Powder Keg: The Migrant Caravan

At the time we are writing this, the majority of the most recent Central American migrant caravan has settled around the US-Mexico border. The group numbers over 7,000 people, many of whom are families. Some of the migrants in the group have decided to stay at shelters in Tijuana while they apply for asylum. Others, most likely discouraged and desponded by the the conditions at the shelters and the sheer inhumanity of the Mexican and US governments, have chosen to either go home or settle elsewhere in Mexico & Central America. But many other migrants – furious, daring, and united  by the hundreds – have attempted to cross the border.

This attempt to cross the border was met with international attention, particularly because of the outright brutality Customs & Border Protection (CBP) displayed against these brave migrants. Pictures of toddlers sprayed with tear gas and screaming in anguish have become famous. on the Internet. We have heard accounts of the migrants (victims of colonization and imperialism) courageously throwing rocks  at the heavily armed front guard of American imperialism, Border Patrol. Although revolutionary news services like Incendiary News have written on these border skirmishes, coverage  has largely been dominated by bourgeois media, politicians, and reformists.

With the exception of certain progressive articles and exposés, bourgeois media has mostly refused to take a stance or provide a real analysis of the caravan. News organizations have settled for more or less publicizing that a migrant caravan does, in fact, exist. Media corporations will point out the obvious – that the migrant caravan is made up of, you guessed it, human beings! – use these human beings for photo ops and clickbait fodder while offering them no actual support, and then pat themselves on the back for their groundbreaking and innovative journalism. Meanwhile, bourgeois politicians in the Democratic Party are opportunistically using the tear gas attacks on families and children to pretend that they care about immigrants and attack their rhetorical rivals (but ideological twins) in the GOP. Of course, they conveniently ignore that it was their own Deporter in Chief who expanded the budget for immigration enforcement by over 300%, more than doubled the number of people being federally prosecuted for re-entry in just two years, and oversaw more deportations than any other president. And the liberal reformists, who pretend to care so desperately for the migrants and their plight, have done little more than wring their hands, pander to bourgeois laws on seeking asylum, and march performatively. (We have it on good word from comrades on the ground that while migrants and their allies on the Mexico side of the border were militantly facing down the fascist Border Patrol and doused with tear gas, activists on the San Diego side spent at most twenty minutes near the border checkpoint).

None of these groups will help the migrants. Bourgeois media, politicians, and reformists all ultimately serve the bourgeoisie and capitalism. And it is capitalism which created the migrant caravan in the first place. As much as liberals would want you to believe that immigrants are running to America in pursuit of “liberty” and “justice”, nothing could be further from the truth. These people did not leave behind their homes, their families, their friends, and their lives because they wanted to come to America. They did so because they had to leave. They were forced to flee because of the conditions created by capitalism, but principally imperialism, which is the highest stage of capitalism.

As we will discuss in this paper, forced migration is principally a problem of capitalist-imperialism. The only way to resolve both the involuntary migration of oppressed masses and end their brutalization and exploitation is to destroy capitalist-imperialism. Because Serve the People Los Angeles (STPLA) is a revolutionary mass organization which places Maoist politics in command, we are fully committed to the destruction of capitalism and the liberation of all oppressed peoples of the world. We also know that capitalism will not fall of its own accord. Chinese revolutionary, Chairman Mao Zedong teaches us that everything reactionary is the same. It will not fall unless you hit it.

History has shown us that the way in which we hit is very important. We cannot strike blows in any which direction and at random. Nor can we strike once and see our enemy fall permanently. No single hit can be that strong. To see our enemies fall, we must tirelessly hit them from every angle as hard as we can. Like all successful wars, our war against capitalism will be protracted, meaning it will take place over a period of time. It will also be a people’s war, meaning the oppressed masses will make up the army, that this army will fight for the interests of the oppressed masses, and that it will carry out the mass line, which we will expand on later in this paper.

Since STPLA works primarily with the immigrant masses of Los Angeles and is, at the moment, based in Boyle Heights, most of the masses we work with are from Latin America and many are undocumented. So we have much to gain from analyzing the migrant caravan and linking it with mass work aimed at revolution.

It is important to say that we applaud and deeply admire the fearlessness and militancy of the most recent migrant caravan, as well as the fearlessness and dedication of all migrant caravans! Even unorganized, the masses are endlessly courageous and a force to be reckoned with. It is our job and the job of all other revolutionary organizations to organize them to their full potential, to guide them in smashing capitalism and oppression on Earth.


The most recent migrant caravan has received the most attention of any migrant caravan this year. This migrant caravan is not the first of its kind but it is perhaps the biggest caravan yet. This is particularly important for two reasons. First, this migrant caravan was not organized by NGOs or nonprofits but by the migrants themselves. Volunteers with Pueblo Sin Fronteras – a progressive organization which organizes caravans and provides them with logistic and legal support – have called this caravan an exodus, citing the desperate conditions in Central America (particularly Honduras, where the caravan began) as pushing an unprecedented amount of migrants to not only brave the journey to the US, but to organize themselves. These masses firmly grasp the necessity of unity in making what was once impossible, possible. They have organized an unprecedented amount of people to defend each other against common enemies. This is deeply commendable and speaks to the heroism, creativity, and ingenuity of the masses.

