Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Honduran Resistance Moving Forward

About a year ago, a month after a military coup in Honduras sent democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya in to exhile, I wrote this:

"Zelaya during his presidential campaign in 2005 and early 2006, ran on promises of economic empowerment for the citizenry, and of empowering the people socially, culturally, and politically, a formula together which he refers to as citizen power. His progressive policies in the past few years have included a sharp increase of minimum wage, free school lunches for children, and the lowering of the price of public transportation. He has also talked about citizen participation, which he claims is the reason why he had called for the referendum on a constituent assembly. This is a program which the rightist military and ruling elites of Honduras simply could not tolerate."

Those are the real reasons behind the June 28th, 2009 military coup. The allegations that Zelaya was power-hungry and attempting to manipulate legality to allow an extension of his term in office, were only fabrications to justify the taking of power by force.

Two months ago, because the World Cup was in full swing, the one year anniversary of the Military coup in Honduras went under the radar, and even more so in Canada because Toronto was simultaneously hosting the G20; the undemocratic clown show where 8 predominately white men made decisions for 6 Billion people.

In 2004, Venezuela and Cuba joined to form ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, to counter the U.S sponsored free trade area of the Americas or FTAA. Today, renamed the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, ALBA is an 8 member organization composed of Latin American countries that aims to provide empowerment through social programs and continental solidarity for political sovereignty and economic independence. On August 25th 2008, Manuel Zelaya and Honduras signed an agreement to join ALBA. For the Honduran elite, this was the tipping point.

With the 2009 coup, the business class aimed to restore ‘economic order in the country. These men in Honduras represent what some analysts have termed a transnational capitalist class; they are the local pillaging chapter of neoliberalism.

What they have done since the coup has been mainly a maintenance of consistent violence and repression, and a restriction of all freedoms. But the complete laissez-faire economic policies they wished to reinstitute have scarcely been reapplied because the resistance has been so adamant.

The coup government has proposed a number of pro-business laws and has granted an additional 500 mining concessions, many of which went to a subsidiary of transnational mining company Goldcorp Inc. Goldcorp is a giant in extractive industries based out of Canada, a country which boasts the unfortunate reputation of being headquarters to 75% of global mining.

Neither has the de facto government even attempted to operate secretively in its tyranny; impunity is chronic. Since January, for example, at least nine journalists have been killed, and no one has been held to account.

Most recently, a number of striking professors, after being tear-gassed and savagely beaten, were arrested, detained, and charged on several counts.

The Honduran teachers had also held some significant strikes in the months leading up to the June 28th, 2009 coup, and now, much like the teachers' unions did in the Oaxaca uprising in 2006, are playing a huge role in fighting state terror and impunity in Honduras. People's Popular Assemblies are involved in both cases, only difference being the Honduran resistance has done it on a national scale.

Traditionally Honduras has been reputed as one of the least politicized countries in Latin America, lacking the militancy generated in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in the 70s and 80s, and having been trapped for decades in a two-party patronage system resembling something like a cross between Mexican PRI clientelism and pre-Chavez Venezuelan Punto Fijismo.

But Hondurans have really come to understand that their time must be now, and they have demonstrated organizational capacity and a high level of political maturity over the past year.

The "Citizen Declaration" of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), for example, has garnered massive popular support calling for an inclusive constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution. This pledge has gathered so far nearly 700,000 signatures, and is on track to symbolically surpass the number of votes officially received by Honduran President Porfirio Lobo in last November's presidential elections.

A popular organization called the Bloque Popular, headed by Juan Barahona, a prominent union leader, has spearheaded the National Coordinating Committee of Popular Resistance (CNRP); the CNRP is a strategy building space which operates like a people’s assembly.

The CNRP is the official decision-making body of the Frente, and various organizations from across the country send delegates for participation. The committee garners a great deal of strength from the labor movement—especially the teachers, public-sector workers, banana workers, and bottling-plant workers—its grassroots base lies in the social movements from a range of sectors: the women’s movement; the LGBT community; indigenous and Afro-indigenous peoples; human rights groups; and the campesino movement, which is closely linked with environmental justice activism. The Frente has also divided the country up into regions, each of which sends delegates to the national coordinating committee

The inclusive politics of the FNRP and the solidarity power of the CNRP have really allowed for the cross-pollination of different currents in the broad process of building a movement.

On Aug. 18, thousands of Honduran workers marched in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula on to demand an increase in the minimum wage and to show solidarity with teachers who were in the 14th day of an open-ended strike. Also on Aug. 20, the FNRP and the three main labor confederations set up a national strike committee and regional committees to prepare for a national general strike around a seven-point program. The resistance has said that no official date has been said, but that the strike is imminent. On the same day, the campesino movements will mobilize around land issues.

The FNRP plans for another country wide mobilization in all 18 departments of Honduras on September 15th.

Juan Barahona, one of the Frente’s most prominent leaders has warned that repression, murders and torture will not stop the transformations in Honduras towards a new society.

We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners in Honduras, and an end to the killings of FNRP members. We urge the Latin America and Social Justice communities now as much as ever to stand firmly behind the Honduran Resistance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People's Assembly on Climate justice: Toronto's Challenge to Build the Movement

The burning questions to be considered moving forward:

Are the working groups an effective and practical way of operating?

Should the next gathering be just one more, one-time event, another conference, or should it be a People's Assembly, a permanent open space for ongoing collective dialogue, and a tool for movement building?

The People's Assembly needs to be a regularly scheduled, routinely-occurring gathering, to be held every two months, or preferably monthly.

Should we try to provide themes and content, or create goals and actions, or leave that task to the Assembly?

Before I get into thoughts and ideas from today, here are some notes I wrote down during our last organizing meeting:

"Invite all the endorsing groups and organizations -- endorsers of all the Cochabamba Report-Back events, and all the endorsers from the June 23rd Assembly -- looking to build a very large, broad-based People's Assembly. This is the beginning of a giant exercise in Movement Building for Climate Justice and beyond in Toronto. Its going to be a people's horizontal process fueled by popular power, and a lot of its success is going to be based on numbers. As such we are inviting all social and climate justice groups and organizations in the city who want to become a part of this process, and we urge them to send not only one or two representatives or delegates just to have presence at the Assembly, but to include their entire organization, all their members to swell our ranks."

"If we can accomplish that, then the assemblies will become a huge exercise in reciprocal capacity building. Imagine what all these affinity groups and organizations can do with these large numbers of participants at their disposal, and imagine how valuable for all these people to have all these resources, knowledge, capacity, and experience available to them. The People's Assembly can join these two forces together and give birth to something very effective and very significant in Toronto."

What is the difference between a conference and an Assembly? There are similarities between the two, but one important distinction to make is that a conference is a one-time temporary affair, an event. An Assembly is a permanent body or space for continuing and ongoing dialogue. This is what we need if we stand a chance to build an effective movement.

When the Cochabamba conference was announced last year, Evo Morales didn't say we are organizing this international people's conference for people to go back home and set off a long series of speaking events and conferences. He said we are hosting this conference to initiate the process of beginning to build a worldwide Climate Justice Movement. If we have just one more conference with working groups and then we let this go away, then we might as well forget about everything we learned and all the lessons we brought back from Cochabamba, because thats not what Cochabamba set out to do.

The only way the People's Assembly is worth organizing, and the only way it can be useful in building a movement, is if it exists on a permanent basis. If we don't decide on establishing the Assembly on a monthly basis, or to hold it every two months, then we will yield nothing new, no growth, no building, no continuation, and even if we organize another mass event similar to June 23rd, with working groups or without, it will not be an assembly, it will be just an event, just another conference.

__________________________________________________

Working Groups?

Would working groups, for our purpose, be an effective and practical way of operating? Since we have already agreed on putting together an invitation letter to send out to affinity groups and organizations, then it seems we agree that this should be the driving feature of the Assembly. Here is something I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

"Take for example the working groups that were formed during the first Assembly; Tar Sands Resistance, Indigenous Rights, and cap and trade to name just a few. It doesn't make sense in terms of efficiency and effectiveness to start these newly formed groups with individuals who may or may not know a lot about the issues pertaining to their working groups, and who are starting from nothing, from scratch, and to charge them with the great task of building up solidarity around the issue in the city of Toronto. There are already dozens of groups and organizations in the city, experts and veterans who have been working and campaigning around specific issues for months and years. It would be more effective to communicate with all these groups, and to have them come be an integral part of the Assembly process, thereby providing all Assembly participants with already-existing resources, knowledge, capacity, and experience, and to allow them to choose where they would best fit in, for them to identify which patch on the community solidarity quilt is best suited for their interests and abilities. Working groups might end up being the appropriate format for the Toronto People's Assembly, only time will tell, but if so, I think those experienced affinity groups and organizations should be incorporated into them not as the lead, but in the middle actively working with the people in a nexus support role. The Assembly needs to be a horizontal space to facilitate the consolidating and organizing of solidarity. It will also be a place for exchange and education."

