Edinburg lies about 10 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Twenty-five students came to the talk, sponsored by the Revolutionary Socialist Alliance, a new group on campus. “Until we see ourselves as an international class of workers, having more in common with fellow workers in other countries than with our bosses and their government, the employers will continue to succeed in driving down our wages and working conditions,” DeLuca said.
“We’re in a period marked by persistently high unemployment, more competition among workers for lower paying jobs with less benefits and longer hours, and unions that have been weakened over the decades,” DeLuca said. “Yet there is an openness among workers to talk about a revolutionary working-class perspective. In some cases workers have started to fight back, and one of the biggest things they’re winning right now is a sense of unity and dignity.”
She recommended students join in the campaign to circulate the Militant door to door in working-class neighborhoods.
The student body at University of Texas-Pan American is overwhelmingly working-class and the big majority is Mexican or Chicano. The surrounding area is dominated by large farms growing corn, sugarcane, sorghum, green vegetables and citrus fruit, as well as food processing plants and other industry. The area has been hard hit by the capitalist economic crisis. The official unemployment rate in Hidalgo County, where Edinburg is located, was 11.7 percent in August, according to the Department of Labor.
Those attending the meeting included a Coca-Cola worker who goes to school part time, a Chick-fil-A worker, a former Marine who said he has been rethinking U.S. foreign policy, and a National Guardsman just returned from deployment in Djibouti.
For more than an hour, DeLuca fielded questions from the audience. “How did you become a socialist?” was one. DeLuca said as a youth in Pittsburgh she became aware of police brutality and racism, which she opposed, and the issue of women’s right to choose abortion, which she supported. She later met Pittsburgh-area coal miners who were socialists and started attending Militant Labor Forums sponsored by distributors of the Militant. In 2006 she joined miners and others who belonged to the Socialist Workers Party in getting out the Militant in response to the deadly mine explosion in Sago, W.Va., that killed 12 miners. She soon joined the SWP.
Several students in the audience had grown up in or around Monterrey, Mexico, capital of the state of Nuevo León. Christian Velazquez, who told the Militant his father worked in construction and also as a bus driver, while his mother sewed clothes and waited tables, asked DeLuca how to organize political work in Monterrey, given the grip of drug cartels and bourgeois politicians who back them.
Gangs, drugs and capitalist system“Gangs and drugs are all part of the capitalist system. They are just a section of the capitalist class that takes more risk, hoping for higher profit rates,” replied DeLuca.
“Gangs and drug runners played a major role in pre-revolutionary Cuba under the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship,” she said. “But the revolutionary struggle by Cuba’s workers and peasants, under the leadership of the July 26th Movement swept Batista and his gang of cronies—capitalist exploiters, legal and illegal—from power, and began to rebuild the country in their own interests.
“The question here in the U.S., in Mexico and around the world is working-class leadership,” DeLuca said. “Workers need our own party, like they did in Cuba.”
On Saturday morning members of the Revolutionary Socialist Alliance joined DeLuca and SWP campaign supporters from Houston going door to door with the Militant. In little more than half an hour, they sold one subscription to the paper and three single copies.
Four members of the group then piled into cars to make the six-hour trip to Houston so they could participate in a reception for DeLuca the next day. The reception drew 25 people, including garment, rail and assembly workers. Roxanne Carrion, president of the Revolutionary Socialist Alliance, addressed the gathering along with DeLuca.
“We started the RSA in August because there were only Democrats and Republicans on campus,” Carrion explained. “We want to network with students and workers in the valley. We want to talk about what socialism means to us. We’re all subscribers to the Militant and we go door to door to get people to read the paper.”
‘Workers need to fight for big gov’t-funded jobs program’
Socialist Workers candidates across US
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