A Red Salute to Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

“Joe Hill ain’t dead, he said to me. Joe Hill ain’t never died. Where workers strike and organize, Joe Hill is at their side; Joe Hill is at their side.”

(excerpt from “Joe Hill”, song about the legendary union organizer and songwriter – made famous by the magnificent Paul Robeson)

The many working class and popular patriotic and anti-imperialist organizations of the Philippines are expressing their great love and appreciation of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the outstanding son of the Filipino working class, with week-long tributes to this tireless fighter for Philippine national independence and workers power. The Revolutionary Organization of Labor (USA), along with the most militant sections of the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world, joins with the anti-imperialist and national democratic revolutionary movement of the Philippines in mourning the loss of Ka Bel. For Ka Bel’s deep and abiding anti-imperialist patriotism was totally interconnected with his proletarian internationalist solidarity with the Iraqi people and all those struggling against the Bush-led, US imperialist led war of terror; it was interconnected with his love for and confidence in the revolutionary potential of the workers of the world.

Indeed, the International Longshoremen’s Union (ILWU), arguably the only US trade union that continued over the past fifty years and more to demonstrate international working class solidarity with workers and oppressed people throughout the world, invited Ka Bel on several occasions to be a guest at their union convention. The US government, afraid of the influence of this great trade unionist, refused to allow him to even set foot in the United States. Ka Bel undoubtedly took deep satisfaction in seeing the ILWU, supported by various other U.S. unions, carry out a one day work stoppage to end the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, on May Day, just three weeks ago. It was the first such U.S. working class initiative against the Bush-led, US imperialist-led war of terror on the international working class and the oppressed peoples.

We have had and continue to have high appreciation for the strong encouragement and support Ka Bel gave to our small revolutionary working class organization based “in the belly of the beast.” On more than one occasion he expressed to us as well as to activists from other militant organizations based in the USA and North America that, when he was addressing issues involving U.S. imperialism, he would reach for his Ray O. Light materials. With such support  from the President (and then the President Emeritus) of the Philippines’ exemplary militant trade union organization, the KMU, from the Founding Chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), and, finally, from the outstanding Congressman representing the Philippine working class in the Philippine House of Congress, Ka Bel has given us confidence that our decades of struggle against opportunism within the international working class movement and the extreme isolation and ostracism which we had suffered for so long because of it, have not been in vain.

Lastly, the Revolutionary Organization of Labor (USA), as a proletarian revolutionary organization, based on scientific socialism, is striving for working class power in the world, for the dictatorship of the proletariat leading to world socialism and communism. The magnificent life and legacy of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran provides much evidence that, as Karl Marx put it, “The working class, heroically, self-sacrificingly, and taking the initiative itself makes world history.”

Comrade Beltran: We salute you and commit ourselves to fight harder and more effectively – inspired by your life’s work. “Ka Bel ain’t dead, he says to me; Ka Bel ain’t never died. Where workers strike and organize, Ka Bel is at their side; Ka Bel is at their side.”

Ray O. Light
General Secretary
Revolutionary Organization of Labor (USA)

May 21, 2008

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