Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014

Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.

At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.

Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.

The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”

“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.

The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.

One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.

“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.

Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.

Full article

Contractor for Israel’s apartheid wall wins US border contract
March 6, 2014

One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security(DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border.

This is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.

Elbit was a Boeing subcontractor when that firm won a 2006 DHS contract for SBInet as part of the George W. Bush administration’s Strategic Border Initiative.

SBInet was to provide surveillance and communications technology to increase the US presence on the Mexico-US border. Elbit was subcontracted by Boeing through Kollsman, one of Elbit’s US-based subsidiaries, to provide the project’s camera and radar systems.

Work on the contract halted in 2008 and DHS officially canceled SBInet in January, 2011.

Dividing indigenous land

The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.

Both the US and Israeli projects affirm settler-state partitions of indigenous land: Palestinian land in the Israeli case and Tohono O’odham land in Arizona.

The Tohono O’odham Nation is just one of several indigenous nations facing further partition because of US and Mexican border policies.

And both projects intend to stop the movement of persons under the guise of “security.”

Tested on Palestinians

Elbit tests its technology in Palestine so deployment in an analogous circumstance for the US is unsurprising.

The Elbit Systems of America 2012 promotional video above, for instance, boasts of “Proven Technology, Proven Security” and “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders.” Israel began building its apartheid wall in the early 2000s and the structure was declared to be illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

The video also says Elbit’s technology has been “operationally tested on the US Southwest Border.”

The video shows maps of Arizona and images of human walking through landscape, on military-style displays.

Drones

The Arizona border was also the site of a 2004 contract where Elbit provided Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — commonly known as drones — to the Border Patrol in the first significant deployment of UAVs for US border surveillance.

In addition to the US settler state furthering the partition of indigenous land, the DHS contract also affirms anti-Latin@ racism in the relations between the US and Mexico, and is just one example where Elbit and other Israeli firms play roles in “securing” wealthier European borders against migrants from poorer Black and Brown nations.

Elbit, NICE Systems and Aeronautics Defense Systems all provide technology, used first against Palestinians, for border surveillance and control systems throughout Fortress Europe.

Source

Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s natural resource agenda, documents revealMarch 3, 2014
The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.
Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.
Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”
“There is a risk that the legal landscape can undermine the ability of the department to move forward in its policy agenda,” one Aboriginal Affairs’ report says. “There is a tension between the rights-based agenda of Aboriginal groups and the non-rights based policy approaches” of the federal government.
The Conservative government is planning in the next ten years to attract $650 billion of investment to mining, forestry, gas and oil projects, much of it on or near traditional aboriginal lands.
Critics say the government is determined to evade Supreme Court rulings that recognize aboriginal peoples’ rights to a decision-making role in, even in some cases jurisdiction over, resource development in large areas of the country.
“The Harper government is committed to a policy of extinguishing indigenous peoples’ land rights, instead of a policy of recognition and co-existence,” said Arthur Manuel, chair of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which has lead an effort to have the economic implications of aboriginal rights identified as a financial risk.
“They are trying to contain the threat that our rights pose to business-as-usual and the expansion of dirty energy projects. But our legal challenges and direct actions are creating economic uncertainty and risk, raising the heat on the government to change its current policies.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs declined to answer the Guardian’s questions, but sent a response saying the risk reports are compiled from internal reviews and “targeted interviews with senior management in those areas experiencing significant change.”
“The [corporate risk profile] is designed as an analytical tool for planning and not a public document. A good deal of [its] content would only be understandable to those working for the department as it speaks to the details of the operations of specific programs.”
Last year Canada was swept by the aboriginal-led Idle No More protest movement, building on years of aboriginal struggles against resource projects, the most high-profile of which has targeted Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands to the western coast of British Columbia.
“Native land claims scare the hell out of investors,” an analyst with global risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group has noted, concluding that First Nations opposition and legal standing has dramatically decreased the chances the Enbridge pipeline will be built.
In British Columbia and across the country, aboriginal peoples’ new assertiveness has been backed by successive victories in the courts.
According to a report released in November by Virginia-based First Peoples Worldwide, the risk associated with not respecting aboriginal peoples’ rights over lands and resources is emerging as a new financial bubble for extractive industries.
The report anticipates that as aboriginal peoples become better connected through digital media, win broader public support, and mount campaigns that more effectively impact business profits, failures to uphold aboriginal rights will carry an even higher risk.
The Aboriginal Affairs’ documents describe how a special legal branch helps the Ministry monitor and “mitigate” the risks posed by aboriginal court cases.
The federal government has spent far more fighting aboriginal litigation than any other legal issue – including $106 million in 2013, a sum that has grown over the last several years.
A special envoy appointed in 2013 by the Harper government to address First Nations opposition to energy projects in western Canada recentlyrecommended that the federal government move rapidly to improve consultation and dialogue.
To boost support for its agenda, the government has considered offeringbonds to allow First Nations to take equity stakes in resource projects. This is part of a rising trend of provincial governments and companies signing “benefit-sharing” agreements with First Nations to gain access to their lands, while falling short of any kind of recognition of aboriginal rights or jurisdiction.
Since 2007, the government has also turned to increased spying, creating a surveillance program aimed at aboriginal communities deemed “hot spots” because of their involvement in protest and civil disobedience against unwanted extraction on their lands.
Over the last year, the Harper government has cut funding to national, regional and tribal aboriginal organizations that provide legal services and advocate politically on behalf of First Nations, raising cries that it is trying to silence growing dissent.
Source

Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s natural resource agenda, documents reveal
March 3, 2014

The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.

Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”

“There is a risk that the legal landscape can undermine the ability of the department to move forward in its policy agenda,” one Aboriginal Affairs’ report says. “There is a tension between the rights-based agenda of Aboriginal groups and the non-rights based policy approaches” of the federal government.

The Conservative government is planning in the next ten years to attract $650 billion of investment to mining, forestry, gas and oil projects, much of it on or near traditional aboriginal lands.

Critics say the government is determined to evade Supreme Court rulings that recognize aboriginal peoples’ rights to a decision-making role in, even in some cases jurisdiction over, resource development in large areas of the country.

“The Harper government is committed to a policy of extinguishing indigenous peoples’ land rights, instead of a policy of recognition and co-existence,” said Arthur Manuel, chair of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which has lead an effort to have the economic implications of aboriginal rights identified as a financial risk.

“They are trying to contain the threat that our rights pose to business-as-usual and the expansion of dirty energy projects. But our legal challenges and direct actions are creating economic uncertainty and risk, raising the heat on the government to change its current policies.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs declined to answer the Guardian’s questions, but sent a response saying the risk reports are compiled from internal reviews and “targeted interviews with senior management in those areas experiencing significant change.”

