Many struggles, one movement
July 20, 2014Posted by on
GGJ delegate Diana Lopez, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas (in the red dress) is helping translate for the Spanish speaking Indigenous Peoples participating in the International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change, at the Isle of Margarita, Venezuela. This was an Indigenous caucus meeting organized by Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, a member organization of GGJ. The indigenous person participating that came from the furthest distance was Mrinalini Rai, from Nepal. Photo taken by Tom BK Goldtooth
July 17, 2014Posted by on
Tom BK Goldtooth, GGJ delegate, and Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network was a presenter on the thematic topic on Item III. Social Participation in Decision Making. This was part of the Mesa process on the second day of the historical International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change, Isle of Margarita, Venezuela. The description of this thematic topic was: Adequate and effective participation of social movements in the decision making process to face the climate crisis. The guidelines for the discussion was to discuss the question of effective participation of grassroots organizations, local communities, children and youth, indigenous groups and minorities in decision making to face the climate crisis. Guidelines included: Different forms of social organization, its characteristics and effective forms of participation; Specialized language as an element of exclusion; Gender, cultural and ethnic diversity and equity; Local, national and global participation; and Recognizing traditional knowledge, experience and wisdom. Tom focused on the topic of Indigenous Peoples and did a 10-minute intervention that started out the process for discussion.
These were the talking points that Tom covered:
- Indigenous Peoples, from the North and global South have a political, legal and cultural-spiritual relationship within the countries they come from. It is not just social.
- Indigenous are not mere stakeholders, but rights-holders, because they are the original-First Peoples in the countries they come from. Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who originally inhabited the territory of a country before the arrival of colonizers from other parts of the world, either by conquest, settlement or other means.
- Politically, within climate policy initiatives, Indigenous peoples’ consistently reaffirm their rights to self-determination and to own, control and manage their ancestral lands and territories, waters and other resources.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to meaningful participation in decision-making matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making processes and institutions.
- Indigenous peoples have a distinct spiritual and material relationship with their lands and territories. The link to their lands and territories are inextricably linked to their survival and to the preservation and further development of their indigenous knowledge systems and cultures, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and ecosystem management.
- In order to participate in climate discussions, Indigenous peoples need popular education and training on the topic of climate change and global warming, including the pros and cons of mitigation and adaptation mechanisms. This especially applies to those living in far remote and rural locations. This education and training includes the crosscutting issues, solutions and risks, such as violations of treaty agreements by the U.S. and Canada; violations to the access and right to water; human rights instruments; just transition; etc;
- These popular education materials need to be available in the Indigenous Peoples’ language;
- The need to de-mystify the negotiating language of climate change within the UN climate meetings.
- Apply the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially related to the standards and principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Indigenous peoples’ need to be fully informed on all aspects of climate change as a condition for decision making.
- Financial mechanisms need to be increased for Indigenous participation in national, regional and international meetings, seminars, workshops and conventions on climate change and its crosscutting issues.
Submitted by Tom BK Goldtooth, IEN and GGJ delegate
July 16, 2014Posted by on
The International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change taking
place July 15 to July 18 will basically discuss the effects and causes of climate change but mainly its to create solutions though unity and education. Social Movements and the Venezuelan Government are coming together in Venezuela for a preparatory meeting in anticipation of the Social PreCOP happening in November. The meeting takes place on La Isla Margarita, which is part of Venesuelas Nueva Esparta state. Nueva Esparta means New Sparta, it was named after the Revolution for independence when native islanders fought until death, like Spartans, for liberation from the Spanish. La Isla is also where Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez converged on ALBA to unite the Caribbean and Latino America.
As US organizers prepare for the UN Climate Meeting in New York City this September this meeting comes together at a critical movement within the international movement for climate justice. Going back to the past four UNFCCC there has been great push against binding agreements that would force the worlds worse polluters to cut emissions. China, Canada and the US are among the countries that attempt to dominate the landscape in oder to continue extracting resources. Going back even further the US Government has played a key role in colonizing the economic and social structures of Latino America and Caribbean countries. Thus we go into this meeting with a deep analysis of our own country which also continues to create systemic structures that keep poor people, people of color from reaching justice.
