October 1999  

Mexican Student Strikers Demand
Freedom Now for Mumia Abu-Jamal!


Early today, October 13, hundreds of striking students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) voted a motion calling for working-class action to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the renowned black radical journalist sitting on Pennsylvania’s death row. The 5 a.m. vote came only hours before Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge signed a death warrant setting the date for the execution of Jamal for December 2. The fight to stop the execution of this courageous fighter for the oppressed has become the focus of the worldwide struggle against the barbaric and racist death penalty. UNAM strikers urge all fighters for the oppressed to take up the struggle to save Mumia.

The motion, presented by the Grupo Internacionalista, section of the League for the Fourth International, had been previously adopted by the UNAM School of Sciences. It then went to the Strike General Council (CGH), which met on the campus of the ENEP professional school in Acatlán, one of the outlying facilities of the National University. This is the same campus that was briefly seized a week ago by university authorities and their paid thugs (porros), amid a heavy police deployment, and then reoccupied by hundreds of strikers a few hours later. In today’s CGH meeting, as the motion calling for Mumia’s freedom was being presented before a podium with a portrait of Karl Marx, supporters of the popular front around Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (the former head of government of Mexico City and now presidential candidate of the bourgeois nationalist Party of the Democratic Revolution [PRD]) tried unsuccessfully to disrupt and shut down the strike assembly. However, hundreds of students repudiated the would-be strikebreakers and loudly applauded the motion for Jamal.

Meanwhile, the National University workers union, STUNAM, may go on strike November 1, joining with the striking students as the administration has refused to negotiate with the union. UNAM strikers recently mobilized as well in defense of Iranian students who are threatened with the death penalty by the clericalist regime for allegedly insulting Islam. 

As the threat of imminent execution hangs over Mumia Abu-Jamal, it is the duty of all those who fight for the exploited and oppressed to seek to mobilize working-class power to win his freedom. The last time Ridge signed a death warrant for Mumia, unions representing millions of workers around the world took a stand in his defense, demanding that the execution be stopped. Today, it is more urgent than ever stop the relentless machinery of state murder with an even greater power, that of the workers who make the wheels of the capitalist economy move, from Philadelphia to Mexico City, Rio, Hamburg and Johannesburg, and who can also bring them to a screeching halt. 

The struggle to mobilize the working class to free Mumia and do away with the racist death penalty poses the urgent need to break with all the parties of the capitalist class, from Cárdenas’ PRD in Mexico to Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. and to forge a revolutionary workers party to lead the fight for all the oppressed. Just as workers internationally mobilized in defense of Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s and saved the  Scottsboro Boys,” nine black youth facing execution in Alabama in the  30s, today work stoppages, strike action and mass labor- centered demonstrations are urgently needed to demand: Stop the Execution! Smash the Racist Death Penalty! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!         

Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal!

The following motion was approved by over 500 striking students of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) at a meeting of the strike general council early on October 13, hours before Pennsylvania governor Ridge signed a death warrant ordering the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. 

On 4 October 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it refused to hear an appeal submitted by the lawyers of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The attorneys demanded a new trial on the basis of the innumerable and flagrant judicial atrocities that took place during the trial in 1982 which sentenced him to death. While the defense team is preparing new legal steps, this rejection by the highest court of the United States makes it all the more urgent to massively mobilize the working class to demand freedom now for Mumia. This is the social force which has the power to defeat this capitalist onslaught against the oppressed.

The capitalist state wants to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal, the renowned black journalist known as the "voice of the voiceless," by executing him. His "crime" was to defy the racist American bourgeoisie and to denounce a system based on the most unbearable oppression of racial minorities. The racist death penalty in the United States is nothing less than legal lynching, an official version of the terror of the Ku Klux Klan which is directly derived from slavery. Today there are thousands on death row, most of them blacks and Latinos, including dozens of Mexicans.

By murdering Abu-Jamal, the ruling class wants to send a warning to all those who dare to raise their heads against oppression and poverty, hunger and war. To do this, they trample on the rights of the oppressed. Jamal was not allowed to present his own legal defense, and was even expelled from the court room during much of his 1982 trial. Blacks were systematically eliminated from the jury. This goes to show that there can be no justice for the exploited and oppressed in the bourgeois courts. In the capitalist judicial system the only voice is that of the bosses, their politicians and judges, who always seek to suppress the protests of those who fight against the starvation measures which they impose on the working people.

Those who have ordered that Mumia must die are the same ones who have ordered the increase of student "fees" at UNAM, as well as the wave of privatizations that threatens to throw thousands of workers out of their jobs around the world. They are the same ones who have deployed an enormous military force in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero in order to crush the Indians and peasants rebelling against their relentless oppression. From the largest university in Latin America, currently on strike, we join our voice with the international protests for Mumia. At the same time, we fight for immediate freedom for all the class-war prisoners in this country, victims of bourgeois justice in Mexico.

We UNAM students on strike who have resisted the blows of the Mexican bourgeoisie, junior partner of those who today seek to silence Mumia, emphasize that in order to prevent this new crime of the capitalist state, it is necessary to mobilize the enormous power of the working class around the world. This past April, teachers in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and longshoremen on the West Coast of the United States stopped work demanding freedom for Jamal. Today we address ourselves to the unions and militant workers in Mexico, in particular to those who have organized and participated in defense guards in the UNAM strike, to call on them to join with us in protest actions demanding: Fredom now for Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the racist death penalty!

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com