“The [corporate risk profile] is designed as an analytical tool for planning and not a public document. A good deal of [its] content would only be understandable to those working for the department as it speaks to the details of the operations of specific programs.”

Last year Canada was swept by the aboriginal-led Idle No More protest movement, building on years of aboriginal struggles against resource projects, the most high-profile of which has targeted Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands to the western coast of British Columbia.

“Native land claims scare the hell out of investors,” an analyst with global risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group has noted, concluding that First Nations opposition and legal standing has dramatically decreased the chances the Enbridge pipeline will be built.

In British Columbia and across the country, aboriginal peoples’ new assertiveness has been backed by successive victories in the courts.

According to a report released in November by Virginia-based First Peoples Worldwide, the risk associated with not respecting aboriginal peoples’ rights over lands and resources is emerging as a new financial bubble for extractive industries.

The report anticipates that as aboriginal peoples become better connected through digital media, win broader public support, and mount campaigns that more effectively impact business profits, failures to uphold aboriginal rights will carry an even higher risk.

The Aboriginal Affairs’ documents describe how a special legal branch helps the Ministry monitor and “mitigate” the risks posed by aboriginal court cases.

The federal government has spent far more fighting aboriginal litigation than any other legal issue – including $106 million in 2013, a sum that has grown over the last several years.

A special envoy appointed in 2013 by the Harper government to address First Nations opposition to energy projects in western Canada recentlyrecommended that the federal government move rapidly to improve consultation and dialogue.

To boost support for its agenda, the government has considered offeringbonds to allow First Nations to take equity stakes in resource projects. This is part of a rising trend of provincial governments and companies signing “benefit-sharing” agreements with First Nations to gain access to their lands, while falling short of any kind of recognition of aboriginal rights or jurisdiction.

Since 2007, the government has also turned to increased spying, creating a surveillance program aimed at aboriginal communities deemed “hot spots” because of their involvement in protest and civil disobedience against unwanted extraction on their lands.

Over the last year, the Harper government has cut funding to national, regional and tribal aboriginal organizations that provide legal services and advocate politically on behalf of First Nations, raising cries that it is trying to silence growing dissent.

Source

Peru approves gas project, spells disaster for uncontacted tribesJanuary 28, 2014
Peru has approved the highly controversial expansion of the Camisea gas project onto the land of uncontacted Amazon tribes – despite international outrage, the resignation of three ministers, and condemnation by the United Nations and international human rights organizations.
Peru’s Ministry of Culture, tasked with protecting the country’s indigenous population, has approved plans by oil and gas giants Pluspetrol (Argentina), Hunt Oil (US) and Repsol (Spain) to detonate thousands of explosive charges, drill exploratory wells and allow hundreds of workers to flood into the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, located just 100km from Machu Picchu.
The expansion could decimate the uncontacted tribes living in the reserve, as any contact between gas workers and the Indians is likely to result in the spread of diseases or epidemics to which the Indians lack immunity.
Pluspetrol itself recognizes the devastating impact the expansion could have. In its ‘Anthropological Contingency Plan’ the company states that any diseases transmitted by workers could cause ‘prolonged periods of illness, massive deaths, and, in the best cases, long periods of recovery.’
When oil giant Shell first started explorations in the area, it led to the death of nearly half the Nahua tribe. One Nahua man recounted, ‘Many, many people died. People dying everywhere, like fish after a stream has been poisoned. People left to rot along stream banks, in the woods, in their houses. That terrible illness!’
The project violates Peruvian and international laws which require the consent of any projects carried out on tribal peoples’ land.
Last year, protests were held around the world to stop the expansion of Camisea, and more than 131,000 Survival supporters have sent a message to Peru’s President Humala demanding a halt to the oil and gas work on uncontacted tribes’ land. Today, Survival handed the list of the thousands of petition signatures to the Peruvian embassy in London.
As a result of the high profile campaign by tribal rights organization Survival International, local organizationsAIDESEP, FENAMAD, COMARU and ORAU, and others, to stop the expansion, seismic testing has been averted from riverways and the location of one well was moved from the land of an isolated tribe.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Thirty years ago workers prospecting for the Camisea deposit penetrated deep into the territory of the Nahua people – and soon after, half the tribe were wiped out by flu and similar diseases. Has the Peruvian government really learnt nothing from history, that it is prepared to risk this happening again for the sake of a few more gas wells?’
Source

Peru approves gas project, spells disaster for uncontacted tribes
January 28, 2014

Peru has approved the highly controversial expansion of the Camisea gas project onto the land of uncontacted Amazon tribes – despite international outrage, the resignation of three ministers, and condemnation by the United Nations and international human rights organizations.

Peru’s Ministry of Culture, tasked with protecting the country’s indigenous population, has approved plans by oil and gas giants Pluspetrol (Argentina), Hunt Oil (US) and Repsol (Spain) to detonate thousands of explosive charges, drill exploratory wells and allow hundreds of workers to flood into the Nahua-Nanti Reserve, located just 100km from Machu Picchu.

The expansion could decimate the uncontacted tribes living in the reserve, as any contact between gas workers and the Indians is likely to result in the spread of diseases or epidemics to which the Indians lack immunity.

Pluspetrol itself recognizes the devastating impact the expansion could have. In its ‘Anthropological Contingency Plan’ the company states that any diseases transmitted by workers could cause ‘prolonged periods of illness, massive deaths, and, in the best cases, long periods of recovery.’

When oil giant Shell first started explorations in the area, it led to the death of nearly half the Nahua tribe. One Nahua man recounted, ‘Many, many people died. People dying everywhere, like fish after a stream has been poisoned. People left to rot along stream banks, in the woods, in their houses. That terrible illness!’

The project violates Peruvian and international laws which require the consent of any projects carried out on tribal peoples’ land.

Last year, protests were held around the world to stop the expansion of Camisea, and more than 131,000 Survival supporters have sent a message to Peru’s President Humala demanding a halt to the oil and gas work on uncontacted tribes’ land. Today, Survival handed the list of the thousands of petition signatures to the Peruvian embassy in London.

As a result of the high profile campaign by tribal rights organization Survival International, local organizationsAIDESEPFENAMADCOMARU and ORAU, and others, to stop the expansion, seismic testing has been averted from riverways and the location of one well was moved from the land of an isolated tribe.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Thirty years ago workers prospecting for the Camisea deposit penetrated deep into the territory of the Nahua people – and soon after, half the tribe were wiped out by flu and similar diseases. Has the Peruvian government really learnt nothing from history, that it is prepared to risk this happening again for the sake of a few more gas wells?’

Source

chingona-y-que

occupiedmuslim:


From the series
 Aldeia Maracana : Indiians VS FIFA

by Kim Badaw

(2013) In 1978, the Rio de Janeiro Museum of the Indian moved out of its home in the city’s Maracanã neighborhood. The historic building sat abandoned for nearly three decades until 2006, when real Brazilian Indians started moving in. Today, dozens of indigenous Brazilians from distant corners of the country call the museum grounds home, where they make traditional crafts, grow food and tobacco, and invite Cariocas to learn about their cultures. They call their community Aldeia Maracanã, or Maracanã Village.

