Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mutiny in the Ranks of the Army

The Army Times has released this amazing article detailing how the violence, anger, and frustration of one platoon in Iraq culminated in a refusal to fight. The realization of the Pentagon brass during Vietnam that the soldiers would rebel if the war continued or was expanded led to the end of that war, and rank and file dissent by soldiers will be critical in ending this war. Check out Sir, No Sir, an incredible movie about soldier rebellion in Vietnam.

Read the full story on the "mutiny" in Iraq:

They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”

Read more!

Monday, December 10, 2007

In the News

In a recent Spec article, Lucha was discussed among some other groups because of the connection it has developed with ANSWER Coalition in anti-war and community activism.

Another group that has links to the outside, the Revolution Club (The World Can't Wait, and the Revolutionary Communist Party) has hooked up Bryan Mercer for an interview in their Revolution newspaper.

What is there to say about the defeat of the referendum in Venezuela?

A student at the Journalism school writes on the hypocrisy of Western media.

The Wall Street Journal, a good indicator of American imperialist opinion, had this rather nasty bit of insinuation.

The New York Times, takes a more moderate tone.

PSL paper analyzed the situation as a temporary defeat that can be overcome.

Read more!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

CIA exposed for Destroying Torture Tapes

Anyone in Latin America, or familiar with the School of Americas, is aware that the CIA has long been a state sponsor of torture. However, the recent story released in the New York Times reveals how the CIA has tried to cover its tracks from scrutiny and oversight by destroying tapes made of "rough interrogation techniques."

Read more!

Palestine Vigil this Saturday at Columbia

A group called Palestine Action Union Square (PAUSE) has been holding a vigil on Saturdays at Union Square for the past five years, and will be bringing their Dec. 8 vigil to the Columbia University.

Sat. Dec. 8 - 2 PM
116th Street & Broadway

"We are opposed to the Israeli occupation and all it involves." - They call on Columbia students to join them.

Read more!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Newspapers: Criticism and Cash

Two things.

1. Spectator soliciting commentary on its performance as the campus newspaper. Fill out this survey and let them know how they can better serve the activist community.

2. Organizers from the Revolution Newspaper, the "voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party" of Bob Avakian have invited Columbia activists to attend house party to raise money for the paper. It starts a 9 pm with a $5 to $15 donation. Address is 375 Edgecombe between 150th and 155th, apartment #8. Take the A/C/D to 145th. If you have any questions, contact Jack Orleans.

Read more!

Professor Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur

We missed the panel today, but in case you missed it, you can check out his article in the London Review of Books which caused considerable controversy at that time as well.

It seems a remarkable aspect of current campus activism that many schools have seen vociferous and militant campaigns on divestment from Darfur while anti-war movements on these same campuses have remained weak or non-existent. Does Darfur offer a cause which is morally compelling while remaining politically neutral? Does this reveal a fear of politics, or a depoliticization of student activism and the left on campuses?

Read more!

Discussion on Imperialism

Imperialism is a term that gets thrown around on the left quite a bit. The International Socialist Organization is hosting an open meeting on imperialism at CCNY this Thursday that will offer an explicitly Marxist-Leninist interpretation. If you want to come prepared, or to get a sense of the ideas even if you can't make it, check out these articles in the International Socialist Review, the theoretical journal of the ISO:

What is it? How do we stop it?
Sometimes, imperialism is defined very broadly to mean the domination of weaker states by stronger ones. But empire building, colonialism and military competition have existed ever since states have existed.
The Marxist approach to understanding war as a product of economic rivalries spilling over into political and military conflicts has long been dismissed as out of date, even by some people on the left. But the military occupation and corporate takeover of Iraq has put this view back at the center of discussion.
You're invited to participate in a meeting that will take up this question and discuss how understanding imperialism impacts our strategy for how to ultimately end it.
Thursday, December 6th
CCNY NAC Building
Rm. 1/211
By train: Take the 1 to 137th, enter the gates at 138th and Amsterdam , walk down the hill towards Convent Street , enter the building on your right.
By bus: Take the M101 to 137th and Amsterdam

Read more!

Monday, December 3, 2007

ROOTEd Discussion on Activism Tonight

"I am an activist"

"I am NOT an activist"

"Those activist kids have all the time in the world for 'these causes.' Unlike them, I can't afford to miss work or class"

"I wear my pink ribbon, I am an activist"

"Hunger strikes. Walk outs. Protests. What is Student Activism?"

come discuss
- Student Activism -
Sundaes on Monday Discussion
(as always, free ice cream)
Monday Dec. 3
Intercultural Resource Center (552 w. 114 )

Read more!