Within in official UN international spaces there is always a lack of representation from the people most affected by climate change. Grassroots organizations/ civil society brings the solutions and understanding of how to live well in connection with mother earth. Venezuela sees the need to have civil society and youth present during meetings which is why there is a strong presence from Latino America’s base building organizations. However the reality is that there is a global south within the global north that is being left out of many international spaces. There is a strong force of people taking on climate change at the local level, building community owned energy, creating intergenerational community planning, and connecting the need to not only fight for environmental justice but also to address the economy, reproductive issues and governance.
Coming into this meeting there are may thoughts and questions that link our work and understanding of political and social movements.
- To begin there is a long political history around liberation and independence in Latino America that shifts the way conversations are developed and who is part of the discussion. We understand that power comes from the base, from people of color, farmers, women, indigenous community, and youth that have traditionally been left out of decision making space within the US and international spaces. Knowing the struggle and how the US has played a part of those movements is critical to building international relationships and developing united solutions that have systems change at the center. In general the GGJ delegation is looking to to deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices.
- Building relationships and solidarity movements are necessary to break down systems that keep oppressing our people. One of goals of the GGJ delegation is to deepen relationships with national and international groups who demonstrate understanding of the intersection between capitalism, ecology and justice and that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change.
Submitted by Diana Lopez, Executive Director, Southwest Workers Union
July 16, 2014Posted by on
As one of GGJ’s three delegates to the social pre-COP on climate change sponsored by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, i am glad to be part of the process of shaping, with others, the country’s official statement on climate change going into the 2015 negotiations. Venezuela invited civil society organizations and movements from around the world to engage in this process as a way of inviting the voice of the people into what has become a very closed and corporate-led UN space. Though there are some questions circulating about the underlying intentions of the Venezuelan government and caution by people who know what it is like to be tokenized or have their work/ideas appropriated by larger bodies and institutions (be spoken for by them), one thing is clear; that this is a huge (though not unprecedented) undertaking deserving of note. Why? For one, the document that emerges from this process will be on par with those that other nations produce around the world, discussed and debated by world leaders. Additionally, if its essence remains after the governmental ministers make their revisions in November (meaning that if it doesn’t get gutted of the essential parts that our organizations and movements bring), then the document will embody the lessons, expectations, hopes and visions of people who are harmed by and who fight against a system that exploits people and the planet.
I join Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) and Diana Lopez (Southwest Workers Union) on the delegation. While here, we aim to deepen relationships with national and international groups that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change; deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices; and build unity and support toward the Our Power national gathering (Richmond) and the People ‘s Summit (New York). It is within a broader context, articulated above, that we seek to fulfill these aims.
As i represent GGJ in this space, i too represent the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) as we have some concrete organizational interests in so doing. For one, we are able to share with and learn from other frontline communities around the world in ways that help to deepen our understanding of the global impacts of local practices, particularly of corporate polluters. For example, in such spaces, we often meet folks who are at the points of extraction for raw materials that get processed and/or consumed in places such as Detroit. Additionally, we are working alongside many – some of whom are political allies – to craft a draft document that will ultimately inform the official position that Venezuela takes during global talks on climate change. So the experiences, stories and lessons we offer from Detroit will be a part of this process.
Finally, we are interested in meeting new global allies in the march toward system change. In Detroit, where the struggles are intense, the fights are real and the enemies attack from all sides, it will help in the long run to link our struggles with those around the world. So that as we fight in Detroit, we are also fighting the same opponents in San Antonio, in Senegal, in Bolivia, in the Philippines and more; but we are doing it together, with strong voices and solid conviction.
Our work is significant over the coming days in Venezuela and back at home in Detroit. A lot is required of us, but we’ve been prepared to take up the task and will do so with dignity, honor and respect of ourselves, our communities, those who’ve come before us and those who will follow.
I look forward to sharing more later.
Submitted by Ife Kilimanjaro, Co-Director, EMEAC
April 9, 2014Posted by on
GGJ members and allies have been arriving in Detroit since yesterday for our 6th Membership Assembly, hosted by East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC)!
As an alliance, we look to Detroit for inspiring examples of how communities have responded to exploitation and abandonment by creating alternatives that build community power through environmental justice education, youth development and collaborative relationship building.
