The Militant (logo) 
   Vol.66/No.11            March 18, 2002 
Drive to sell 'From the Escambray to the Congo' is launched
(feature article)
Socialist workers and Young Socialists around the world have begun an international campaign to sell From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution by Víctor Dreke to co-workers, participants in union strikes and social struggles, fighting farmers, and others. They are also making initial progress in introducing the new Pathfinder title to buyers at bookstores in a number of cities, broadening the number of places where workers and youth can find the book.

In local areas supporters of Pathfinder are taking goals for sales of From the Escambray to the Congo between March 16--the first of the regional meetings in the United States publicized on page 1--and early June. Books sold in these areas since its publication in late January will be counted toward the goals.

Dreke fought in the Cuban revolutionary war, led by the Rebel Army, that overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in January 1959. In the early 1960s he was a commander of the volunteer battalions that fought the U.S-organized counterrevolutionary bands in the Escambray mountains of central Cuba. In 1965 he was second in command of the column of Cuban internationalist volunteers, headed by Ernesto Che Guevara, that joined with national liberation fighters in the Congo. He subsequently carried out numerous internationalist missions in Africa.

In her remarks at the launching of From the Escambray to the Congo at the recent Havana International Book Fair last month, and some dozen other meetings there and across central Cuba, Pathfinder president Mary-Alice Waters pointed out that through reading this book, "we see the capacity of ordinary men and women--workers, farmers, students, shopkeepers, housewives--to transform themselves as they cease being victims and 'dare to storm the gates of heaven' (to borrow Marx's eloquent description of the men and women of the Paris Commune). That is the lesson of the Cuban Revolution. Sí, se puede."

In the United States, especially, "Dreke's story has an additional powerful message," Waters said. "It shows us the kind of revolutionary power of the workers and farmers necessary to even begin to eradicate the legacy of centuries of African slavery in our hemisphere. Whatever its imperfections, only socialist Cuba provides an example of how the racist discrimination that still permeates all aspects of social and economic relations in the United States--and elsewhere throughout the Americas--can be eliminated."

Through the course of this sales effort, socialist workers and YS members are utilizing From the Escambray to the Congo to bring a revolutionary perspective and a deeper understanding of the Cuban Revolution to those who purchase the book on the job, at literature tables set up in workers district, Pathfinder bookstores, and political events.

Selling, reading, and holding discussions on the book will be an important part of building the Socialist Workers Party and winning new members to its ranks. Sales of this book also go hand in hand with introducing hundreds of fighting workers and youth to the broad range of revolutionary literature available from Pathfinder.

Socialist garment workers and meat packers organized in the SWP's national trade union fractions in the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), have set goals for sales of the book to run from the time it was released until their national fraction meetings later this month and in early April.

"Campaigning with this new book will give a boost to our ongoing efforts to increase sales of Pathfinder books and pamphlets on the job," wrote Naomi Craine for the UNITE National Fraction Steering Committee in a February 5 letter to local fractions.

"Lessons from the initial two months of sales, classes, and broad political use of this book will make the national fraction meeting stronger," said a letter from the UFCW National Fraction Steering Committee.

Sales by socialist workers in Washington of 24 copies of the book helped to lift January totals to $640, just $10 short of the local Pathfinder Bookstore's monthly goal. In Upper Manhattan 39 books have been sold, boosting the bookstore's January sales totals to more than $950.

The international effort to sell and promote the book "will make a substantial contribution to the success of meeting the goal of $500,000 in sales of Pathfinder books and pamphlets between Jan. 1, 2001, and July 1, 2002," said Steve Clark, Pathfinder's editorial director, in an interview.  
Reaching out to Black community
"We have special opportunities with this book to get placements in bookstores in the Black community," said Clark, "to sell and discuss this book with co-workers who are Black, to take it to organizations involved in struggles against racist discrimination, to get reviews in the Black press, and to organize discussions of it with Afro-American student organizations and departments on college campuses."

The week From the Escambray to the Congo arrived in Toronto, Pathfinder sales representatives took it to three bookstores focusing on Black, African, and Caribbean titles. They sold 14 copies, and placed a range of other Pathfinder books. In Atlanta, supporters placed a $1,400 order at a bookstore there, including three copies of the new book and 33 other titles. A team of two supporters in the United Kingdom sold 14 copies during a trip to Dublin and Belfast. This was part of the 344 books and pamphlets they sold and placed during the visit.

"Pathfinder came close to making the $325,000 goal we had set for January 1 of this year, netting $321,200 by that time," said Clark. "As of the end of February, Pathfinder's net sales since Jan. 1, 2001, stood at $388,700. This leaves $111,300 to make our goal of selling half a million dollars in Pathfinder books and pamphlets by July, 1, 2002."

To make the goal, supporters will need to make effective use of Pathfinder bookstores in workers districts and weekly street-corner literature tables; to sell books on the job and at plant-gate sales; to get Pathfinder titles placed in retail bookstores and libraries; to increase the sale of communist literature at weekly Militant Labor Forums; and to set up tables at political events, strikes, social protest actions, and college campuses.

"The first two months of 2002 were good ones for Pathfinder sales," said Clark, "netting $37,825 in January and $29,670 in February. This included substantial numbers of classroom adoptions, some of them the direct result of work by volunteer Pathfinder sales representatives."

An order for 400 copies of Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women was placed for a college course at a university in Texas. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Pathfinder representatives made 79 visits and sold 704 books during 2001, for a total of nearly $7,000. In the United Kingdom, sales representatives sold more than $3,000 worth of books last year.

Book sales can be substantially boosted through participation in regional book fairs and other related events occurring throughout the country. In February, for example, supporters in Houston sold 56 books and pamphlets totaling more than $600 out of a booth at the five-day National Association of African American Studies.

In Miami, 127 books and pamphlets to a value of more than $1,000 were sold at the annual book fair in December. At the Latino Book and Family Festival held in Los Angeles in October, supporters sold $600 in Pathfinder literature plus 10 Militant subscriptions and 6 subscriptions to Perspectiva Mundial. Other events that have been a boost to Pathfinder sales have included the Southeast Booksellers trade show in Memphis in September and the Printers Row book fair in Chicago.

Upcoming events where Pathfinder booths or literature tables are planned include the America Library Association convention taking place in Atlanta in June. In New York City Pathfinder has reserved a booth at the May 3-5 Book Expo to be held at the Javits Center in Manhattan. This American Booksellers Association event is the largest book trade show in the United States.

"Making our July 1, 2002, goal, plus what Pathfinder supporters have already accomplished along this course, is a truly international effort," said Clark. "Sales of Pathfinder books in Canada last year increased 220 percent over 2001, both through sales to retail outlets and direct sales by party and YS members. Sales in the United Kingdom in 2002 were up nearly 10 percent over the year before. The London bookshop is our flagship, with sales of roughly $1,400 a month."  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home