Lucha Elects New Steering Committee

Today Lucha approved some changes in its constitution and elected a new slate of leaders.

The 2008 Steering Committee is:

Chair: Johanna Ocaña
Vice Chair: Iliana Feliz
Secretary: Malena Arnaud
Treasurer: Daniela Garcia
Liaison for on campus groups: Paco Martin Del Campo
Alumni Relations Chair: Martin Lopez
El Particiante Editor: Wyatt Ford
Online El Participante Editor: Rudi Batzell
Publicity Chair: Jessica Medina
Public Relations Coordinator: Andrew Tillet-Saks
Historian: Stephanie Barreto

There were slight changes to Lucha's mission statement, which now reads:

Lucha seeks to promote social, political, and economic progress in the Latino and working class communities in the US and to educate our campus about political, social, and economic issues in Latin America.

The goals of this organization in achieving this mission shall be:

To build a movement that unites students and community members in the struggle for social justice, equality and dignity, power, and respect for working people

To bring together politically conscious students in an organized effort to achieve political advancement for oppressed peoples

To empower our community through political activism and popular education

Read more!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Politics on Campus

Rahel Aima has written a really great piece for The Eye and we missed it somehow. Here it is in case you missed it as well.

Rahel addresses one of the fundamental tensions on campus which often remains largely submerged. The feeling among many that "white leftists" privilege class analysis while ignoring the reality of white privilege, while the more marxist oriented activists feel that "identity politics" can be charged with emotionalism, factionalism, and superficiality. As Rahel points out, this was one of the major tensions in the New Left, and for any viable left today, it is a problematic that needs to be worked out. Lucha, as an organization that has both an orientation towards the issues of a specific ethnic group (Latinos) and a strong emphasis on class analysis, capitalism, and imperialism has held this very tension within it as an organization. Better than we have ourselves, Rahel speaks to the reasons we decided to organize el participante.

Rahel's article ends with the note that when out on the streets, it doesn't matter what the beliefs or identities of our fellow protesters might be. While this is true, and sectarianism has been a destructive curse upon the left, this point cannot go too far and reveals latent weaknesses within the left as a movement. Ideas, political philosophy, and ideology matter - ignoring our differences will only exacerbate the tensions. This is not a project that involves imposing ideological discipline and unity, but rather a self-conscious, serious, realistic debate about the ideas, identities, strengths and weaknesses of the left - as campus activists and as human beings. At a time when the left seems to be in a historic retreat, it is necessary, as Perry Anderson has written in the New Left Review to call a "spade a spade, rather than falling in with well-meaning cant or self-deception on the Left. The spirit of the Enlightenment rather than the Evangelicals is what is most needed today."

Read more!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prof. Morris Questions Spec's Submission Practices

Today's Columbia Spectator includes an excellent op-ed piece by anthropology professor Rosalind Morris. "When Fair Isn't Balanced" questions Spectator's decision to publish Paula Stern's "Greatest Victory, Even in Defeat" earlier this month.

Prof. Morris observes that publishing the Stern piece, which had previously been published in five other venues, violated Spectator's own policy that all submissions must be original material. She further criticizes the paper for its willingness to publish any submitted piece without skeptical examination of the facts or consideration of the argument. "'Opinion' is not an alibi for misrepresentation," she argues.

Prof. Morris's critique is well-founded. On the same day that Stern's vitriolic attack against El-Haj appeared, and in fact on the very same page of the print edition, the Spectator editorial board wrote, in "Protecting Professors", that the "University must reaffirm that while the marketplace of ideas may expose professors to criticism, the intrusion of non-academic pressure on the tenure process is unacceptable." Of course, this is an important point, but the Spectator editorial board could itself help reduce this "intrusion of non-academic pressure" by refraining from publishing politically-driven, biased diatribes masquerading as reasoned, respected opinion.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SDS Regional Conference This Weekend

SDS is having its Northeastern convention this weekend in Philadelphia. Events include "Towards a Collective Liberation Vision" and "Hip Hop for Palestine" as well as tons of info on organizing, working with media, and building a movement. Columbia can expect to have a more militant, articulate, and feisty left once the SDSers get back to campus.

If you want to get involved with the convention, contact Beth Blum -

Read more!

Friday: Screening of "Finally Got the News" at NYU

FINALLY GOT THE NEWS is a forceful, unique documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with the members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organization that, unlike the UAW, will respond to worker's problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry.