Second, the size of this caravan is most likely not an anomaly but represents a growing trend. The objective conditions of the migrants in the caravan have worsened significantly over time and they will continue to worsen as capitalism decays and imperialist plunder worsen. It is much more likely than not that we will see similarly sized if not larger caravans in the near future. The Mexican revolutionary communist organization Corriente del Pueblo Sol Rojo explains thoroughly how capitalism has always relied on forced migration here. They state:

In reality, from a scientific and historic position, capitalism arose precisely from the emigration of the labor force available for the accumulation of capital, something which the xenophobes easily forget. Since capitalism has existed, emigration has never stopped flowing. Migration always has been and is a constant in capitalism, the most brutal form of the mobility of the waged workforce.

Capitalism could not exist without the destruction of the commons and the ruling classes seizing land from the peasants. It was only when the peasants (producers and farmers) were separated from their means of production (the land) that they could proletarianize, meaning that they no longer worked to sustain themselves but to enrich capitalists). Since most people no longer had access to land that they could use to feed themselves, they had to work for a wage that they could use to survive. To do so, they had to find a capitalist to employ them. But not only is capitalism, by its very definition, unstable, it requires that there are more workers than jobs so that workers, competing for jobs, can be paid as cheaply as possible. When the supply of a product exceeds its demand, its prices will invariably become lower. If there are more workers than are needed by capitalists, their labor will essentially be sold for less.

So a surplus population of workers who cannot find work will always emerge. We have seen that this happen rapidly in countries that are developing capitalism, where peasants are violently pushed off of their land and forced to labor for a wage. They must migrate to wherever they can find wages in order to survive. Countries developing capitalism (most of which are former colonies) contain the vast majority of the people on Earth and have large surplus populations.

This means that forced migration is inevitable. As long as capitalism exists, migrant caravans will exist. This is an objective fact that helps us better understand the exodus of migrants from Central America. However, we must also understand that these migrants are oppressed by a specific type of capitalism, which is imperialism. Imperialism hyper-exploits workers in third-world countries and depletes these countries of their natural resources. Since the 1800s, US imperialism has plundered the countries of Latin America and oppressed the masses of people within these countries.

1. Imperialism & Forced Migration in Central America

Through mass organizing primarily in Latin American communities, we have seen that working-class and undocumented immigrants have an advanced understanding of US imperialism. Many of the masses we work with understand clearly how imperialism oppresses their native countries. Many of the tenants at Pleasant Avenue specifically spoke at length about how countries in Latin America were poor because of colonization and US imperialism. They understood clearly how US imperialism operated. This is because they have directly experienced imperialism and many of them came to the United States to flee its effects.

The same is true for refugees pushed out of their respective countries in Central America, mostly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. US imperialism has devastated whole countries through imperialist economic policies and general economic plunder. These policies have flooded oppressed markets with US goods, enforced stagnating wages, crippled social services, and unleashed nearly unregulated free-trade policies. There are entire tax-free industries and there is virtually no recognition of minimum wage and labor rights. The US acts as if it has total dominion over these oppressed countries, so much so that it will unseat or murder any politician who poses even a minimal threat to their domination. Zelaya, the former Honduran left-of-center president was unseated by US-backed coup because of the far-left radical reforms he introduced, reforms as far-reaching and anti-US as…providing free education for children & subsidies to small farmers. US imperialism is so hyper-exploitative that it mistakes reformists for revolutionaries. (Interestingly enough, Zelaya’s removal & the fraudulent installation of conservative candidates contributed immensely to the mass exodus of Hondurans.)

Because of this hyper-exploitation, the masses in these countries are quite literally pushed to the margins. They represent the decrepit, closing-circle nature of imperialism popularized in the saying “The chickens have come home to roost.” Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. It cannot go any further. The US capitalists have off-shored and outsourced large percentages of industries that, instead of raising up living standards and wages in third world countries, have secured them like contemporary colonies. If an oppressed nation isn’t ravaged by war, it is ravaged by imperialist plunder and capitalist crises. The working people of the US also feel the effects of imperialism. This is evident in the mass layoffs of workers due to companies outsourcing to countries with cheaper labor. The economic crisis of imperialism are actually choking the US and benefit only the richest of the US capitalists. In the long run, imperialism does not benefit the masses and, in fact, the masses have a vested interested in smashing imperialism.

The migrant caravan is a visible representation of what US imperialist plunder and domination looks like for the masses of Latin America. The majority of the migrant caravan comes from the oppressed and exploited classes of Central America: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. (Although we haven’t heard much about Nicaraguan immigrants, it can be assumed that they too have been represented in caravans due to the crackdown of the revisionist Ortega regime on popular uprisings in Nicaragua).

The Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin wrote that revolutions happen when the people and the capitalists can no longer go on living the way they had been. We can see this clearly with the Central American masses. It isn’t only the thousands of people in caravans who can no longer live as they have been living; it is also the millions of Central Americans left behind. They have been pushed to change their material conditions. Whether this is through an upsurge is popular uprisings at home or the organization of the largest migrant caravan to the United States, the Central American masses refuse to live as they had been.

In the absence of revolutionary leadership organizes the masses to overthrow all that oppresses them through revolution, many Central Americans can only attempt to escape the misery and oppression they face. Nonetheless, there is a strong and deep-rooted progressive character within the Central American masses who have witnessed and often even fought in People’s Wars waged for national liberation and socialism. The oppressed people of Central America have tasted revolution, even if the trauma of this revolution and the betrayal of the revisionists have left a lingering bitter taste in their mouth. They know the future that awaits us and have much to teach us.

But they are rarely seen as teachers. With imperialism and colonization comes national chauvinism, which has particularly been hurled against Central American migrants. While imperialism pushes migrants out of their countries, national chauvinism justifies the brutality they face when fleeing to other countries.

