Historic ‘paro,’ boycott
On May 1, buses were empty, roads were empty, the media showed an empty sweatshop. Truck drivers left their trucks, stopping all transporting of goods from the ports. Two groups met at the border in San Diego. Several other border towns had demonstrations that closed the borders. An editorial on one of the Spanish-language television stations said the marches have been beneficial because it has shown that “we can determine our direction and we have learned our power which we can use to demand respect and dignity.”
Many stores closed here, some showing support, others because they did not have enough workers and others because they were in the path of the demonstrations. Whole families attended. Some 27 percent of students in the largest school district did not attend school. There was music and chanting. I took a picture of a young child with the loudspeaker, leading a Sí Se Puede chant for a long time. He yelled it out with great passion.
In Mexico, there was a call by clergy and others to boycott all American businesses. I talked with my cousin in Mexico, who stated that she was on her way to an event where they were going to dance for immigrant rights.
People who would normally cross the border to buy in the U.S. did not, and it had a great economic impact. In several small cities, within Los Angeles County and surrounding counties, there were record numbers of people marching. Very historic! An amazing experience I was fortunate enough to witness.

Rossana Cambron
Los Angeles CA

Barriers didn’t discourage protesters
Several hundred additional police officers failed to discourage more than 7,000 people who overcame many barriers to attend the May 1 march in St. Petersburg. One of those barriers was the anger of some of the motorists who were delayed at various intersections, and who found themselves part of a massive traffic jam.
The entire protest site was ringed by interlocking metal barriers. People approaching the area on foot were not permitted to open the barriers to gain access. Most were forced to walk at least half a mile along the fence before they found an opening.
Parked police cars and the private cars blocked an entire busy two-lane thoroughfare, forcing cars filled with immigrant workers to circle around looking for the “official entrance” of the march.
Yet thousands walked long distances, carrying food and beverages, being young and strong and determined to be part of this protest.

Jesse Kern
Saint Petersburg FL

Siege ‘strangles’ Palestinians
Thanks for the article on the siege of the Palestinians (PWW 4/29-5/5).
“Frankly, we are strangling them” is how Israeli government strategy was described by a dissenting official to The Economist in August 2001.
Supported by liberal use of force and the apartheid fencing, the “strangling” strategy includes passive and active choking of the food and water supply (in April 2002, the UN issued a special alert on hunger and malnutrition; things have gotten worse since); destruction of the sewage and power systems; destruction of the education and public health systems; overcrowding in housing (11 people in one room is not unusual), worsened by the bulldozing and bombing of thousands of homes.
Most serious, “strangling them” has included passive and deliberate destruction of jobs. Public-health studies have demonstrated unemployment’s devastating impact on health.
“Strangling them” sets the stage for internal conflict among Palestinians. It has already happened, evident in the declining status of women, youth and children. Palestinians are physically fighting and killing each other and themselves. This is the social equivalent of the “touchless torture” (self-destruction) practices used on prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo and elsewhere.
Capitalist decline is expressing itself in one way in Palestine, Iraq or Haiti, in another in New Orleans, but the results can be surprisingly similar. Because of Palestinian deproletarianization, the way out increasingly depends on labor-led initiatives here and worldwide.

Wadi’h Halabi
Cambridge MA

Undocumented grandmother
I remember from when I was a little kid the story of how my grandmother came to this country. It was well over a hundred years ago and she was poor in Germany. She wanted to come to America but had no passport. So she snuck onto a freighter and hid out in the hull of the ship. One of the sailors knew she was there, so he brought her food and water every day. If HR 4437 had been the law when my grandmother was alive she could have become a convicted felon along with that sweet sailor who was kind enough to bring her food and water. No one called my grandmother an illegal alien in her day and age, and we cannot stand for what we are hearing today! No one is illegal! But the way some of our people are being treated should be.

Ken BeSaw
Bronx NY

Great looking GDP?
On April 28 our government proudly announced that our gross domestic product grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2006, the strongest growth in years.
This is great news until we read how Jeremy Rifkin expertly describes gross domestic product in his 2004 book, “The European Dream,” where he compares their dream to our dream.
GDP was created by the U.S. Commerce Department in the 1930s as a gauge for measuring the national economic recovery from the depression and later to monitor wartime production capacity in World War II. It does not discriminate between economic activity that improves our standard of living and activity that does not. GDP counts every activity as good. It measures all of our spending on everything such as health care, cost of fuel and energy, homeland security, hurricanes, terrorism, crime, entertainment, etc.
For brevity, let us look at just one: military spending. A March 17 Bloomberg news report stated that U.S. military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will average 44 percent more this year than in fiscal 2005, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Military spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion we spent in 2005.
If you do the math, this adds up to a massive $230,000 every minute of every day! With all this added to our GDP, how much more good news like this can we handle?

Bud Deraps
St. Louis MO