Rosa Clemente

Socialist Appeal Interviews Rosa Clemente

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SA: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

RC: My name is Rosa Clemente and I’m the Green Party vice presidential candidate, along with Cynthia McKinney.  And we’re running, not to replicate a two-party system or necessarily even keep the White House, but we’re running, I think, for some real power to the people and what Revolution means.

SA: What kind of party do we need?

RC: I think ever since African American and Latino people began to run for these offices, mostly Democratic offices, the last twenty years, there’s definitely been a class of elite people that’s been created that…are us, Black and Latino people that have reached kind of this public servant/elected official status and nothing changes.  I mean, we have more Black and Latino elected officials than ever and the conditions for working class people are worse…It has to be multi-racial.  It has to be multi-generational, because it’s about working class people, poor people.  You know, there’s a strong elite and, whatever, that one percent that makes more than 150 million people in America.  That, to me, is completely unacceptable…It’s like a no brainer.  That’s where the movement is.

SA: What role do trade unions have to play?

RC: I think that the role of the trade unions now is probably the biggest role in the next twenty years of any movement.  I mean, it really comes time now for like what I call a General Strike.  Well, not what I call, but what people have done in the past, shutting the whole thing down, shutting the means of production down.  And I think that trade unions are the key to that.

SA: Why should workers and youth vote for the Power to the People Campaign?

RC: Of course, a single-payer health care system, nobody should be paying for health care or prescriptions at all in this country.  A livable wage, not a minimum wage.  For me, as a young person of color, a complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex.  A repeal of every standardized, No Child Left Behind type of act that is…I mean, we have 50% across the board drop out of Latinos in this country and Black kids, in high schools.  I mean, they’re not even graduating high school.  Particularly around the environment, green jobs…Young people, we have to think about the green jobs movement as not just like…an organic towel or a bamboo watch I can buy.  It’s a movement that sustains the planet, you know.  And so, I’m about the green jobs movement, but even that has been politicized, too.  So, we have the right politics in that movement…

The Democrats and Republicrats, if you want to say both of them, are corporate entities.  They have the greatest marketing campaign that we’ve ever seen…It’s not about who I like.  It’s not about a personal attack.  What do they represent?  Both parties, clearly don’t represent the majority of what we need.  That’s why I tell people, “Vote for the Green Party.”  If you’re not going to vote, look, then organize…I may not be the greatest candidate, because I’m not forcing people to say, “Vote Green.  Vote Green.  Vote Green.”  Of course, I want you to, but I’m also not one that feels that voting got us in and voting will get us out.  I only feel that that is going to come from true organized movements by working class people.

SA: Where do you stand on Immigration?

RC: What we saw a couple years ago with the million and a half immigrant people and people coming out in support was fantastic, which is why it was so quickly co-opted by Democratic fronts and non-profit organizations.  The Green Party’s stance is amnesty.  We’re for the release of all immigrant people that are detained, and we will not accept one family being broken up.

SA: Where do you stand on the Revolution in Latin America?

RC: I mean, I think the Green Party itself has to do a better job of having a better, like, international perspective.  But I know that Cynthia…Look, Cynthia has traveled all over.  You known, to Mexico, to Venezuela, to Brazil, to Paraguay, which she is going to go where we have a new president.  You know, and that’s interesting, because it’s like the four peers of activism.  You have the socialist and the liberation theology.  That’s where the president of Paraguay comes from, this liberation theology movement, which I think is amazing.  My thing is that what is happening in Latin America is how the world should be going, and you know, you’re right:  You can’t stop an idea.  Like, you can’t stop a movement with a fence or a border, or how that exists, you know. 

So, I think what we need to be doing is going to Latin America a lot and solidifying some really international mechanisms to be helping out each other.  Like, I think when Hugo sends oil to Boston and the South Bronx, that’s a very big move.  You know, when Hugo says, “We’re going to nationalize it and you’re not taking…It’s not even that, we don’t want your money.  We’re not even going to give you oil.”  That says a lot.  And I think it’s pretty clear that they know that they only have Colombia as a puppet, and that every country in Latin America and Central America is solidifying.  And it’s going to happen in the Caribbean…The minute Hugo was in there, I was one of the first people, you know, I’m sure, in my generation saying, you know, “This is a movement and it’s not going to be stopped.”  So, it’s not only Hands Off Venezuela, I think it’s “Hands Off” all movements that are international and about the people.  And it’s not even “Third World” any more, we all the “First World.”  We’ve always been that.

SA: Where do you stand on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

RC: Complete withdrawal.  I mean, Cynthia has even said complete withdrawal of all US military bases around the world.  I mean, we’re the only country in the world that has military bases everywhere.  And if you look at the United States of America, we don’t have no other people have military bases in Brooklyn, or Jersey, or anywhere.  I mean, imagine if Hugo said, “Well, I wanna put a military base in there.  We have ‘interests’ in the South Bronx.”  It would never happen.

SA: So what do we do after the November elections?

RC: We have to be organizing right now to be prepared for whoever is that president, even if it’s Cynthia McKinney, to push and hold them accountable.  We have to have our own hundred day agenda.  What does our hundred agenda look like?  And if they don’t implement it, what are we willing to do?  You know, so I’m all about organizing, organizing, organizing and being prepared for the day after the election.

SA: Any final thoughts, any final words for our readers, who are mostly young people, trade unionists, who have broken with the capitalist system?  They don’t think capitalism works.  They’re for socialism.  They’re for the democratic running of society, the democratic planning of the economy in harmony with the environment.

RC: That I agree.  You know, I agree.  I’m not afraid to say when people say, “Everybody having health care is socialism.”  Then, it is what it is.  Then, it is “socialism,” and I’m good with that, you know.  The idea that we have enough in this country not to have homelessness, poor people, elderly people having to decide if I’m going to eat or take my high blood pressure medicine.  Like, we have placed a monetary value on humanity.  That’s what capitalism does.

It started when they took the first African off the continent, put ‘em on a boat, brought ‘em on Wall Street to make money off this human being.  So, I’m pretty clear that capitalism has to crumble, and it is crumbling.  That’s the interesting thing.  It’s crumbling in my generation faster than I thought.  So, I’m completely supportive of all those ideas and values, and so is Cynthia.  We’re not afraid to say it.

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