2. National Chauvinism & the Brutalization of Migrants

National chauvinism has reared its ugly head on both the Mexican and US sides of the border. Mexicans in Tijuana especially have taken to social media in ridiculing the migrant caravan, hurling racial attacks on the Central American masses. A video of a Honduran woman complaining about food has been treated as if it is an unforgivable national offense (but who cares if she doesn’t like beans – there are thousands of Chicanos who also don’t like beans!). Salvadoran masses have been called and treated as if they are MS-13 gang members, a racist generalization which mirrors Trump’s own racist attacks on Mexicans and the “bad hombres” he wants to deport. There are many more instances like these.

But the most disgusting and offensive sector of Mexicans in Tijuana came in the form of Nazi Mexicans marching on the streets. Just as Nazis in America wave American flags and demand that Mexicans leave, Mexicans waved Mexican flags and demanded Central Americans leave. The fact that the reactionary elements of the Mexican masses felt emboldened enough to march openly in the streets and that no reports (that we are aware of) have been made of Mexican Communists or the masses attacking these Nazis, is deeply troubling.

Chauvinism and white supremacy on the US side of the border are expected. The crimes of the fascist law enforcement, especially Border Patrol and ICE  been recorded by news sites such as The Guardian and Incendiary News. Because CBP are offered greater leeway than even local US police (who routinely get away with murdering black and brown children), the US border has become a testing ground for barbaric and sadistic crimes against the people.

Civilian fascists have been even more emboldened in recent years. They openly march in the streets (though the cowards are almost always protected by their pig friends) and repeat racist lies about “illegals” and crime and white genocide. They also routinely commit hate crimes, ranging from assaults to murders to racially motivated mass shootings and have special squads like the Oath Keepers that exist specifically patrol borders. Fascist politicians and commentators have defended even the tear gassing of children.

Of course, solidarity has also been shown on both sides of the border, particularly the Mexico side. Throughout the caravan’s journey, working class Mexicans have overwhelmingly and selflessly provided food, water, clothing, and other forms of support to the migrants.Meanwhile, affluent Mexicans have been spearheading racist attacks against migrants. (In instances like this, we see that the idea that working-class people are more likely to be xenophobic or racist is demonstrably false)

Similarly, progressive sectors of the masses in the US have spent significant time and effort collecting and delivering supplies. Immigrants and non-immigrants alike, including comrades of ours, have traveled to Tijuana to stand side by side with the migrants facing down CBP. Many have been tear-gassed as well.

It is important to understand that national chauvinism is an integral aspect of capitalism and it is aggravated when capitalism is in crisis. It is used by capitalists to justify the most heinous of crimes committed against the most vulnerable of the nationally oppressed masses. To combat national chauvinism, we must differentiate between chauvinism amongst the people that can be combatted non-antagonistically and chauvinism which is anti-people and must be combatted with revolutionary violence. We must organize the masses around the basis of class, reinforcing militant anti-racism. In the United States, race has historically been used to divide the working-class and misdirect their anger. For example, tenants we have worked with have made racist comments about Asians. This was immediately corrected and the tenants united with the correction, understanding that no one should be attacked on the basis of race but on the role they play in exploitation.

We cannot use the same approach for racists and fascists who view nationally oppressed people as less than human. They are enemies of the people and must be treated as such. Anyone who believes that children deserve to be tear-gassed for being “illegal” deserves to feel the wrath of revolutionaries.

3. The Heroism of the Masses 

Stories spread by fascists about the migrants deserving to be tear-gassed because they “launched projectiles” against CBP are largely false and intensely exaggerated. However, the masses facing down CBP did defend themselves by hurling rocks at border patrol agents. They were not helpless and innocent victims without any agency. Lacking revolutionary leadership, lacking real weapons, lacking the numbers to match the border patrol agents – lacking all of this, the masses still refused to be beaten down. They held their heads high in defiance and fought back.

President Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru writes:

Since ancient times, the masses have been subjected to exploitation and oppression. They have always rebelled, it is a long and inexhaustible history

If the fascist commentators were correct and the migrant masses had thrown more than just rocks at the fascist border patrol agents who routinely terrorize, imprison, torture, and kill Central American migrants, we would fully support the masses. In fact, we would think even higher of them and praise their courage and resilience. It is correct to defend yourself and your people against reactionary enemies by any means necessary.

We are inspired by the masses who took part in the migrant caravan. The initiative they took in organizing the caravan, the unity that they showed with one another, their tireless resilience in marching forward, and the militancy of those who marched to the border checkpoint – all of this only reaffirms to us that the masses are the true heroes and that they are the makers of history. If they are capable of this much unorganized, what can they do when organized and united by revolutionary organizations? Without the masses, we are weak and can never win. But with the masses, we can shake the very earth. It is our duty to lead the masses, to transform them into soldiers for their class, capable of seizing power. The principal way to accomplish this goal is through mass work.

One of the dozen reoccurring confrontations between day laborers, majority comprised of super-exploited migrants, and state police, San Quintin, May 9 2015


In Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, the undocumented immigrant masses number over 1 million. In all of Serve the People’s work, they are the majority. They are the working-class tenants fighting against their landlords, the mothers and fathers fighting for public education, the students putting their bodies and futures at risk to fight law enforcement and ICE.

The majority of the undocumented immigrants in the US are part of the masses; they are of the oppressed and exploited classes and sectors of Latin America, pushed over into the US. They share much in common with the migrants attempting to cross the border right now because they too are victims of imperialism.