Recently, local authorities proposed new residents for Aldeia Maracanã: thousands of soccer fans. The neighboring Maracanã Stadium, which will host major events in the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, needs a new entryway and expanded parking, according to administrators. Under this plan, the Indians would be evicted and the building and its grounds would be demolished to make way for new construction.

The conflict escalated throughout last year until January 12, 2013, when police surrounded the museum grounds. They were met by Indians brandishing bows and arrows, and by local activists bearing posters and pamphlets. Faced with this protest, the police decided to leave the area as authorities awaited a court order to evict the Indians. The fate of the building is now in limbo, although administrators insist on evicting the Indians.

Read the captions and interviews here.

Brazil: FIFA forces evictions for World Cup parking lot, police brutality rages
January 9, 2014

A dozen houses in the Mangueira slums of Rio de Janeiro have been demolished, and residents have been removed at gun point by the government of Brazil in order to build a parking lot for the upcoming World Cup.

People who were living in these homes were targeted by militarized riot cops, sent in by the government to push them into the streets. They were not even allowed to gather their personal belongings.

Impoverished residents were forcefully evicted in large numbers by the government: the riot cops even threatened to kill children in their mothers’ arms.

This video shows even more brutality: cops teargassing women for simply passing by; riot cops repeatedly attacking locals, throwing teargas grenades into their homes or aiming straight at them, and terrorizing and bullying defenseless people on the streets.

Riot cops are an occupying force, while people from Brazil fight FIFA and their government for targeted attacks on indigenous people, pregnant women and black people.

Faced with another episode of brutal oppression in the name of the World Cup and FIFA (an organisation which has kept silent about crimes, and racist/social abuses committed by the government of Brazil), activists from Rio de Janeiro organised to help people in the slums resist the governments violent gentrification attack.

Source
Photos

New forms of Zapatista Revolution: The Lacandona Commune January 2, 2014
The main challenge in Mexico today is to resist a wave of violence that is dispossessing and oppressing people, and which may precipitate increasingly brutal state repression and even a vicious civil war. At the same time, we need to connect the points of resistance, giving them an organizational form adapted to their nature. What is needed is to build a political force that can stop the ongoing disaster, prevent its continuation, and begin to reorganize society from the bottom-up.
There are clear signs that such a scenario is already developing. Many initiatives are connecting desire to reality, and thus giving a joyful and effective sense to political action. An increasing number of people are ceasing to dance to the tune of the powerful, choosing instead to play their own song. 
The primary catalyst capable of transforming society is emerging from the Lacandona Commune in Chiapas. For many analysts, both the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos are history: they lost their opportunity, their time has passed, and they are increasingly irrelevant. The media have ‘disappeared’ them; they ignore the Zapatistas, except to disqualify them. Allies and sympathizers have begun to share this impression. However, for prominent thinkers like Chomsky, González Casanova, or Wallerstein, Zapatismo is today the most radical and perhaps the most important political initiative in the world.
The Zapatistas were the first to challenge an intellectual and political mood in Mexico that had surrendered to neoliberal globalization. From that moment on, globalization represented a promise for some and a threat for others, but everybody took it very seriously. Since 1994, anti-systemic movements have acknowledged that the Zapatista uprising was a wake-up call that “Another World Is Possible,” a slogan later coined by the World Social Forum, whose more vigorous and creative sectors were inspired by the Zapatistas.
The Zapatistas have been prominent in the public and media gaze for 20 years. In fact, as surprising as it may seem to those who insist on forgetting them and periodically burying them, no contemporary social or political movement has attracted as much public attention, in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
One of the reasons why so many seem to want to forget Zapatismo, to send it to the past or to reduce it to a few municipalities in Chiapas, is the depth of its radicalism. The Zapatistas challenge in words and deeds every aspect of contemporary society. In revealing the root cause of current predicaments, they tear apart the framework of the economic society (capitalism), the nation-state, formal democracy and all modern institutions. They also render the conventional ways and practices of social and political movements obsolete. In reconstructing the world from the bottom up, they reveal the illusory or counterproductive nature of changes conceived or implemented from the top down. Their path encourages resistance to globalization and neoliberalism everywhere, and inspires struggles for liberation.
Nothing about the Zapatistas is more important than their contribution to hope and imagination. According to the Mahabharata, the sacred Indian book, when hope – that sheet-anchor of every man – is destroyed, great grief follows, which is almost equal to death itself. For Ivan Illich, “the Promethean ethos has now eclipsed hope. Survival of the human race depends on its rediscovery as a social force” (Illich 1971, 105-6). It is precisely this rediscovery that the Zapatistas have accomplished.
Pandora, “the All-Giving”, closed the lid of her amphora before Hope could escape. It is time to reclaim it, in the era in which the Promethean ethos threatens to destroy the world, and the expectations it generated vanish one after the other. In liberating hope from its intellectual and political prison, the Zapatistas created the possibility of a renaissance, which is now emerging in the net of plural paths they have discovered. They are still a source of inspiration for those walking along those paths. But they do not pretend to administer or control such a net, which has its own impulses, strength, and orientation. We all are, or can be, Zapatistas. 

 Behind our black mask, behind our armed voice, behind our unnamable name, behind what you see of us, behind this, we are you. Behind this, we are the same simple and ordinary men and women who are repeated in all races, painted in all colors, speak in all languages, and live in all places. Behind this, we are the same forgotten men and women, the same excluded, the same intolerated,   the same persecuted, the same as you. Behind this, we are you. (The Zapatistas 1998, 24). 

In 250,000 hectares of Lacandon Jungle, surrounded by thousands of troops, attacked constantly by paramilitary groups, demonized by the government and the political classes, isolated and disqualified by the “institutional” left, the Zapatistas persist in their remarkable sociological and political construction. They refused to accept government funds, not even for their schools and health centers. When civil society asked them to follow “the political way,” they obliged in a dignified manner and entered into dialogue with the government. They signed the San Andrés Accords with the government, which were consequently ignored and violated by successive administrations. But nevertheless, the Zapatistas adhered to the accords through the implementation of autonomy in the area under their control.
Full article

New forms of Zapatista Revolution: The Lacandona Commune 
January 2, 2014

The main challenge in Mexico today is to resist a wave of violence that is dispossessing and oppressing people, and which may precipitate increasingly brutal state repression and even a vicious civil war. At the same time, we need to connect the points of resistance, giving them an organizational form adapted to their nature. What is needed is to build a political force that can stop the ongoing disaster, prevent its continuation, and begin to reorganize society from the bottom-up.

