Honored at the Northern California Friends of the People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo “Beat-Back-Bush” banquet Friday, Oct. 8, will be Fernando Suarez del Solar, a founding member of Military Families Speak Out whose son died in Iraq.

This year’s banquet is held at the Snow Building in the Oakland Zoo complex. Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the presidential debate will be shown at 6 p.m., and the program will start at 7:30 p.m.

Since his son, Jesus Suarez, died in Iraq in spring 2003, Fernando Suarez del Solar has rededicated his life to the cause of peace and non-military solutions, and has become a national and international spokesperson for the military families with sons and daughters spread out in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe.

Earlier this month, as the U.S. death toll in Iraq passed 1,000, Suarez del Solar issued a statement in which he noted that President Bush had called the deaths the price of freedom and democracy.

“But I pose the question: to whom does Mr. Bush refer?” Suarez del Solar asked. “More than a thousand of our children lost in Iraq, two thousand distraught parents, one thousand families destroyed. These families do not enjoy the way of life Mr. Bush talks about.” Thousands of Iraqi children have been lost as well, he said.

“As I write these words,” Suarez del Solar said, “another family is receiving the news that their child has been killed in combat. How many lives, how many families, how many orphaned children will be traumatized before this immoral war based on lies comes to an end? When will the American people and the politicians understand that Bush is destroying us?” he added. “The answer will be given on Nov. 2.”

The Guerrero Azteca Project, which Suarez del Solar founded and directs, aims to reach families in the Spanish-speaking community, where large numbers of “green card” and poverty draft youth are entering military service, with information about the crucial choices they face.

Also featured at the banquet will be San Francisco Labor Council head Walter Johnson, the San Francisco Rockin’ Solidarity Labor Chorus, leaders of the Haiti Action Committee and Pastors for Peace/Friendshipment, this year’s Bay Area Venceremos Brigadistas, Total Eklipze Cheer Academy, singer-songwriter Eliot Kenin, and more.

A special presentation by the Alameda County Central Labor Council will highlight Prop. 72, requiring employers of 50 or more to provide health coverage. The measure, which upholds SB 2 passed last year, is under sharp attack from giant retailers, and is a major election focus of the California labor movement.

Reservations are $40, and proceeds benefit the People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo fund drive. Free parking is plentiful; a car shuttle will run from the Coliseum BART station.

Phone (510) 251-1050 for information, reservations and directions.