However, not all undocumented immigrants are working-class or small petite-bourgeoisie. Some are affluent and some are even reactionary Trump supporters. These would constitute the backwards of the masses because, despite their backwards ideas, they are still oppressed by US imperialism and have a material interest in revolution. (Of course, the reactionary and fascistic elements of these backwards masses must be isolated.)

Our analysis of the migrant caravans shows that both forced migration and the brutalization of migrants (and undocumented immigrants) arise principally from capitalism-imperialism. So we must address the issue at its root. If we attempt to provide scattered and unorganized on-the-ground support every time a migrant caravan arrives and leave it at that, we will fail to protect the migrants every single time because it is much easier for the US government to heavily arm and fortify the border than it is for us to mobilize the massive amounts of people it would take to rush and overwhelm the border. Also, non-strategic and spontaneous on-the-ground support do not solve the root problem of capitalism.

We believe that the only way to resolve the linked oppression of undocumented immigrants and migrants is through the destruction of capitalism. The only way to destroy capitalism is through a revolution or a Protracted People’s War. The only army capable of waging and winning a Protracted People’s War is a People’s Army. And the only way to build up the People’s Army is through the Communist Party and the United Front. These are not the bogeymen that your history professors and the liberals and conservatives would have you believe. Historically, this is how revolutions are won. And the Party, the Army and the United Front use the mass-line method of leadership.

The mass line understands that the masses are segmented. There are advanced sectors of the masses, who must be brought up to be revolutionaries and soldiers, there are intermediate sectors of the masses, who must be brought up to the advanced, and there are backwards sectors, who must be brought up to the intermediate. As we have mentioned, within the backward, there are reactionary elements which must be isolated and seen as enemies of the people. For example, a working-class fascist might materially have the same interests as the basic masses but, because they are a fascist, they are a reactionary class traitor and, in fact, are an enemy of the people.

If we are patient and principled in transforming the masses, even the most backwards can be brought up and transformed into revolutionaries. We have already seen qualitative leaps with some of our mass members, who have developed more progressive ideas and expressed, repeatedly, the need for people to be brave and stand up for what is right. We cannot force our ideas upon the masses; we cannot command them to do what we want because that will ultimately result in failure. The mass line goes “from the masses, to the masses”. We do not solve the problems we think need to be solved but listen to the problems addressed to us by the masses. We must act in accordance to the objective needs of the masses, not to what we think are the needs of the masses. But our actions should be governed by our ideology and by our goal, which are revolution and the destruction of capitalism, the generator of all oppression. This means we cannot tail behind the masses, follow them for the sake of following them or do whatever they want to do. It’s paternalistic to not criticize the masses, to not challenge their ideas. They are not fragile and weak. They are strong and courageous!

Undocumented immigrants will not transform into soldiers against imperialism in one day. Like everything in life, transformation is a protracted process. What we must do is draw out the progressive elements in the masses by tirelessly fighting side-by-side with them, using the most revolutionary methods that they are ready for. If we prove that we are devoted, that our methods are correct, and that we will correct our inevitable mistakes through criticism and self-criticism, we will win them over. If they are won over, if they are being transformed into leaders, if we are arming them physically and ideologically, then they themselves will be the revolutionary force which fights oppression. They will compromise the base of the People’s Militias, under the leadership of the People’s Army.

Here in Los Angeles, we have seen a glimpse of how a revolutionary people’s army can look like with the Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias. It would be foolish to say that the UDPR is an actual People’s Army since we are not currently fighting a revolution and the UDPR doesn’t appear to be carrying out fully guerrilla or mobile warfare attacks. But we believe that we have read and heard enough to conclude that they are seriously engaged in the project of transforming the immigrant masses into soldiers. In their polemic against SB 946, they write about the ever-increasing bravery of the masses

With the guidance of the UDPR and with ever-increasing unity among themselves, the immigrant street vendor masses are learning to unleash the revolutionary potential of their hatred. The same vendors who used to sprint away from the pigs (trembling furiously, pulling heavy carts with boiling oil and children with tears running down their faces) now lead jeers against the pigs. More and more, they do not run away. They stand their ground. They scream at the pigs, openly shame the pigs and pull their carts back from the pigs by force. If their voices waver, it is with passion. If they cry, it is with fury.

The articles written by Incendiary News also show the rapid transformation of the street vendors. It seems that, in the matter of months, street vendors have gone from sprinting away from the pigs to standing their ground resolutely. Incendiary News reported that on the very same day a vendor was arrested by the pigs for confronting them, other street vendors bravely confronted the police and essentially pushed them out of  a city park.

If UDPR has seen such rapid transformation in months, we can only assume it is because they are correctly practicing mass line. As a revolutionary mass organization which also works with undocumented immigrants to organize them for revolution, we stand in full support of UDPR. We believe that their militant work, work that refuses to give an inch to the pigs and other enemies of the people, will illuminate the path forward to revolution and liberation.


We cannot talk about organizing the masses of undocumented immigrants without talking about revolutionary defense and offense. We cannot talk about mass work with anyone without talking about the concept of militarization. The undocumented immigrant masses should be violent against their oppressors – principally U.S. imperialism, secondarily the imperialist-aligned settler-colonialist citizenry and lastly against the most reactionary elements of the masses.

We see the U.S. armed attacks on the unarmed masses of immigrants, especially on women and children. Soldiers fired tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at the Central American masses because a minority was attempting to breach the border. At least one serious injury has been reported, initially the woman or young girl was said to have been killed but it has not been confirmed. Other reports state a mother was impaled in front of her children while climbing over the border fence.