There are clear signs that such a scenario is already developing. Many initiatives are connecting desire to reality, and thus giving a joyful and effective sense to political action. An increasing number of people are ceasing to dance to the tune of the powerful, choosing instead to play their own song.

The primary catalyst capable of transforming society is emerging from the Lacandona Commune in Chiapas. For many analysts, both the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos are history: they lost their opportunity, their time has passed, and they are increasingly irrelevant. The media have ‘disappeared’ them; they ignore the Zapatistas, except to disqualify them. Allies and sympathizers have begun to share this impression. However, for prominent thinkers like Chomsky, González Casanova, or Wallerstein, Zapatismo is today the most radical and perhaps the most important political initiative in the world.

The Zapatistas were the first to challenge an intellectual and political mood in Mexico that had surrendered to neoliberal globalization. From that moment on, globalization represented a promise for some and a threat for others, but everybody took it very seriously. Since 1994, anti-systemic movements have acknowledged that the Zapatista uprising was a wake-up call that “Another World Is Possible,” a slogan later coined by the World Social Forum, whose more vigorous and creative sectors were inspired by the Zapatistas.

The Zapatistas have been prominent in the public and media gaze for 20 years. In fact, as surprising as it may seem to those who insist on forgetting them and periodically burying them, no contemporary social or political movement has attracted as much public attention, in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

One of the reasons why so many seem to want to forget Zapatismo, to send it to the past or to reduce it to a few municipalities in Chiapas, is the depth of its radicalism. The Zapatistas challenge in words and deeds every aspect of contemporary society. In revealing the root cause of current predicaments, they tear apart the framework of the economic society (capitalism), the nation-state, formal democracy and all modern institutions. They also render the conventional ways and practices of social and political movements obsolete. In reconstructing the world from the bottom up, they reveal the illusory or counterproductive nature of changes conceived or implemented from the top down. Their path encourages resistance to globalization and neoliberalism everywhere, and inspires struggles for liberation.

Nothing about the Zapatistas is more important than their contribution to hope and imagination. According to the Mahabharata, the sacred Indian book, when hope – that sheet-anchor of every man – is destroyed, great grief follows, which is almost equal to death itself. For Ivan Illich, “the Promethean ethos has now eclipsed hope. Survival of the human race depends on its rediscovery as a social force” (Illich 1971, 105-6). It is precisely this rediscovery that the Zapatistas have accomplished.

Pandora, “the All-Giving”, closed the lid of her amphora before Hope could escape. It is time to reclaim it, in the era in which the Promethean ethos threatens to destroy the world, and the expectations it generated vanish one after the other. In liberating hope from its intellectual and political prison, the Zapatistas created the possibility of a renaissance, which is now emerging in the net of plural paths they have discovered. They are still a source of inspiration for those walking along those paths. But they do not pretend to administer or control such a net, which has its own impulses, strength, and orientation. We all are, or can be, Zapatistas.

Behind our black mask, behind our armed voice, behind our unnamable name, behind what you see of us, behind this, we are you. Behind this, we are the same simple and ordinary men and women who are repeated in all races, painted in all colors, speak in all languages, and live in all places. Behind this, we are the same forgotten men and women, the same excluded, the same intolerated, the same persecuted, the same as you. Behind this, we are you. (The Zapatistas 1998, 24).

In 250,000 hectares of Lacandon Jungle, surrounded by thousands of troops, attacked constantly by paramilitary groups, demonized by the government and the political classes, isolated and disqualified by the “institutional” left, the Zapatistas persist in their remarkable sociological and political construction. They refused to accept government funds, not even for their schools and health centers. When civil society asked them to follow “the political way,” they obliged in a dignified manner and entered into dialogue with the government. They signed the San Andrés Accords with the government, which were consequently ignored and violated by successive administrations. But nevertheless, the Zapatistas adhered to the accords through the implementation of autonomy in the area under their control.

Full article

Twenty years after the 1994 uprising, Zapatistas continue to influence continent-wide cycle of struggle
January 1, 2014

For the past twenty years since the Zapatista uprising on January 1st, 1994, social movements in Latin America have championed one of the most intense and extensive cycles of struggle in the world. Ever since the 1989 Caracazo, uprisings, insurrections and mobilizations have encompassed the whole region, delegitimized the neoliberal model, and recognized those from below — organized into movements — as central actors of social change.

Zapatismo was part of this wave in the 1990s and soon became one of the inescapable referents of Latin American resistance, even amongst those who do not share their proposals and forms of action. It is almost impossible to make a full list of what the movements have realized in these two decades. We can only review a handful of significant acts: the piquetero struggle in Argentina (1997-2002), the indigenous and popular uprisings in Ecuador, the Peruvian mobilizations that forced Fujimori’s resignation, and the 1999 Paraguayan March that led Lino Oviedo to seek exile after a military coup.

In the next decade we had the formidable response of the Venezuelan people to the 2002 right-wing coup, the three Bolivian “wars” between 2000 and 2005 (one about water and two about gas) that erased the neoliberal right from the political map, the impressive struggle of the Amazonian Indians in Bagua (Peru) in 2009, the resistance of Guatemalan communities to mining, the Oaxaca commune in 2006, and the mobilization of Paraguayan peasantry in 2002 against privatization.

In the last three years, a new layer was added to the movements that could suggest a new cycle of struggles, including the mobilization of Chilean secondary students, the community resistance to the Conga mining enterprise in northern Peru, the growing resistance to mining, fumigations and Monsanto in Argentina, the defense of TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure) in Bolivia, and the resistance to the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil.

In 2013 alone, we had the Colombian agrarian strike that was capable of uniting all rural sectors (campesinos, indigenous and cane cutters) against the free trade agreement with the United States, as well as the June mobilizations in Brazil against the ferocious extraction of labor for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This series of mobilizations that have sprouted throughout Latin America for the past two decades positively indicate that grassroots movements are alive across the region. Many of them are carriers of a new political culture and a new form of political organization, which is reflected in multiple ways and which is different from what we knew in the 1960s and 1970s.

Some of the movements, from the Chilean secondary school students and the Zapatista communities, to the Guardians of the Conga Lakes, the Venezuela Settlers’ Movement and the Movimento Livre Passe (MPT) of Brazil, reveal some common characteristics that are worth noting.

The first is the massive and exceptional participation of the youth and of women. As vulnerable victims of capitalist exploitation, their presence revitalizes anti-capitalist struggles because they can be directly involved in the movement. Ultimately, it is they — those who have nothing to lose —  who give movements an intransigent radical character.

Secondly, a unique political culture is gaining ground, which the Zapatistas have synthesized in the expression “governing by obeying” (mandar obedeciendo). Those who care for the lakes in Peru — the heirs of peasant patrols (rondas campesinas) – obey their communities. The young activists of the MPL in Brazil make decisions by consensus in order to avoid consolidating a majority, and they explicitly reject the “loudspeaker cars” that union bureaucracies used to impose control on their marches.

