BY KATHLEEN FLANAGAN
MONTCLAIR, New Jersey - Close to 150 students gathered on the steps outside the student center here April 6 for a "Speak Out on the War in Yugoslavia." The "open mike" session, organized by several members of the college's English department, drew scores of students and a few professors up to the mike to state their opinions.
Several students who spoke identified themselves as Yugoslav and described what their relatives in Yugoslavia have told them about the situation there since the NATO bombing assault began.
One student referred to himself as a Serb and defended the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic; another student who identified himself as Albanian spoke in support of the NATO bombing.
"I oppose the bombing, but what can be done about these poor people being forced to leave [Kosova]? Something must be done," declared one woman. Many others made similar comments, without an answer to the question.
Professor Valentín Soto told the crowd he opposed the bombing and "as a Puerto Rican, I understand the importance of independence for Kosova."
The only other speaker to take a stance against the bombing and for the right to independence of the Albanians in Kosova was Ellie García of the Socialist Workers Party. She said the aims of the U.S. government in this assault are to dismember the workers state in Yugoslavia and reimpose capitalism throughout the region there.
García was one of two socialist rail workers attending the event. The two set up a table with big signs that quickly became a center of discussion and debate.
While a few students were convinced that Washington is acting out of humanitarian concerns, most of those who crowded around the table opposed the government's actions and were looking for an explanation.
Students purchased quite a few copies of the socialist newsweekly, the Militant, as well as Pathfinder books. Twelve copies of the Militant, 1 copy of Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium, 5 copies of The Truth About Yugoslavia: Why Working-People should Oppose Intervention, 1 copy of Socialism and Man in Cuba by Ernesto Che Guevara, and one copy of The Communist Manifesto in Spanish were sold.
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