March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

By Rubén Tzanoff

Mobilization is the only way to stop the racists and unmask the cynics. For a world without borders, with full democratic and social rights for all.

March the 21st is recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It was proclaimed as such by the United Nations General Assembly. The date commemorates an event that took place in 1960 in the southern Transvaal: the Sharpeville Massacre perpetrated against demonstrators protesting against the implementation of Apartheid in South Africa. On that day, police opened fire on a peaceful anti-government demonstration, killing 69 black people, including women and children. A few days later, police repression was followed by the government’s declaration of a state of emergency with the arrest of 11,727 people and the banning of anti-racist organizations.

As with other notable dates, such as International Migrants Day, the UN showcases them with cynical formality. It publishes statements and launches hashtags to reproduce on social media, with the supposed purpose of “promoting a global culture of tolerance, equality, anti-discrimination, against racial prejudice, intolerant attitudes and for equal rights.” Beyond words, these are the attitudes allowed, encouraged and/or endorsed by the leaders of the international organization, its member countries and “advanced democracies”.

With youth and women at the forefront, it is the mobilizations, demonstrations, protests and actions for equal rights that give substance to the claims against discrimination and racism. The murders and police violence in the United States provoked gigantic mobilizations and coined a phrase that gathered active solidarity all over the world: “Black Lives Matter”.

It is the people who reject the cynicism of their rulers. The high officials of the European Union and of the officials members of the Club fill their mouths with speeches against racial discrimination, while their decisions provoke the death of thousands of people in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, which will be deepened with the EU Pact on Migration and Sanctuary. After plundering the wealth of African countries for centuries, they militarily armor their borders so that those who escape from wars, political persecutions, hunger and extreme poverty, cannot seek a better life in the Old Continent. Those who manage to do so risking their lives, are immediately deported to their countries of origin, that is to say, to the horror from which they escaped, or are locked up in improvised refugee camps until their subsequent deportation. 

Those who still manage to stay in a country are institutionally persecuted for not having papers and discriminated against because of the color of their skin, look for food in the dumpsters of the big cities. If they do manage to get a job, they are submerged in labor and social precariousness. In the countryside, migrant women suffer abuse and aggression that they cannot even denounce. Seasonal workers endure conditions of semi-slavery while there are repeated cases ofabandoned people when they fall ill, or have work-related accidents and die. In different regions, precarious “shantytowns” or “slums” are growing, where poor people from different countries are forced to live while they are overexploited. According to humanitarian NGOs, there are 119 settlements in Andalusia alone, 40 in the province of Huelva and 79 in Almeria, where around 13,000 people live.

The political expressions of the far right are openly xenophobic. Examples include Donald Trump in the United States, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Vox in Spain, Golden Dawn in Greece, the fascists in Poland, Hungary, Italy and other countries. It is impossible not to mention the discrimination and abuses suffered by the oppressed peoples of Western Sahara and Palestine at the hands of regimes that violate human rights – with the complicity of the UN – such as those existing in the Kingdom of Morocco and the Zionist State of Israel or that suffered by Syrian refugees with the regimes of Greece and Turkey as executioners.

The social-democratic, center-left and reformist organizations usually express themselves against racism, but they do so from a formal and in many cases electoral position, since they do not promote street mobilization against this scourge and the measures they adopt are of limited usefulness or directly discriminatory, although they are always camouflaged behind “leftist” discourses, as does the “progressive coalition government” PSOE-Unidas Podemos in the Spanish state. The laws of aliens, the institutions of confinement and the security forces provide the bourgeois governments with the necessary legal and repressive infrastructure for their actions in violation of the most elementary human rights.

With the pandemic and the crisis of the capitalist economy, the displays of hatred, violence and discrimination against the most vulnerable, mostly poor people of different nationalities from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, have spread. In the face of this, there are also massive popular mobilizations, solidarity and struggle against the manifestations that the monster of discrimination acquires wherever it rears its head, wherever it tries to prevent the recognition of basic democratic and social rights, of legality, housing, education, work, gender, political expression or freedom.

The nonsense and mechanisms of imperialist capitalism reach the point of doing everything in their power to pit poor against poor. They act on the working class and the middle sectors to inculcate in them that the origin of all their sufferings is in the “different ones that come from outside”. In this way they also target and discriminate against Mexicans, Venezuelans, Hondurans, Bolivians or any other nationality who in any region of the world want a better life for themselves and their families.

From SOL and the International Socialist League we say: No person is illegal: papers for all, annulment of discriminatory laws, active fight against racism and racial discrimination, equal human, democratic and social rights for all, and immediate closure of all the Alien Internment Centers. For this reason, this March 21 we are in solidarity with the anti-discrimination and anti-racist actions taking place in different countries. It is a reactionary utopia to believe that capitalism can be reformed when the only thing it does is to worsen the living conditions of the great popular majorities, that is why we must organize to defeat this unjust system that has discrimination and racism as its trademark of origin. We fight for a world without borders, without racial, social or gender discrimination, knowing that it can only be achieved in its entirety with a completely different model: socialism with democracy.