Learn more about the campaign at: LaRivaPeltier2020.org
Meet Gloria La Riva | Lifelong fighter in the movement for socialism
Gloria La Riva is a labor, community and anti-war activist based in San Francisco, California. In 2016, as the presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Peace and Freedom Party, Gloria received the most votes of any socialist presidential candidate since 1976.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gloria attended Brandeis University where she was active in affirmative action struggles. Gloria has been a key organizer of many mass demonstrations and other actions opposing the wars and occupation in Central America, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
Gloria has worked for decades to defend Cuba’s sovereignty and against the U.S. blockade. She was awarded Cuba’s Friendship Medal in 2010, approved by the Council of State, for her many years of Cuba solidarity, and was the coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for defending Cuba from U.S.-sponsored terrorism.
Gloria has traveled to Venezuela many times since the presidency of Hugo Chávez and the dawn of the Bolivarian Revolution began in 1999. As the U.S. government’s aggression against Venezuela intensified in early 2019, Gloria traveled to the country from February to March. She documented and conveyed the Venezuelan people’s resistance to the U.S. economic blockade and military threats, via video and articles. Upon her return, PSL members organized 50 public events in a 43-city tour, where Gloria spoke, to dispel the U.S. government and media lies that are attempting to justify the blockade and a U.S. war on Venezuela.
Gloria has been active in the struggle for immigrant rights, organizing for and speaking at many mass marches in California over the past 30 years. In November 2018, she accompanied the refugee caravan of 7,000 Hondurans, Salvadoran and Guatemalans for eight days in their arduous march through Mexico to reach the United States. In the early 1990s, she was the initiator of the Farmworkers Emergency Relief campaign, following a disastrous freeze that left tens of thousands of Central Valley agricultural workers with no income. Gloria organized support for the Black Fire Fighters Association in their struggle to end racist and sexist discrimination in the San Francisco Fire Department in the 1980s. A longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights, Gloria participated in the first National March for Lesbian and Gay rights in 1979 and subsequent national marches. She joined in the marches and rallies protesting the passage of the anti- marriage equality Prop 8 in California. She has joined picket lines defending women’s reproductive health clinics.
In 1998 Gloria produced the award-winning video, “Genocide by Sanctions: The Case of Iraq,” documenting the effects of the U.S./UN blockade on Iraq. In 1999, she traveled twice to Yugoslavia with former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, at the height of the U.S./NATO bombing war, producing the video, NATO Targets. In September 2005, six days after Hurricane Katrina, Gloria traveled to New Orleans, producing the video “Heroes Not Looters.” In August 2014, she traveled to Ferguson twice during the uprising there in the wake of the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown, to participate with thousands of people in demonstrations demanding justice.
Gloria is a contributing writer for LiberationNews.org, where she has written extensively on Latin America and many other issues.
In 1994 and 1998, Gloria was Peace & Freedom Party’s candidate for governor of California. She ran as a socialist candidate for mayor of San Francisco in 1983, finishing third overall and second in every working-class neighborhood. She was the 2008 presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Gloria became a member of the International Typographical Union at the age of 24 after leading a union-organizing drive of women newspaper workers in her workplace in Fairport, NY. The ITU later merged with the Communications Workers of America. Today Gloria is the elected First Vice President of Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA Local 39521.
Over the years she has been an organizer, together with many other supporters, of actions demanding the freedom of Leonard Peltier, and is proud to be running with him on a program for working-class justice and socialism.
Leonard Peltier, a champion for the rights of Native and all oppressed people, has been in prison for over 43 years, persecuted by the U.S. government for a crime he did not commit. Since his arrest in 1976, an international movement has demanded his freedom while Peltier continues to speak out for justice from behind prison walls. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is honored by his participation in our 2020 presidential ticket as Gloria La Riva’s running mate.
Leonard Peltier was born on Sept. 12, 1944 on Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, in Belcourt, North Dakota, of the Anishnaabe, Dakota and Lakota Nations. Deeply influenced as a child by poverty, racism, and the struggles of his family and people against the U.S. government’s attempted forced termination of Native reservation land, Leonard dedicated his life to social justice. He became a member of the American Indian Movement in 1972, and engaged in community struggles for Native sovereignty from Seattle to South Dakota. As the website of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee explains:
The American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, and George Mitchell — all Ojibwa Indians and graduates of that Indian finishing school, the Minnesota State Penitentiary. Initially, the organization was established to combat police brutality in Minneapolis, but it quickly evolved into a full-fledged Indigenous rights movement committed to uniting all Native Peoples in an effort to uplift their communities and promote cultural pride and sovereignty.
The U.S. government waged an all-out war against AIM. Just as they set out to destroy the Black Panthers and other radical organizations, the FBI was determined to kill or capture the leaders of the movement for Native liberation, including Peltier.
On June 26, 1975, the FBI saw their opportunity. Two FBI agents in plainclothes and unmarked cars invaded the Jumping Bull Ranch on the Pine Ridge reservation, where AIM activists, including Leonard Peltier, Dino Butler and Bob Robideau, had been camped to protect the residents from longstanding violence of the right-wing tribal police. A shootout ensued and the agents were killed.
Butler and Robideau were arrested. Their trial in the deaths of the agents resulted in a verdict of innocence due to self-defense. This was exactly Leonard’s situation but because he had sought refuge in Canada, he was not tried at the same time as Butler and Robideau. The FBI decided Leonard would pay the price. They falsified evidence to gain his extradition to the U.S. His trial and conviction was a blatant mockery of justice, with witnesses’ lives threatened and evidence manipulated. After the kangaroo trial, Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Prosecutors in his appeals even admitted that the government did not know who fired the shots that killed the agents! Peltier’s long and brutal imprisonment has only intensified his commitment to fight against injustice. He wrote in his 1999 book Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance:
Our sovereignty, our nationhood, our very identity — along with our sacred lands — have been stolen from us in one of the great thefts of human history. And I am referring not just to the thefts of previous centuries but to the great thefts that are still being perpetrated upon us today, at this very moment. Our human rights as indigenous peoples are being violated every day of our lives — and by the very same people who loudly and sanctimoniously proclaim to other nations the moral necessity of such rights.
Over the centuries our sacred lands have been repeatedly and routinely stolen from us by the governments and peoples of the United States and Canada. They callously pushed us onto remote reservations on what they thought was worthless wasteland, trying to sweep us under the rug of history. But today, that so-called wasteland has surprisingly become enormously valuable as the relentless technology of white society continues its determined assault on Mother Earth.
The Native struggle has taken on even greater significance as the world grapples with the existential threat posed by the climate change crisis. In Brazil, the fascist Bolsonaro government has given agribusiness capitalists a green light to burn down the Amazon to displace Indigenous peoples and clear more land for exploitation. In the United States, the Native movement against the oil pipeline at Standing Rock inspired people across the country and the world with its determination in the face of police brutality.
Peltier’s case has drawn support from renowned political and cultural figures such as Nelson Mandela, Alice Walker, Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson and the governments of many Native nations. Through our presidential campaign, the Party for Socialism and Liberation aims to raise the profile of the fight to free Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, Delbert Africa, Chuck Africa and many others.
Leonard Peltier has dedicated his life and sacrificed enormously to the fight for a world free of exploitation and racism, where all people can determine their own destiny and have the social rights they need to live in dignity. The La Riva/Peltier campaign is an extension of this struggle.
For more information about the fight to free Leonard Peltier, visit the website of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee at www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.