We are converging in Detroit to imagine and plan out a Just Transition away from the fossil fuel economy toward an economy for people and the planet. Folks are coming from as far away as Jakarta and Guatemala, from Los Angeles to Bellingham WA, from Albuquerque NM to Alabama, from Miami to Vermont, and as close as Chicago, Minneapolis and of course Detroit.
Follow the GGJ Membership Assembly on social media this week:
- Twitter: @ggjalliance, @EMEAC, #JustTransition, #NextEconomy, #GenderJustice, #ClimateJustice, #EconomyForLife, #grassrootsglobaljustice, #GlobalFeminism
- Facebook: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
- Blog: http://ggjalliance.wordpress.com/
Donate to support GGJ and EMEAC!
Will you donate $10, $25, $50 or $100 to support this crucial work? All contributions in response to this appeal will be split 50/50 between GGJ and EMEAC. We will greatly appreciate any amount larger or smaller that you are able to contribute. All donations will be tax-deductible.
Click Here to Support GGJ and EMEAC in organizing the GGJ Membership Assembly
February 26, 2014Posted by on
“Some of the most significant things happen in history when you get the right people in the right place at the right time. And I think that’s where we are.”
— The Honorable Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, speaking with Laura Flanders of GritTV, two weeks before his passing.
Rise in Power! Free the People, Free the Land!
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance sends our deep love and condolences to the family and community of The Honorable Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, whose sudden and tragic passing at the young age of 66 on February 25, 2014, has left many of us shocked and devastated at the loss of this historic leader.
Compañero Chokwe Lumumba was elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi in June 2013 after a vibrant campaign rooted in The Jackson Plan laid out by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the Jackson People’s Assembly.
We pledge to keep alive the hopes and dreams that Compañero Chokwe Lumumba inspired in so many movement leaders, organizers, freedom fighters.
Compañero Chokwe Lumumba was one of the founders of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Join us in sending solidarity to our compañer@s, fellow GGJ members MXGM, and his family and community in Jackson. We offer this page as a place where GGJ members and allies can share with MXGM the hopes and dreams that Compañero Chokwe Lumumba inspired in you. Please post a comment on this page with your solidarity messages and thoughts, visions and hopes that Compañero Chokwe Lumumba has inspired in you, and what you pledge to do in his memory. In two weeks on March 13 we will compile and send the comments to his family and MXGM.
Learn more about Chokwe Lumumba:
- Listen to an interview on Hard Knock radio with Kali Akuno of MXGM & Jackson Rising January 20, 2014: Jackson Rising: The Bold Agenda of Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba for 2014
- Watch a profile of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba by Jordan Flaherty
- Watch the commemoration by Democracy Now: Remembering Chokwe Lumumba: Remembering “America’s Most Revolutionary Mayor”
- Watch Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s Mayoral Victory Speech, June 4, 2013
- Watch Compañero Chokwe Lumumba’s speech at the 30th Annual Black Workers For Justice Banquet in April 2013. “You can’t give up because the task is difficult. All you do when the task is difficult, you get to work, that’s what you do, you get down.”—Chokwe Lumumba
- Read The Lumumba Economy by Jackson Free Press
Support Lumumba’s legacy in Jackson, Mississippi:
Jackson Rising New Economies Conference: Keep the legacy of Compañero Chokwe Lumumba alive by supporting the New Economies Conference in Jackson, MS on May 2-4, 2014. “The primary objective of the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference is to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to build cooperatives and worker owned enterprises to meet the economic and sustainability needs of the community. In the process, we aim to expand the discussion about alternative economic models and systems and to confront the harsh economic realities confronting low-income and impoverished communities.”
Support the Jackson Rising New Economies Conference and the Grassroots Economic Series with a donation. Help make Jackson, Mississippi a center of economic democracy where jobs have dignity, stability, living wages, and quality benefits. Click here to help Jackson Rise or mail your financial contribution payable to Community Aid and Development Inc. Please specify “Jackson Rising” in the notes section of your check and mail donations to Community and Development, Incorporated P.O. Box 361270, Decatur, GA 30036-1270.
