Design a site like this with
Get started

Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh ¡presente!

This editorial first appeared on on May 18, 2018.  

We celebrate on May 19 the birthdays of two world-bending revolutionaries, Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.

Born in 1890 in central Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was the Marxist-Leninist communist who forged and led a people’s movement and army that defeated the invading imperialist might of both France and the United States and ultimately liberated Vietnam from colonialism.

Born in 1925 in the U.S., Malcolm X was the African-American leader who raised to global attention the concepts of Black nationalism, Black self-defense and the right of self-determination of Black peoples. Malcolm X also made a major contribution to the global movement for Pan-Africanism.

Neither met the other, yet their deeds and words intertwine, and together they continue to inspire us toward revolution.

At this moment, as the U.S. ruling class fans the deadly fires of racist hatred, Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh unite to give a profound lesson in building international solidarity with oppressed people and nations.

In 1924 — the year before Malcolm X was born — at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International in Moscow, Ho Chi Minh made a presentation during a session on the “National and colonial question.” He emphasized the importance of support for the Black liberation struggle in the U.S., saying in part: “It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery. … What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, [Black people in the U.S.] still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings.” (

Forty years later, in 1964, Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, put the Black liberation struggle in a worldwide context, saying: “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of [Black people] as simply a racial conflict of Black against white, or as a purely [U.S.] American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” (Malcolm X Speaks)

And he acknowledged the centrality of the national liberation war led by Ho Chi Minh to that global rebellion, saying: ”Viet Nam is the struggle of all third-world nations — the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism.” (1972 interview with Yuri Kochiyama,

The voices of both these revolutionaries ring out with the clarion call of SOLIDARITY as the path to a future of justice and liberation.

They remind us that we of the multinational, multigendered, global working class have a common oppressor in imperialist capitalism.

We can resist its racism, its anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ bigotry, its anti-immigrant hatred.

We can — and must — rise up in resistance.



source: Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh ¡presente!

The Term “Ghetto,” Circa 1940

The term Ghetto, as used in reference to America’s inner-citys, is inextricably connected to the Ghettos of Europe, in such a way that to understand one is to understand the other.

During World War II, Black men who were drafted into the war and deployed to Italy, France and Germany, Immediately recognized the similarities between American racism and that of European minorities, mainly Jews. In his “Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea,” Mitchell Duneier points out that black scholars in the 40s used the term Ghetto in direct response to “the rise in attention to the Nazi treatment of Jews in Europe.”

black scholars use of the term Ghetto was a political statement. Or as Raphael Magarik said in his “Understanding Americas Ghettos Starts With the First Jewish One” that:

“Black writers mined the analogy between the two ghettos, and particularly the horror of Nazi misdeeds in Warsaw, to wake American whites from their racial apathy…”

So, there are two points to be noted here. The first is that the useBlacks  of the term Ghetto was used in black American literature, from the onset, as a political statement. Magarik states this was done “to wake American whites from their racial apathy.” I would add that more importantly this was done to reawaken the political consciousness of blacks enabling them to see the sacrifices and gains made by their Jewish counterparts. And secondly, although the term Ghetto has come to be used in reference to any low-income inner-city neighborhood, I would posit, as Duneier argues, that what has become a generic term has a very specific meaning: “a space for the intrusive control of poor blacks.” and although other “minorities” may live in these Ghettos, blacks were sequestered into Ghettos in the North for the same reason they were lynched in the South; Fear. And this fear persisted and transformed into law keeping blacks from bettering their living conditions. For Blacks the Ghetto became a Trap, whereas other minorities were offered an inroad to “whiteness,” as well as a pathway out of the Ghetto.

Excerpted from my upcoming book:

“The Whole Fire: The Origin Of The Ghetto, And The Creation Of Two Americas.”

In 1825, Haiti Paid France $21 Billion To Preserve Its Independence — Time For France To Pay It Back

By Victor Omondi

Hurricane Mathew wreaked havoc on Haiti last fall. But this happens to be only one of the many misfortunes that have befallen the country. In March, Haiti transitioned from a year long period of caretaker governance by installing as its 58th president, banana exporter Jovenel Moise.