Working groups rather, could be used as a convertible feature of the assembly for larger campaigns or initiatives that require specific organizing and more time and energy invested, such as the popular consultation for example. The working group could be like an attachment on a Swiss Army knife, or like a subcommittee to be convened whenever needed. Working groups, or break-out sessions are better suited to conferences, not to a People's Assembly.


___________________________________________________

Should we be suggesting goals or actions for the Assembly? The Assembly for sure will be a vehicle through which we can plan single, united, large, impactful actions, and to be sure, if we put hundreds of motivated, energetic, creative people in one room and ask them to share ideas, thoughts, and tactics for the movement, you will have a mass of people lining up to speak. People want to share their vision, and contribute to and witness its collective embodiment. We as organizers don't come with specific themes or ideas, these actions and campaigns will be suggested and planned by the Assembly, not by us the organizers. Our job is to focus as little as possible on specifics and content, that will be created by the assembly itself. Our task is to create the most functional format, the structure, and the space for the assembly to fill, but the creative content, the ideas, and the inspiration will come from the people, not from the organizers.

In terms of bringing the content forward from the june 23rd Assembly. Unfortunately the working groups did not band, did not follow through on email lists to continue developing their working group themes. The content we gathered is simply a sheet with thirty or so few-word statements and ideas randomly thrown together. The content and the ideas were not organized or categorized. And, since it is looking likely now that the assembly format will not be working group-centric, the content and ideas will recreate themselves around whichever new format we agree on.

We don't have to make the assemblies theme-centric, to center one assembly around the municipal elections for example. Of course we will talk about these things, but the Assembly together will make those decisions. The theme IS the People's Assembly; the theme is the creative process that will manifest itself through the People's Assembly. Our task is simply to create the capacity to facilitate this process. A city-wide permanent collective space for groups, organizations, and individuals, tailored as an effective tool to manifest creative energies. Essentially we want to create a skeletal mechanism, and hand it to the community. They will provide the flesh and the substance. The People's Assembly is like a massive blank canvas for everyone to paint on together, or like a potluck of ideas. It is like a beehive where everyone goes outside and collects pollen from hundreds of different flowers, and then they all come together to create honey.

At the moment we have dozens and dozens of Affinity groups and organizations who do different types of work around climate justice, doing different types of campaigns, but for the most part they all work individually. They organize their own events, and focus on their own efforts, and as a result of this our energies are scattered, and to a degree being wasted. An organization will hold an event, and then another group will hold a conference, and so on and so forth, and those events might be good and educational, but after they're over, they're over, and nothing much really happens, precisely because our energies are overly spread out. What we want to do with the assembly is to create a large network of efficiency, and organization, and collaboration to make sure that our efforts are not squandered.We have to pool all of our talents, abilities, specialties, resources, strengths and weaknesses, and make them work for us together as one united movement, not as separate units. We have to move from scattered and secluded separately operating groups, to movement building. The goal is to be united, and to achieve increased and improved communication and coordination between all are various groups. Its not that we don't understand the concept of solidarity, and unity, and collaboration, its just that our generation in this country has yet to do it effectively. That is our challenge.

The two words that have to be central to everything we do moving forward with developing the People's assembly from now are; Movement Building. I have been to a few meetings in the last couple weeks with different groups, and some are talking about potentially merging with other groups, some are talking about networking, but essentially these are all just different words expressing the same desire; a need for organized solidarity, and improved communication and coordination. Rainforest Action Network Toronto is talking about Movement Building, the Latin America Solidarity Network is talking about Movement Building, OCAP is talking about Movement Building, No One Is Illegal is talking about Movement Building, the people are talking about Movement Building. Events, conferences, and periodic rallies on their own will no longer do; they maintain only the status-quo, and the status-quo is not good enough because our opponents at this time hold the upper hand. We have to move beyond the status-quo by creating an entity with a character of synthesis and empowerment.

We have an immense and imperative duty and responsibility to respond to the next level of the system of injustice, oppression, and inequality. The next level of neoliberalism, the next level of austerity measures, cuts to social spending and the economic and social attack on the poor, the migrants, the indigenous, the women, the workers, the students, and the disadvantaged of this world. While the concentrations of wealth, and the supremacy and domination of the elites is getting greater, our possibilities to harmonize with Mother Earth, our access to water, food, employment, and education, our ability to create a healthy and sustainable world, our freedom, and our living spaces are getting smaller. Reflecting on a past experience, and analyzing the conditions which marginalized communities are increasingly subjected to, a local Toronto activist commented that "what is really beginning to crystallize is that prison is like a concentration of our everyday realities." That same brother also identified that the extraordinary conditions which we are exposed to in today's world are catalyzing a generation, and spurring the necessity of a people's movement beyond anything we have seen before in this country. In response to these forces in movement, the permanence of a People's Assembly in Toronto must be fundamental.


"The Future belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Deeper Roots and Stronger Branches: The Growth of a Local People’s Assembly







When it was announced that Cochabamba and Tiquipaya, Bolivia, would host the first ever World People’s Conference on Climate change and the Rights of Mother Earth, what also emanated from Bolivia was the call to begin the creation of a Worldwide Climate Justice Movement.

At the conference, from April 18th to 22nd of this year, 35,000 people from 140 countries collaborated to put together working documents to serve as a manifesto of Humanity and Mother Earth’s demands to the UN, and to be presented at the subsequent climate talks in Bonn, Germany and Cancun, Mexico. What Cochabamba achieved beyond the tangible declarations and documents that came out of the 17 different working groups, was a sense of international commonality, a universal energy of collective solidarity if you will, which prompted an urgency for the shaping and mushrooming of local chapters of a Movement across the world.

The gathering which brought together individuals from all walks of life, Bohemians, scientists, writers, observers and spectators, peaceniks, politicians, journalists, activists, and revolutionaries, conveyed and instilled a common web of inspiration and initiative. In April, shortly after returning from Cochabamba I wrote; “to have countless brothers and sisters from all around the world at your disposal to exchange stories, smiles, hugs, handshakes, and ideas is an empowering experience.” And that is what Cochabamba provided, a means by which to mold a common strategy, to establish collective threads to link our efforts and our struggles from continent to continent.

Among the most active and vibrant at the summit were the companeros from the 700-strong Venezuelan delegation. They effectively relayed the militancy and urgency for committed change emerging from Venezuela, and displayed a leadership of work ethic. The Venezuelans were engaging every chance they had, and their activity and participation in the working groups was apparent; their contributions were catalyst to the insistence on the necessity of systemic change woven throughout the declarations.

We also saw in Cochabamba a sizeable presence of people and delegations from Canada; students, affinity groups, indigenous leaders, activists, and unions travelled to take part in the conference. What this group has brought back home, amongst other projects, is the ongoing process of creating a People’s Assembly on Climate Justice in Toronto.

On June 23rd, Toronto’s climate justice community held its first People’s Assembly, which, much like Cochabamba, was structured around working groups. But what we organized on June 23rd, which also happened to be the same week Toronto hosted the G20, was put together to become a People’s Assembly, not just another conference.

Moving forward now, our People's Assembly needs to be a permanent space and a routinely occurring gathering, as it becomes imperative for us to integrate consistency into our organizing. An idea would be to hold the Assembly monthly, or every two months perhaps. It is essential to hold the Assembly regularly because we want to retain momentum, we want to keep the new faces committed, and the public engaged. And, an important point to outline, something a companera pointed out to me, is that the Assembly can be set to convene on a regular schedule but not limited to that. We do not want to place any limitations or restrictions on the Assembly, it is an entity of the people for the people, a mechanism or a vehicle for communication and dialogue that can be called upon by anyone, at anytime, whenever needed.

Another thing to mention is that a structure, or format is needed, but no control; a completely horizontal and unleashed process set free. A little bit of chaos is good, it allows some of the originality and creativity to organically come to life.

We also have to prioritize urgency and timeliness with this endeavour. There are two reasons why our next Assembly needs to happen as fast as reasonably possible, well organized and promoted of course, but sooner rather than later. First, because it appeals to so many different constituencies, Climate Justice at the moment is a unifying force, and an asset for movement building. In Toronto, the first report back from Cochabamba, on May 7th of this year, featuring several summit participants, attracted a lot of unexpected attention, drawing in over 250 people. Then on June 23rd was our first People's Assembly on Climate Justice which was very successful, also producing a turnout of around 250 people. There was very positive energy coming out of the Assembly. Also on the 23rd, the Toxic Tour, a rally targeting Canada’s most environmentally destructive extractive industries and institutions, full on with costumes, flags, and floats paraded through downtown Toronto. So in general, Climate Justice in the city is currently building on momentum.

