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Friday, June 25, 2004

The Militant - July 6, 2004 -- Socialist Workers Party: Calero, Hawkins in 2004!

The Militant - July 6, 2004 -- Socialist Workers Party: Calero, Hawkins in 2004!

Socialist Workers Party:
Calero, Hawkins in 2004!
The working-class alternative in presidential elections
lead article

BY MARTÍN KOPPEL
OBERLIN, Ohio—The Socialist Workers Party has named Róger Calero as its candidate for president of the United States and Arrin Hawkins for vice president.
Delegates at the 42nd national convention of the SWP, held June 10-12 at Oberlin College here, ratified the nominations made earlier by the party’s National Committee.

Supporters of the socialist ticket rolled out of the convention into campaigning activities around the country, from soapboxing in Miami, Florida, and Newark, New Jersey, to petitioning this month to get the socialist candidates on the ballot in Mississippi, Iowa, Utah, and Vermont.

“The Socialist Workers candidates around the country offer a revolutionary, working-class alternative to the Democrats and Republicans—the twin parties of imperialist war, depression, racism, and exploitation,” said Calero, addressing some 400 people at a rally here at the conclusion of the SWP convention.

“We are bringing our campaign to workers, farmers, and young people everywhere who are resisting the assaults by the bosses and the disastrous consequences of their capitalist profit system. We invite those who support our candidates to campaign with us.”

The socialist candidate added, “We are joining with fellow workers to defend the labor movement in face of the employers’ offensive. Our campaign stands with those who are fighting today to organize a union or to defend their union from the bosses and their government.”

The socialist candidates are also campaigning to support the efforts by working people around the globe, especially in the semicolonial world, to expand the electrification of their countries. Calero explained that the SWP campaign will oppose the war that Washington and other imperialist powers have been waging to prevent oppressed nations—such as Iran—from developing nuclear power, which is necessary to bring much of humanity out of darkness.

Calero, 35, is the associate editor of the Spanish-language magazine Perspectiva Mundial and a Militant staff writer. While working as a meat packer in the Midwest, he participated in a successful struggle by workers at the Dakota Premium Foods plant in South St. Paul, Minnesota, who won recognition of the United Food and Commercial Workers as their union in 2002. Calero has joined current efforts to win solidarity for the United Mine Workers of America strike in Huntington, Utah.

In December 2002 Calero was arrested by immigration cops on his return from a Militant reporting trip in Cuba and Mexico. He waged a campaign that won broad public support and prevented the U.S. government from deporting him to Nicaragua, his country of birth. He has since used this victory to back other workers fighting deportation efforts and government frame-ups.

Arrin Hawkins, 28, is a garment worker in New York. She was the Socialist Workers nominee for lieutenant governor of New York in 2002. Hawkins has also worked as an airline baggage handler and a meatpacker. A defender of the Cuban Revolution, she took part in youth delegations to Cuba in 2001 and 2003. Hawkins joined with other partisans of the struggle for women’s liberation to build the April 25 march on Washington, where nearly a million turned out to support a woman’s right to choose abortion (see biographies of Calero and Hawkins).

Speaking at the June 12 rally, Hawkins explained that as part of building the April 25 march, socialist workers and Young Socialists “went out campaigning throughout March and April on street corners in working-class districts, at university campuses, and at plant gates. We got into the hands of as many workers and youth as possible a range of books and pamphlets that give a scientific, Marxist explanation of the roots of women’s oppression and that explain the kind of revolutionary, working-class movement needed to end it.”

This was coupled with a successful spring drive that doubled the number of new subscribers to the Militant and substantially increased readers to its Spanish-language sister publication, Perspectiva Mundial, she noted.

Hawkins said the elections offer broader opportunities for socialist workers and Young Socialists to use these books and campaign newspapers to introduce working people and youth to a revolutionary working-class perspective.

Supporters of the socialist campaign are organizing efforts to put their presidential ticket on the ballot in 12 states and the District of Columbia. They are currently engaged in petitioning drives in Iowa, Mississippi, Utah, and Vermont that will be completed by the end of June (see news on Mississippi petitioning on this page). Petitioning to put Calero and Hawkins on the ballot in Minnesota and Washington, D.C., will take place in July.

Petitions submitted in New Jersey
On June 8 campaigners in New Jersey completed a two-week petitioning effort. They filed nearly double the 800 signatures required to place the Socialist Workers presidential slate on the ballot and almost twice the 100 signatures needed for the two Congressional candidates in New Jersey, Ved Dookhun for the 10th District and Angela Lariscy for the 13th District.

With the signature-gathering effort wrapped up, supporters of the New Jersey socialist campaign are now gearing into a broader campaign effort. They are soapboxing, canvassing with the Militant and Perspectiva Mundial, and looking for speaking engagements for their candidates—Dookhun, a meat packer, and Lariscy, a sewing-machine operator in Newark.

Other local Socialist Workers Party slates are being fielded in cities across the country. These include Iowa, where petitioning is underway to put Edwin Fruit, the party’s candidate for U.S. Congress, on the ballot. In New York the socialist candidates are Martín Koppel for U.S. Senate, Willie Cotton for U.S. Congress in the 15th District, and Dorothy Kolis in the 16th District.

