San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nica Communist Running for U.S. President

GRANADA, Nicaragua – A hundredand fifty years after U.S. mercenaryWilliam Walker declared himselfPresident of Nicaragua, a lesser-knownideologue from Managua is hoping tobecome the first Nicaraguan electedPresident of the United States nextTuesday.Despite the curious coincidence ofeach man’s pretension of becoming thePresident of the other’s country, that’swhere the similarities end between Walkerand Nicaraguan-born Róger Calero.Whereas Walker aspired to transformNicaragua and Central America into asouthern slave state for the Confederacy,Calero, the U.S. presidential candidate forthe Socialist Workers Party, hopes to dojust the opposite: unite the workers of theworld in a democratic revolution to abolishthe slave-like conditions of savage capitalism.“Through our campaign, we havereached out to voters with a class conscienceand to youth who are disgustedwith the barbarity of the current system, totry to build something new,” Calero, 35,told The Tico Times this week during aphone conversation from New York.FOUNDED in 1938, the SocialistWorkers Party has ballot representation in13 states and Washington, D.C. in the Nov.2 U.S. presidential elections – the result ofcollecting 75,000 signatures nationwide.The party claims it won 15,000 votesduring the 2000 Presidential Elections, andis hoping for a repeat performance this year,even though many left-wing minority parties,including Communist Party USA, aresupporting the candidacy of Democraticchallenger Sen. John Kerry in his bid tooust U.S. President George W. Bush.The fact that a foreigner can’t beelected President of the United States hasnot deterred Calero, nor the SocialistWorkers Party, whose members electedthe Nicaraguan as their candidate duringtheir national campaign in Ohio last June.Calero has been living in the UnitedStates since 1985, but never obtainedU.S. citizenship.NORTON Sandler, the party’s campaignboss, explained that in several of thestates that protested Calero’s name on theballot, the Socialist Workers Party hasidentified James Harris as its candidate.Harris was the party’s candidate in 1996and 2000.In the unlikely event Calero wins thepresidency, Harris would assume theoffice and push for a Constitutional reformto allow foreigners to become President,Sandler explained.But no one, even Calero, expects himto win.THE campaign is not about wining theWhite House in 2004, but about raisingawareness about issues that affect theworking class, and trying to raise the baron political discourse in the United States,Calero said.The candidate said his top political prioritiesare to allow developing nations toexplore nuclear technology for electrification,promoting labor unions, implementinguniversal health care and pulling allU.S. troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan,Kosovo and Cuba.“Our campaign slogan is ‘it’s not whoyou are against, it’s what you are for’,”Calero said.A former meatpacker, labor organizerand current editor of socialist publicationsThe Militant and Perspectiva Mundial,Calero has also had several run-ins with thelaw, once getting convicted for marijuanapossession in high school and gettingarrested and threatened with deportation in2002, after he returned to the United Statesfrom a journalistic trip to Cuba.ALTHOUGH he is running on theSocialist ticket, Calero identifies his politicsmore as authentic, pre-Stalin communist.Despite the problems and legal barriersto his presidential bid, Calero, who is marriedwith no children, said his candidacyreflects the changing, internationalizationof the U.S. labor force, and claims he canrelate to most U.S. voters better than themultimillionaire candidates for theDemocrat and Republican parties.

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