Another common feature to these movements is the project of autonomy and horizontality, words that only started being used 20 years ago but which have already been fully incorporated into the political language of those involved in the various struggles. Activists claim autonomy from the state and political parties, as well as horizontality — the collective leadership of the movement rather than that of any individual. For instance, members of the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES, its initials in Spanish) of Chile function horizontally, with a collective leadership and an assembly.

The fourth characteristic is the predominance of flows over structures. The organization adapts itself and is subordinate to the movement; it is not frozen into a structure that conditions the collective with its own separate interests. The collectives that struggle are similar to communities in resistance, in which all run similar risks and where the division of labor is adjusted according to the objectives that the group outlines at every given moment.

In this new layer of organization, it is difficult to distinguish who the leaders are — not because referents and spokespersons do not exist, but rather because the difference between leaders and followers diminishes as the collective leadership of those from below increases. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the new political culture that has been expanding over the course of the past two decades.

Finally, Zapatismo is a political and ethical referent — not so much indicating a direction for these movements, but rather serving as an example from which to take inspiration. Multiple dialogues are taking place among all the various Latin American movements, not in the style of formal and structured gatherings, but as direct exchanges of knowledge and experience between activist networks: precisely the kind of exchange that we need in order to strengthen our struggle against the system.

Source

anarcho-queer

anarcho-queer:

A Place Called Chiapas

A Place Called Chiapas is a 1998 Canadian documentary film of first-hand accounts of the Zapatistas (EZLN), and the lives of its soldiers and the people for whom they fight.

Director Nettie Wild takes the viewer to rebel territory in the southwestern Mexican state of Chiapas, where the EZLN live and evade the Mexican Army.

The 20th anniversary of EZLN is coming up on January 1! Also, the second & third rounds of La Escuelita are happening next week & the first week of January, but are already filled up. I have a few comp@s going to Chiapas for the festivities so I’ll make sure to post more about it in the next few weeks!

In order to live in a responsible way as self-determining nations, Indigenous peoples must confront existing colonial institutions, structures, and policies that attempt to displace us from our homelands and relationships, which impact the health and well-being of present generations of Indigenous youth and families. Indigenous resurgence means having the courage and imagination to envision life beyond the state.
Dr. Jeff Corntassel, "Decolonization: A Daily Chore"
Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador October 25, 2013
¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!
For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.
Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:
Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept
Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha – "Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.
Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.
Source

Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador 
October 25, 2013

¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! 
Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!

For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.

Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:

  1. Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
  2. Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
  3. Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
  4. Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept

Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha"Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.

Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.

Source

Without our land, we cease to be a people: Defining indigenous territory & resources in HondurasAugust 19, 2013
We live on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. We are a mix of African descendants and indigenous peoples who came about more than 200 years ago in the island of San Vicente. Without our land, we cease to be a people. Our lands and identities are critical to our lives, our waters, our forests, our culture, our global commons, our territories. For us, the struggle for our territories and our commons and our natural resources is of primary importance to preserve ourselves as a people.
The Garífuna people, for their way of being, were declared part of the Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2004. We don’t know what that means exactly, but we suppose it implies that the state must take action to protect and preserve the Garífuna people’s identity.
What we Garífuna face is largely the same things faced by people all over Latin America, and in fact the world. Also, the problems of the South are not a problem just for us, but of all of us and the whole planet.
If you map out the conflicts that are threatening our country, you’ll see they reflect exactly where transnational capital is trying to take more resources from indigenous peoples. Maybe you believe that president Mel Zelaya was ousted in a coup d’état [in 2009] because he was a leftist. No. It was because [those with wealth] wanted to take land and resources, which they are now doing. Look at the search for so-called alternatives to oil - through mining, the mega-dams, the biofuels, the production of African palm oil. All these resources are being taken from indigenous areas. There is more pressure on us everyday for our territories, our resources, and our global commons.
In Honduras, they’re taking land that we were using to grow beans and rice so they can grow African palm for bio-fuel. The intention is to stop the production of food that humans need so they can produce fuel that cars need. The more food scarcity that exists, the more expensive food will become. The mono-cultivation of some of these crops [for bio-fuel] requires thousands of millions of acres of land. Food sovereignty is being threatened everywhere.
Also we have a problem that is rarely spoken of: narco-trafficking. The Atlantic Coast of Honduras is the main trafficking route. A study showed that almost 90% of the drugs that are going to the North pass through Honduras. We’re exactly in the way of the trafficking and we’re so vulnerable. Honduras has one of the highest levels of crime and violence [per capita] of any country that is not actually at war. We have to fight not only for the permanence of our community, but also to not be kidnapped by traffickers.
Another of our main challenges is the tourism industry. We live almost on the sea, right on the beach. It’s a blessing but recently it’s also become a curse, because of course all those with power want to have a place on the beach. The Honduran government has started on some tourism mega-projects. The displacement of communities and the loss of cultures that come with the development of tourism [is increasing].
We have occupied and claimed ancestral lands that had been taken by others, such as Vallecito Limón. We are also using international human rights law in order to guard our territories. We have a claim against the government in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Washington regarding Triunfo de la Cruz [a beachside Garífuna community that whose communally owned lands have been taken]. We hope to have a decision in November or December. This will create an important precedent for all indigenous peoples, not just for the Garífuna. It’ll define the responsibility of the state to protect territories and rights of indigenous peoples. This will only be the [fourth] case ever brought that will help establish policies and mechanisms to protect the territories and resources of indigenous peoples, and all of humanity, of course.  [The other three are] Sarayacu in Ecuador, Saramaca in Suriname, and Awas Tingni in Nicaragua.
We are creating alliances with feminists in resistance, with other indigenous people, with campesinos, with groups like the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model. These alliances are very important, and we have to strengthen them more. Nothing can come from the top; all these alliances have to be built from the community level. We are the ones on the ground resisting and creating possibilities.
We have created our own media, a community radio station for the Garífuna. In response to mass media trying to block the protection of our indigenous territories, we have created alliances with the four other community radios, and have started – together with COPINH [Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras] a Mesoamerica Network of Community Radio.
I want to talk about the role of women defending life, culture, and territories, opposing a model of death that grows stronger each day. We are at the front of the avalanche of attacks. Everywhere throughout Honduras, like in all of Latin America, Africa, Asia, women are at the forefront of the struggles for the rights of women, against racial discrimination, for the defense of our commons and our survival. We’re at the front not only with our bodies but also with our force, our ideas, our proposals. We don’t only birth children, but ideas and actions as well.
The marvelous women comrades in Triunfo de la Cruz, Garífuna women, many of them elders, have incredible strength. They participate in meetings, in actions, tearing down walls that are built on the beach. They’re sustaining the Garífuna youth so that they know who they are, without shame. They’re producing the yucca that is our staple food.
If the problem is global, we have to have a global response. It’s time for every human being in the global North to take up his or her responsibility in respect to the use of resources, responsibility relative to waste and to consumption. The standard of living that you all have in the US is unsustainable. You are the button-pushers. We [on the other end] have crises piled one after another. We are trying to resist and find every solution we can, but we ask ourselves: Hmm, are we the ones consuming all this energy? If those in the North are the consumers, why are we in Honduras paying? Why are we being displaced to generate energy for others? What are we supposed to do? Leave the planet to destruct, or make a change for future generations? They won’t have land or water or air. This is not pessimism, it’s reality. The time has come.
Source