Haiti is today the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere and is as a result of a long chain of afflictions. Some of which include endemic corruption, widespread illiteracy, inadequate infrastructure, natural disasters and more.

In 1825, after overthrowing its former colony against all odds, Haiti was forced to pay “reparations” in exchange for its independence. Being a hatchling nation led by blacks, it posed serious threat to slave-owning countries around the globe – including the United States. It stood the risk of serious invasion. In the face of a hostile world, Haiti had no choice but to comply with the ultimatum given by the French. Though accepting what amounted to extortion would mean relief from political and economic isolation, the payment literally crippled the struggling nation.

Haitians would later be urged to reach into their pockets in helping their government pay off the amount. The debt took 122 years to clear and finally it was settled in 1947.

However, the regular payment, though settled, left the nation in a pervasive climate of serious instability. A fledgling nation struggling to stabilize, forced to pay for the “crime” of freeing themselves from involuntary servitude. And they are yet to recover from what can be termed today as most unacceptable extortion.

Frances demand for reparations from Haiti is completely outrageous today in any context. And despite the fact that the current French government can’t be held liable for the inhumanness of France’s 1825 ruler, King Charles X, it would be nice and commendable to see a small act of historical accountability.

Haiti dutifully paid the reparations for generations regardless of how much the nation suffered. France should now do the right thing and return the payments. What’s more, France wouldn’t feel a thing paying off the amount that stands at an estimated amount of $21 billion dollars, considering that France ranks among the world’s wealthiest nations. What would be a meager amount in France’s budget is what may just save Haiti from a deplorable state to the road to recovery.


Why So Many Rebellions?

A key element underlies the massive protests: the search for a different model of political representation.

By Gioconda Belli  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – November 2, 2019 – The world is witnessing with astonishment a series of popular rebellions: France, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Bolivia, and Haiti have seen multitudinous protests, each with its particular origin, that have provoked diverse responses.

The most violent reaction was in Nicaragua, costing the lives of more than 328 people. But in the other countries, the governments have stumbled in the face of the actions of the multitudes. Pinera brought tanks out into the streets. Evo, like Ortega, called it a “Coup d’etat”.

In this article, I don’t intend to emit judgements regarding the correct or incorrect behavior of the governments that have been called on the carpet by those they govern. My interest lies in venturing some hypotheses on the social phenomenon manifested by these enormous marches, with the masses taking over the streets, the plazas, and menacing the supposed serenity or the supposed “well-being” or growth of their societies.

I’m not in agreement with the simplistic assertions that attribute these events to conspiracies originating in the United States, Venezuela or Cuba. Massive phenomena in which different thoughts and visions converge, actions that bring together hundreds of people for citizen demands go far beyond the conspiratorial capacity of those regimes.

To me, these complex events point towards a very particular moment in the history of this century and are the consequence of an accumulation of factors that can’t be summed up by purely economic explanations.

In Nicaragua as in Chile – two countries at different ends of the spectrum: one poor and the other economically successful – the initial causes, a reform of Social Security and an increase in transit fares respectively, very quickly stopped being the motivation for the large protest demonstrations.  Feeling the power they had, the demonstrators expressed, beyond the shadow of any doubt, a far deeper demand: that of a radical change.

In the past few days I read an interview with Ece Temelkuran, Turkey’s most followed columnist. She stated: “Since the seventies, the western democracies have distanced themselves from one of their essential components: social justice. For that reason, now their democracy is merely theater with the members of Parliament sparring among themselves and that’s all. The result is that people no longer feel represented. So, at the same time that we’re looking for a model of different representation, populism proclaims that the system is finished and proposes that we forget about democracy.”