The Lumumba family is requesting financial assistance for the Celebration of Life fund. This fund will cover family fees related to the home going services for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. Donations can be made on line at www.cadnational.org Just look for the link on the page for donation to the services. Donations by mail can be made payable to Community Aid and Development and mailed to the address on the website.
NCBL (National Conference of Black Lawyers) has made a separate request, also on behalf of the Lumumba family, to cover the cost of an independent autopsy. Donations can be made to that effort via Paypal by going to paypal.com sending your donation to the email email@example.com.
February 20, 2014Posted by on
I arrived last Wednesday in Caracas, during the peak of Venezuela’s right wing protests. Responding to the call for a “salida” by the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, right wing students took to the streets burning educational and public institutions. The right is co-opting the “salida” – what was once a form of peaceful protest practiced by the left social movements against the dictatorial government of the past. I heard protesters banging on pots and pans out in the streets [a common form of protest by the right in Venezuela during the failed coup against Hugo Chávez Frías in 2002]. Relatively few people came out to protest but the next day they had murdered 3 people including a compañero from the 23 de enero collective, a historically militant and left collective in Caracas.
The next day I paid my respect to comandante Hugo Chávez at the cuartel where his body lies, and stopped by the 23 de enero to witness the funeral ceremony of the compañero who was killed by Wednesday’s protest. The community members were outraged both by their loss and the continuing violence that was being inflicted by the right throughout the country during the commemoration period of Chávez [one year after his death] and celebrations honoring the youths historic contribution to the revolution. As usual the US corporate backed media were reporting straight out lies that those who died were either from the right or cubans who died a long time ago that the Maduro government was trying to frame as recent deaths.
Despite the violence, tens of thousands of people marched the streets of Caracas on Saturday responding to President Maduro’s call for peace, reaffirming that the Venezuelan people’s support for the revolution was strong and that they wont be instigated into the right wings desperate attempt to destabilize the country. In fact post Maduro’s election and Capriles’s loss the right has been divided, and Leopoldo Lopez who instigated this protest is one of the many who are vying to take leadership inside the divided right. Some see this as his attempt to raise his profile as a leader.
December 18, 2013Posted by on
by Edgar Franks, Community to Community Development, Bellingham, WA
Food Sovereignty is the right for everyone to have access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food. It is a human right that should not be commodified. The people’s right to survive and live in a dignified way is being stripped away by transnational corporations in the name of the “free market” and for profit driven motives, not to feed and sustain the people nor the land or waters that people care for. In the World Trade Organization (WTO) model, expanding markets and profits drive the agriculture industry throughout the world. With corporate agriculture, resources are becoming scarcer and the exploitation of peasant farmers and landless people worsens. What happens is that people who were once farming for their village, community, and family are forced to give up that way of life because the global “free market” has made them expendable. The connection to the land that sustains them gets broken. The corporate model of producing food is unsustainable and is destroying the fabric of community including our relationship with our planet.
With the new WTO Bali package, it is clear that the right to food will be even more deeply threatened in many emerging countries and the WTO will continue the trend of displacing small farmers and hurting the environment. In the United States, farming is heavily subsidized by tax dollars and more and more it is moving towards industrialization. Subsidized agriculture is a luxury that farmers throughout the Global South do not have. For farmers in Southeast Asia, having access to local buyers and consumers is what keeps local agriculture and families alive. The WTO and free trade agreements restrict nations from helping their own farmers, and producers from aiding their local food systems. WTO policies prefer countries to import food that could otherwise be produced by its own people, within its own borders. Read more of this post
December 12, 2013Posted by on
By Jose Bravo, Just Transition Alliance and Sha Grogan-Brown, GGJ
The week of action to End the WTO in Bali was truly a historical moment; we were up against the pillars of rampant greed and destruction. It had been 14 years since the Seattle WTO meeting and along the way we have been persistent in the fact that globalization has only brought us misery and despair. While we were in Bali, our delegation witnessed the atrocious “Bali Package” come into affect, which will have severe impacts on communities across the world.
The “Bali Package” Jeopardizes our Future
“Today, the WTO tries to revive itself and bring back credibility to its delegitimized institution, by producing a Bali Package that jeopardizes our future.” said Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. “It takes away our right to food sovereignty by limiting agricultural policies and tying our hands into an expansive Trade Facilitation deal.”
