Revolutionary May 1st 2003

Revolutionary Worker #1201, June 1, 2003, posted at

We received the following from A World To Win News Service:

Revolutionary May 1st, 2003in Berlin

19 May 2003. A World to Win News Service. For the sixteenth year in a row a revolutionary May Day demonstration took place in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. With 7,000-9,000 people taking part, it was once again a powerful expression of revolutionary sentiment and internationalist spirit. This year's action took place in the context of a massive outpouring of protest against the war in Iraq as well as rising discontent in Germany due to unemployment and accompanying cuts in social services and a general attack on the masses' standard of living and political rights. In this context there were some important steps toward unity among the political forces who have taken part in May 1st activities over the years in Berlin. In the past, political differences had led to divisions, so that there were two or even three different demonstrations, all of which characterized themselves as revolutionary. This year, with just a few exceptions, these forces were able to unite and coordinate efforts to mobilize a joint rally and demonstration. A broad range of differing political tendencies and trends took part: anti-imperialists, anti- fascists, Maoists and other communists, autonomen,anarchists and others joined in this action under the common slogans: "War Against War Abroad and at Home! No Liberation Without Revolution!"

In the weeks beforehand, the streets of Berlin were filled with posters and leaflets as this broad range of forces took their message out to various sections of the people. The Berlin authorities claimed they were following a "de-escalation" strategy this year and were not planning to carry out the massive repression that has marked past May Days in Berlin. However this did not prevent them from mobilizing 7,500 riot police with tanks and water cannons. This was accompanied by the yearly campaign in the press designed to politically isolate the demonstrators and split their ranks.

But neither the threat of massive repression nor the efforts at politically dividing the forces involved succeeded. Thousands turned out for the rally at the Oranienplatz, which has been the traditional starting point for the demonstration since 1988. Among those speaking at the rally were Haluk Gerger, one of the founders of the Human Rights Organization of Istanbul and a member of an International Emergency Committee Delegation to Peru in support of PCP Chairman Gonzalo; Jutta Ditfürth, from the ™kologische Linke (an ecology group); a representative of the Nepal International Solidarity Forum; a member of the editorial board of the refugee newspaper The Voice ; Said Dudin from the Arabic Anti-Fascist Committee (Europe); Dave Blalock from the Stop the War Brigade and Vietnam Veterans Against the War (Anti-Imperialist); a representative of the Anti-Hartz Coalition and others. The international character of the rally and demonstration was further marked by the fact that it was held in German and Turkish. Music was provided by a well-known local punk band, the Just Say No Posse, and rappers from Hamburg.

As the demonstration headed down the Oranienstrasse in the heart of Kreuzberg it passed under a giant banner that had been hung across the street with the main slogan in both German and Turkish. The streets and sidewalks were filled with people of more than a dozen nationalities and from a wide range of classes and strata -- workers and students, youth of various nationalities together with veteran fighters joined together to issue a common revolutionary message. Banners featured slogans against the war in Iraq and the imperialist occupation of that country, in support of the People's War in Nepal, against Nazis and fascist attacks, in support of other struggles around the world, against the oppression of women, cuts in social services and wages and a wide range of other questions. A large banner picturing the world breaking the chains and a slogan supporting the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement was carried and red flags were prominent throughout the demonstration as well as on balconies and rooftops along the march route. Supporters of the Maoist forces taking part in the demonstration distributed their own May 1 statements as well as that of the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in German and Turkish. The World People's Resistance Movement was present.

After proceeding through Kreuzberg and the neighboring district of Neuk”ll, the demonstration ended with a short rally on the Heinrich Platz in Kreuzberg. There a statement from the Joint Organizing Committee was read and the Internationale was played.

However May First in Berlin was far from over. The streets in Kreuzberg remained filled with thousands of people as street festivals and concerts continued well into the evening. Around 8 p.m. massive street fighting broke out. Several thousand people, mainly youth, took on the police as parked cars were turned into flaming barricades and cobblestones rained down on charging, club-swinging riot police and their tanks and water cannons. Tear gas filled the air as the street battles lasted until well past midnight. The next day city authorities and police claimed that especially "well organized" Turkish, Kurdish and Arab youth had formed the hard core of those fighting the police and threatened that "special" repressive measures would be directed against them in 2004. Thus the battle lines are already being drawn for next year's May 1st battle in Berlin.