In other words, while on the one hand democracy has stopped meaning social justice, the populists have raised themselves up as the redeemers of the oppressed, who democracy has “failed”. As a result, as the Ortega doctrine proposes in Nicaragua, the populists suggest: “forget about democracy and enjoy the benefits that we offer you.”

Neither of those two positions – democracy without social justice, or authoritarian populism without democracy – have ascertained a key element that, in my judgement, is underlying the great, massive protests: the search for a different model of representation.

In the past few days I read an interview with Ece Temelkuran says: “It’s not only a crisis of democracy, of neoliberalism or of the model of the industrial revolution. These mutations are passing away simultaneously, and we’re moving towards a lack of human comprehension of themselves as human beings.”

An era of bewilderment, I’d say. We could speculate that the capitalist model, upon globalizing, revealed to human beings that satiation and consumerism don’t lead to happiness, nor are they the goal of history. On the other hand, the antithesis of capitalism, the socialist model, with its collapse in Eastern Europe or the evidence that it can’t coexist with the right to freedom, as in the case of China and Cuba, has been stripped of its robes of idealism and utopianism.

So, we’re living in a stage when the compasses with which we guided ourselves ideologically have stopped registering a propitious North. We know what’s bad, but we still haven’t succeeded in formulating what would be good.

It’s enough to read what many young people post in the social networks in Nicaragua when they talk about not repeating the errors of the past, or when they talk of a different democracy, to perceive the desire for a design that, nonetheless, they don’t manage to describe or to articulate. Instead, it’s paradoxical to see them return to the old discourse of the class struggle. They reject the Sandinista thought of the eighties at the same time that they repeat the same arguments on which the politics of the eighties was based: down with capital and zero trust in bloodsucking business magnates. If we could only get them out of the picture, Nicaragua would magically surge ahead.

In Chile as well, the demands run from changes in education, to the redistribution of wealth or a new constitution, to Pinera’s resignation. A mixture of ideas that also reveal more criticisms than alternative proposals. There, as here, those most experienced in radicalisms of the left or right attempt to fill that philosophical vacuum.

In one of the best articles that I’ve read on the Chilean ‘explosion’, Fernando Mires laments the economic focus with which they’ve attempted to explain what happened:

“For the great majority, there’s one command in force: everything that happens on the social or political surface must necessarily have an economic origin. That is, we find ourselves faced with a paradigm. A paradigm that had its origin in liberalism (the invisible hand that regulates the market) and was later assumed by the Marxists (the development of the productive forces shapes a political super-structure).

“This paradigm is so established that not only the macro-economists but also a great part of the political class can’t conceive of thinking some other way. It doesn’t matter that all of the great demonstrations of our time, from the French May, through the ecology movements and on to those in Chile and Hong Kong, don’t have any visible economic causes. The economics paradigm must be salvaged even at the price of denying reality. The purely economics lens has come to be the dialectic of fools.”

Here in Nicaragua we’re divided, not about the central objective of a change of government and the end of the dictatorship, but about vague conceptions: on one side, half reformist or purely economic; or those who propose, without much imagination, a different kind of Sandinismo or leftism, that’s been rehabilitated – it’s not explained how – from its own genetic faults. It’s a more serious problem than it appears because the prejudices against the person proposing doesn’t allow us to weigh the validity of what’s being proposed, nor to find the basic points of agreement.

I believe it’s worth the trouble in our particular case to reflect without dogmatism or limiting economics lenses, on that model of representation that still profiles itself more as a temptation than a reality. Being in crisis isn’t necessarily negative; crises are also opportunities to grow. We could try to propose, imagine, and put down on paper that model of representation that we aspire to. We could think about what changes would take us to a society that not only could satisfy its most urgent material necessities but could also generate a way of existing that would give sense and purpose and happiness to our lives.

Who would deny the possibility that we could formulate a lever to move the world or to diminish our bewilderment?

Note: The interview with Ece Temulkaran that I’ve quoted here is well worth the time to read and can be found in Spanish at this link.

Fernando Mires’ article in Spanish can be found here. 