Second, the reaction to the G20 in Toronto has presented us with a golden opportunity. The G20 invasion affected not only activists and protesters, but impacted people from almost all walks of life. The projection of repression was manifest all over the downtown core and certain other areas, and the absurdity produced many self-declared converts to the cause. And, with Stephen Harper and the Consevatives' track record on environmental issues, this was obviously good news for the Climate Justice Movement in Toronto. Throw the Toxic Tour into the mix, which was Climate Justice's very creative, well orchestrated, and timely cross-pollination of two currents, and it almost seems like G20 week and the Climate Justice Movement were a match made in heaven. At the moment we have momentum and new faces on our side, we should not take that opportunity for granted.

Beyond Cochabamba, what were Toronto’s reasons for moving in this direction? At least in small part, the decision to build a People's Assembly in Toronto was probably an organic response to something the CJEJ community felt was needed. At the moment, Climate Justice has a broad and pertinent appeal that spans internationally over most spectrums of the left, it is the 'hot' issue, if you will. And, in Canada, we have the TSX where more than 70% of global mining capital is headquartered, we have the Tar Sands, and we have a government which is completely indifferent to Indigenous rights and environmental devastation, and doesn't recognize water as a human right. So in Toronto, as in the rest of the country, we certainly have a strong case and a need for increased and improved Climate Justice Solidarity. In part, the energy for the People's Assembly is an expression of that.

Referring back to Cochabamba, we dealt with a format of working groups, and it is imperative that we look back at past creations and examples of People's Assemblies from across the world. However, we are dealing with a unique situation here in Toronto, and a whole new set of attributes and particularities, and we don't know yet if the working group format will work for us. The final product of our assembly might be very similar to a working group structure, or it might look drastically different. Basically, we don't know what our assembly will look like, we are starting from scratch. We have to let the process self-create, with as many people involved as possible.

So what might an alternate Assembly format look like? A permanent, routinely-occurring, city-wide grassroots organizing assembly or forum sectioned by various affinity groups and organizations, or oriented around neighbourhood councils, or even a complimentary combination of both. There are already dozens of groups and organizations in the city, experts and veterans who have been working and campaigning around specific issues for months and years. It would be effective to communicate with all these groups, and to have them come be an integral part of the Assembly process, thereby providing all Assembly participants with already-existing resources, knowledge, capacity, and experience, and to allow them to choose where they would best fit in, for them to identify which patch on the community solidarity quilt is best suited for their interests and abilities. Working groups might end up being the appropriate format for the Toronto People's Assembly, only time will tell, but if so, perhaps those experienced affinity groups and organizations should be incorporated into them not as the lead, but in the middle actively working with the people in a nexus support role. Or, working groups could serve as a convertible feature of the assembly to be convened when needed for more extensive tasks and emergency campaigns.

One final attempt at an all-inclusive definition of the People’s Assembly would be this: A city-wide Assembly as a mechanism of solidarity and movement building, to really start to define and to shape the Movement. The Assembly will be composed of different groups and organizations from all spectrums of Climate Justice, who come together to report and share tactics, strategy, and campaigns in an open horizontal space fueled by popular power, participatory processes, and consensus. The Assembly will serve as a vehicle for an ongoing dialogue of solidarity building, sharing, and collective community decision-making.

The seeds of Cochabamba have ripened to create a fabric of popular resolve from Tanzania to Ecuador to Afghanistan, from cities to jungles, from affinity groups to community centres to cooperatives. A People’s Assembly is the body, the vehicle, and the necessary mechanism to engage us into effective movement building. The idea and the initiative have been laid out for us. It would be a mistake to take that privilege for granted, and to miss the opportunity.

All together, South American leadership in the form of the Rights of Mother Earth Conference has provided us with fodder, with building blocks, with motivation, and with direction. Now, with horizontal impetus we must activate the grassroots to embrace our responsibility to construct something substantial, effective, and beneficial to provide the movement with an opportunity to take flight.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alvaro Uribe or Juan Manuel Santos; The Truth About Colombia

- Over 14,000 civiliam deaths under Uribe.

- Over 2 million internally displaced people. Highest forced political and economic internally displaced population in the world.

- Paramilitaries taking over local governments.

- Private-paramilitary land grabs exceeding 10 million acres of land, half of Colombia's arable land, going to neoliberal monocropping of palm oil and other biofuel crops.

- Colombia alone is home to 49 % of the killings of trade unionists worldwide.

Check the link.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/10/latin_american_historian_greg_grandin_on

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vegetarians and Vegans Wanted!

To all the non-veggies out there. Check it Out! Eat with the Planet for the planet. Love....

Article Reproduced from guardian.co.uk

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says.


Felicity Carus

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: "Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels."

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said: "Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products - livestock now consumes much of the world's crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides."

Both energy and agriculture need to be "decoupled" from economic growth because environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income, the report found.

Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: "Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation."

The panel, which drew on numerous studies including the Millennium ecosystem assessment, cites the following pressures on the environment as priorities for governments around the world: climate change, habitat change, wasteful use of nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers, over-exploitation of fisheries, forests and other resources, invasive species, unsafe drinking water and sanitation, lead exposure, urban air pollution and occupational exposure to particulate matter.

Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.

Last year the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said that food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world's surging population. The panel says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.

Prof Hertwich, who is also the director of the industrial ecology programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said that developing countries – where much of this population growth will take place – must not follow the western world's pattern of increasing consumption: "Developing countries should not follow our model. But it's up to us to develop the technologies in, say, renewable energy or irrigation methods."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

War as a means of waste for the productive energies and resources of Mother Earth and Humanity




Whether its the Petroleum complex, extractive industries in general, war itself or the war industry, just another example that links well with Talib Kweli's new Ballad of the Black Gold (below this post) on how humanity's creative potential, labour, resources, and energy are wasted away everyday to try to keep people permanently on the subservient brink. The foundation of the system that benefits only the top 10% of the population.

Enough with over-consumption and over-production, enough with War! Enough with waste, enough with the destruction of Mother Earth! Enough with the depletion of our natural resources while the concentration and maximization of profits and wealth continues unabated. End Wealth! We don't want the corporate monsters and the lethargic devils! Our population has to rid itself of its crippling apathy and complacency. Enough with the abuse of the Indigenous keepers of our land, enough with environmental racism and Cultural Genocide!

Thoughts inspired by Talib Kweli and George Orwell. Please check these two posts.

"The Essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, of sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A floating fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships.... in principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the bare needs of the population are always under-estimated , with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. it is a deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another..... The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival."

"War not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned here is not the morale of the masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work.... In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war..... It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist." - George Orwell.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Poetry of the Week


New Reflection Eternal Album. Poetry in Motion. Long Time Coming....

"This is the ballad of the black gold
They call it Texas tea
But it's bigger than a cowboy with a lasso
It's deeper than a black hole
Create monopolies
Except they collect your fee when you pass-go
Crisis' international
The government de facto
We got no control of this fiasco
Darker than the back roads
Bubble hotter than Tabasco
More than what you bargained for or asked for

You never see happy-hungry people that ain't rational,
They blasting through the gates and they attack you at the capital,
Run up in your palace, find the head of the states and crack a few,
Get a taste of power, then they become fascists too,
The fiscal conservatives, don't know what they purpose is,
Money on the war, then they cut your goods and services,
Murderous, corporate monsters is breaking records,
Exxon is at 40 billion a year, they raking in record profits.
Stop it!
How they banking while the auto industry is tanking?
Leadership is sinking; oil pollution in the water stanking,
Loyalty to petroleum; royalty spoiled the economy,
We won't get it poppin' till we're oil-free,
If you're oil-rich then we invading,
They call it occupation but we're losing jobs across the nation,
Drill, baby, drill, while they make our soldiers kill,
Baby still, the desert where the blood and oil spill,

This is the ballad of the black gold
They call it Texas tea
But it's bigger than a cowboy with a lasso
It's deeper than a black hole
Create monopolies
Except they collect your fee when you pass-go
Crisis' international
The government de facto
We got no control of this fiasco
Darker than the back roads
Bubble hotter than Tabasco
More than what you bargained for or asked for

Nigeria is celebrating 50 years of independence,
They still feel the colonial effects of Great Britain's presence,
Dictators quick to imitate the West,
Got in bed with oil companies and now the place a mess,
Take a guess, which ones came and violated,
They oiled up the soil, the Ogoni people was almost annihilated,
But still they never stayed silent,
They was activists and poets using non-violent tactics,
That was catalyst for soldiers to break into they crib,
Take it from the kids and try to break'em like a twig,
And make examples of the leaders; executed Saro-Wiwa,
Threw Fela's mom out the window right after they beat her,
In an effort to defeat hope. Now the people's feet soaked in oil,
So the youth is doing drive-bys in speed boats,
They kidnap the workers,
They blowing up the pipelines,
You see the fires glowing in the nighttime!!!

History, a slippery creature,
Its full of plot twists and surprise endings like a mystery feature,
This oil shit is slicker than preachers,
It make the problems in the region amplify like victory speeches,
Poison the water and lead the boys to the slaughter,
Go in somebody country and rearrange the order and destroy the borders,
You see them dancing through the fields of fire,
World domination--their real desire,
The devil is still a liar.

