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Workers Vanguard No. 931

27 February 2009

Racist Lynchings of Ecuadorian Immigrants in Brooklyn and Long Island

Labor Must Mobilize to Defend Immigrants!

Organize the Unorganized! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

We reprint the following article from the January 31 newsletter of the New York Labor Black League for Social Defense, as reissued with minor corrections on February 7.

“Today my brother is the victim, but tomorrow it could be your brother, your mother, your father.” These words were spoken by Diego Sucuzhañay following his brother’s grisly murder. On the night of December 7, José Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, a 31-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant and father of two, was walking with his brother Rómel through the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn. As they walked arm in arm, four black men pulled up alongside of them, got out of their SUV and hurled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets at the brothers before launching their murderous attack. Rómel managed to escape, but they surrounded José, beat him and crushed his skull with a baseball bat. He died six days later in the hospital.

Just one month earlier, on November 8, four days after Obama was elected, a lynch mob brutally beat and stabbed Marcelo Lucero to death in the town of Patchogue in Long Island. Lucero tried to defend himself against the mob, but one of the racist thugs plunged a knife into his chest. Six of the attackers are white, and the seventh is the son of a Puerto Rican man and a black American woman. The racists who carried out this lynching had told a friend of theirs that they were going to “go jump a Mexican.” One of the attackers said, “I don’t go out doing this often—maybe only once a week.” The New York Times reported that on the day of Lucero’s killing, two members of this same mob fired a BB gun at Marlon García, 27, and struck him several times after García had tried to stop the beating of another man across the street.

The multiracial working class in the U.S. has a burning interest in mobilizing its social power in protest against these racist murders. This power should be mobilized to oppose anti-gay and anti-immigrant attacks. The New York Labor Black League for Social Defense says: An injury to one is an injury to all! Fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants! Everyone who made it into this country has the right to stay and live decently. Organize the unorganized—for labor action against racist terror!

These lynchings are a by-product of the U.S. government’s bipartisan campaign of terror against immigrants. As is the case during every economic crisis, the racist rulers today are carrying out mass deportations while scapegoating immigrants for the widespread unemployment and poverty that is an endemic part of capitalism. The latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) statistics show that during the 2008 fiscal year alone, a staggering total of 349,041 immigrants were deported. The Mexican government recently reported that from January to October 2008, the U.S. government deported 28,456 children to Mexico. These ruling-class attacks provide fertile ground for fascistic vermin like the Minutemen and outright fascist terrorists like the KKK and Nazis to come out of their holes to engage in their cowardly and murderous attacks against immigrants.

Risking their lives to get to the U.S., most immigrants arrive here to face brutal exploitation, poverty, discrimination, insults of every kind and constant fear of persecution by la migra. Before his death, Marcelo Lucero would often say to his mother, “Here a person suffers from several causes: work, racism and the family. The golden dream doesn’t exist. Sometimes not even the money justifies this way of life” (El Comercio [Quito, Ecuador], 13 November 2008).

Democratic president Barack Obama, the new Commander-in-Chief of bloody U.S. imperialism, has proven himself to be a staunch supporter of the “war on terror,” including warrantless wiretapping and the renewal of the racist, anti-immigrant and anti-labor USA Patriot Act. This new, “liberal” overseer of the American plantation supports the death penalty, the system of legal lynching that is the legacy of black chattel slavery. He also supports beefed-up border patrol repression and the construction of fortified border walls to keep immigrants out (www.barackobama.
com). Obama voted for the failed McCain-Kennedy immigration bill with its “guest worker” scheme of “legalization” through indentured servitude. Any workers who believe that the administration of Obama, the first black president in U.S. history, will bring real “change” in the wake of the much-despised Bush regime will see their hopes brutally dashed.

In line with our principled opposition to parties of the capitalist class enemy, the LBL, which was initiated by and is fraternally allied to the Spartacist League, a multiracial revolutionary Marxist organization, urged workers during the election campaign to give no vote to Obama or McCain or any other capitalist politician, including Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. Wage slaves have no business being in the same party with their capitalist exploiters! Workers need their own party to fight for socialist revolution.