While the immigrants are courageous, only strategically retreating but generally staying put, they have no defense. There’s a saying: without a People’s Army, the People have nothing. The masses of the Migrant Caravan are a powder keg. The only thing missing is the spark. The spark of the People’s Army guided by revolutionary leadership and mass support. The Migrant Caravan is severely suffering in the absence of revolutionary leadership that can convert their rage and aspirations into a militarized forces not only capable of coming head to head with the U.S. soldiers guarding the border but to win! The most important lesson here is that revolutionaries must always be with the masses. We must always be organizing and militarizing them and ourselves. We must be in constant preparation for armed conflict with the state and not lose sight of the coming revolution ahead of us.


Libertad Para Gladis- Rally Summation

Reformists have told us time and time again that revolution will never kick off here because the masses do not want violence. We know that the reality is that these reformists do not want violence, that they are terrified, and that they want to project this fear onto the masses. The masses, who are beaten down and attacked in every aspect of their lives by the capitalist state and its friends in arms, might be hesitant of militancy at first. But as the contradictions sharpen, as the people transform, and as we prove our loyalty to them, this hesitation crumbles.

Gladis Areli Hernandez Amaya, an undocumented working class mother, was abducted by state authorities on July 7th,2018 under the pretext of selling hotdogs in an undesignated area near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. After arresting her, state police unnecessarily handed her over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, ICE. Gladis and her family live in Bakersfield and would drive down to South Central LA to make a living as hot dog vendors. Today Gladis is being held in the private ICE detention center in Adelanto. Her husband, Ernesto, and family have stopped selling hot dogs because they fear another police encounter like Gladis’ which has put her in imminent danger of deportation and, consequently, separation from her family. STPLA has launched a campaign in support of Gladis. We have had numerous fundraisers and an action in solidarity with her, which this summation goes over. (Gofundme link: https://www.gofundme.com/free-gladis-from-ice-detention)

Gladis’ case is only part of a larger problem that is fundamental to capitalism and imperialism, specifically in the United States. The US is an imperialist empire which is willing to exhaust all of its resources to protect capital, at home and overseas. ICE is a white supremacist and fascistic organization which exists primarily to protect the US establishment and capital.

The white capitalist ruling class has historically used white supremacy to remain in power. Capitalism needs competition and division; white supremacy helps create antagonisms which force workers to compete against each other for work (which is made all the more limited by imperialist outsourcing), while dividing workers on lines of race so they do not unite against their common enemy, which is the capitalist.

US migration policy is primarily dictated by capitalism; more people are allowed in when the need for a super-exploitable labor force is higher, less are allowed in when it is lower. Although immigration policy is dictated by capitalism, it is still shaped and reinforced by white supremacy – the most exploited immigrants have always been working-class immigrants of color. White supremacy is a dominant aspect of ICE and border patrol. White supremacy is rooted in the US and capitalism by default; the only way to fight it is by destroying the US and capitalism.

We do not merely seek to “ABOLISH ICE” because we know ICE will spring up again, re-branded and repackaged as capitalism does so well. We seek, instead, to ABOLISH THE US. With that, we abolish the constant reproduction of fascistic forces like ICE under different names. We aim to destroy ICE, to fight it with fire, by militarizing the masses and aiming to end the system that bred ICE and the pigs in the first place.

We understand that ICE is a modern-day Gestapo, kidnapping mothers, fathers, and children, denying them the basic necessities, often forcing them to manual labor, and keeping them in cages. As we have stated before, ICE and white supremacy can only be fully smashed once capitalism is. However, this does not mean we will ignore ICE. ICE is a site of sharp contradictions and growing antagonisms between working class immigrants and the state. This is why STPLA supports the Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias, or People’s Revolutionary Defense Units to fight ICE. Our campaign in solidarity with Gladis is a step forward in building these units. While it is incredibly important to stand in solidarity with people kidnapped by ICE and to give them everything that we can, we recongize that the problem must be attacked at its root. Our ultimate goal is to make ICE feel more terrified than they make undocumented immigrants feel. We want to terrorize them to the point that they refuse to enter foot in our neighborhoods and communities because they know they will be in danger. When we say we want to fight ICE with fire, we mean fire.

This protest was a step forward in achieving that vision and building up our ICE defense units.  

STPLA members arrived around 1 pm to canvass around MLK and Figueroa. We had flyers on Gladis’ case, description of what happened and had a link to donate to the fundraiser. We then informed them that we’d be having the rally at 6 pm. Overwhelmingly people were receptive, while we ran into a handful that were antagonistic, with one person supporting ICE. At 4 pm more of STPLA as well as Undeportables supporters began to show up. We would be joined by Defend North East Los Angeles (DNELA) supporters later in the rally, we appreciate those that came out. Now, too much time was idly wasted by standing around, continuously doing outreach within the area, but this relates to lack of organization that will be expanded on later. Around 5:30 pm more individuals showed up and were given bandannas. Some people were finally designated to pass out flyers and speak to passerbys about why we were there.

Around 6 pm we began to consolidate and make our move to the stadium. We chanted as we marched to the stadium entrance with mass supporters, all with their faces covered with red STPLA bandannas. That’s where more participation occurred, a vendor shouting “Sheriffs y la ciudad, que se vayan a la verga!” (Sheriffs and the city, go to hell!) While at the main entrance an STPLA supporter gave a speech demanding the release of Gladis and an end to the attacks against the undocumented working class families. The event was covered at length by Incendiary News,  but we would like to go in depth about the shortcomings.

“All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.”

