat and intimidated workers. "[T]hese men are only there to control
our union. If you try to present them something or if they fire
someone and you don't like it, these men will beat or hit you," said a
GAP worker this last summer.
	Because the GAP forces workers to work up to 20 hours per day
at least once a week, its largely teenaged workforce must drop out of
school to remain employed. Women workers are required to take birth
control pills and have abortions if they become pregnant, or they will
be fired. Many workers suffer from respiratory problems because the
GAP's factories are not properly ventilated.
	Ironically, the GAP purports to be a progressive corporation
and many "ethical" mutual funds invest hundreds of thousands of
dollars in the clothing retailer. Call the Domini Social Index Trust
(800-762-6814) and Pax World Fund (800-767-1729) to demand they unload
GAP stocks until the company treats its workers justly.
	If you would like to protest the GAP's treatment of its
workers directly, call the GAP's Senior Vice President Stanley Raggio
at 800-333-7899. There will also be a protest at the GAP in Harvard
Square on Saturday, December 16 from 11am to 1pm. [Committee In
Solidarity with the People of El Salvador and the Women's Action
Coalition] 


Garment workers in Bangladesh attacked--

As the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union (BIGU) neared
its first anniversary as a politically independent trade union, it was
attacked by a gang of well-heeled and heavily armed thugs who warned
that the union should cease its activites. On the night of November
21, the men burst into union headquarters in Dhaka wildly firing shots
in the air, smashing furniture, and threatening to kill anyone who
resisted. Activists and memebers were clubbed with rifle butts. The
attackers singled out the union's lawyer, ripping her sari, dousing
her in gas, and trying to set her on fire.
	The BIGU is only union in the country founded and run by women
workers. It has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the thousands of
workers in the garment industry, mainly young women and girls' some as
young as eight -- who desperately need someone to speak out for
them. Often they are forced to work every day in slave-like conditions
for sub-minimum wages that are frequently withheld for months.
	Said Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), "In recent months, the
union has been involved in court action against a number of member
companies belonging to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and
Exporters Association. These cases include situations where workers
who stood up for their rights have been forced to resign, and then
have been blacklisted. Some have been illegally detained and
beaten. Falsified documents have been used to discredit them, and
their families have been threatened."
	Trade unions worldwide have vowed to support the BIGU. The
Brussels-based ICFTU, the world's largest labour organisation, called
on the government of Bangladesh to conduct an urgent investigation
into the attack and to bring the culprits to justice. The ICFTU urged
retailers and consumers to bear in mind the rampant exploitation
prevalent in Bangladesh when sourcing or purchasing garments
originating in Bangladesh. [International Textile, Garment and Leather
Workers Federation] 

Rights of farm workers endangered--

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a measure to
"level the playing field" between farmers and farmworkers. It
overturns a 1990 Supreme Court decision which stated that injured
farmworkers could sue under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Protection Act, even after receiving state workers'
compensation payments. The measure was promoted by Rep. Calvin Dooley,
a Democrat from Hanford, California and the California Farm Bureau
Federation. The measure will go to the U.S. Senate before it can be
signed into law.
	What the House measure belies is that there has never been a
"level playing field" between farmers and farmworkers in this
country. Farmworkers have the same coverage as all other employees in
only 14 out of 50 states. Eleven states have no workers' compensation
for agricultural workers at all. The rest carry limitations that are
not applicable to other employees.
	The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
was passed in 1982 to deal with glaring deficiencies in farmworker
housing, health, safety and transportation. It has never been fully
implemented.
	The passage of this anti-farmworker measure in the House comes
at a time of massive dismantling of services and protections for all
workers. Legal services, which serve poor urban and rural people are
being drastically slashed in funding, so that suits become more
difficult. Imminent closure of public hospitals or public clinics in
New York, Washington, D.C., Tennessee and Los Angeles threaten
everyone. Occupational safety and health for all workers is in serious
jeopardy from budget cuts. [People's Tribune] 

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