Without our land, we cease to be a people: Defining indigenous territory & resources in Honduras
August 19, 2013

We live on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. We are a mix of African descendants and indigenous peoples who came about more than 200 years ago in the island of San Vicente. Without our land, we cease to be a people. Our lands and identities are critical to our lives, our waters, our forests, our culture, our global commons, our territories. For us, the struggle for our territories and our commons and our natural resources is of primary importance to preserve ourselves as a people.

The Garífuna people, for their way of being, were declared part of the Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2004. We don’t know what that means exactly, but we suppose it implies that the state must take action to protect and preserve the Garífuna people’s identity.

What we Garífuna face is largely the same things faced by people all over Latin America, and in fact the world. Also, the problems of the South are not a problem just for us, but of all of us and the whole planet.

If you map out the conflicts that are threatening our country, you’ll see they reflect exactly where transnational capital is trying to take more resources from indigenous peoples. Maybe you believe that president Mel Zelaya was ousted in a coup d’état [in 2009] because he was a leftist. No. It was because [those with wealth] wanted to take land and resources, which they are now doing. Look at the search for so-called alternatives to oil - through mining, the mega-dams, the biofuels, the production of African palm oil. All these resources are being taken from indigenous areas. There is more pressure on us everyday for our territories, our resources, and our global commons.

In Honduras, they’re taking land that we were using to grow beans and rice so they can grow African palm for bio-fuel. The intention is to stop the production of food that humans need so they can produce fuel that cars need. The more food scarcity that exists, the more expensive food will become. The mono-cultivation of some of these crops [for bio-fuel] requires thousands of millions of acres of land. Food sovereignty is being threatened everywhere.

Also we have a problem that is rarely spoken of: narco-trafficking. The Atlantic Coast of Honduras is the main trafficking route. A study showed that almost 90% of the drugs that are going to the North pass through Honduras. We’re exactly in the way of the trafficking and we’re so vulnerable. Honduras has one of the highest levels of crime and violence [per capita] of any country that is not actually at war. We have to fight not only for the permanence of our community, but also to not be kidnapped by traffickers.

Another of our main challenges is the tourism industry. We live almost on the sea, right on the beach. It’s a blessing but recently it’s also become a curse, because of course all those with power want to have a place on the beach. The Honduran government has started on some tourism mega-projects. The displacement of communities and the loss of cultures that come with the development of tourism [is increasing].

We have occupied and claimed ancestral lands that had been taken by others, such as Vallecito Limón. We are also using international human rights law in order to guard our territories. We have a claim against the government in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Washington regarding Triunfo de la Cruz [a beachside Garífuna community that whose communally owned lands have been taken]. We hope to have a decision in November or December. This will create an important precedent for all indigenous peoples, not just for the Garífuna. It’ll define the responsibility of the state to protect territories and rights of indigenous peoples. This will only be the [fourth] case ever brought that will help establish policies and mechanisms to protect the territories and resources of indigenous peoples, and all of humanity, of course.  [The other three are] Sarayacu in Ecuador, Saramaca in Suriname, and Awas Tingni in Nicaragua.

We are creating alliances with feminists in resistance, with other indigenous people, with campesinos, with groups like the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model. These alliances are very important, and we have to strengthen them more. Nothing can come from the top; all these alliances have to be built from the community level. We are the ones on the ground resisting and creating possibilities.

We have created our own media, a community radio station for the Garífuna. In response to mass media trying to block the protection of our indigenous territories, we have created alliances with the four other community radios, and have started – together with COPINH [Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras] a Mesoamerica Network of Community Radio.

I want to talk about the role of women defending life, culture, and territories, opposing a model of death that grows stronger each day. We are at the front of the avalanche of attacks. Everywhere throughout Honduras, like in all of Latin America, Africa, Asia, women are at the forefront of the struggles for the rights of women, against racial discrimination, for the defense of our commons and our survival. We’re at the front not only with our bodies but also with our force, our ideas, our proposals. We don’t only birth children, but ideas and actions as well.

The marvelous women comrades in Triunfo de la Cruz, Garífuna women, many of them elders, have incredible strength. They participate in meetings, in actions, tearing down walls that are built on the beach. They’re sustaining the Garífuna youth so that they know who they are, without shame. They’re producing the yucca that is our staple food.

If the problem is global, we have to have a global response. It’s time for every human being in the global North to take up his or her responsibility in respect to the use of resources, responsibility relative to waste and to consumption. The standard of living that you all have in the US is unsustainable. You are the button-pushers. We [on the other end] have crises piled one after another. We are trying to resist and find every solution we can, but we ask ourselves: Hmm, are we the ones consuming all this energy? If those in the North are the consumers, why are we in Honduras paying? Why are we being displaced to generate energy for others? What are we supposed to do? Leave the planet to destruct, or make a change for future generations? They won’t have land or water or air. This is not pessimism, it’s reality. The time has come.

