Florida District Communist Party USA

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Florida District Communist Party USA is affiliated to the Communist Party USA.

"Finding Common Ground"

In 1994 Lynda Ray wrote an article in the Peoples Weekly World May 7 issue page 10 "Conference meets to build united progressive front" on the recent Finding Common Ground conference, which was initiated by the Florida District Communist Party USA.

2014 state convention

The Communist Party USA, Florida District, a party with a growing presence within the Sunshine State's progressive movement, held its convention in Orlando circa May 2014. This was the first such gathering in the state since 2006.

The Florida party has steadily built relationships with the various forces that make up the people's movement, and has picked up younger members who have helped spur the growth of active party clubs in central Florida and Tampa, with more being organized in other parts of Florida.

The Florida convention was one of many such events that have taken place around the country in the run-up to the CPUSA's 30th National Convention in Chicago, June 13-15.

Delegates to the Orlando convention elected a new Florida district committee, the party's leadership body here, and also elected delegates to the national convention.

The Florida convention included workshops on racism and organizing skills, such as relationship building and fundraising. Discussion periods allowed for lively exchanges of viewpoints on issues facing the party and the people's movement.

CPUSA members in Florida participate in every facet of these struggles, working for social justice and to push back the ultra-right and its standard-bearers in the state - Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the state legislature, which the GOP has controlled since 1996. Republicans, at the behest of big business, right-wing religious fundamentalists and other forces, have pursued an agenda of cuts to social services and education, passage of Florida's infamous "stand your ground" law, tax breaks for corporations, and hostility to worker rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, immigrants, the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

Struggles against racism, sexism, "stand your ground" and against attacks on reproductive rights are important to Camila Valenzuela, 24, who has been a member of the CPUSA for three years.

Valenzuela's mother is also a communist - "the black sheep" of a conservative, Catholic family, says Valenzuela. Her mother was a child in Chile when the democratically elected government of socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a bloody 1973 coup organized by Gen. Augusto Pinochet with the backing of the U.S. She eventually became a teacher before coming to the U.S.

Although this background "sparked" something in Camila, and gave her knowledge and understanding of socialism, it didn't mean that she, too, was destined to become a communist, she said. Instead it was her own personal experiences that led Valenzuela to become actively involved in building democracy and socialism through the Communist Party USA.

"It was seeing my struggles, and how they aligned with my mom's struggles, and with the ideas of Marx and Lenin," said Valenzuela, who works to build membership in Florida for the Young Communist League, a CPUSA-sponsored group for teenagers and young adults.

"I enjoyed the convention very much," said Dave Reid, who became a member of the CPUSA in 1944 when he was 16 years old. "I admire the leadership and the participation of the people, and I would say it was a great big plus for our party."

"I've been exploited all my life" by capitalism, said Reid, a retired union member who grew up an orphan in a foster home on Long island and whose first job as a teenager was harvesting vegetables.

"I was always thinking about the injustices that were around me all the time, and the unfairness," he said. "I was very conscious of the fact that I was an orphan."

Meeting members of the CPUSA and being exposed to the party's ideas and literature, including, at the time, the Daily Worker (predecessor to today's People's World), and learning about the USSR, said Reid, helped crystallize his resolve to struggle for a better world for working people, which he still does as a member of the CPUSA's Tampa Bay Club.

Patrick Foote, 24, has been a member of the CPUSA for a year, and says that one of the most important areas of struggle for him is advancing the right of workers to organize.

"I believe that capitalism, inevitably, is going to be the death of our species. Economic anarchy will only harm over time," he said, noting the effects of the profit system on the environment and indigenous peoples.

"Building socialism to me is building a plan to feed everyone, house everyone, clothe everyone, and have everyone have a voice" in how society is run, Foote said.[1]

2016 election gathering

How likely is a Trump win? What would a Trump presidency look like? What's at stake for working people across America if an extreme right-winger like him is allowed to take the highest office in the land? These questions and more were discussed in a meeting of Florida activists at a retreat hosted by the Communist Party USA from May 13 through May 15.

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A wide range of people participated in the meeting. They work in a variety of jobs and are active on various issues ranging from mental health advocacy to women's reproductive rights. The retreat was led by Communist Party national chair John Bachtell, who opened the discussion with a survey of the group. He asked for people to answer, by show of hands, what they would do if Clinton was to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Bachtell gave the following options:

1. Vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party or another third party candidate;

2. Sit out the elections because they can't stand either Clinton or Trump; or

3. Join with labor and allies to defeat Trump and elect Clinton and a Democratic majority in Congress and statehouses.

Bachtell stated that allowing Trump to take the White House would "elevate voices of racism, misogyny, and hate to the highest levels of government, with all the power to set the national discourse, executive power, and legislative and judicial power." Bachtell asserted that issues such as "a national right-to-work law, Supreme Court appointments, and 'renegotiation' of the UN Climate Agreement," all mean that time is not on the side of working people. He noted that it wasn't just a matter of a single person becoming president, but of "an administration coming into power." "Can you imagine," Bachtell asked, "if Chris Christie is appointed as Attorney General?"

Retired school teacher and Tampa resident John Streater pointed out the issue of racism when it comes to Donald Trump. Participant Jesse Napier, a mental health advocate and member of the band Whiskey Faithful (which describes its music as "proletarian punk rock"), labeled Trump a "fascist."

Participant Yennifer Mateo spoke about Trump's deportation threats aimed at undocumented people. "As an immigrant woman, I fear for the safety of myself, my family, and other immigrants," Mateo said.

Labor organizer Josh Leclair blamed the Republican Party for the emergence of Trump. "[Republicans] have created this of sort of mentality. It's important to defeat it culturally.

One person argued that, given her political past, it would be hard to trust Clinton, let alone convince others to believe she would be any better than a Republican president. Participant Jessi Dover's response to this sentiment was that, "She [Hillary] is a Democrat and she's not Trump. If you don't vote for Clinton, you're voting for Trump."

Focusing on the positive, Bachtell asserted that Clinton's election "would be a powerful blow to sexism and misogyny, just as Obama's election was a powerful blow to racism." He also stated that what approach progressives take post-election will depend on whether we achieve a victory or suffer a defeat. This would entail "two entirely different tactics," he said. "Victory would create conditions for a political advancement around issues of the election, a new more favorable political terrain for the working class. A defeat would mean fighting from a defensive position and a period of demoralization."

The session came to a close with Bachtell concluding, "The defeat of the extreme right is one stage in the long-term struggle for socialism; one of many stages." He asked participants to see the struggle against the extreme right as a necessary stage toward transforming American society. "It is part of moving the broad democratic movement toward higher stages of development, stages that will draw millions into struggle to defend and expand economic and political democracy and address the dangers of climate crisis and nuclear war."

"Politics will never be the same again," he said. "What we're doing today is part of the revolutionary process."

Also in attendance were Eugene Charles Blum IV of Orlando, and Gregory Williams of Miami.[2]

CPUSA Florida District Forum

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CPUSA Florida District Forum Closed Facebook Group, as of June 29, 2017;[3]

This is the OFFICIAL discussion forum for members of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), District of Florida.

CPUSA of Tampa Bay

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CPUSA of Tampa Bay Closed Facebook Group, accessed June 21, 2017;[4]

Our Main Political Aims:
1. Defeat the agenda of the ultra-right.
2. Reforms to put people before profits, end racism, gender discrimination and homophobia, and guarantee justice, economic security and basic needs for all.

3. A new kind of society - Socialism USA - in which the working class and its allies have the power to end war and corporate greed, and to build a true democracy of cooperation, fairness and peace.

References