-Mao Tse-Tung

As an organization dedicated to serving the masses, we know that we must reflect on every protest, action, and campaign. Without reflecting, without knowing what we have done correctly and incorrectly, we cannot move forward or grow. It is only with this knowledge that we can criticize, self-criticize, and transform ourselves and our organization to better serve the people and build for revolution. This is why we write summations – for us to reflect and for comrades outside of STPLA to learn from these reflections so that they can unite with we have done correctly and avoid repeating what we have done incorrectly. With that being said, these are our main takeaways from the protest:

  1. Lack of clear and assertive leadership

Throughout the protest, we consistently ran into problems primarily because we lacked clear and assertive leadership. The majority of us had not been assigned clear tasks for the march. Additionally, most comrades were hesitant to take initiative and did not give clear or direct orders when they needed to. Not only did this hesitancy make us look weak and ineffectual, there were several times where it could have put us or the masses in unnecessary danger. For example, at the very beginning of the protest, we hesitated to take charge and actually begin marching. Although members were displaying the organizational banners and flags, we stood on the street corner with mass members and supporters for fifteen minutes because no one was giving direct orders on how and when to proceed. Finally, orders were given, general tasks were assigned and we proceeded.

We can only imagine how we would have looked to outsiders. A group of masked individuals standing on – not taking or occupying – a sidewalk, haphazardly holding signs and conversing among themselves while others stared blankly ahead, is hardly an image that would inspire our allies or terrify our enemies.

This type of thing happened over and over again. Because there was no clearly assigned leadership giving orders and assessing situations, members who had ideas or suggestions would run from one comrade to the next, asking for their input on everything from mass members holding the signs to taking the streets. Again, this was ineffective, wasted a lot of time, and left the masses vulnerable and confused about what we were doing and what was happening next.

We have criticized ourselves for the lack of leadership at this protest and taking steps to rectify. We see two clear solutions to this problem that must be executed in conjunction with each other.

First, we need a clear, official, democratically elected leadership to assign tasks and give orders. STPLA has not and will not reject the principal of leadership – in fact, we know that it is a tactical and ideological necessity, especially during actions. Can we take an hour to sit down and reach a democratic consensus on escape routes when we are running from the pigs? No! Every revolutionary organization needs predetermined leadership that is seasoned and trained, that can make correct decisions quickly, that can guide the masses and the organization, that can maintain the revolutionary line, and that can be held accountable and criticized by all. Without this leadership, organizations will either devolve into tyranny imposed by an unofficial, and unaccountable leadership, or fall into a fumbling chaos, where nobody knows what to do and nothing ever gets done. With this understanding, we are in the process of electing leadership and solving part of the problem. We must move fiercer toward centralism.

Second, we must develop all of our comrades to become leaders themselves. They must learn to assert themselves, to criticize ruthlessly and freely, to take charge and issue orders when necessary and, above all, have the courage and knowledge necessary to guide the masses.

It is a practical necessity that every member of STPLA develops into a leader. We know that state repression is an inevitable reaction to revolutionary organizing. We know that STPLA has already been targeted, stalked, and spied on by pigs for its revolutionary organizing. We know that as STPLA grows stronger, the state will look to tear it down in any way that they can. And we know that this will include decimating our members, generally through imprisonment. We have seen this happen in the past year, with Comrade Dallas and students supporters of Progressive Youth Organization – Kansas City, who have been charged with fabricated crimes and arrested (To donate or support, click here). If we do things right, we will see comrades arrested and repressed.

So we must train every comrade in STPLA to become a leader and be ready to take on a leadership role when this happens. This includes mass members we are integrating into STPLA. All revolutionary organizations should aim to do the same because it is the only way to replenish our ranks and ensure the organization lives on.

Leaders are not born from the womb but from class struggle. We are confident that as we continue to struggle alongside the masses, we will forge ourselves into leaders.

  1. Disorganization

This protest was particularly disorganized. We created signs with kids and older community members dedicated to Gladis a week prior but failed to use them. As stated before, we were not completely sure of how and when to start. We did not have a discipline and well-organized formation, so there were pockets of space where protesters were left vulnerable to clutches of the pigs. Chants were disorganized and sporadic at times. In the beginning, most of the protesters and even some of us in the rear of the march did not know what was being chanted and did not chant along for that reason. We had two megaphones but failed to bring both. There were sometimes long stretches of time in between chants. We were not clear about how to proceed and how, if and when we would take the streets.

All of this led the masses very vulnerable to being attacked and/or kidnapped by pigs during the march. We are very lucky that this did not happen. However, as revolutionaries, we know better than to count on luck and the stupidity of our enemies. Again, this is why we analyze our mistakes.

We understand that this disorganization had two aspects to it. Primarily, it stemmed from a lack of clear and assertive leadership. This created the secondary aspect, which was a lack of effective planning for the march. Had there been a formal leadership, they could have delegated tasks, ensured that we had definite plans for how to go forward, and created formations for the march. However, there was no formal leadership, so the burden to plan the entire march fell on two or three people who had to convey everything to the rest of the members. These two aspects can be resolved in one swipe and only stress the necessity for assertive leadership.

  1. Failure to integrate ourselves with the masses

When we began the protest, we were not consistently physically integrated among the masses – although this was a task assigned to many core STPLA members, that each of us be close to mass members at all times. But at times, we were disorganized and clumped relatively close to each other. As a result, we could not clearly communicate with the masses about what we were doing and about what they should be doing. Not only did this leave the masses vulnerable, but it weakened our cause and could have potentially damaged our relationship with the mass members who came out to our protest.

