Revolution #151, December 28, 2008
The struggle on Long Island
(An interview with day laborers of Farmingville)
From Readers, translated from Spanish
We decided to go to Long Island, the site of the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant murdered by 7 racist young men. He had arrived in the U.S.A. 16 years ago and was working here to send money to his sick mother back home. En route to a friend’s home, he was attacked by these young men, one of whom made the statement “but I don’t do this very often…only about once a week.” This occurred in Patchogue, Suffolk County, where a vigil was recently held for Marcelo.
After the vigil, we talked to some of the people of the area and other parts of Long Island who joined the action taken by the angry people. Some young immigrants said, “This isn’t the first time something like this happens, you should see what happens in Farmingville.”
Below are some of the comments and experiences by youth who have suffered constant attacks by racist groups which were in effect recruited by County Executive Steve Levy who, with his comments and laws, has created an environment of racial intolerance.
José and Lalo worked at a car wash where they suffered various types of abuse such as overtime with no pay.
“Sometimes they treated you like dogs,” said José. “They even sold us the soap and work clothes,” added Lalo. “Sometimes you had no idea if they were giving you the materials or not, until you noticed that money from your check was missing. That was until we filed a lawsuit. The manager did not think we were the ones who filed the suit, they just thought of us as fools and not capable of anything other than our job. Like we were mindless or something…”
“For some time we’ve been getting ourselves organized,” said José. “The people feel it’s their own fault, so we started giving some classes in capitalism, using cartoons, you know, to make it more enjoyable for the people, and they started to participate. This was so that they too could see who was truly at fault for the exploitation. You know, I know a lot of people who come from my hometown and the majority came because they destroyed the countryside, there is no work left. And with their ‘NAFTA’ and their genetically modified products, you can’t even compete or even live in the countryside anymore. You know, I think that if we had gotten to know each other earlier, these classes on capitalism and the Revolution DVD would have been better.”
“I didn’t know practically anything,” commented Lalo, “but thanks to my friends, I was encouraged to file a suit. Since the beginning, I noticed that the manager was mean to me, you know, like a racist. I was a very quiet person but now I am more of a rebel. One day I felt like wanting to fuck with this racist.”
“The bad thing is that the people only start to react when they see they’re themselves getting fucked over,” José said. “I also think that the problem is the leadership. I worked for a group called the Latin American Workers Project (‘el lugar del proyecto de los trabajadores’) and we were looking for the unity of the workers and stuff like that. But around here you almost can’t do anything because they attack you. The racist environment is very hostile, like in Farmingville, it’s almost like segregation! You can’t enter a place for whites because you get a very bad vibe and bad looks, which is why there are places where only the Latinos gather.”
Imperialism needs weapons like racism, people like Steve Levy who passed anti-immigrant laws to win white votes. He told them that he was going to run the immigrant population out of Long Island. That’s how he got his post, and this is why scare politics is on the rise.
Pedro is a day laborer from Patchogue. Pedro comments, after watching the Revolution DVD (the part about selling post cards of the lynchings), “There is no difference between the enslavement of the Blacks and the racism against the immigrants.”
“We need to go to these communities,” says José, “because look, the church for example unites and divides. They look at us with compassion, like ‘look at those poor people.’ They have people brainwashed. We need to work with the workers directly because they blame themselves for not being born on this side of the border and of having to cross the border.
“They (the fascist politicians) have power,” said Pedro. “Over here, freedom is like something given…”
“Something like this, like what happened to Marcelo Lucero, had to happen,” said José. “It’s not the first time that an incident like this occurred. For example, we had this MF who would come by and take the day laborers to work somewhere and then he would take out a gun, point it at them and take the few dollars that they had... or on some jobs they would hit them on the back just because they wouldn’t obey. Some just kids, 17 years of age. I’ve seen this myself because some of them are my buddies and I would go to visit them at work. This happened to me, one time a jerk wanted to hit me and I told him ‘you’re crazy!’ This happened at Farmingville when I was 19. The bad thing is that some guys opt to return to their homeland. Steve Levy also claimed that the “Mara Salvatrucha,” [a gang based mainly among Central Americans —translator] was infiltrating the day laborers and he sent the police to search all of us, and so you have the police looking for something on us: guns or tattoos.”
“It’s also very difficult now since we live under more surveillance,” said Pedro. “The more technology there is, the less people communicate among themselves, and no one finds out anything.”
“How do you think we can organize the people, especially when the community is very closed, you know, they no longer trust groups and organizations, due to their contradictions and divisions.”
“We have had some experiences,” says Pedro, “giving talks (with a ‘community’ organization) and always they considered us like ‘weird.’ We were going to schools and other places and things like that. Look, some immigrant day laborers weren’t doing anything but working with their hands…’”
After having seen part of the Revolution DVD (Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What’s It All About. A Film of a Talk By Bob Avakian.), we had a brief discussion and we agreed on some plans to take the newspaper to some places on Long Island.
I think that we should go to all these places where the people are and especially where the system is subjecting a section of society to oppression, and struggle with people to create an atmosphere of consciousness where the newspaper is sold, in the barrios, the barber shops, in the corner stores, in every place where people gather, and contribute to the revolutionary movement that is coming into being, and thus prepare ourselves for when an opportunity arises to do away with this capitalist-imperialist system and its crimes. And finally we would be able to create a new society, a new communist world.
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