This is the ballad of the black gold
They call it Texas tea
But it's bigger than a cowboy with a lasso
It's deeper than a black hole
Create monopolies
Except they collect your fee when you pass-go
Crisis' international
The government de facto
We got no control of this fiasco
Darker than the back roads
Bubble hotter than Tabasco
More than what you bargained for or asked for."

- Talib Kweli.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts and Ideas, July 29th, 2010, from the Toronto People's Assembly on Climate Justice Organizing Circle

Brainstorming some thoughts on Thursday afternoon before the People's Assembly organizing meeting, I jotted down this brief vision and definition: "A permanent popular space powered by consensus and participatory practices, as a channel of ongoing dialogue on solidarity and movement building."

Observations from the first People's Assembly of June 23rd. Observations, comments, positives and negatives, and things we could change or keep the same varied, but in general the group agreed that for our first effort the turnout and product was very positive, and the assembly a success. As a general analysis I observed that since it was our first assembly, it is difficult to say what we need to change and what we need to keep the same. As we come together the process will create itself.

The first interesting discussion of substance of the evening was one on consensus. The circle put a variety of similar definitions on the table, and roughly what emerged in agreement was this. I wrote down "Stress consensus, while telling people not to feel inhibited with using blocks, with blocks as an active and important part of the process, to lead to more dialogue, agreed upon changes, and a collective resolution of the issues. And, a 75% majority vote as a very last resort if the group can really not move forward." Some synonyms of consensus are unity, harmony, and unison. We must always keep this at the core of every consensus process.

Personally, my politics, and my instincts tell me that I would have liked to go straight into our second Assembly next time, but I realize, and also with the discussion from last night, that we need a few more organizing meetings before moving ahead to the next big show.

I talked about either doing one more, or more organizing meetings to iron out the format and functioning of the assembly, or going straight into the second Assembly next time. I also floated the idea of doing an assembly/organizing meeting, which would be a larger organizing meeting much like the one we had last night, only with more people involved to open up the process horizontally, and to make the organizing and planning phase as inclusive as possible. Again, the organizing phase should be only to iron out and decide on the format of the assembly, and on logistics to make the next Assembly happen. Specifics and strategy are for the Assembly to decide, not the organizing team.

I realize the idea of a larger assemblyesque organizing meeting, or an organizing Assembly to formulate the format of the Second official Assembly was confusing to some. I realize that and apologize for that, I know it is an unusual hybrid concept, but that is essentially what last night's July 29th meeting was intended to be, as emails for participation were sent out before the meeting to all 180 people who signed up for the mailing list at the first People's Assembly on June 23rd. And, that is essentially also what was decided at the end of last night's meeting, that we scheduled another organizing meeting for two weeks from now, with invitations to be sent out for more people to participate, to grow the organizing core that has come together. So we've decided on another organizing meeting scheduled for two weeks from now to continue las night's discussion, and I am in complete agreement and harmony with that, I just wanted to try to clarify on this ambiguous issue that emerged last night.

The reason why I raised the question of exactly what our next move should be in the organizing/construction process, is because I worried that more organizing might not be as horizontal and inclusive as we want it to be. But, I realize and acknowledge with everybody that we are not ready to go straight into a second Assembly. I wasn't in favour of either way, I just wanted to put the question out there for the group to create debate, which it did.

In my view, our People's Assembly needs to be a permanent space, and a regular reoccurring bimonthly gathering, and I specify bimonthly as in every two months, because apparently there is some ambiguity around this terminology, so, once every two months. It is essential to hold the Assembly regularly because we want to retain momentum, we want to keep the new faces committed, and the public engaged. And, an important point to outline, something a companera pointed out to me which I had overlooked, is that the Assembly can be set to convene on a regular schedule but not limited to that. We do not want to place any limitations or restrictions on the Assembly, it is an entity of the people for the people, a mechanism or a vehicle for communication and dialogue that can be called upon by anyone, at anytime, whenever needed.

In terms of timing and deadlines for the Second Assembly, many people were floating around October or even November as a possible date, but perhaps a late September target would be more vigilant. There are two reasons why our next Assembly needs to happen as fast as reasonably possible, well organized and promoted of course, but sooner rather than later. First, because it appeals to so many different constituencies, Climate Justice at the moment is a unifying force, and an asset for movement building. In Toronto, the first report back from Cochabamba, on May 7th of this year, featuring several summit participants, attracted a lot of unexpected attention, drawing in over 250 people. Then on june 23rd of course was our first People's Assembly on Climate Justice which was very successful and also produced a turnout of around 250 people. There was very positive energy coming out of the Assembly. So in general, Climate Justice in this city is currently building on momentum. Second, the reaction to the G20 in Toronto has presented us with a golden opportunity. The G20 invasion affected not only activists and protesters, but impacted people from almost all walks of life. The projection of repression was manifest all over the downtown core and certain other areas, and the absurdity produced many self-declared converts to the cause. And, with Stephen Harper and the Consevatives' track record on environmental issues, this was obviously good news for the Climate Justice Movement in Toronto. Throw the Toxic Tour into the mix, which was CJ's very creative and well orchestrated cross-pollination, and it almost seems like G20 week and the Climate Justice Movement were a match made in heaven. At the moment we have momentum and new faces on our side, we should not take that opportunity for granted.


Different Visions, Possibilities, and Possible Formats for the People's Assembly:

Should we operate with working groups, or with some other structure as a format for the Assembly? Or a combination of?

In terms of the working groups, we will have to decide whether a smaller or greater number of groups will be appropriate, effective, and efficient for our process in Toronto. In Cochabamba (The World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth) there were 17 different working groups. That proved to have some pros and some cons. On the one hand, it allowed for a lot of creativity and specifics on particular topics, projects, and issues. On the other hand there was a lot of cross-over of themes amongst the different working groups, and a lot of duplication and repetition in the declarations. I think that probably for our Toronto Assembly, for a smaller group, we will need to stick with somewhere between 5 and 10 working groups, if working groups are the format we choose.

Is the People's Assembly in Toronto a product of a spontaneous, vacuum situation? Or is it a planned and orchestrated effort? Probably a little bit of both.

At least in small part, the decision to build a People's Assembly in Toronto was probably an organic response to something the CJEJ community felt was needed. At the moment Climate Justice has a broad and pertinent appeal that spans internationally over most spectrums of the left, it is the 'hot' issue, if you will. And, in Canada, we have the TSX where more than 70% of global mining capital is headquartered, we have the Tar Sands, and we have a government which is completely indifferent to Indigenous rights and environmental devastation, and doesn't recognize water as a human right. So in Toronto, as in the rest of the country, we certainly have a strong case, and a need for increased and improved Climate Justice Solidarity. In part, the energy for the People's Assembly is an expression of that.

On the other side of things, Cochabamba is the reason why the idea of putting together a People's Assembly in Toronto came to life, and the call to begin the creation of a worldwide Climate Justice Movement was emanating from Bolivia even before the Cochabamba summit. So the initiative and the inspiration for our People's Assembly definitely stemmed from Cochabamba, but there are plenty of other organic reasons why it is now underway in Toronto.

Our Toronto process is not Cochabamba. With the Cochabamba summit, the working groups were actively debating and developing content months ahead of time, so of course it was very open and inclusive. As for the format, 35,000 people attended the summit so the format had to be pre-planned; this is not at all a criticism of the Cochabamba process, simply an observation and a comparison. The pre-planned format was 17 different working groups. A few people from our organizing meeting were talking about the working groups, referring back to Cochabamba, and it is imperative that we look back at past creations and examples of People's Assemblies from across the world, but we are dealing with a unique situation here in Toronto, and a whole new set of attributes and particularities, and we don't know yet if the working group format will work for us. The final product of our assembly might be very similar to a working group format, or it might look drastically different. Basically, we don't know what our assembly will look like, we are starting from scratch. We have to let the process create, with as many people involved as possible.

Here is an example of what a different format might look like:

Again, should we or should we not have working groups. Take for example the working groups that were formed during the first Assembly; Tar Sands Resistance, Indigenous Rights, and cap and trade to name just a few. It doesn't make sense in terms of efficiency and effectiveness to start these newly formed groups with individuals who may or may not know a lot about the issues pertaining to their working groups, and who are starting from nothing, from scratch, and to charge them with the great task of building up solidarity around the issue in the city of Toronto. There are already dozens of groups and organizations in the city, experts and veterans who have been working and campaigning around specific issues for months and years. It would be more effective to communicate with all these groups, and to have them come be an integral part of the Assembly process, thereby providing all Assembly participants with already-existing resources, knowledge, capacity, and experience, and to allow them to choose where they would best fit in, for them to identify which patch on the community solidarity quilt is best suited for their interests and abilities. Working groups might end up being the appropriate format for the Toronto People's Assembly, only time will tell, but if so, I think those experienced affinity groups and organizations should be incorporated into them not as the lead, but in the middle actively working with the people in a nexus support role. The Assembly needs to be a horizontal space to facilitate the consolidating and organizing of solidarity. It will also be a place for exchange and education.

