May 3, 2009

Mo' May Day

[After Saturday's post about May Day 2009, I'm still thinking about the lessons, and plan to post on it again. In the meantime, I am turning the floor over to my friend Michael Leonardi, a child of Toledo, Ohio, who is now making his home, his living and his family in the Calabrian town of Tortora. Understandably, as the photo of the May Day banner and red flags flying over Tortora (above) indicate.]

May Day Reflections from Tortora, Calabria, Italy...

On May Day we reflected on the American Imperial Crusades, starting from the genocide of the first inhabitants or indigenous peoples of North America (holocausts denied and forgotten) and continuing through world wars 1 and 2 (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), Vietnam, Korea, Yugoslavia, Mesopotamia, Gaza, the war on the poor, the exploitation of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The continuing scapegoating and exploitation of the workers of the world, as the capitalist class continues to wreak havoc on our global ecosystems and spread its cancerous poisons.

Toledo, my home town, is one of the most cancerous cities in the western world thanks to the legacy of the automotive industry, Chrysler et. al., thanks also to corrupt city governments and profit-making enterprises like the Envirosafe hazardous waste dump and the Davis-Besse and Fermi 2 Nuclear plants that have contaminated the land, air and water of the Lake Erie Basin and the Great Black Swamp for decades. Today these stories were shared in Italy where similar stories transpire.On May Day we pondered how Chrysler will come out of bankruptcy through a merger with Italy's Fiat, but only if labor costs are slashed and the UAW agrees to pay cuts reducing their workers' salaries to those of their Asian and German domestic counterparts. Of course healthcare costs for workers are too much of a burden for Chrysler and Fiat, whose multi-millionaire bosses can't remain competitive with a workforce that has so many entitlements. Reducing labor costs to those of the German and Asian automakers is only fair, we are told. At least they aren't expecting the UAW workers to work for wages equivalent to those of Mexican, Chinese, or Italian workers, slave wages indeed!

Twenty-seven acres of wetlands on Toledo's highly toxic Ottawa River and a residential neighborhood were destroyed for the promise of over 4,000 great-paying jobs at the Chrysler (and then Daimler/Chrysler and then Chrysler again) Jeep assembly plant that opened in 2001, where gas-guzzling SUV's called Liberty (parts made in China) were put together. The four thousand jobs became less than 2,500 within a year and great-paying seems to always become less and less. The Jeep plant, along with all of Chrysler's plants, is now closed until the UAW caves into their new Italian boss. When Chrysler became Daimler/Chrysler it was heralded as the largest trans-Atlantic corporate merger in history. It should be remembered that Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton alone took in $3.7 million in cash, $66.2 million in stock and a severance payment of $24.4 million, as American tax dollars are now offered by President Obama to help the ailing Chrysler/Fiat merger come to fruition.

On May Day we thought about the tens and tens of millions killed off by a mafia run global economic system that continues to dupe the masses with smiling faces talking of prosperity for all and democracy? This, when democracy and an absurd sadomasochistic idea of freedom, exist only for those that wield the reins of power and not for the masses struggling ever more vigorously to survive on our once livable planet. In Calabria we live in the home of l'ndrangheta, the world's most powerful mafia that motors the filth that spews from Wall Street, the global drug trade, and manipulates the friendly faces of fascism in the White House and Capitol Hill, whether black, white or brown -- all bought and sold on the capitalist block.

May Day was eliminated in the USA to sever its ties from the international celebration of workers and movement for a better future for us all. Today in Italy we protested and reflected on a global economic system run amok, on our local mafias that have their tentacles reaching around the globe and on our toxic rivers and seas. We contemplated and refuted, with millions around the world, the renewal of fascism here and the world over.

We thought about the immigrants dying in the waters as they attempt to reach Europe's shores by way of the Italian island of Lampedusa. They flock here from the dire situations in their countries where the USA, Europe and Israel profit from the expropriation of their resources and labor. They come here in hopes of finding larger crumbs falling from the G8's plates. We remembered the workers killed on their jobs as they worked in unsafe conditions due to corporate cutbacks or for criminal bosses cutting costs for profit. We lamented the blind ignorance of the bloodied masses who eagerly follow their media masters, but celebrated our international solidarity with people around the world who hope of weaving the Green and the Red for a livable future for our children and children's children.

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