The “Bali Package” was what the WTO meeting in Bali boiled down to, and while many countries were originally blocking the package, we saw them fall under the pressure of capitalism. Some countries were offered to be the new strategic sites for the war on terror and security hubs with new military bases and infrastructure enticements. Others were just offered to be the new and improved product assembly nations for the developed nations. Nothing was off the barter table, not even ending the embargo on Cuba. The alarming agreement on Trade Facilitation makes it easier Transnational Corporations (TNCs) to maximize their profit and opens trade borders in all member countries except Cuba, reinforcing the 60-year long US blockade against Cuba. For the majority of the meetings, Cuba and other countries in the Latin American bloc held a strong veto against the Trade Facilitation Agreement as they pushed for a challenge to the US embargo. In the end, an empty clause was added to the declaration and Cuba dropped the veto, but the reference to the non-discrimination principle of Article V of the GATT (General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade) is not written into the Trade Facilitation agreement and remains pure rhetoric with no promise of ending the blockade.
From the start of the talks India held international attention as they pushed to protect their food subsidy program that feeds over a third of the nation. However after multiple negotiations they ultimately accepted a peace clause and allowed the agreement to go through. With the restrictions and rules applied, the peace clause essentially only applies to India and is not an option for developing countries. It is also only a temporary solution with vague promises for a longer term solution in future negotiations. “This peace clause is nonsense simply because no country should have to beg for the right to guarantee the right to food. Food and agriculture should never have been included in the WTO in the first place,” say SMAA, Gerak Lawan, La Vía Campesina and global allies in a December 7th statement.
The countries blocking the package succumbed to the pressure at the final hour. A “Bali Package” deal was reached and for us our work just doubled in magnitude and became more entrenched. It was as shameful as usual to see the US government’s role in the “Bali Package” was that of arrogance and bullying. Read more of this post
December 12, 2013Posted by on
by Donna Truong, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
As someone still learning about our own movement in the United States, how we may increasingly strengthen our inter organizational networks, develop political analyses, and support our respective organizational efforts, I feel extremely honored and humbled to be in Bali amongst such powerful resistance against the neoliberal systems. Representatives from organizations from around the world, mostly the Asian region, brought their experiences of community power to the space, their resilience, their resistance.
Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA) have been able to mobilize a number of international and national alliances and organizations under the common platform of “Another Asia is possible and necessary.” It envisions: “A new Asia governed by its peoples. Where democracy is real. A new Asia that is sovereign and not colonized by the financial capital or divided by geopolitical interests of superpowers. An Asian society that does not follow the consumption pattern of capitalism. That respects human rights of all and the limits of our Earth System. An Asia where there is a new balance between the countryside and the city to reverse massive urban slums of rural refugees. A new Asia that has food sovereignty and that shares with the rest of the world. A new Asia that is the peaceful home of diverse cultures and nations.”
Time and time again the people have witnessed the destruction of their communities, the migration of their loved ones, the loss of traditional and indigenous cultures and crafts. Movements across Asia have been organizing their communities and their countries to fight transnational corporations and the greed of capitalism, so that they may preserve their cultures, fight back the tyranny given to TransNational Corporations (TNCs) by local governments, create alternatives to the current oppressive system touted as the only solution for the world, in the name of progress, for the future. These organizations are now coming together to form SMAA so that they may unite and fight similar battles against oppressive systems. It allows the organizations and the movement in Asia to strengthen their collective voice, to broaden perspectives on the overall context, and to relate to each other for greater solidarity. As we begin to envision an alternative system we may begin to practice the type of society, system, and alternatives we want for our world.
Specifically for Asian migrants in the United States, SMAA reminds us of the importance of pan-Asian solidarity and organizing. We must engage in each other’s struggles: To be ready in numbers for rallies and actions; to engage in political studies; and to share tactics and strategies, all for the sake of building a stronger Movement of Asian and Asian Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much of the plundering we see in Asia and the Asian pacific islands affect social dynamics in communities in the United States. It is important to see that despite the challenges and divisions provided by language and culture, our histories and the struggles of our peoples, we are facing a fight posed to the entire Asian bloc. To unite is to survive. That is the hope we have for an alternative that truly transforms our conditions and our world regardless of where we are.