The following echos, and is very similar to earlier attempted definitions I put down, and there is some repetition, but I'm just throwing everything out there to try and describe as best as possible what the process might look like.

"Groups, organizations, and people from all spectrums of Climate Justice, come together in a city-wide Assembly as a mechanism of solidarity and movement building, to really start to define and to shape the Movement. An open horizontal space fueled by popular power, a participatory process, and consensus, as a vehicle for an ongoing dialogue of solidarity building, sharing, and collective community decision-making."

"An open space of solidarity for the Climate Justice community. A body of different groups and organizations to come together and report, share tactics, strategy, and campaigns. A structure, or format is needed, but no control; a completely open and unleashed process set free. A little bit of chaos is good, it allows some of the originality and creativity to organically come out."

In Closing

I think that if the Movement at large, not just Climate Justice, but all spectrums of social and climate justice all together, if that Movement has a chance to grow and to really become a relevant, and effective, and powerful force here in Toronto and across the country, I think the People's Assembly is the vehicle that can make that happen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Bleed through the needle with Truth,
That needs no preview,
The Proof is in the People."
- Common.

"La lucha Por La Vida,
La Voz de la ilusion,
La Luz de la Utopia,
Esto es la Revolucion."
- Anonymous.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indigenous Communities Rise Up Against Big Oil

A shorter, edited version of this article is first published in America Latina community newspaper.

by Julien Lalonde

Today indigenous peoples in Bolivia, South America, and all over the world are leading a cultural Revolution to reverse 500 years of colonialism and exploitation. In this country, known as Canada, which is actually the stolen native land of Turtle Island, Indigenous communities are rising up to join the tide of resistance to neocolonialism by fighting the imposition of pipelines and the tar sands in Western Canada.

In Western Canada, extractive industries and corporations are despoiling Mother Earth and its peoples. In oil and gas extraction areas, communities are victim to a devastation of the natural world as the tentacles of the oil industry span to wreak havoc on all lifeways. Free, prior, and informed consent for any extraction project should be prerequisite with no questions asked, but the vulture combination of rotten government and big industry plunder the earth with almost complete impunity.

In the media, the corporate sponsored side refers to the black resource of Alberta as the Oil Sands which is inaccurate, and deceitful because the tar sands are, in fact, exactly that, TAR sands. The resource is not oil because it is thick even beyond viscous, it is like dried molasses times 10, it is tar, it is asphalt. The Tar Sands is a monster of non-sustainability, which requires an enormous amount of giant trucks, fuel, machinery, energy, cement, pipes, and water to operate; the tar sands are economically, socially, biospherically, and energy negative.

Canada, the newly emerged and self-declared petrostate is one of the biggest climate criminals in the world, and one of the planet's most ominous and prolific perpetrators of environmental destruction. To give an idea of the magnitude of the problem we are facing, the bitumen-producing zone in Northern Alberta contains nearly 175 billion barrels in proven reserves. Environmental assessments have discovered that SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage), one of the energy-intensive processes used to extract the thick, hard bitumen from the earth, would displace and kill caribou, fish, bear, and moose over a region ranging from 1 -3 million acres in size. The operation is massively reducing the water quality and quantity in the region, using approximately 4 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil extracted. This amounts to billions upon billions of cubic feet of water per year, 90% of it left too toxic to consume. I could go on and on and on with stats and facts about how severely bitumen extraction is trashing the planet, but simply put, the Tar Sands is the most environmentally destructive extraction project in the history of humanity. To some, this is already common knowledge, but it is important to repeat again and again to truly understand the magnitude and severity of what is happening in Alberta.

The Indigenous populations of British Columbia and Alberta, however, are not standing idly by. In Northern BC, the communities of Wet'Suwet'En and Unis'Toten are currently fighting a proposed Enbridge pipeline which is slated to cross directly through Unis'Toten territory.

Tsalik Gitwet of the Wet'Suwet'En clan, explains how "the decolonization process is both personal (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) and community based (no one gets left behind). It is daunting as we are faced with Neocolonization also, via environmental racism." Here Taslik mentions environmental racism, he also often talks about the challenge of facing the two-pronged aggression of colonization and neocolonization. In response, these communities are creating empowerment through traditional practices, and in doing so are stopping the ongoing attempts of cultural genocide in its tracks. They are reclaiming their past as the way forward to embrace their future. Again Tsalik explains that "rather than institutionalizing our knowledge and history, which only makes it a thing of the past and further erodes the living quality of our laws and ways of living....each part of our living history must be given breath each day." In embracing their traditional practices, they are manifesting the culture of self-sufficiency and interconnectedness with Mother Nature's webs of life.

In July, the communities of Wet'Suwet'En and Unis'Toten collaborated to host a training camp to build on their ongoing resistance. There is a cabin being built on the campsite directly on the track of the proposed Enbridge pipeline. Warner, the hereditary chief of the Wet’Suwet’En clan, plans to move in to the cabin with his family in permanent resistance to the pipeline.

The priority right now for the Indigenous communities of Turtle Island, for Mother Earth, and for humanity at large, is necessarily the stopping of the Tar sands and the pipelines, and to prevent the petroleum complex from turning North America into one big oil machine.

The Tar Sands is a gaping wound in the planet, the hemorrhaging of Mother Earth, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is internal bleeding. Big oil is destroying the health, and the sustainability of our beautiful world. Petroleum extraction is a modern consumption addiction that must be stopped immediately; it is the central symptom of a system in crisis. Our only option is to move forward in the direction of a world free of fossil fuels.

Daniel Wildcat, a scholar of indigenous resistance from the Yuchi and Muscogee tribes, talks about indigenous ingenuity, which he calls indigenuity, and about the nature-culture nexus as a necessary course for the future of the planet. The traditional practices of the Indigenous peoples of the land; harmony with nature, living well instead of living better, and self-sufficient sustainability, come together to form the culture of life, the only way forward not only for indigenous communities, but for all of humanity.

I finish with another quote from Tsalik: "Our very way of life is the living laws. We can only perform these actions and ways of life after letting go of the ties that bind and keep us reliant and subservient." A collective effort is required to sever the mechanical and artificial creations that are despoiling the richness of human life and destroying the planet; we must do so in order to effect the systemic change that is so badly needed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Battle in Toronto: Between Truth, Lies, and Solidarity

On Wednesday June 23rd, we saw the Toxic Tour march through Toronto to expose the institutions and corporations most responsible for the environmental destruction and social impacts of Canada's extractive industries. With 75 % of global mining capital coming from Canada, our country is a major international pillager. The rally travelled from Dundas & Bathurst for over three hours, stopping a few times along the way the denounce various toxic perpetrators, ending on University avenue at the courthouse, across from the American embassy. About 400 people took part, and the action was very well organized, very loud, very lively, and very impactful.

The following Day was Indigenous Day of Action which was again very enthusiastic and well organized, and featured a 200 foot long banner which read 'Native Land Rights Now', and a slightly escalated police presence. Leaving from Queen's Park the march ended at Allan Gardens, also temporary home of the tent city which had been set up. The rally increased in numbers from the Toxic Tour on the previous day.

Friday saw the Community Day of Action take flight from Carleton and Jarvis, head down College street boisterously, with again increased police numbers, and a growing number of minor altercations. Music playing out of a pick up truck driving along with us, the atmosphere was definitely dynamic as we headed south down University Avenue. When we got close to Dundas a large enough group tried to join the rally, but police pushed and prevented them from crossing their line. People were upset by this but the march continued on peacefully. Again the number of demonstrators and activists had significantly increased from the previous day.

In the evening, after a speaking event with Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Clayton Thomas-Muller, and others, Naomi Klein marched around 600 people to Allan Gardens with police following along trying to seal off the crowd. The people eventually made it to the Gardens with little problems; enthusiastic speaking and chants ensued. The action was spontaneous and fervent, and energy was imminent, and the G20 episodes were turning into not just actions on the ground, but a feeling in the air.

Saturday also saw a considerable increase in the amount of people on the streets. Day by day, our numbers continued to grow.

All together the days of the G8/G20 saw 20,000 people taking to the streets. They did so to protest peacefully, and to bring to light a vicious, elitist economic agenda which already has exacerbated, and aims to further impose social devastation on humanity, and environmental destruction on Mother Earth. The people have justification in their voices, and their demands.

The large majority did not come out with corporate grudge rage vandalizing and smashing, even if those few targeted only banks and big corporate and injured nobody, it is very unfortunate that our misguided, spurious mainstream media chooses to focus on negatives rather than genuine positives.

Now the reasons behind the G20 and the actions on the streets.