Why So Many Rebellions? – Havana Times:…

Why thousands of Afrikans go on a pilgrimage to Senegal to visit the black Virgin Mary

Photo: NW Catholic

Pilgrimages aren’t so much of a conventional Christian activity as it is for Islam but one thing is common among all these forms of pilgrimages – the numbers are unavoidably huge.In Senegal, on an annual basis, tens of thousands of faith-believing people, mostly Catholics, embark on this unassuming journey to a village in the Cap Vert-Thies region of the country called Popenguine.

Being an annual event that has a rich historical blend of resilience and superstition, the place has become so significant that it has even attracted people from across the borders of Senegal, even so, many Muslims.

Well, it is believed to possess some superficial powers that can heal people of their ailments in a way that is celebrated on a national scale in this West African country.

Called a Shrine, this Popenguine location has suffered many setbacks and threats of death – literally. First built in the 1800s by a Catholic priest, Bishop Mathurin Picarda, following his love of the village of Popenguine after his first visit there, the shrine would go on to experience many closures and setbacks during the next century.

In that period, there has been the building’s collapse, epidemics of yellow fever and sleeping sickness, the Great War, and a shipwreck that took the lives of a bishop and 16 missionaries.

The area remained primarily a Muslim community thereafter but the Catholic faith and devotion to the Our Lady of Deliverance figure persisted.

By 1998, a new church was built and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and proclaimed a minor basilica in 1991 at the request of Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiamdoum, a native of Popenguine. This began a new birth for the church and for the community.

In 1992, the head of the Catholic church at the time, Pope John Paul II visited the shrine and crowned the statue of Our Lady of Deliverance on February 20, 1992.

Things spiraled from there, with tens of thousands of pilgrims, many of them organized groups of young people, and many inspired by rumours of Marian apparitions appearing there, repeatedly go to Popenguine for the annual celebration on Pentecost Monday, the day dedicated to celebrate the feast of the Black Madonna.

The Black Modanna Statue in the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Délivrance in Senegal/Interfaith Mary

During this ceremony, a solemn mass and then a procession from the church to a nearby grotto shrine of Our Lady of Deliverance in a cliff overlooking the sea is held.

Undoubtedly, religion in Africa is as big as the numbers of people the continent boasts of. And with the spread of many different doctrines of the Christian faith across it, the Catholic church still maintains a strong place on the continent.

In fact, statistics from the Vatican show how the future of Catholicism will be in Africa. In 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa, the estimated number of Catholics was at 158 million while it is expected that by 2025, one-sixth (230 million) of the world’s Catholics will be Africans.

And all these are owed to the fact that the numbers of these Bible believing faithfuls keep rising on the continent.

The Black Madonna at Chartres Cathedral in France. Elena Dijour via Shutterstock

In 2018, the BBC carried a feature on the subject, “The Intriguing History of the ‘Black Madonna’” which highlighted the unique interest of a US artist, Theaster Gates, who has done extensive work on the concept of the ‘Black Madonna’ in his latest exhibition celebrating images of powerful black women.

Conventionally, of course, the depictions of the Virgin Mary have usually appeared of a young mother with white skin in paintings and sculptures but sometimes, she appears with a dark or black face and hands.

History of the Madonna Statue

The first notable study of the origin and meaning of the so-called Black Madonnas in English appears to have been presented by Leonard Moss at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Dec. 28, 1952. Amazingly, all the images in Moss’ study had a reputation for miracles.

Each year, millions of European pilgrims ritually humble themselves before the image of Black Mary and her child Jesus at Black Madonna sites throughout France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and other Catholic countries.

In Poland for instance, the Church encourages believers to pray to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa every morning before rising. It is actually reported that Pope John Paul II follows this ritual. Time Magazine (June 11, 1979) reported on Pope Paul II’s visit to Czestochowa’s holiest shrine, which prominently displays “The Lady” known for centuries as the Black Madonna.

Today, there are over 300 documented Black Madonna sites in France alone!