January 21st, 2008 – Friends of Brad Will write: There will be a meeting to talk over matters that Friends of Brad Will are working on. January 30th, 7:30-9:30pm in NYC at St. Mark’s Church, in the big room. It will likely not be a long meeting, so please arrive at or close to the start time. We have accommodations for people coming in from out of town. This is an important meeting as you can see from the agenda. Please use this agenda (or supplement it) for your meetings in other parts of the country.
i. Justice for Brad
ii. Stopping Plan Mexico (news from the Steelworkers)
iii. Panel at CUNY w/experts on Mexico participating alongside Friends of Brad Will (February 22nd)
iv. Discussion of Marcha Migrante III, request for endorsement.
Bring a snack.
Hello activists and concerned Friends of Brad Will:
Stopping Plan Mexico has been named by the Center for International Policy as one of the top three challenges (in bold in short piece below) to protect/defend attempts to build more just and peaceful societies in Latin America. They write that it is among “[t]hree challenges [which] come to mind, not because they are the most transcendent, but because they are viable and reasonable—and we cannot conceive of a constructive and coherent policy in the hemisphere without these first steps.”
United Steelworkers came out against it in November and issued a statement (see our website) demanding public hearings about it after the police crackdowns on miners in Mexico last week.
Time for Friends of Brad Will, our extensive networks across the country, and our allies to represent!
Americas Program Column
2008: Latin America’s Hope and Challenge
Laura Carlsen | January 18, 2008
Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)
It’s becoming a platitude to refer to Latin America as the region of hope, and from here in Mexico the perception is tempered by a reality that looks more ominous than hopeful. Throughout Latin America, attempts to build more just and peaceful societies have met with a thousand obstacles, both internal and external.
But what has rightfully captured the attention of the world is that there are efforts at real change in the hemisphere. And “hope” is not defined by guaranteed success, but by belief in an animating vision.
In the 21st century Latin America has produced more than its share of individuals, organizations, and even governments that hold new animating visions. Many have bucked the system in the most literal sense to seek different and better ways of living together, living with the environment, and living in the world.
A few examples from our archives over the past year illustrate the point.
1. Via Campesina: With its upbeat slogan to “globalize hope,” its broad international and independent base, and its campaign for food sovereignty, Via Campesina has been setting a new agenda from the grassroots that has already changed the terms of debate and will no doubt gain new ground over the coming year. It may seem strange to envision an organization of small farmers—a sector squeezed from all sides by the forces of globalization—as a harbinger of change. But Via Campesina, with its 149 member organizations in 56 countries, stands on a long history of innovative community projects and autonomous organization.
Following a Via forum in Mexico city this summer we noted: “As globalization erodes community, threatens the quality and accessibility of our food supply, and destroys ecosystems, small farmers are the ones defending these values. In doing so, they hold important keys to the future survival of the planet and rebuilding the kind of society we want for our children.”
2. Bank of the South: International finance institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have been discredited in many Latin American countries due to the ruinous consequences of their neoliberal economic prescriptions. The Bank of the South is an attempt at regional cooperation to create a real alternative for development financing. As it takes shape, the new bank faces its share of conflicts of interests. Two stand out: the complex negotiations between large and small countries on vote and contributions, and the debate between orthodox economic interpretations of its role and social priorities. But as Raúl Zibechi points out, “The new bank offers the benefits of escaping the financial controls exercised by developed countries and capital markets,” as well as “fulfilling the needs of the peoples and those who have historically been excluded.”
3. The Andean Challenge: Ecuador and Bolivia are undergoing profound changes that offer hope to nations throughout the world. The current governments in both countries established Constituent Assemblies to reform their constitutions to assure greater political equality and fair redistribution of wealth and resources. They face tremendous obstacles as they go up against vested interests and begin institutional reforms. In Bolivia, the reforms seek to break down structures of oligarchic economic power and racist political power that have been adapted since colonial times to maintain elite control. The Assembly concluded amid tense and ongoing conflicts and the constitution now goes to a popular vote. In Ecuador, the assembly and its working groups are still at the stage of gathering proposals and building consensus. As we wrote recently, “The effort to use the state to retake and redistribute resources ceded to private economic interests under globalization, to enfranchise indigenous populations, to narrow the appalling gap between the haves and have-nots of our era deserves a chance and will no doubt provide lessons for the rest of the world.”