Hawkins and Calero will be touring in areas where local campaigns are already underway, such as Iowa and Florida.

Young Socialists around the country are taking the SWP campaign as their own. Some are running on Socialist Workers slates. One of these candidates, Nicole Sarmiento, a Young Socialist in Miami who is running for U.S. Senate in Florida, spoke at the June 12 Oberlin College rally. She described some of the recent campaigning in Miami and Tampa.

In addition to Sarmiento, the socialist candidates in Florida include Lawrence Mikesh for mayor of Miami-Dade, and three Congressional nominees: Karl Butts in the 11th District in Tampa, Omari Musa in the 17th District, and Seth Galinsky in the 21st District, both in Miami.

Sarmiento explained that in campaigning during the previous week at a forum on Haiti held at Florida International University’s North Campus near Miami, a conference in St. Petersburg on the history of the civil rights movement, and at a rally by hospital workers fighting for a union, and other events in Florida, the socialist candidates in that state called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. and other imperialist troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, the Balkans, Haiti, Colombia, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. They also called on working people to defend Venezuela against Washington’s threats and increased military intervention in South America.

In face of the economic crisis, Sarmiento said the Socialist Workers candidates advocate “jobs for all by cutting the workweek to 30 hours with 40 hours’ pay to spread the available work around.” The labor movement, she added, should also champion the demand to cancel the Third World debt to banks and other financial institutions in imperialist countries.

A fight around these and other demands, Sarmiento noted, can help unify working people who are resisting the employers’ onslaught, while pointing to the need for workers and farmers to overturn capitalist rule and take political power. “We point to the living example of the Cuban Revolution,” she said, which shows it is possible for working people to successfully take that road.

The June 12 rally launched a special fund appeal for the Socialist Workers Party campaign. Those present contributed or pledged more than $51,000. The appeal runs through August 1. Checks can be made out to the Socialist Workers National Campaign Committee and sent to P.O. Box 42651, Philadelphia, PA 19101.

For more information, write the 2004 SWP campaign at 306 W. 37th St., 10th floor, New York, NY 10018; by e-mail to themilitant@verizon.net; or contact Socialist Workers campaign supporters listed in the directory.

Calero and Hawkins, socialist candidates

Below are the campaign biographies of Róger Calero and Arrin Hawkins, the 2004 Socialist Workers Party candidates for U.S. president and vice-president, respectively.


*****

Róger Calero, 35, is an associate editor of the Spanish-language magazine Perspectiva Mundial and a staff writer for the Militant. He lives in Newark, New Jersey. Calero has lived in the United States since 1985, when his family moved from Nicaragua to Los Angeles. He joined the socialist movement there in 1993 and is a member of the Socialist Workers Party’s National Committee, serving on the SWP’s national trade union work leadership committee.
In Los Angeles Calero helped mobilize support in October 1994 against Proposition 187, a California ballot measure intended to deny undocumented workers and their children access to public education, health care, and other social services.

Working as a meat packer in the Midwest a few years later, Calero participated in a groundbreaking union-organizing drive at Dakota Premium Foods in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Immigrant and native-born workers came together to bring United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 into that plant. More recently Calero has joined the efforts to expand labor solidarity with the United Mine Workers of America strike by 75 coal miners fighting for union recognition and safe working conditions at the Co-Op mine in Huntington, Utah.

In December 2002, immigration cops arrested Calero upon his return to the United States from reporting assignments at a conference held in Havana, Cuba, protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas—a pact Washington is trying to impose on the region to extend its imperialist domination—and a congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, of the Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students.

Winning broad support from defenders of immigrant and workers rights and freedom of the press, and with the backing of the Socialist Workers Party, Calero waged a public campaign that prevented his deportation to Nicaragua and successfully defended his right to live and work in this country. The victorious struggle set an example of how to fight to win and inspired others in similar situations to resist and beat back government attempts to exclude them from the United States.



*****

Arrin Hawkins, 28, is a garment worker in New York. She was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for Lt. Governor of New York in 2002.
Hawkins joined the Young Socialists in 2000 in the Twin Cities. She has also worked as an airline baggage handler and as a meat packer. In 2000 and 2001 she worked on the cut floor at the American Meat Packing Corporation plant in Chicago where she was involved in a union fight to win severance pay for hundreds of workers after the plant was shut down and the workers laid off without having received prior notice of the shutdown. The workers there mobilized to win broad labor and community support for their fight for back pay, health care coverage and severance pay.

Hawkins has been a part of international delegations to Cuba for the Cuba-US Youth Exchange in 2001 and 2003. She participated in the conference of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students held in Havana in 2000. She represented the Young Socialists at the World Festival of Youth and Students held in Algiers, Algeria in 2001, and afterwards visited the camps of the Polisario independence fighters in Tindouf, Algeria.

Hawkins helped build the April 25, 2004, March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC, where hundreds of thousands marched in defense of a woman’s right to choose abortion.

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