However, we resolved this by the end of the protest. Although we started off with many of the masses staying silent as we chanted, we ended with them showing off their militancy and courage. They, too, unleashed their hatred of pigs and ICE as did we, ignored orders given by the pigs at the Coliseum, and even initiated their own specific calls for revolutionary violence against Los Angeles County vans that confiscated street vendors’ equipment. We saw the overwhelming majority of the masses, most masked up, take the streets without hesitation.

If we are not near the masses, we are apart from them. We know now that we must physically be spread out among the masses and that we cannot simply command them from one point to another. We need to engage them, give them tasks to do and roles to fulfill.


  1. The growing militancy of the masses

Despite our criticisms, we would consider this to be one of the most successful protests that we have had. This is because of the increasing militancy of the masses, principally. The masses proved themselves to be the true heroes, capable of boundless creativity. They never hesitated and, at points, were two steps ahead of us with their militancy.

Before the protest, we had printed out extra STPLA bandannas for everyone attending. We explained to everyone there why it was so important to cover their faces. Nearly every person in attendance had a bandanna, including children. We see this as a progressive development in spreading security culture and preparing the masses for the reality of state repression. 


The street vendors that showed up in solidarity with Gladis were among the most militant of the protesters. They led their own chants against the pigs and ICE, eagerly took up road flares as we passed them out, holding them high and defiantly in the face of the pigs, and called for revolutionary violence against local government. This call for revolutionary violence was one of the high points of the march. The street vendors understood very clearly who their friends and enemies were. The mass links we are establishing with the oppressed and persecuted street vendors are some of the strongest and most trustworthy relationships we have ever nurtured. There will surely be more writings on this new developing street vendor campaign in the near future. 

Reformists have told us time and time again that revolution will never kick off here because the masses do not want violence. We know that the reality is that these reformists do not want violence, that they are terrified, and that they want to project this fear onto the masses. The masses, who are beaten down and attacked in every aspect of their lives by the capitalist state and its friends in arms, might be hesitant of militancy at first. But as the contradictions sharpen, as the people transform, and as we prove our loyalty to them, this hesitation crumbles.

Quantitative changes lead to qualitative leaps. Every small instance of courage adds up and develops into something greater. It is our job to take these moments of bravery and fury and organize them, to turn the masses terrorized by the pigs and the government into soldiers that, in turn, will terrorize the pigs and the government.

  1. The rebellious nature of children

Children played a much larger role in the protest than we had ever thought they would. They were incredibly enthusiastic and excited about everything. They covered their faces with bandannas, held signs for us, chanted along with us, kicked and beat our Trump piñata, took the streets and faced down the pigs with just as much courage as their parents.

All of this happened with little to no organized political education. We can assume that most of the children attending knew that Gladis had been taken by ICE, that ICE was bad, and that Trump was bad and connected to ICE. This knowledge was enough to bring out the rebellion that it did. We were able to nurture this rebellion by praising the children and giving them tasks and responsibilities.

But how much more could this rebellion have intensified if the children were really aware of what was going on? If they had even a rudimentary political education about capitalism and oppression? The oppressed youth have always been the most rebellious and forward-thinking. It is our job to nurture this as much as we can, to empower the children, and teach them to be courageous leaders. After all, they are the future.


Overall, this protest was successful in mobilizing the masses and nurturing their militancy. The masses are not lacking at all – they are capable, courageous, daring, and militant. Even in small doses, this is everything. It is up to us to organize and harness this energy and bravery and turn it against their ultimate enemy, which is capitalism-imperialism.

We believe that it is not enough to act after ICE has kidnapped someone. We do not mind holding fundraisers or events, but we know that they are not enough and it is difficult to provide the families with all of the resources they need, however hard we try.

We must attack the problem at its root and stop ICE from taking people in the first place, by any means necessary!

The masses have nothing and are faced with enemies at every turn. But all of these enemies, including ICE, are crushable and once you realize the masses outnumber the enemy, they are weak. They are paper tigers, as Chairman Mao said. They seem fierce and undefeatable because they have capital and tear gas and machine guns and wield no conscience. But in reality, they are nothing. They use their weapons so violently against us because they are afraid of us. They are small. We are massive. They are afraid of what will happen if we realize our full potential and organize against them. They are afraid of what will happen when we seize power.

The people outnumber the pigs, one hundred to one. There is no enemy the people cannot take on if they are organized and armed, physically and ideologically. And we will be with them every step of the way, ready to do whatever it takes to smash the root of their oppression.

Libertad para Gladis! Fuego Contra ICE!

“Sin lucha, no hay victoria!”

Únete a nosotros a medida que creamos más apoyo comunitario para Gladis Hernandez, la madre de cuatro hijos y vendedora ambulante, que fue brutalmente tomada por Inmigracion/ICE.

También haremos alcance con los vendedores ambulantes locales para que sepamos cómo prepararnos y defendernos contra ICE por cualquier medio necesario

Domingo, 19 de agosto a las 6 p.m., en frente del LA Memorial Coliseum donde Gladis fue tomada por ICE.

“Sin lucha, no hay victoria!”


Join us as we build more community support for Gladis Hernandez, the mother of four and street vendor, who was viciously taken by ICE recently.

Serve the People – Los Angeles will be outreaching to local street vendors as well so that we know how to prepare and defend ourselves by any means necessary against ICE.

Sunday, August 19, in front of the LA Memorial Coliseum where Gladis was taken on Figueroa Street and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd at 6 p.m.

“Without struggle, there is no victory!”


stpla flier

Free Gladis: Build the People’s Revolutionary Defense Units!