Other examples of the Andean challenge to top-down globalization come not from governments but from the day-to-day battles in communities. Following the example of the Cochabamba “Water War,” Ecuadorians in Guayaquil have organized to demand the right to water and return to public control. Although new governments have opened up historic opportunities for change in the region, it continues to be the grassroots movements that will drive this process.
Along with the hope, come challenges—particularly for those concerned with U.S. foreign policy in the region. Three challenges come to mind, not because they are the most transcendent, but because they are viable and reasonable—and we cannot conceive of a constructive and coherent policy in the hemisphere without these first steps.
1. Engagement with Cuba.
After years of failure in Cuba and in the international arena and an eroding base of domestic support, it’s hard to imagine what it would take to change the block-headed U.S. policies toward Cuba. In their article, Center for International Policy analysts Wayne Smith and Jennifer Schuett point out that in 2008 there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
A new president willing to seriously assess and reform the current travel ban and economic embargo, along with a responsible Congress, could break the stranglehold of Cold War ideology and move toward constructive engagement. Already signs have appeared to indicate that current measures to isolate the island and intervene internally could soon fall from favor. The authors write that “There is hope that the changing political equation in Miami, pressure from economic interest groups interested in trade and investment, and support by the majority of Americans for normalization of relations with Cuba will lead to a long overdue policy change after the 2008 elections.”
2. Defeat the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Democrats in Congress have vowed to defeat this agreement due to concerns about human and labor rights violations in Colombia and the government’s ties to paramilitary forces. The Bush administration, however, counts Colombian president Alvaro Uribe as its most important ally in the region and has vowed to fight for the FTA.
If today Colombian labor leaders organizing in Coca-Cola and other foreign firms are assassinated to maintain “business as usual,” it’s likely the situation will get worse when the country is locked into an FTA-model of development that stakes the national economy on foreign investment. The militarization of Colombia as a result of U.S. aid under Plan Colombia has empowered repressive military and paramilitary forces and distanced Colombia from its Latin American neighbors who criticize its allegiance to northern interests and fear “spill-over” of the violence into their territory. The FTA is seen as divisive by other Andean nations.
In the U.S. Congress there is a growing call for a moratorium on all Free Trade Agreements until a full assessment of their economic, political, and social costs has been made. The U.S.-Colombia FTA should be blocked as part of rethinking trade policy, and as a stand against the violation of human rights in that country.
3. Reject Funding for Plan Mexico.
Although $500 million appears a paltry sum compared to military intervention in Iraq and the Middle East, binational relations between the two neighbors with a fractious border would take an ugly turn if the so-called “Merida Initiative” were approved. Also known as Plan Mexico, this program for “regional security cooperation” would provide money and equipment to the Mexican military, police, and intelligence services. None of the aid contemplated in this first package of a $1.5 billion-dollar deal goes where it’s most needed, such as addiction prevention and rehabilitation or development financing—and much of it is downright dangerous.
Sending equipment to the Mexican police and military in the context of unprosecuted human rights violations empowers impunity. Increased intelligence-gathering with expanded powers and insufficient protections puts the civil liberties of the general population at risk. The physical presence of U.S. military companies such as Blackwater doing training and equipment maintenance, and direct U.S. involvement in Mexican security could lead to a proxy relationship that compromises national sovereignty and subordinates a traditional Mexican foreign policy of neutrality to a U.S. interventionist foreign policy. Plan Mexico, with its emphasis on interdiction in the drug war, anti-terrorist measures to confront an international threat that does not demonstrably exist in Mexico, and the reinterpretation of immigration as organized crime, corresponds to a logic that heightens violence on all fronts and strains binational relations. Mexico needs and deserves U.S. support, but not to impose regional militarization.
There are many more sources of hope and challenge. They might seem novel to those who just recently felt the new winds blowing from the southern part of the hemisphere, but all are built on years of citizen involvement and vision. U.S. policies can promote rather than suppress these efforts at self-determination and social justice. And there are signs that the United States is ready for that kind of change too.
Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(a)ciponline.org) is Director of the Americas Policy Program (www.americaspolicy.org) of the Center for International Policy.
