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Reports from the struggle

October 26, 2001 | Page 11

Protest NATO
Boycott Taco Bell

Stop Israeli repression

By Paul Dean

PORTLAND, Ore.--About 250 people protested former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak October 15. Barak was speaking at a meeting organized by the World Affairs Council of Oregon.

The lively protest brought together Arab Americans, Jews, Palestinians, socialists and human rights groups, who chanted "USA, we won't pay, no more occupation in our name!" and "Not for us, not for them, genocide never again!" Protesters told people going into the meeting about Israel's continuing repression of the Palestinian people.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Barak bragged how he had entered Beirut in 1973 dressed as a Muslim woman and assassinated three Palestinians. He told his audience that Israel is hated because "it's a kind of outpost for democracy."

He also said that "terrorists wouldn't hesitate to kill 60,000 or 160,000 civilians with any weapon at their disposal." Yet it's Israel's neighbors who must fear Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal.

Barak went on to say, "We have to win the first world war of the 21st century."

"It's just devastating how the tragic history of oppression has been turned wrongly into Israeli oppression of Palestinians," Staci Coolter of the Jewish Radical Action Project told a rally after Barak's speech. "Many Jews have confused their own liberation with the systematic oppression of Palestinians. How many American Jews of good conscience support this atrocity? There are lots of us here today to show we don't."

The next speaker at the World Affairs Council will be former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright--who has gone on record in defense of the U.S. sanctions against Iraq that have killed more than 500,000 children.

She's sure to get a similar Portland welcome.

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Protest NATO

By Glenn Allen

CHICAGO--NATO representatives come annually to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as part of a publicity tour. But this year, they were forced to end the two-hour presentation 45 minutes early because of student protesters.

About 50 people attended the NATO presentation October 17, including 15 antiwar activists. Members of UIC Antiwar made flyers with questions for NATO and handed them out before the meeting.

Questions included zingers like, "What is the acceptable civilian body count in Afghanistan?" and "Why does NATO still possess anti-personnel weaponry?"

During the meeting, students heckled and asked difficult questions. And some antiwar activists smuggled in posters saying, "No war in Afghanistan" and "Stop NATO's racist war."

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Boycott Taco Bell

By Orlando Sepulveda

CHICAGO--The Taco Bell Truth Tour initiated by Florida farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was postponed in the wake of the September 11 attacks. But the Immokalee workers held a meeting in Chicago in early October as part of a tour to thank local committees for their work and to announce that their tour is going forward this spring.

The tour will put pressure on Taco Bell to meet with workers and tomato producers in order to discuss workers' demands for better conditions in the field and an increase in wages that haven't changed in 20 years.

Taco Bell raked in $1.2 billion in profits in 1999 and could easily afford to meet the workers' demands of a one-cent raise per pound of tomatoes--an amount that would nearly double current wages.

"We have returned even stronger," CIW organizer Lucas Benítez told Socialist Worker. "We have come to discuss with the local committees new alternatives and strategies to go forward," he added.

One new strategy CIW is proposing is to take the Taco Bell boycott to campuses using the model of campus anti-sweatshop organizing that has swept the U.S. in the last couple of years. "There is a great similarity between this fight and the one that the student movement organized against Nike," said Greg from CIW's staff. "So student activist networks could be very helpful for the tomato pickers' cause."

Immokalee workers also found time to participate in a cultural event with striking workers from V&V Supremo, to speak out at church services, to hold an action at one Taco Bell store and to protest the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.

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