When: Friday, November 30, 6:00 PM

Where: NYU Dept. of Sociology, Puck Bldg,

4th Floor 295 Lafayette St. NY, NY 10012

And don't take our word for it. Here's what Manning Marable has to say about the film:
"Although most histories of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements give greater attention to [other groups]... the League [of Revolutionary Black Workers] was in many respects the most significant expression of black radical thought and activism in the 1960s. The League took the impetus for Black Power and translated it into a fighting program focusing on industrial workers."—Manning Marable, Director, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Professor of History, Columbia University
If you want educate yourself about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers but can't attend the film, check out these books: Detroit, I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution and Class, Race, and Worker Insurgency.

Read more!

Rally to Support the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela

One of the most exciting recent developments in international politics has been Hugo Chavez's outspoken challenge to the neo-liberal order and the Washington Consensus imposed on Latin America. Check out an
earlier post on el participante for details and discussion of these developments.

Attend the Rally with Lucha: Meet up at the Gates (116th and B'way) at 12:15

Saturday, Dec. 1st at 1pm
Venezuelan Consulate
7 East 51th Street
(between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue)
Take the E/V to 5th Ave or the 6 train to 51st St.

Read more!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

More ICE Raids

As part of a massive round-up of undocumented workers, ostensibly targeting gang members and others involved in illegal activities, recent coverage has made it clear that these raids are more about intimidation and profiling than about stopping crimes.

The Times reports on a recent raid in Greenport, Long Island which has caused considerable controversy and community tension:

Only one of the 11 men taken away that morning was suspected of a gang affiliation, according to the Southold Town police, who patrol Greenport and played the crucial role of identifying targets for the operation.

The 10 others, while accused of immigration violations, were not gang associates and had no criminal records.

Instead, they were known as good workers and family men. When they suddenly vanished into the far-flung immigration detention system, six of their employers hired lawyers to try to find and free them. Some went further, like Dan and Tina Finne, who agreed to take care of the 3-year-old American-born daughter of a Guatemalan carpenter who was swept up in the raid, if her mother was detained, too.

“This is un-American,” said Ms. Finne, 41, a Greenport native, echoing other citizens who condemned the home raids in public meetings and letters to The Suffolk Times, a weekly newspaper. “We need to do something about immigration, but not this.”

Read more!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Today is Buy Nothing Day

The anarcho-environmental folks at ad-busters have been putting this together for quite a few years now. Even the New York Times has noticed this year. While the frenzied celebration of capitalist consumerism is certainly disgusting, what are the limits of this form of mobilizing people's opposition to the social costs of capitalism? Is "anti-consumption" a viable message for the left to embrace? While there is much merit in these subversive and slick campaigns, it seems important to think about the limits of such activities at the same time that we support them in their work.

While selling sex, objectifying women, and spreading commodity fetishism, MTV has rejected advertising about Buy Nothing Day. Send an email to the execs.

Check out these links:

Read more!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Community Meeting on Expansion

There will be a meeting of the Education Committee of the Local Development Corporation for West Harlem this evening.

5 PM in the Pentecostal Church on 125th and Old Broadway (between Bway and Amsterdam).

Read more!

Monday, November 19, 2007

NYPD Kill Another Man in Brooklyn

Early on Saturday, 18 November, NYPD officers from Brooklyn's 75th precinct shot and killed David Kostovski, 29, as they tried to arrest him. The police officers fired two series of shots at the deceased, who was allegedly mentally ill. They first shot at him after he refused to put down the broken bottle in his hand, which they thought was a knife, and lunged out at them as they attempted arrest, "momentarily halting him." But when Mr. Kostovski raised his non-bottle-wielding arm, they pumped a second round of bullets into him, killing him.

In total, 12 shot were fired, which almost seems reasonable in comparison to the 20 shots fired less than a week before when Brooklyn NYPD officers shot and killed a black man wielding a hairbrush during an attempted arrest. This time the officers did not even believe that their "suspect" had a gun.

"These cops got to stop this," Brooklyn resident Shirley Smith says in a Times interview. "They’re shooting people like crazy."

Her sentiments cannot be echoed strongly enough.

Read more!

Monday, 20 November: Sundaes on Mondays

Join ROOTEd for a discussion on class priviledge and of course, ice cream.

IRC, 9 pm.

Sponsored by Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education (ROOTEd).

Read more!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

POSTPONED - POSTPONED: Monday 19 November: Columbia Solidarity Day Of Silence

[Sometime next week????] students supporting reform in the core curriculum, administrative support, ethnic studies, and Manhattanville expansion will be silent as a form of personal protest to the lack of response by the administration. In addition to this personal act of support, come to the silent demonstration on Low Steps at 11:00 am. Wear black as a sign of solidarity.

