Tuesday, May 02, 2006
American May Day. posted by Richard Seymour
The American protests were absolutely massive. It's hard to find an accurate description of the total, but Los Angeles was absolutely paralysed. The media cites police estimates of 400,000 in that city alone. I have heard estimates coming from Chicago of up to 700,000, but media figures put it at 300,000. There were also rallies across the country, with tens of thousands in Denver, San Francisco and Florida, in Dallas, Oakland, New York City, New Haven, Minneapolis and elsewhere. The total figures don't seem to be offered anywhere, but it's put simply at millions. Many factories were closed, and McDonalds was even having to put on a 'limited service'. Let me repeat this: there is no May Day holiday in the US. It was a mass strike. This, after the huge antiwar rally in New York City, is both astonishing and brilliant.
It has to be added that many of the official organisations that are supposed to be fighting the right-wing anti-immigration legislation advised workers and students not to protest, not to leave their jobs and classes. That conservative approach has been dealt a sharp blow, and if the US left and unions aren't organising around this, they're crazy.
Solidarity protests were held across Latin America, in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and Venezuela. Across the world, huge rallies also took place, particularly in Germany, Indonesia and the Phillipines, against neoliberal 'reforms' and in the latter case against the corrupt, US-backed ruling elite. Some fights broke out with police in Turkey and Chile, and a national strike took place in South Africa. There were protests in Basra too. About ten thousand trade unionists demonstrated in London. And, on that most auspicious day, Morales sent the military into the gas fields of Bolivia to secure them for nationalisation.
America doesn't do May Day. But it did yesterday, and how.