An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!

Before launching their fatal attack, Sucuzhañay’s murderers also screamed an anti-gay slur at their victim, believing him to be gay simply for having his arm around his brother. Across the country, there has been a rash of attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. These vile anti-gay bigots surely feel that they have the wind in their sails since the November elections, in which Proposition 8 in California overturned the legalization of same-sex marriage and two other states passed initiatives banning it. As we in the LBL say in our Ten-Point Program, we fight for “Full Democratic Rights for Homosexuals!”

Both of these lynchings involved attackers who are black or Latino, i.e., the very people who are inevitably the targets of the same forces that mobilize against immigrants. The uncle of José Pacheco, who is the black Puerto Rican youth arrested in conjunction with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, told reporters that the home of Pacheco’s own parents was burned down twice when they first moved to the area in the 1990s!

The American bourgeoisie foments ethnic and racial hostilities to keep the working class divided and weak. As was noted in the 1890s in a letter from Friedrich Engels to a colleague in the U.S.: “Your bourgeoisie knows much better even than the Austrian Government how to play off one nationality against the other: Jews, Italians, Bohemians, etc., against Germans and Irish, and each one against the other, so that differences in the living standard of the workers exist, I believe, in New York to an extent unheard-of elsewhere.”

As decaying capitalism’s economic crisis threatens the jobs and livelihoods of millions, blacks and immigrants are hit the hardest. In this racist society black people are the last hired and first fired. The racial oppression of black people, which has its origins in black chattel slavery, is the bedrock of American capitalism. Meanwhile, the capitalist bosses also scapegoat immigrants in economic downturns as they ratchet up deportations.

Divisions among black, white and immigrant workers break down in the course of class struggle. Recent examples demonstrating this include the sit-down strike at Republic Windows in Chicago and the unionization of the Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina (see Workers Vanguard No. 927, 2 January). The workforces at both of these locations were largely black and immigrant. Ultimately what is necessary is a revolutionary Marxist party to instill class consciousness into the multiracial working class. We must combat anti-immigrant chauvinism among U.S.-born black and white workers. At the same time, immigrant workers must understand that anti-black racism must be defeated because it remains the touchstone of social reaction in the U.S.

Working-class immigrants are not simply victims. They produce wealth in society and therefore, together with black and white workers, they have the social power to bring society to a grinding halt. These workers represent a living bridge to the struggles of working people in Latin America and elsewhere. But the obstacle to any real mobilization and militant struggle to protect immigrants from lynch mob terror lies in the class-collaborationist political program of the protectionist, anti-immigrant and pro-Democratic Party bureaucracies of both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win-affiliated trade unions. These pro-capitalist misleaders chain workers to their class enemy and prevent them from engaging in independent political action in their own class interest. For the unions to champion the cause of immigrants and the poor requires a political struggle to oust the trade-union bureaucracies and replace them with a class-struggle leadership that will mobilize the workers independently of and in opposition to the capitalist rulers.

The organized labor movement has by and large been criminally silent in the face of the racist killings of Marcelo Lucero and José Sucuzhañay. (In contrast, the rallies were literally crawling with local capitalist politicians anxious to channel the just outrage into impotent vigils and promises of justice at the hands of the government that persecutes these immigrants daily.) A notable exception came from 20 janitors of SEIU Local 32BJ who attended a protest in Long Island against the killing of Marcelo Lucero (Militant, 1 December 2008). To its credit, Local 32BJ issued a November 12 press release condemning the lynching. However, the statement sows dangerous illusions in the government of the class enemy by calling on Long Island’s elected officials, “especially Steve Levy,” to “work toward real solutions to fix our broken immigration system.” Democratic Party politician Steve Levy is the arch-reactionary Suffolk County Executive who has for years spearheaded a vicious campaign against immigrants throughout the county where Patchogue is located.

No Illusions in the Capitalist State!