State Department propaganda for Plan Mexico
Bureau of Public Affairs
January 14, 2008
2007: Historic Commitment, Positive Engagement in Western Hemisphere Affairs
Protecting the Democratic State
In recent years, the United States and our regional partners have fundamentally transformed the security agenda for the Americas and forged a consensus on the vital link between security and prosperity. Today’s challenge is confronting nontraditional threats such as organized crime, terrorism, gangs, natural disasters and pandemics. By protecting the people of the Americas from those who operate outside the law, we strengthen democracy, promote social justice, and create a secure space for citizens and states to pursue economic prosperity.
The Merida Initiative: In October 2007, President Bush announced a $1.4 billion, multi-year security cooperation initiative with Mexico and Central America to combat the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism that undermine security not only in these countries, but also the United States. If approved by the U.S. Congress, the Merida Initiative will build a new strategic partnership with Mexico and the Central America countries; bolster homeland security by impeding the flow of transnational criminal activity and strengthening state institutions in Mexico and Central America; and increase the prospects of breaking down criminal organizations by building on successes of the Mexican government in the past year, including increased extraditions, police restructuring and legal reforms, and recent very large cocaine seizures.
U.S. Strategy to Combat Gangs: In July, the U.S. announced its Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico. Under this comprehensive strategy, the United States will work with partner countries to combat transnational and other gangs by improving law enforcement cooperation, targeting at-risk youth through social programs, and helping ex-gang members reintegrate into their communities.
U.S. – SICA Security Dialogue: Held in July, the first U.S.-SICA (Central American Integration System) Security Dialogue identified organized crime and drug cartels, weapons, traffickers, and gangs as the top regional security threats. It committed the U.S. and its Central American partners, “to find regional solutions to regional security problems,” prompted the seven Central American SICA nations to draft a joint security strategy, and provided an important foundation for even greater cooperation through The Merida Initiative.
Continuing Progress in Colombia: Since 2000, Colombia, with U.S. support, has made significant improvements in narcotics eradication and interdiction, as well as human rights, economic and social development and humanitarian assistance. Reductions in violence and kidnappings have been unprecedented, while reform programs are transforming the judicial system. However, much still needs to be done to protect and expand on these gains. Colombia’s “Strategy to Strengthen Democracy and Promote Social Development 2007-2013,” announced in January 2007, continues successful programs, but recognizes the need to expand programs in remote rural areas and increase the emphasis placed on security, social services, and assistance for especially vulnerable groups, such as the Afro-Colombian population on Colombia’s Pacific coast, indigenous communities, and displaced persons. U.S. programs are designed to support Colombia in these efforts.
Security and Prosperity Partnership: President Bush, and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, announced a North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza at the North American Leaders Summit. This lays out a comprehensive approach to combating avian influenza and preparing for any possible pandemic in North America, including provisions to coordinate border policy and screen travelers, inform our publics in a coordinated way, and identify and protect critical infrastructure in the three countries.
source: USA.gov U.S. Department of State
Saturday, February 2nd @ 9PM – $5 to $10 Suggested
Screening: “Brad, One More Night at the Barricades”
Paramilitary forces in Oaxaca shot and killed Brad Will while he was videotaping them. The camera falls, but it continues to record. Come learn about Brad and the story of the anti-globalization movement of movements: New York squats, forest defense in Oregon, battles in Seattle, Praga, Genova, Quito, Oaxaca.
Please do remember to bring plan mexico Action info and fliers for the February 22nd conference at CUNY on Art & Politics.
Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington – which means that we are 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue.
By train: We are 1 block south of the F train’s 2nd Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line’s Essex / Delancey Street stop.
By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (aka Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.
Bluestockings Books is a great resource to activist people.
Bluestockings is a radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Through words, art, food, activism, education, and community, we strive to create a space that welcomes and empowers all people. We actively support movements that challenge hierarchy and all systems of oppression, including but not limited to patriarchy, heterosexism, the gender binary, white supremacy and classism, within society as well as our own movements. We seek to make our space and resources available to such movements for meetings, events, and research. Additionally, we offer educational programming that promotes centered, strategic, and visionary thinking, towards the realization of a society that is infinitely creative, truly democratic, equitable, ecological, and free.
Sign up for events calendar by sending an email to email@example.com
Great! I will contact my Congress representative and try to organizie somthing in my area!
Brad, Uma Noite Mais Nas Barricadas
em baixa resoluçao
ou em alta
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