25, 50 and 75 years ago

July 10, 2023

July 6, 1998

The strike by 6,400 telephone workers in Puerto Rico against the sale of the state-owned Puerto Rico Telephone Company has become a lightning rod for working-class resistance and nationalist sentiment in this Caribbean nation, the largest U.S. colony.

The sale, which workers expect will lead to layoffs, attacks on working conditions, and rate hikes, has sparked widespread opposition. The strike began with mass pickets at phone company facilities throughout the island, as workers sought to block the company from bringing in hundreds of supervisory personnel to keep operations running.

The strike has sparked an outpouring of popular support and a series of labor actions in solidarity with the telephone workers. One of the most popular slogans of the protests is “Puerto Rico no se vende.” (Puerto Rico is not for sale.)

July 6, 1973

“During the past few days, the political and social tensions that built up over many years when there were no legal, effective channels for workers to express them have given rise to a genuine popular explosion; the main form it has taken is the ‘occupation,’” wrote the Buenos Aires daily Clarin  June 12.

“The ‘occupationist’ fever is gripping radio stations, educational institutions, hospitals, business establishments, industrial plants, public and national administrative offices, bureaus whose existence had been forgotten, pensions, hotels — the list is endless.”

The occupations swept the entire country. The attitude of the authorities was generally not to intervene forcibly. Nevertheless, there was considerable uneasiness that the occupations might get out of hand. Heavy security measures were taken June 14 to protect the Palace of Justice.

July 5, 1948

Fourth of July commemorates one of the greatest revolutions in all history. It was led and fought by men and women who were indicted as “subversive” and “treasonable” under the law of the land. The Declaration of Independence declared their right and their duty to make a revolution.

The times cry out for a new declaration of freedom — Labor’s Declaration of Independence. It is time to rid America of the tyranny of monopoly and the special privilege of wealth. It is time for the working people to declare their independence from the political machines of entrenched capital, to build their own party, to end the political rule of Wall Street and to create their own Workers and Farmers Government.

We can best honor the revolutionary heroes of 1776 by mobilizing and organizing in their spirit to win a “new birth of freedom” for the American working class.