People say California is supposed to be a “Sanctuary State,” or Los Angeles is supposed to be a “Sanctuary City.” The contradiction is stark and offensive. There is no sanctuary! There is no peace! There is no justice for undocumented working-class immigrants in this country. There is only struggle. Without struggle, there is no victory.

Gladis Areli Hernandes Amaya was stopped by law enforcement or private security in front of the LA Memorial Coliseum as she was selling hot dogs with her family. Law enforcement, then, handed her over to ICE. She is currently being detained in the private ICE Adelanto Detention Center.

Her family is struggling to get by without their mother. Her husband, Ernesto, is also a street vendor but understandably doesn’t sell in Los Angeles anymore due to the fear of being torn away from their four children.

This is the continued war against undocumented working-class immigrants by ICE and the U.S. Government. It is a federal war but it is also a local war- with City and police against street vendors.

People say California is supposed to be a “Sanctuary State,” or Los Angeles is supposed to be a “Sanctuary City.” The contradiction is stark and offensive. There is no sanctuary! There is no peace! There is no justice for undocumented working-class immigrants in this country. There is only struggle. Without struggle, there is no victory.

Serve the People – Los Angeles is working on organizing People’s Revolutionary Defense Units to fight against ICE raids and kidnappings by any means necessary. There is nothing else to do but help and defend each other while we organize in confronting the enemy of the people.

Please spread the word! There will be upcoming actions and more fundraising efforts. We need help in raising legal fees as well as bail, a total of approximately $10,000, as soon as possible.

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/free-gladis-from-ice-detention

Gladis Areli Hernandes Amaya fue detenida por la policia en frente del LA Memorial Coliseum mientras vendía hot dogs con su familia. La policia o seguridad privada, entonces, la entregó a ICE. Actualmente está detenida en el centro privado de detención en Adelanto.

Su familia está luchando para mantener sin su madre. Su esposo, Ernesto, también es vendedor ambulante, pero dejó de vender en Los Ángeles debido al temor de ser arrancado de sus cuatro hijos.

Esta es la guerra continua contra los inmigrantes indocumentados de la clase trabajadora por ICE y el gobierno de los Estados Unidos. Es una guerra federal, pero también es una guerra local, con la Ciudad y la policía contra los vendedores ambulantes.

La gente dice que California supuestamente es un “Estado Santuario”, o que Los Ángeles supuestamente es “Ciudad Santuario”. La contradicción es dura y ofensiva. ¡No hay santuario! ¡No hay paz! No hay justicia para los inmigrantes indocumentados de la clase trabajadora en este país. Solo hay lucha. Sin lucha, no hay victoria.

Servir al Pueblo – Los Angeles está organizando las Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias para luchar contra las redadas y secuestros de ICE por cualquier medio necesario. No hay nada más que hacer que ayudar y defendernos mientras nos organizamos para enfrentar al enemigo del pueblo.

¡Pasa la voz! Habrá próximas acciones y más esfuerzos de recaudación de fondos. Necesitamos ayuda para aumentar los costos legales y la fianza, un total de aproximadamente $10,000, tan pronto como sea posible.

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/free-gladis-from-ice-detention


Help Luis Enrique Estrada Perez fight his deportation!

That is why our organization, Serve the People – Los Angeles’, reaffirms that ICE is a total and vicious enemy of the people, specifically working-class undocumented immigrants! Undocumented immigrants are under attack by the federal government – we must fight back!  We must move away from defensive strategies into offensive, preventative strategies beyond the endless Know-Your-Rights workshops, to fight ICE. To be clear: we need defense units to prevent ICE from taking our people.

This past Tuesday, 4-17-18, Luis Enrique Estrada Perez was taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in front of his house in the private housing projects of the Wyvernwood Garden Apartments. He is being held in the Adelanto Detention Facility, a private federal prison, in San Bernardino County. Although he most likely will be transferred to other detention facilities.

Luis is the latest casualty in the federal government’s war against undocumented working-class immigrants! More than 100 immigrants have been taken by ICE, according to the LA Times. Just in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles there has been approximately 10-to-12 people already detained, with some having been deported! All, without exception, were hard-working providers for their families. This is not coincidence. Our communities are been targeted most likely because of the high-level of militancy and revolutionary organizing.

Undocumented immigrants are held to high, moralistic standards. They can’t make mistakes. They must be ethical Americans. Whereas citizens can go to jail, accumulate tickets, sin, and then be forgiven, undocumented immigrants are chewed up, sucked dry of their labor and spat out!

But we are not deterred. His girlfriend of 18 years and mother of his children, Petra, is diligently working with lawyers to represent him in court and demand his release. But the family needs help with the legal fees. It is approximately $8,000-to-$10,000! But we are initially starting off with $1,000.

That is why our organization, Serve the People – Los Angeles’, reaffirms that ICE is a total and vicious enemy of the people, specifically working-class undocumented immigrants! Undocumented immigrants are under attack by the federal government – we must fight back!  We must move away from defensive strategies into offensive, preventative strategies beyond the endless Know-Your-Rights workshops, to fight ICE. To be clear: we need defense units to prevent ICE from taking our people.

We urge our supporters and all supporters of undocumented working-class immigrants to call Adelanto Detention Facility and/or visit and demand the immediate release of Luis! Here is his family’s YouCaring fundraiser page! Please donate and share!

Call them! (760) 561-6100 or (760) 530-9300

Visit them! 9483 Commerce Way, Adelanto, CA 92301

Luis Enrique Estrada Perez. Date of birth: 02/27/1979. File no: 213 019 980. Subject ID: 361124569. Warrant issuing officer: Ryan Hicks.