Revolutionary May 1st, 2003 in Colombia

19 May 2003. A World to Win News Service. In Medellín , Colombia's second largest city and its major manufacturing center, a bloc of some 300 people organized by supporters of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement participated alongside several thousand others in one of the city's two May 1 marches, this one called by the CUT trade union federation, which had the most mass participation. The police constantly followed alongside the RIM contingent. Visually and politically defining the bloc were two big banners, one reading "Drown imperialism in a sea of people's wars" with the name of the RIM and the other "Yankees out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and everywhere," signed by the Anti-Imperialist Brigades. Several thousand leaflets by RIM and the World People's Resistance Movement were distributed.

At the corner of Oriental and La Playa avenues, the CUT had put up a platform from which to give its usual reformist speeches. The Maoists took it over. Two dozen people climbed up and requested the microphone. After a long back and forth struggle, a Maoist was able to give a complete speech to the assembled workers as below people burned Yankee flags. This incident brought the Anti-Imperialist Brigades more authority and respect from the crowd, and more people joined the AIB and RIM supporters contingent.

In Pereira , a small city that is the capital of an agricultural area in west-central Colombia, two marches converged at a bridge joining the town with a neighboring municipality. The main political current represented traditional non-revolutionary "leftist" political parties and trade unions, which usually do not work very hard to make this a mass event. This year, however, there were more than 3,000 people, including a RIM bloc of over a hundred people whose red flags gave an internationalist, anti- imperialist and proletarian tint to the occasion. This contingent had a militant spirit of unity and struggle with the other marchers. After a concluding rally at a square in the city center, it headed toward the popular neighborhoods. A contingent from the sand-collectors union (about 40 workers) went with them waving red flags.

With their enthusiastic and militant participation for more than five years in this city, many people in the march and along the route were expecting the RIM bloc and applauded its passing. More than half the participants wore red T-shirts with the slogan "For a world without imperialism" with an image of the masses advancing in struggle. The bloc was headed by a great red flag (3.60 by 2.20 meters) painted on sheets of wood transported in a van. Street theater was part of the action: A supporter of the Anti- Imperialist Brigades on stilts disguised as an imperialistic puppeteer was surrounded by representatives of the masses of the world (some 15 people wearing the typical dresses of various peoples); when the people were "attacked" they responded with their "weapons" fighting "in their way." After victory of the masses, there was a circle dance to the beat of a pair of drums. At the end, the Anti-Imperialist Brigades burned the flags of the imperialist powers. Bringing up the rear of the contingent was an enormous banner with the slogan "Drown imperialism in a sea of people's wars." During the march several thousand leaflets signed by the Committee of the RIM and of the Revolutionary Communist Group (GCR, a participating organization of the RIM) were handed out.

From the beginning this contingent chanted anti-imperialist slogans. By half-way through the march, these slogans had been taken up by people in many contingents, and by the end nearly everyone was shouting them out and singing The Internationale and other revolutionary songs. Their red flags waved vigorously during a revolutionary speech at the finale.

Three marches left from different parts of Bogotá and converged in the afternoon at the central Bolívar Square after a journey of several kilometers. The demonstration of more than 200,000 people was far bigger than any May 1 action in many years. Most were trade union members, with an unusually large participation of activists and supporters of the different political parties, mainly youth from the slums, many of them quite radical.

Two contiguous blocs of more than 200 people brought a militant revolutionary note. One was in support of RIM and the other the World People's Resistance Movement with the participation of the Anti- Imperialist Brigades. The RIM contingent was led by a dozen women with drums, dressed in red shirts and Palestinian shawls, followed by several dozen activists forcefully chanting slogans of the RIM and the GCR. Drummers preceded three red banners with pictures of Marx, Lenin and Mao and other flags with colored images and Maoist slogans: "Set our sights on communism," "Support the people's wars and the revolutionary struggles in the entire world," etc. The bloc of the WPRM with the Anti-Imperialist Brigades carried equally large anti-imperialist banners. The Maoists distributed in total around 20,000 leaflets in the three marches.

An Anti-Imperialist Brigade contingent in Bucaramanga , a city in the eastern highlands of the Andes, brought a rebellious touch to the traditional May 1st march there. Anti-imperialists and Maoists distributed thousands of leaflets.

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