The G8/G20 was summoned to impose a neoliberal financial agenda which will now force austerity measures, cuts to social spending on the national economies of the world to allegedly reduce budget deficits. The reason for the G8 followed by the G20 is so the top 8 can gather first to make decisions in order to tell the other 12, weaker yet still economically relevant countries, what to do. Austerity measures announced in the midst of the 4 day summit for which the Canadian government has spent around $ 2 Billion dollars to host, while it continues to finance the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, and when financial stimulus in the form of billion dollar bail-outs is directed towards banks instead of being spent to help struggling working class families. Here I paraphrase Naomi Klein roughly. In other words, governments have taken billions of tax dollars for pay-outs to save the perpetrators of the crisis, and have stuck regular people to foot the bill. This is the biggest restructuring of wealth in the history of humanity. Furthermore, these cuts to social spending while minimizing the role of the state, serve to hollow out the the economy in order for private corporate capital to fill the space. So the decisions of the G20 are continuing to deepen the financial crisis, to further entrench the cycle of organized plunder and desolation through refined, reinvented tactics, tailored to today's unique triple crisis. This is an economic and social agenda that can be imposed only through undemocratic decision-making, repression, and violence. All three were actively demonstrated in Toronto during the G8/G20 summit.

The absurdity of the arbitrary terror was astounding. I spoke with a friend who had money outright stolen from him by police, an acquaintance who was dragged into an unmarked van, beaten, held in submission for 30 minutes with nothing said, no rights read, and then randomly released at a further location. TTC workers were assaulted, women were beaten. People were essentially kidnapped; taken forcefully without charge, with no rights read, and detained for a whole day in horrible physical conditions, psychologically tormented, with scarce food and water, with no phone call, and with your family not knowing where you are, to be fair, is pretty much the equivalent of being kidnapped.

The police were deliberately detaining just to keep people of the streets long enough for the action to subside, and they were keeping them inside for as long as legally possible. The large majority of people were released on breach of peace with no charges, which essentially amounts to drunk tank; my arresting officer actually said this to me, "have you ever been in the drunk tank before? This is like that, we're going to hold you just long enough to disrupt this gathering, just for a couple of hours, and then you'll be released." The police openly referred to this method as catch and release, as if we were fish. But unlike conditions including beautiful rocks, mysterious castles to play in, bright colors, and regular scheduled feedings, our holding cells were not nearly as desirable as aquariums, and were actually more like kennels. We heard that the police were referring to them as rat cages. I guess its better to be referred to as a fish than a rat.

The days of the G20 saw the repressive forces stepping up their game, as it were. They are trying to instill fear into the equation. Considering who and what they were defending, the police proved they are simply business enforcers, representing nothing more than the interests of the rich and powerful.

The struggle of this era, of this generation, is just beginning for us in Canada, this was its initial moment, and already the state is resorting to such repressive, aggressive, and brutal means. Were our actions so grave as to warrant such a brash reaction? Our actions on the streets were very minimal, still at an elementary level thus far. As this movement grows and we start reclaiming our streets, seriously mobilizing and challenging the system, are they going to start shooting people? As our momentum continues to move forward, their repression will surely carry on with ever increasing force. We must match their tyranny with increased solidarity, and evermore effective organization.

But the repression was a failure, the G20 week had the effect of solidarizing, if I can use that word, and of bringing various groups closer together. The people of Toronto in general were all brought into the same orbit over the course of those couple weeks. Fraternity is always imminent in the face of adversity, and I think this experience has thought us that even beyond that, it needs to be omnipresent. I think we need to continue working as closely as possible with as many groups as possible, but we also need to realize that this is now the work of the people, and less so of affinity groups; an all-inclusive collective solidarity is needed. It is time for the movement to be set free and to naturally take its course. People have come out in large numbers to rallies and events, with positive energy, and that is very encouraging. It has been a natural reaction, and we have to take that momentum and run with it. Internationally the resistance is already intact, we are late bloomers, but you get the sense that a movement is really starting to take shape in Toronto, and in Canada.

Furthermore the tactic of rounding up, literally rounding up, over a thousand people, did the opposite of the desired effect for the elites. History has repeated itself countless times over in the face of popular movements with police over-reaction, and excessive violence and repression. They aim to break spirits, but the result is always more fire and growing numbers. The brutal dictatorships of Latin America in the 60s, 70s, and 80s have shown this time and time again; killings, torture, and disappearances, yet brutal psychological and social shocks to civilian populations have always had the effect of radicalizing movements, and individuals. Certainly the severity of those times is not comparable to what took place in Toronto, but the after-affect is similar: people coming together with increased vigor and conviction.

The brutality of the entire police operation, and the heavy-handed conditions inside the detention centers did not successfully deter, did not scare away, did not destroy resolve, or crush courage. The morale inside the holding cells was tense and erratic at times, but generally brothers and sisters walked away from the experience energized, rejuvenated, and more determined and committed than ever before. Just as a colony of ants will organize and frenzy when faced with an unexpected bounty of food crumbs, it is not wise to nourish fighters with adversity. So the harsh conditions and the psychological stabs at detainees, the attempt to demoralize the movement, served more as an exercise in solidarity, as a strengthening experience. The ill-conceived tactics and strategy of the elites and their thugs was irresponsible and irrational, and the result is that the ruling class establishment in Canada has a much bigger problem now than they did before the G20.


Another aspect of this episode was to observe the reaction and the understanding, or lack thereof, of the general public. Its not even necessarily oblivion or indifference, but simply complacency. People's lives become blank, linear, and sterile, they become involuntarily sheltered and everything around them just becomes backdrop. People don't even think about how their world functions, mush less that this whole society rests on brittle, fictitious, invisible foundations. Michael Moore who has a long history of community activism in the U.S explains; "I'm a citizen in a democracy, so that automatically implies, I'm an activist, you're an activist, we're all activists. Anybody who resides in a democracy is an activist. If you're not an activist, then the democracy ceases to exist." The implication is that if people don't get involved in their communities, then the would-be process is lost immediately.

This lethargy of consciousness, this taking for granted that things just are, and that they will always be, that the status-quo is fine, and peaceful, and unconsequential, is a very dangerous thing. Its been said that "there is nothing in this world as bitter as the spectacle of a people who go to sleep in liberty and awaken in slavery." The fictitious neo-democracies of the global north are prime examples of this; people who think they live in the best, most exemplary societies in the world, but the only thing they really possess is the freedom of money for a few, and nothing more. We hope that these recent events in Toronto have been a wake up call. We hope that in Canada the North American torpor has been broken, that consciousness has been roused from its deep social slumber. As one local Toronto activist coming back with lessons from Haiti puts it, "it is time for you to become citizens of your own country, right now you are only consumers."

What the people of Toronto and Canada should remember, is that roughly from Wednesday June 23rd to Monday June 28th, Native communities from across the land, social and climate justice activists, and Toronto community organizers turned the city into a beacon of social struggle. That is something, far outweighing the fact that the city was rendered chaotic for a few days, the people of Toronto should be proud of.

Truth and the power of collective resistance is the biggest threat to this capitalist, consumerist system, and although our actions physically were no threat to the establishment during the G20 summit, the symbolic and moral waves that we have unleashed will hopefully impact not only Canada, but also the rest of the world.

When people get their backs glued to the wall, they fight back. What materialized in Toronto over this transformative period, is the inevitable social reaction of a system in crisis.

Republished from Rabble.ca G20 Blog.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Observation

I see this photo add on yahoo yesterday, a tourism add for Travel Alberta, and the slogan is 'Bring Your Boots'. Ha! Ya bring your boots because everything is dirty and sticky from crude oil and bitumen. Trying to figure out whether this is funny or not. Talk about insult to injury.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Detention Center Attempted to Break Spirits of Non-Violent Demonstrators

The month of June this year, 2010, finished with Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper hosting the G20 show, a $ 2 billion party of lavish waste and economic ruin. Fake lakes, plush golf greens for photo ops, 19,000 police in Toronto, and even an alleged surveillance submarine in Muskoka, without forgetting the dozens of kilometres of multi-million dollar fences sealing off sectors of Toronto and Huntsville.

The few days of the G20 summit in Toronto saw mass grassroots mobilizations and police repression which culminated in the illegal detention of over 900 demonstrators and activists. But equally as reprehensible as what happened on the streets of Toronto is what unfolded inside the detention centres over the course of the week. Myself, along with a few friends and around 200 other demonstrators were arrested the night of Saturday June 26th on the Esplanade, near the intersection of Front and Yonge. Detained at about 11 pm, the temporary holding facility at 629 Eastern avenue became our home for the rest of the night and for most of sunday.

From the beginning the whole operation resembled some sort of strange scientific experiment. The cells we were held in were actually cages, giant kennels sealed off from the back and the sides so as not to allow visual contact or communication with other detainees. Giant bright lights lined each room shining constantly, leaving us disoriented as to the time of day or night, and concrete floors and cold temperatures made sleeping virtually impossible.

We had to ask repeatedly for food and water; we received water about every six hours or more, and food was brought to our cage only twice over a 24 hour period. On a few occasions, while ignoring our demands for water for extended periods of time, officers even deliberately drank their water right in front of us, and while we were screaming to get medical attention for a diabetic cell mate who was practically collapsing from low blood sugar, they were too busy to seek help, but had time enough to get coffee and snacks at starbucks.