To participate in the day of silence, come to the Steps at 11am on Monday, and refrain from conversation until noon on Tuesday, 20 November.

Sponsored by Columbia Solidarity.

Read more!

Tuesday, 20 November: Latinas & Body Image

Come engage in an activity to help us come up with an image of the "ideal latina" and discuss what it means to look "latina".
Does your family ever tell you what you should look like?
What is "just right"?
Do you tell your girlfriend that she is eating too much?
Join las Hermanas of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/ Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. as we discuss these issues and more.

Lerner, Board Room 502, 6:45 pm.

Sponsored by Latinas Promoviedo Comunidad / Lambda Pi Chi

Read more!

The Labor Movement

Auto Workers:

Labor Notes
reports on growing rank and file discontent with recent concessions made by the the UAW leadership.


Large-scale actions will resume on Tuesday, November 20th at Sony Plaza, 56th and Madison from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Call Or Write These Media Executives And Tell Them:

Give The Writers A Fair Share Of The Billions Your Company Makes From The Content They Create. I Want My Favorite Shows Back Soon!

Anne Sweeney

Disney-ABC Television Group

The Walt Disney Company, 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521-4581


Kevin Reilly

Fox Entertainment

Fox Broadcasting, 10201 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064-2606


Bruce Rosenblum

Warner Bros. Television Group

Warner Bros. Studios, 3400 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505


Philippe Dauman


1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036-5794


Leslie Moonves

CBS Corporation

CBS, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019-6101


Jeff Zucker

NBC Universal

NBC Universal, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608-1002


Check and for the latest action steps and information.

The writers of your favorite movies and TV shows need your help! In addition to calling the companies above, add your name to the growing list of supporters and be ready to answer the call when action is needed.

Check out why you should support the workers who create television:

Read more!

Police Kill a Man in Brooklyn

On Monday, 12 November, Khiel Coppin, an 18 year old black man, was shot and killed by five NYPD police officers responding to a domestic dispute call placed by Coppin's mother. The police officers, who claim to have believed that Coppin was armed, fired twenty shots at him, eight of which hit and killed him. No gun was found on his body, but rather a black hairbrush.

The New York Times does not seem to think that it is relevant that Khiel Coppin was black. Examine its coverage, here and here. In the first article, Coppin's racial identity is never mentioned; and it is only at the end of the second article that the Times mentions that he is black, in a comparison to the shooting of Sean Bell last year.

The implication, of course, is that Coppin's being a black man is irrelevant information that does not need to be explicitly acknowledged or emphasized. Readers, in looking at the accompanying pictures, can figure out for themselves that he was black.

Playing down Coppin's black identity is troubling and odd. Perhaps the Times believes, because the five officers who shot him were not all white, that his race does not matter. Such logic is highly questionable, as City Councilman Charles Barron points out: "I don't care whether they are black, Latino, or white, when they join the force most of them turn blue," he said. "When you turn blue, you police the white community one way and you police the black community another way."

Read more!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hunger Strike

It's all over folks, but the struggle continues. Specifically, students have organized a day of silence on Monday to demonstrate how Columbia has silenced and ignored both students and residents in its plans to expand into West Harlem. The action starts on Monday at 11 am on the steps of Low. Check out the flyer.

In the next issue of el participante we hope to collect several takes on the strike reflecting the strengths, weaknesses, achievements, and failures of what has been one of the most remarkable student movements in Columbia's recent history. If you have an idea that you'd like to see published in next month's el participante, email us at

Read more!

Friday, November 16, 2007

New York Times on Chavez and Socialism

As a referendum on constitutional changes and massive new social programs nears, the New York Times reports on the widespread support for Chavez among poor and working people, the concern and uncertainty of elites, and the uniqueness of Venezuela's approach to socialism.

What is the potential, the danger, and the significance of events in Venezuela - much remains uncertain. Will capitalist powers stand by as Chavez carries out his experiment? Allende certainly did not succeed in Chile, but the logic of the Cold War cannot be as easily deployed to destroy and disrupt what is happening in Venezuela. Perhaps the ties to Iran will allow a coup within the framework of the "war on terrorism."

Read more!

Immigration Week: Friday, 16 November

Fund-raising Party for
Victims of Hurricane Noel
Hurricane Noel triggered flooding and landslides that
killed at least 64 people in the Dominican Republic and
Haiti this past week. Some 37,500 people were forced
from their homes. In Mexico, nearly half a million people
have been made homeless across the southeastern state
of Tabasco. Funds raised from the party will go to the
Red Cross’ relief fund in Haiti, the Dominican Republic,
and Mexico. 10:30 pm, C555 Lerner

Read more!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rally Today at Noon!

