Women of the world, unite!

International Women’s Day is March 8. Recognized throughout the world, International Women’s Day gave birth to Women’s History Month, a more widely celebrated event here in the U.S.

Like May Day, International Women’s Day was inspired by the righteous struggles of the working class. Its origins include a militant demonstration by the mostly female needle trade workers in New York City on March 8, 1857, and another on March 8, 1908. Both were for better wages and working conditions.

In 1910, at the Socialist Women’s International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, German Socialist leader Clara Zetkin proposed March 8 as International Women’s Day. The following year demonstrations took place across Europe demanding women’s right to vote.

International Women’s Day has also been linked to the 1911 New York City’s Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire, where dozens of mostly immigrant women died at the hands of the bosses’ greed.

This year International Women’s Day can be a catalyst for U.S. women to organize en masse for the March 20 demonstrations for peace and justice in Iraq and the Middle East. It can also be a launching pad for the April 25 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., to defend reproductive rights.

This year the women of the U.S. – Black, Latino, white, Asian, American Indian, and others – will be a leading force in the fight to rid, not only the U.S., but also the world, of an administration that ruthlessly pushes its militaristic, reckless policies in the interests of the transnational corporations. The Bush administration is the world’s biggest threat to women’s interests and authentic family values.

The women’s vote in 2004 can be a powerful factor in defeating Bush and his ilk. Such a defeat can begin to reverse the right-wing agenda, and put in place a positive program of providing jobs, equal pay, quality public education, health care and an end to racism, poverty and war.

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Free the Cuban Five

For 40 years Miami has been a base for overt and covert warfare against Cuba, including the infamous “Bay of Pigs” invasion, plots to assassinate President Fidel Castro, and germ warfare attacks on Cuban crops and livestock. Orlando Bosch, who masterminded the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airliner, killing more than 70 people, walks a free man in Miami because President George Bush (senior) pardoned him. At least 3,500 Cubans have died from anti-Cuba terrorism launched from Miami.

Cuba appealed many times to the U.S. government to shut down terrorist operations in South Florida, but nothing was ever done. Cuba then was forced to send a group of men to Florida to monitor terror groups in order to protect Cuban and American lives. The information these men collected was even shared with the FBI. But instead of apprehending the terrorists, the FBI arrested five young men: Gerardo Hernández, René González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labaniño, and Fernando González, now known collectively as the Cuban Five. They were unjustly convicted in a Miami court and now sit in federal prisons serving sentences ranging from 15 years to double life. This case shows how phony Bush’s “war on terrorism” really is.

March 10 is the date for an appeal on behalf of the Cuban Five before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five ran a full page ad in the March 3 New York Times with a headline, “Free the Cuban Five.” It is endorsed by authors Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, union leader Dolores Huerta, Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and others. The ad calls for a new trial for the defendants and urges people to sign a petition to George W. Bush demanding their freedom (www.freethefive.org). It also calls on Attorney General John Ashcroft to allow the defendants’ wives and children to enter the U.S. and visit them in prison.

We join in the call to “Free the Cuban Five.”