Girls were treated as badly as men and were even forced to use port o potties with no doors while men police officers looked on. Sexually degrading comments were thrown around with regularity. Minorities received very rough treatment, remaining cuffed the entire length of detention and generally were kept for the longest amounts of time, while the white detainess were often uncuffed.

95% of people I spoke with were never given the right to a phone call or to consult a lawyer. We were often told that the prison was overwhelmed with prisoners and that our release would be a slow process as a result, even that the number of detainees was so high that they had not sufficient food for everyone. The whole operation was marred with inefficiency and disorganization. The majority of officers had no idea what they were supposed to be doing and what was going on, and kept repeating that they were only following orders. On several occasions we observed as 20 to 30 officers stood around aimlessly doing nothing. The names of detainees who were nowhere to be found were called again, and again, and again, until we wondered whether this exercise was in fact disorganization, or the jail guards deliberately trying to create a sense of confusion and uncertainty. The whole experience was not only a test of patience, but of sanity

Fundamental human rights were violated on a significant scale, and yes I was angry along with the hundreds of others, but my main concern is that this outrageous piece of history does not repeat itself ever again. People say that this sort of thing should never happen in Canada, but something like this should never happen anywhere in the world, period.

Of course, the mainstream media made a mess of G20 coverage in Toronto, and hopefully the broad public can realize that police cars going up in flames were isolated incidents, and that the street giants in black banging shields and batons, with their rubber bullets and tear gas, and the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators and activists wrongfully arrested for trying to exercise free speech and expose the truth, is what should have dominated headlines.

This Article appears in America Latina Newspaper.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quote of the Week - Monday May 31, 2010

"Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment....but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. - Howard Zinn.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The People's Summit 2010 - Birth of a World People's Movement: Climate Justice and the Cochabamba Conference

"Birth of a World's People Movement: Climate Justice and the Cochabamba ( Bolivia ) Conference"
Birth of a World People's Movement for Climate Justice: The Cochabamba Conference

When: SUNDAY, June 20, 10 a.m. - Noon

Where: Thomas Lounge in the Student Campus Centre at Ryerson University . The address is 55 Gould Street (North Dundas, East of Younge) Toronto .

Speakers: Conference delegates: Velcrow Ripper, filmmaker, and Raul Burbano of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity, will show their videos of their experiences at the Cochabamba conference. Also speaking will be Kimia Ghomeshi, Campaign Director, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition; and Sonja Killoran-McKibbin, of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; Robert Lovelace, Ardoch Algonquin First Nations.

Description of the session: An assembly of more than 35,000 people from 140 countries, meeting in April in Cochabamba , Bolivia , adopted an ambitious agenda to defend Mother Earth against climate change and ecological devastation. The Cochabamba conference challenges us to join in a world people's movement to assure the safety and protection of Mother Earth. Conference delegates will lead off discussion of this initiative and its meaning for us and show videos made at the conference.

Read: http://readingfromtheleft.com/PDF/CochabambaDocuments.pdf

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Toronto-Bolivia-Solidarity/116064481749710?v=app_2344061033&ref=ts

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bolivia's Lithium Chapter

In the lat couple of months Bolivia has made headlines for a few different reasons. First, on a couple of different occasions, Evo Morales has made demands and declarations at the United-Nations in the name of Mother Earth. He has talked about a global referendum on climate change, about the climate debt that the industrialized countries owe to the Global South for decades of environmental destruction, and about establishing an international tribunal for crimes against Mother Earth. Second, Cochabamba, Bolivia in April hosted the first ever World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. To a degree the eyes of the world were fixed on Bolivia for a few days during the summit, although the mainstream media imposed a blackout on the gathering for obvious reasons. Good publicity for Bolivia is bad publicity for capitalism, and with popularity comes responsibility. As such, the Conference also had the effect of putting Bolivia in the spotlight regarding its own domestic environmental record and policies. And finally, in March and April broke the news that Bolivia holds massive untapped lithium deposits in its south-west, which also presents itself as somewhat of a double-edged sword for a couple of reasons.

Briefly the facts are as follows. Currently the two biggest lithium sites in the world are held by U.S., Chilean, and Canadian capital in Chile’s Atacama Salt Flats, and in Argentina. Bolivia’s share of lithium located in the Uyuni Salt Flats would trump both of these sites holding anywhere from 5.4 to 140 million tons, many different sources quote different figures, but what is widely agreed is that Uyuni possesses roughly around half or slightly more of the world’s known supply. The potential of Uyuni and the large-scale lithium extraction that will go along with it presents two problems for Bolivia.

Internationally it puts the Morales government in a difficult and potentially compromising position, with its recent ambitions and incursions of resolutions at the United-Nations, and its talk in defense of Mother Earth and against the capitalist system. There is no doubt that the Bolivian government and the Bolivian people are sincere about their earth loving intentions, but now they find themselves with a natural resource extraction juggling act of their own, and they must tread carefully. Of course this will be open season for the right-wing media if Bolivia makes any wrong moves, but all that has to be put aside, and their decisions must be based on the wishes and input of the local population, and on whether or not the operation will have negative or harmful affects on Mother Earth. Politically, the government must leave these major decisions mainly in the hands of the Bolivian people, as autonomy and decentralization has been one of the central priorities of the government in the last year and a half, it must now remain responsible to those commitments.

Of course Bolivia has no experience in extracting lithium, so it may need outside help. A French billionaire Vincent Bollore who owns a lithium battery plant and plans to make electric cars has offered technical help to the government with no strings attached, relatively. But Bolivia must be careful not to find itself in a vulnerable position in regards to foreign capital. It would probably best be served by obtaining technical assistance with zero concessions at the bargaining table, and to secure financial support either from Venezuela in the spirit of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), and/or from other friendly South American countries in the context of Latin American integration. In terms of public industry itself inside Bolivia, NACLA explains well; “According to Bolivia’s new constitution, the country’s natural resources belong to the Bolivian people and must be administered in their collective interest by the state. Instead of exporting raw lithium, the government wants it to be processed, refined, and industrialized, with battery plants and even car factories, on Bolivian soil. The goal is to capture the value added by industrialization for Bolivians.” The multinational corporations are experienced master swindlers, so if it is decided that extraction should proceed, the benefits must remain inside Bolivia and Latin America.

So is Bolivia’s lithium a gift or a curse? The short answer is that Bolivia’s new found resource can be a very good thing, not only for Bolivia but also for the world, if and only if the project is developed properly, responsibly, democratically, and sustainably. Yes, the lithium of Uyuni is a tremendous potential, but that doesn’t mean it all has to be extracted as fast as possible. And, in terms of doing it sustainably, the process must concern itself not only with the rate at which the lithium is extracted, but also with how much and how quickly water and energy are used in the process, to respect the earth, and also to ensure that local populations are not affected negatively.

What can Bolivia’s lithium do for humanity and Mother Earth? Uyuni holds enough to provide lithium for more than 4.8 billion electric cars, which would mean an enormous step forward in ending the petroleum dependency. Extracting natural resources that destroy the planet, and extracting natural resources that have the potential to save the planet are two different things. Mining lithium could provide the solution in sustainable technology to the single biggest problem humanity faces today, oil. Nothing positive comes out of drilling petroleum; extraction displaces communities, devastates the planet, and nature, and its ecosystems, and accidents and disasters are far more likely then we are led to believe. Furthermore, its manufactured result in the form of petro-chemicals, plastics, and fuel is the champion trinity of environmental degradation.

The recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in the history of humanity, and the extension to offshore drilling is another product of the unquenchable greed of capitalism. I hope that this experience has shown us clearly that we don’t have enough time left, nor can we afford to gamble with petroleum any longer. We must not let them kill our Mother. Gasoline is a modern consumption addiction that must be stopped immediately; it is the central symptom of a system in crisis.

Perhaps it is time for the age of the electric car, again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First American Ban on Sales of Bottled Water!

A very enthusiastic Congratulations to the town of Conquered, Massachusetts which has become the first ever in the United-States to ban all sales of bottled water. The ban was lead by 82 year old activist Gene Hill who said "All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the ocean that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets."

I just wanted to touch down quickly with this important and very symbolic news piece while it is fresh, which is relevant for so many reasons. I will write a response and analysis to this shortly.

Again a huge congratulations for the courage of Conquered, Massachusetts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An analysis on Naomi Klein, Bolivia and the Rights of Mother Earth Summit, and Our Working Groups!

The quoted content appears in Naomi Klein's April 21st, 2010 article in the Nation entitled 'A New Climate Movement in Bolivia'.

Speaking about the statements made by Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. climate negotiator in Copenhagen, Naomi writes: "Pershing's message was chilling: if you are poor, you don't have the right to prioritize your own survival." That is right on point, and exactly the type of hypocrisy and arrogance that is reflected from the actions of the US and neoliberalism.