Press Release from the Student Strikers

Sundial at Columbia University
College Walk, W. 116th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam

Tonight, despite the administration briefly declaring negotiations closed, the coalition of students and faculty at Columbia University involved with a hunger strike won a set of concessions from the administration regarding curricular and administrative reform. The strike will continue until administrators and student negotiators reach agreement on revisions to Columbia's plan to expand into West Harlem.

The administration has committed, subject to approval by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, to raising fifty million dollars in order to staff a seminar format for the non-Western portion of the Core Curriculum. Currently, every other Humanities requirement in the Core is taught in capped seminar format. Administrators will also put out a call for proposals from faculty for new courses for the Core Curriculum

The administration has agreed to raise funds for the expansion of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, to the extent recommended by a review by a consultant firm. Administrators offered a blueprint for student involvement in the academic review committee for the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, which will decide the future of the Center. Finally, administrators guaranteed that there will be no disciplinary action brought against any hunger striker.

In the late afternoon, administrators issued a demand that two student hunger strikers end their eight day demonstration, or be forced on medical leave for the remainder of the semester. Administrators further threatened that if strikers did not accept a specific set of proposals offered at 7pm, the administration would walk out of negotiations.

While these threats hung in the air, at 9pm, approximately two hundred students gathered for a previously scheduled vigil. Upon hearing the administration's position, students spontaneously formed a rally and marched across campus, gathering in front of Hamilton Hall, where administrators were convened. Hamilton Hall has been the location of student sit-ins several times in the last decades. At this point, the administration resumed negotiations.

Outstanding demands of the coalition of students and faculty include a critical revision of Columbia's plan for expansion into West Harlem. A meeting is scheduled for Thursday to negotiate specific points of compromise brought forth by students.

A larger rally is scheduled for Thursday at noon, to coincide with a luncheon between administrators and major donors to the university.

Read more!

Immigration Week: Thursday November 15th Movie Screening with CSER

Thursday, 15 November:
Movie Screening: Wetback (2004)
In conjunction with the Institute for Latin Ameri-
can Studies and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity
and Race, Lucha is screening “Wetback,” director Arturo
Perez Torres’s heartbreaking tale of Central American
border crossers. A discussion with Torres will follow the
screening. 207 Warren Hall, 7-10pm.

For those who missed the movie...

Read more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Immigration Week, Wednesday November 14th

Join us for a call-in on Congress to demand that the
Democratic leadership push for the DREAM Act to be
considered immediately! Low Plaza, 12-4 pm.


Panel on Immigration Raids:
How the US Terrorizes Immigrant

A panel of representatives from the Puerto Rican
Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Workplace
Project will discuss the recent series of immigration
raids on Long Island, which resulted in the detainment
of 187 people. 411 Kent, 8pm.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Immigration Week, Tuesday November 13: School of the Americas: State Sponsor of Terrorism and Torture

Claudia De La Cruz--Director of the Dominican
Women’s Youth Development Center, Pastor at la Igle-
sia San Romero de Las Americas, Latin American Studies
Professor at CUNY John Jay, Masters candidate at the
Columbia School of Social Work, and an a long time ac-
tivist for immigrant rights, women’s rights and social jus-
tice--will speak about the US Army School of Americas
(SOA). Based in Fort Benning, Georgia, SOA trains Latin
American security personnel in combat, counter insur-
gency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are respon-
sible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin
America, including the massacre of Las Ojas. Because
of its notorious reputation, the school was renamed the
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Coopera-
tion (WHINSEC) in 2001.
As part of her presentation, Professor La Cruz will air
a documentary about SOA’s role in US foreign policy in
Latin America. 301 Fayerwether, 8pm.

Also Today:

Rally at the Sundial with CCAW
No More $$ For War Profiteers!
Columbia has $4 million invested
in war profi teers Lockheed Martin,
General Dynamics and Raytheon.
Rally to demand that the committee
on Socially Responsible Investing at
Columbia divest from those compa-
nies that supply munitions for the
unjust war on Iraq. Afterwards, join
the town hall meeting and let your
voice be heard. E-mail krs24@co- to speak at the meeting.
Sundial, 5pm.

Read more!

Volume 1 Issue 1

Here it is. Download the pdf for the first el participante here.

Read this doc on Scribd: elparticipante-1-1

Read more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Read more!