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Letters to the editor

January 31, 2003 | Page 12

Cameroon's unions demand democracy
Jailed by Nevada's racist justice system

Cruel fate suffered by the homeless

Dear Socialist Worker,

While Yale University students were out on winter break, the dorm rooms of thousands of students stood empty in the middle of downtown New Haven. Meanwhile, New Haven's homeless spent this "vacation" on the streets--during one of the coldest winters in years.

While there are multiple shelters in New Haven, there is never enough space due to the city's large homeless population. Back in September, the emergency overflow shelter was shut down for over two months, leaving more than 50 people to camp out on the city green. When the governor of Connecticut proclaimed that it was an "eyesore," this makeshift camp was also shut down.

The tragic result of these inadequacies was that two homeless people died in New Haven this winter--one of them on Christmas day. A small ceremony was held in January for these two on the steps of City Hall, where friends and loved ones of the deceased shared memories of them and others who had met similar fates in the past few years. They also implored people to take action to stop these senseless tragedies.

In the past few months, however, services to the homeless and other groups have been slashed yet again. In fact, the only state budget not to be touched in the current round of cuts was the prison system. What twisted priorities! Apparently, the only way the poor can stay warm in this society is if they are behind bars.

Meanwhile, Bush is handing out more tax cuts to the rich and further inflating the military budget in his drive for war. To the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dying from the war abroad, add two more and counting right here at home.

Leela Yellesetty, New Haven, Conn.

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Cameroon's unions demand democracy

Dear Socialist Worker,

As part of a study abroad program last fall, I had the opportunity to interview organized workers in the Central African country of Cameroon.

In Cameroon, a country where about 150 ethnic groups have had to contend with three European colonial powers and two faux-democratic regimes in the past century, several labor unions are struggling for real democracy.

Members of a growing teachers' union called SNAES have braved government intimidation in attempts to win back the already-low salaries that were cut in 1994. Organized nurses shut down hospitals across the country last year for five days in order to win a small salary hike, a transparent and non-discriminatory promotion policy and recognition of their right to organize. Taxi drivers and oil-pipeline workers are also engaged in tough but potentially powerful union-building activities against the government of President Paul Biya.

In Cameroon, I found prominent pockets of militant and organized workers, and I am excited about their potential role in forcing a corrupt government to stop living large on the backs of its workers.

Gideon Shapiro, New York City

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Jailed by Nevada's racist justice system

Dear Socialist Worker,

On August 22, 1998, a member of the Eastwood Tokers--a Latin gang in Carson City, Nevada--assaulted Jessica Evans, an indigenous of Hopi, Washoo and Creek Nations. When Evans notified sheriff's deputies, they refused to take any action.

By the time a group of her friends and family members arrived to confront her attacker, the young man who had assaulted Jessica was gone. A fight then ensued between Samuel "Sammy" Resendez and some of the other indigenous youth. The next day, Resendez died from head injuries at a Reno hospital.

Now, the "Carson 10"--10 indigenous youths--have been charged with his murder, even though there is no physical evidence that links them to the murder of Resendez. According to police reports, when the defendants left the motel, Resendez was still alive.

Rocky Boice Jr. was the first of the Carson 10 to be tried, and was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder. On December 18, 2002, 50 people from various California cities drove all night to Carson City to be present in the courtroom to support Rocky during his sentencing. Rocky's grandmother, mother, father and fiancé testified about Rocky's character and about how much they love him. It was heart-wrenching to hear his grandmother cry.

After about an hour, the judge laid down his judgment: a minimum of 20 years for a crime Rocky did not commit. The other nine defendants will be tried together in March.

We must do what we can to inform the world about this gross attack on Rocky Boice Jr., his family and friends. We must put pressure on the court system in Carson City and expose their racist ways to the world.

We must free Rocky Boice Jr. so that he does not become another political prisoner locked up in the torture chambers of the U.S. government for 20 years or more, away from his fiancée and daughter and mother and father and all those who love him.

Leila Forouhi

For more information concerning the Carson 10, go to

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