Source

Prohibition in Pine Ridge: Lakota women lead fight against ‘liquid genocide’ & predatory liquor storesAugust 13, 2013
There’s a steady flow of traffic outside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, heading back and forth over the state-line, in and out of Nebraska. At the entrance, just over the border, sits an encampment set up off to the side of the road, with children running about playing. A large tipi stands tall next to a small cook shack and a shaded area for visitors.
“Their children prosper while our children suffer,” reads one large sign in front of the cook shack. “A sober Lakota is a dangerous Lakota,” reads another.
Inside the camp is a long table covered in sewing material — plates holding thousands of various colored beads and containers filled with threads, sinew, pieces of leather and different-sized hand tools. Since April 30, this beading circle has doubled as a makeshift stronghold, dubbed Camp Zero Tolerance. The group of Lakota woman who reside here have become the main opposition to the neighboring town of Whiteclay and its continuous sale of alcohol.
“Most of us women go out and sell our bead work to a make a living,” explained Misty, one of the top opponents of Whiteclay. “But since we haven’t been able to leave, we make the bead work here and send it out to be sold.”
The small, un-incorporated town sits on the outskirts of the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Despite a population of only 14 people, it has four different liquor stores that sell about 12,500 cans of beer per day or 4.9 million cans per year.
“Whiteclay, we call it a genocidal hole,” said Olowan Martinez, a strong, vocal advocate of closing down the town. “We heard the term ‘liquid genocide’ and that’s exactly what Whiteclay is: liquid genocide. We got the name ‘zero tolerance’ from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Ordinance 43-12, which states that it is illegal to have alcohol here on the homeland. There’s zero tolerance against alcohol in our territory. For us, alcohol is the enemy.”
The troubled history with Whiteclay runs far back. In 1882, president Chester A. Arthur created a 50-square mile buffer zone, known as the Whiteclay Extension, to protect the reservation from the threat of whiskey peddlers. By 1890, Congress incorporated this area into the boundaries of the reservation “until such time as its protective function is no longer needed.” But in 1904 Theodore Roosevelt removed all but one mile of the Whiteclay Extension, opening up the land to settlers and alcohol. Since then, the largest reservation east of the Rockies has been subjected to the lethal effects of emotional and physical violence brought on by the sale of liquor just 300 feet from its border.
“As a Lakota winyan [woman] who was born and raised right here in Oglala territory, I know deep within myself that alcohol is the root of every evil we have here,” said Martinez. “We have so many relatives who say, ‘Quit blaming Whiteclay, quit blaming those bar owners,’ but the monsters coming out of Whiteclay need to be addressed.”
Tears swell up in her eyes as she relates the story of a friend — a young woman struggling with alcohol addiction, who was raped in Whiteclay. It was so severe that she was taken to an intensive care unit at the regional hospital in Rapid City. Upon her release five days later, she immediately hitchhiked back to drink in Whiteclay. Disturbingly frequent stories such as this are what motivated the women to take this drastic stand to shut Whiteclay down.
“In our history, alcohol has never been used for us. It’s only been used against us,” Martinez explained. “There are even stories about some of the treaties being conducted under the influence… [It’s] guaranteed that everyone in Oglala territory has lost someone due to alcohol.”
Within the past decade numerous rallies and protests have been staged against this small town. Residents of Pine Ridge and their supporters have continually addressed the illegal business practices such as selling alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons, or of accepting sex for payment. However, the controversy has never been settled. Now, with public knowledge spreading about the stories of abuse attributed to the town, many more Nebraskans have come out to offer their support for the women.
As part of a new generation in the movement to shut down Whiteclay, these women, along with other supporters and allies, have organized a series of direct actions aimed at preventing alcohol sales in Whiteclay. What began as a Women’s Day of Peace last August, grew into group marches on the town, staged road blockades preventing traffic in and out of Whiteclay, DUI checkpoints, and direct actions preventing the alcohol truck deliveries. The resistance that has formed from Camp Zero Tolerance continues to grow — gaining media attention throughout the state.
“It feels good to take action against something that helped kill my mother, something that helped damage and chase away my spirit as a young person,” said Martinez. “We sent clear messages to the distributor: ‘Quit sending your poison here.’ But they ignored us the first time, so we had to do it again. These were planned direct actions.”
Tribal President Bryan Brewer was even arrested on the front line during one of the roadblocks on June 17. At a recent Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council meeting, the president spoke about his involvement, saying, “I was meeting with our tribal council … and right now they think what I’m doing in Whiteclay is bad. They asked me to explain to the people why I’m doing this. So I told the council, ‘It’s very simple. It’s against the law.’ I took an oath to uphold our constitution of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and alcohol is illegal on our reservation. And we all know what it’s doing to our people.”
Last month, a scheduled meeting between President Brewer and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman lasted only five minutes. Brewer walked out after being disrespectfully reprimanded by the governor, who was angered by the publicity of what he expected to be a secret meeting. He was also upset at Brewer for mentioning $164,000 in campaign funds that the governor received between 2005-2012 from the same liquor interests that supply Whiteclay.
“I was told by the governor that ‘Whiteclay is not my problem, it’s yours,’” Brewer told reporters after the meeting.
The governor’s clear disrespect of the tribal president’s office appears to leave very little room for healthy diplomatic resolution at the Nebraska state level.
On July 10, an alcohol distributor from Scottsbluff, Neb., pulled out of its deliveries from Whiteclay, stating that they would only deliver as far as Rushville, a town 20 miles away. It was a short-lived victory for Camp Zero Tolerance, as bar owners began hauling their own shipments back to Whiteclay, crossing the line between retailer and distributor in order to maintain their profits and keep sales flowing.
In an attempt to resolve the issue, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is holding a referendum vote on August 13 to determine whether or not to legalize alcohol on the reservation, spawning very split and heated debates.
Full article

Prohibition in Pine Ridge: Lakota women lead fight against ‘liquid genocide’ & predatory liquor stores
August 13, 2013

There’s a steady flow of traffic outside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, heading back and forth over the state-line, in and out of Nebraska. At the entrance, just over the border, sits an encampment set up off to the side of the road, with children running about playing. A large tipi stands tall next to a small cook shack and a shaded area for visitors.

“Their children prosper while our children suffer,” reads one large sign in front of the cook shack. “A sober Lakota is a dangerous Lakota,” reads another.

Inside the camp is a long table covered in sewing material — plates holding thousands of various colored beads and containers filled with threads, sinew, pieces of leather and different-sized hand tools. Since April 30, this beading circle has doubled as a makeshift stronghold, dubbed Camp Zero Tolerance. The group of Lakota woman who reside here have become the main opposition to the neighboring town of Whiteclay and its continuous sale of alcohol.

“Most of us women go out and sell our bead work to a make a living,” explained Misty, one of the top opponents of Whiteclay. “But since we haven’t been able to leave, we make the bead work here and send it out to be sold.”

The small, un-incorporated town sits on the outskirts of the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Despite a population of only 14 people, it has four different liquor stores that sell about 12,500 cans of beer per day or 4.9 million cans per year.

“Whiteclay, we call it a genocidal hole,” said Olowan Martinez, a strong, vocal advocate of closing down the town. “We heard the term ‘liquid genocide’ and that’s exactly what Whiteclay is: liquid genocide. We got the name ‘zero tolerance’ from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Ordinance 43-12, which states that it is illegal to have alcohol here on the homeland. There’s zero tolerance against alcohol in our territory. For us, alcohol is the enemy.”

The troubled history with Whiteclay runs far back. In 1882, president Chester A. Arthur created a 50-square mile buffer zone, known as the Whiteclay Extension, to protect the reservation from the threat of whiskey peddlers. By 1890, Congress incorporated this area into the boundaries of the reservation “until such time as its protective function is no longer needed.” But in 1904 Theodore Roosevelt removed all but one mile of the Whiteclay Extension, opening up the land to settlers and alcohol. Since then, the largest reservation east of the Rockies has been subjected to the lethal effects of emotional and physical violence brought on by the sale of liquor just 300 feet from its border.