She describes the call for the conference as "a revolt against this experience of helplessness," ei. that the small economically disadvantaged countries are not allowed a voice in the international forum. I do not agree that the call for the Rights of Mother Earth Summit was a response to a feeling of helplessness, perhaps that is the feeling coming from the victimized governments who feel cheated and short-handed following the experience of Copenhagen, but NOT from the people. The new Climate Change, Ecosocialist, Rights of Mother Earth, 'Bien Vivir', Indigenist social movement, whatever you want to call it - that is the beauty of it, that it appeals to so many different constituencies - from the people's point of view and contrary to a response to helplessness, is an action and a show of strength and confidence, an understanding that it is our responsibility to take the fight into our own hands, a recognition that the struggle is entering into a new era, and a display of the momentum that we have gained in the last year. But she goes on to say, and provides a great explanation, in describing the new movement as "an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive."

Next she writes about the structure of the Conference itself and the way the working groups were carried out; "The next stage was to invite global civil society to hash out the details. Seventeen working groups were struck, and after weeks of online discussion, they met for a week in Cochabamba with the goal of presenting their final recommendations at the summit's end. The process is fascinating but far from perfect..." Yes, the working group process did have its problems and weaknesses, which I will not discuss here because it is a large topic on its own, but with hundreds of people involved in every working group, seemingly unsolvable disagreements and long drawn-out discussions were inevitable.

Nevertheless, the working groups were fruitful, and creative, and very educational for many people who had the opportunity to participate in this kind of process for the first time. Essentially the summit organizers reflected that the grassroots remains relatively voiceless vis-a-vis the climate change crisis which affects them most directly, so lets create a channel for their ideas to take shape and be concretized, to let them decide, to let them create, and to let them articulate their demands. Naomi comments that "Bolivia's enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit's most important contribution." I think this is an accurate and insightful analysis of what transpired in Cochabamba/Tiquipaya.

As successful as the Summit was, the declarations and demands drafted in Cochabamba were far from perfect, and far from complete. At times encumbered, at times lacking in content, they are nevertheless a great start and a work in progress, and we can hope that next year's Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth Summit will yield, with more scrutiny and more detail, an even better, more dynamic and more comprehensive product.

Naomi closes with this analysis:

"in reality, it is such small groupings—like the invitation-only club that rammed through the Copenhagen Accord—that have caused us to lose ground, weakening already inadequate existing agreements. By contrast, the climate change policy brought to Copenhagen by Bolivia was drafted by social movements through a participatory process, and the end result was the most transformative and radical vision so far."

"With the Cochabamba summit, Bolivia is trying to take what it has accomplished at the national level and globalize it, inviting the world to participate in drafting a joint climate agenda ahead of the next UN climate gathering, in Cancún. In the words of Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, "The only thing that can save mankind from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy.""

"If he is right, the Bolivian process might save not just our warming planet but our failing democracies as well. Not a bad deal at all."

Good words worth quoting. And with that,

Cheers, Solidarity,

And Viva the New Movement and its March of Giants, which finally links Humanity and Mother Earth as one!

Viva!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Love Quote

"Pressure pushing down on me,
Pressing down on you no man ask for,
Under pressure - that burns a building down,
Splits a family in two,
Puts people on streets,

Pray tomorrow - gets me higher,
Pressure on people - people on streets,

Chippin' around - kick my brains around the floor,
These are the days it never rains but it pours,

Turned away from it all like a blind man,
Sat on a fence but it don't work,
Keep coming up with love,
but it's so slashed and torn,
Why - why - why ?
Love love love love love,
Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking,
Can't we give ourselves one more chance,
Why can't we give love that one more chance,
Why can't we give love give love give love give love,
give love give love give love give love give love,
'Cause love's such an old fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for,
The people on the edge of the night,
And love dares you to change our way of,
Caring about ourselves,
This is our last dance,
This is our last dance,
This is ourselves,
Under pressure,
Under pressure,
Pressure."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Quote of the Week - Positive & Negative

"Promoe the number one public enemy with split personalities/
and both rap for anarchy./
Keeping my beard long like pops in the seventies/
burning flags screaming fuck the Kennedies./
many see me as a hoodlum at best a good bum/
letting out anger over bass and snare drums./
Fucking up eardrums of those with high income/
holding king Carl Gustav for ransom./
Leaving Madeleine in labour pains while I'm bombin' trains/
tryin' to bring back the days of '36 in Spain/
and y'all claim I'm too negative/
talkin' bout Sweden's really a nice place to live./
Oh I'm supposed to be satisfied cause I got a fatter life/
than my brothers and sisters who die on the other side of the planet/
It's all connected god damn it/
if you leave the third world stranded./
The first and the second will soon be drowned/
in the blood sweat and tears of the people we hold down./
Hold up! That's something you will never understand/
fuck that man, I'm tryin' to take a stand./
You might just laugh but I'm tryin' to walk a righteous path/
stumblin' though, drunk off of wine made from grapes of wrath/
Me I'm tired of doing the math when nothing adds up/
the good's always down the bad's up that sucks/
Life's a bitch and then you die/
wrong life's a biiatch and then you decide/
To do something about it/
shit'll only drive you crazy if you allow it/"

- Promoe.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rights of Mother Earth Conference and Bien Vivir in Cochabamba

They say that Cochabamba is the 'corazon', heart of Bolivia, and that Bolivia is the heart of South America, so it was very appropriate and only fitting that the heart of the world's epicenter of social change became the focal point of solidarity in hosting from April 19th to 22nd, 2010, the first ever World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. International presence and exchange was remarkable, with people and delegations from the U.S., France, Italy, Zambia, Colombia, England, Brazil, Tanzania, Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, and even great companeros from Paraguay, and Greece, to name only a few, and a significant presence from Canadian activists.

The conference featured international organizations of all sorts with about five or six different venues with panels and presentations going on around the clock, so information was accessible and plentiful, the possibilities and options of what you could take in and what you could participate in were boundless. There was a lot of activity condensed into four days and letting it all permeate was a task and a beautiful privilege. The conference was structured for 17 different working groups; action strategies, structural causes, climate debt, agriculture and food sovereignty, the Right of Mother Earth, and harmony with nature and Vivir Bien amongst others. The goal was to draft a declaration for each theme as an official position statement document for the conference, which will also be sent as a set of demands in the name of Humanity and Mother Earth to the
U.N. Climate Summit in Cancun in November/December of this year.

For all its academic content, its theory, and its endless panels, one of the most positive and effective aspects of the summit is that it created new spaces, new connections, and new hope. The experience was networking, exchanging contacts, meeting new people and gaining new perspectives. To have countless brothers and sisters from all around the world at your disposal to exchange stories, ideas, smiles, handshakes, and hugs, is an empowering experience. Its our duty to take these messages back home, to draw the best ideas from the best places from the most inspiring people and to mesh everything together. Strength lies in the complexity of our mosaic, in the confidence of our collective threads, and the summit illustrated this very successfully.

Early on the summit took on a unique complexion as a dynamic evolved between the conventional anti-capitalist and
anti-imperialist discourse, and the new call for the ideas of sustainability, permaculture, Bien Vivir or living well instead of living better, and an embrace of traditional indigenous values and practices to get back to a communitarian way of life in harmony, reciprocity, and respect with Mother Earth. This centrifugal creative energy was manifest in the working groups at every turn, the action of collective creation, of two correlative schools interacting with each other, which made for a very interesting and fiery exchange of ideas.

Evo Morales in his opening ceremony speech chose to speak, very wisely, not about the ravages and inequalities of capitalism, and the destruction of our planet, but about rejecting foreign, artificial consumption habits, and about making small daily changes, telling anecdotes about changes that we need to make in our personal lives. He talked about not drinking Coca-Cola and that we need to check our indifference with plastic waste. The message was about the fact that the answers already exist, that sustainable solutions are at our fingertips, and that our model way of life is there for the taking. Politically, your mentality can be changed and advanced tenfold, but if you keep consuming like the system compels you to consume, if you don't change your way of life, your energy, if personal commitments are not made, then we are running on treadmills. The indigenous culture, their values and their practices, of living a life only in affinity with Mother Earth, and of severing the artificial, the chemical, the unnatural, is where we will seek, and find our answers. We need to be living as we should be living; of the earth.

The changes ahead, the changes that we need to establish, are not simply a distant vision. We have to see the path of change for the tangible entity that it is, and no longer think of sustainability, equality, peace and justice, a world free of exploitation, and a communitarian way of life in harmony with nature only as possibilities. Humanity has to rediscover humanity, and we have to understand that the practices needed for a natural and sustainable world already exist, and that the consciousness and values required to effect that change are already inside of us. And, perhaps most importantly, as a great friend of the earth has said, we have to understand that "the answers to the future lie in the traditions of the past." (Galeano)

There is much to discuss, and much to build on moving forward. Now, internationally, the local chapters of this gigantic endeavor of the human family must begin with enthusiasm and adherence.

Jajaja Suma Qamana y Nandereko!