At protests and vigils in response to the racist murder of Lucero and Sucuzhañay, several fake-socialist groups showed up to peddle their program of trying to pressure the Democrats to defend immigrants. The International Socialist Organization (ISO), once again acting as the wagging tail on the Democratic Party dog, exhorts: “We should welcome [!] the news that Pelosi and other Democrats are questioning [!] the usefulness [!!] of federal raids” (Socialist Worker, 18 November 2008). In other words, the ISO has the audacity to hope that Obama and the ruling class of this irrational and murderous capitalist system will find more benevolent and “useful” ways to extract their pound of flesh from immigrant workers than through I.C.E.’s terror raids. The groveling reformists of the ISO perpetuate the reformist hoax that the workers can pressure the Democratic wing of the ruling class into serving the interests of the workers and oppressed. Such was the motivation behind the ISO’s election night party in Harlem to “celebrate the end of far too many years of republican [sic] rule” and to discuss “what can activists do to press their demands on the next administration?”

The National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League, with the reformists of the Communist Party USA in tow, call for federal “hate crimes” legislation and specifically for passing the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act,” (HR 1592). We are opposed to hate crimes legislation because such laws give the cops and courts added powers for repressing those who are truly in their cross hairs: blacks seeking to defend themselves against racist terror, antiwar protesters, union militants and leftists. The state is not neutral! It is an instrument of organized force and violence—consisting at its core of the police, army, courts and prisons—for maintaining capitalist property and profits through the suppression of the working class and the oppressed. It is a deadly illusion to expect protection from the very same federal government that is responsible for the Gestapo-like raids against immigrants, the brutal deaths of scores of immigrants locked up in America’s jails and detention centers, the systematic torture of prisoners in Guantánamo and the imperialist slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We fight to win workers to the need for a class-struggle program that tears through the straitjacket of “national unity” promoted by the U.S. capitalist rulers and breaks down the poisonous racial and ethnic divisions they promote. The way forward was shown by the 9 February 2002 united-front protest initiated by the Partisan Defense Committee and the Bay Area Labor Black League for Social Defense in Oakland, California, that was called around the demands “No to the USA-Patriot Act and the Maritime Security Act! Down With the Anti-Immigrant Witchhunt!” This protest, which included the participation of black ILWU longshoremen and Latino day laborers, was a real, if modest, demonstration in action in defense of immigrants and against government repression. We fight with a class-struggle program in opposition to the class collaborationism of the union bureaucracy and the racial and ethnic hostilities it foments that are a critical barrier to working-class consciousness and struggle.

In racist capitalist America the oppression of black people is endemic to capitalist exploitation, poverty and repression. Black workers, as the most experienced and conscious section of the working class, will play a vanguard role in the struggle to eradicate this outmoded capitalist order—the source of all social oppression. Full and equal rights for immigrants, gays, black people and other minorities, decent housing and jobs, free quality health care and education for all can only be achieved through a workers revolution that smashes the capitalist profit system and ushers in an egalitarian socialist society. Workers and minorities do not need a “lesser”-evil party of racist capitalism, whether Democratic or Green. What we need is a revolutionary workers party that, as champion of the cause of all the oppressed, will lead the class to sweeping away the capitalist system once and for all.


Workers Vanguard No. 931

WV 931

27 February 2009


Down With Occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq!

U.S. Out of Pakistan, Central Asia!

Obama Escalates War in Afghanistan


UAW Tops Hand Over Hard-Won Gains

Auto Bailout Means Union Busting

For Class-Struggle Leadership of the Unions!

For a Revolutionary Workers Party!


Karl Marx and the U.S. Civil War

(Quote of the Week)


New York Post’s Racist Cartoon

(Editorial Note)


Racist Lynchings of Ecuadorian Immigrants in Brooklyn and Long Island

Labor Must Mobilize to Defend Immigrants!

Organize the Unorganized! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!


From the Archives of Workers Vanguard

The National Question in the Marxist Movement, 1848-1914