“As a Lakota winyan [woman] who was born and raised right here in Oglala territory, I know deep within myself that alcohol is the root of every evil we have here,” said Martinez. “We have so many relatives who say, ‘Quit blaming Whiteclay, quit blaming those bar owners,’ but the monsters coming out of Whiteclay need to be addressed.”

Tears swell up in her eyes as she relates the story of a friend — a young woman struggling with alcohol addiction, who was raped in Whiteclay. It was so severe that she was taken to an intensive care unit at the regional hospital in Rapid City. Upon her release five days later, she immediately hitchhiked back to drink in Whiteclay. Disturbingly frequent stories such as this are what motivated the women to take this drastic stand to shut Whiteclay down.

“In our history, alcohol has never been used for us. It’s only been used against us,” Martinez explained. “There are even stories about some of the treaties being conducted under the influence… [It’s] guaranteed that everyone in Oglala territory has lost someone due to alcohol.”

Within the past decade numerous rallies and protests have been staged against this small town. Residents of Pine Ridge and their supporters have continually addressed the illegal business practices such as selling alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons, or of accepting sex for payment. However, the controversy has never been settled. Now, with public knowledge spreading about the stories of abuse attributed to the town, many more Nebraskans have come out to offer their support for the women.

As part of a new generation in the movement to shut down Whiteclay, these women, along with other supporters and allies, have organized a series of direct actions aimed at preventing alcohol sales in Whiteclay. What began as a Women’s Day of Peace last August, grew into group marches on the town, staged road blockades preventing traffic in and out of Whiteclay, DUI checkpoints, and direct actions preventing the alcohol truck deliveries. The resistance that has formed from Camp Zero Tolerance continues to grow — gaining media attention throughout the state.

“It feels good to take action against something that helped kill my mother, something that helped damage and chase away my spirit as a young person,” said Martinez. “We sent clear messages to the distributor: ‘Quit sending your poison here.’ But they ignored us the first time, so we had to do it again. These were planned direct actions.”

Tribal President Bryan Brewer was even arrested on the front line during one of the roadblocks on June 17. At a recent Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council meeting, the president spoke about his involvement, saying, “I was meeting with our tribal council … and right now they think what I’m doing in Whiteclay is bad. They asked me to explain to the people why I’m doing this. So I told the council, ‘It’s very simple. It’s against the law.’ I took an oath to uphold our constitution of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and alcohol is illegal on our reservation. And we all know what it’s doing to our people.”

Last month, a scheduled meeting between President Brewer and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman lasted only five minutes. Brewer walked out after being disrespectfully reprimanded by the governor, who was angered by the publicity of what he expected to be a secret meeting. He was also upset at Brewer for mentioning $164,000 in campaign funds that the governor received between 2005-2012 from the same liquor interests that supply Whiteclay.

“I was told by the governor that ‘Whiteclay is not my problem, it’s yours,’” Brewer told reporters after the meeting.

The governor’s clear disrespect of the tribal president’s office appears to leave very little room for healthy diplomatic resolution at the Nebraska state level.

On July 10, an alcohol distributor from Scottsbluff, Neb., pulled out of its deliveries from Whiteclay, stating that they would only deliver as far as Rushville, a town 20 miles away. It was a short-lived victory for Camp Zero Tolerance, as bar owners began hauling their own shipments back to Whiteclay, crossing the line between retailer and distributor in order to maintain their profits and keep sales flowing.

In an attempt to resolve the issue, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is holding a referendum vote on August 13 to determine whether or not to legalize alcohol on the reservation, spawning very split and heated debates.

Full article

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LAUSD Votes to Close LA Indigenous High School
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted to close the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory High School on Tuesday. Trustee Mónica García was the only board member in favor of renewing the Indigenous-based school’s 5-year charter.
“We have had more than 500 years of resistance. This is nothing new,” Marco Aguilar, the schools’ co-founder and executive director, told crying students and supporters after the board meeting.
Anahuacalmecac can still appeal to the Los Angeles County Office of Education to stay open. Stay tuned for more information.
Visit: Semillas Community Schools
Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times
Stay Connected: Twitter | Facebook

thinkmexican:

LAUSD Votes to Close LA Indigenous High School

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted to close the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory High School on Tuesday. Trustee Mónica García was the only board member in favor of renewing the Indigenous-based school’s 5-year charter.

“We have had more than 500 years of resistance. This is nothing new,” Marco Aguilar, the schools’ co-founder and executive director, told crying students and supporters after the board meeting.

Anahuacalmecac can still appeal to the Los Angeles County Office of Education to stay open. Stay tuned for more information.

Visit: Semillas Community Schools

Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times

Stay Connected: Twitter | Facebook

Hundreds of thousands of indigenous people displaced across Cambodia, Vietnam & Thailand
June 2, 2013

Cambodia
More than 400,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their lands since 2003, often without compensation, as the nation sells off its territory to sugar and rubber barons and property developers. Villagers who protest have been beaten, imprisoned and murdered – such as the environmental campaigner Chut Wutty, who was killed last year – as more than one-tenth of land has been transferred in the past few years from small-scale farmers to agribusiness, rights groups claim. A recent Global Witness report – and investigation by the Guardian – found that Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation were bankrolling massive government-sponsored land grabs in both Cambodia and Laos through two Vietnamese companies, HAGL and VRG, which had been granted recent economic land concessions. Villagers reported having little food to eat and no chance of jobs, as hardly any positions were offered by the companies.

Vietnam
The state can take land away from citizens for economic development, national security or defense reasons, or in the public interest. But in recent years the government has grabbed land to make way for eco-parks, resorts and golf courses, much to the anger of the public. Last year, around 3,000 security forces were deployed in the northern Hung Yen province after villagers protested against a 70-hectare land grab to make way for an “eco-urban township”. Around the same time, a family of four fish farmers protested against a state eviction squad armed with homemade shotguns and land mines – a bold move in this one-party nation. While the prime minister declared the fish farmers’ eviction illegal, a court recently handed down a five-year jail sentence to those involved in the protest for making a “bad impact on the social order … [of] the country as a whole”.

Thailand
The Bajau people in the southern resort island of Phuket are facing eviction after living on and around the beaches of Rawai for the past 200 years. Thai landowners claim they want the land back to build houses and a “sea gypsy village” in which tourists can buy fish and see how this once nomadic seafaring tribe now lives on land. The Bajau communities have so far refused to move, but could be forcibly evicted if no resolution is reached. The Bajau people in neighboring areas, such as Khao Lak, have also been forced off their land by resorts and hotels over past decades, while Burmese Bajau people around the Mergui islands are reportedly being moved out by authorities keen to develop the area for tourism.

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