Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Internat'l Seminar of Reflection and Analysis

Watch live streaming video of the 4-day event at seminariodereflexionanalisis

As we close out the Zeroes, I share with you a live video feed of "The International Seminar of Reflection and Analysis" taking place this December 30th through January 2nd in San Cristóbal del Las Casas, Chiapas at CIDECI-Unitierra (a sort of zapatista university).

This Seminar commemorates the publication of a book documenting "The First International Colloquium in Memory of Andrés Aubry... Planet Earth: Antisystemic Movements...." The Colloquium, held just over two years ago, featured interventions by a wide array of people including representatives from Vía Campesina and Brazil's MST, as well as Naomi Klein, Sylvia Marcos, Immanuel Wallerstein and a series by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

ON TO 2010!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Columbus Go Home!

HILARIOUS (and, unfortunately, NECESSARY)... Much love to this guy for bringing some historical memory to an anti-immigrant rally!

I found this video at The Unapologetic Mexican and am excited to be joining Nezua for a week-and-a-half of hard labor at the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism. Check out the other 30 students, and almost 50 faculty, and please kick in some cash to build this people-power institution. We will be working hard not only to build skills and learn together, but also to deliver original reporting AND share the curriculum on-line through viral video. So make that tax-deductible donation at The Fund for Authentic Journalism and let's make history together!

Speaking of people power, check out the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign's US Housing and Human Rights Tour (full schedule). The AEC has joined with Abahlali baseMjondolo (see this blog's recent report) and others to form the Poor People's Alliance in South Africa. In their own words:

As coordinators of the anti-eviction campaign, we are not leaders in the traditional authoritarian sense. Instead, we are like a set of cutlery. We are the tools that are there to be used by poor communities fighting against the cruel and oppressive conditions of South African society. Power to the poor people!

If you are in NYC, I know that the AEC event at the Brecht Forum, "The Post Apartheid Moment: An Evening of Solidarity with the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign," will be the place to be on Thursday night - hope to see you there!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MJB Victory Against Dawnay, Day Group

Here is the press release from Movement for Justice in El Barrio announcing final confirmation that Dawnay, Day Group is leaving East Harlem as well as the victory they've just won against them in court. Below that is an article en español from yesterday's El Diario...

For Immediate Release
Contact Juan Haro, (212) 561-0555

Most Powerful Landlord in East Harlem, Multi-National Dawnay, Day Group, Comes Crashing Down

October 14, 2009—In a battle of David and Goliath proportions, tenants and members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio fought back against the attempts of the multi-billion dollar London-based corporation Dawnay, Day Group to push low-income families from their homes.

Thousands of East Harlem tenants have just been notified that the 47 buildings they reside in have been seized, due to Dawnay, Day’s failure to pay its massive outstanding debts, and are now under receivership, completing the demise of this multi-national company, a powerful threat to the community of El Barrio.

The multinational corporation that had scooped up 47 buildings in East Harlem, controlling one of the largest private property collections in Manhattan and by far the largest in East Harlem, is going down. Worldwide, Dawnay, Day has fallen victim to its own greed and is selling off its properties to cover its debt.

The East Harlem community has outlasted the giant through a multi-pronged strategy of resistance. This news comes close on the heels of a ground breaking legal victory in a case filed by Movement for Justice in El Barrio concerning thousands of dollars in false charges that were tormenting low-income tenants. Through this case, Movement for Justice in El Barrio partnered with Manhattan Legal Services and NEDAP to employ the innovative use of consumer protection laws for the first time in the housing arena with great success. Members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio just signed a settlement that will benefit thousands of tenants by putting an end to the practice of charging tenants thousands of dollars in false and illegal charges, instituting a new 3% cap on late fees for all tenants, and the plaintiffs receiving monetary damages, among other victories.

When Dawnay, Day became the most powerful landlord in East Harlem with their immense purchase, they announced in an interview with the Times of London their plan to take advantage of lax tenant protection laws in NYC to raise rents by "tenfold", a massive rent hike that would only be possible by evicting the current low-income and immigrant families from their homes. Again, they made their intentions explicit when they launched their “Buy-back Program” and began pushing tenants to abandon their apartments for a lump sum of $10,000. They coupled what amounts to measly and misleading offers in today’s NYC rental market with severe harassment in the form of dangerous negligence to the physical conditions of the buildings and apartments and illegal efforts to collect fictitious debts. Movement for Justice in El Barrio fought back against their efforts by:

- Filing a groundbreaking legal suit and recently winning a major victory that challenged Dawnay, Day Group, for charging thousands of dollars in false fees to its tenants.

- Launching the “International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio” and traveling to London to organize action to take them on at their headquarters.

- Fighting back building by building to demand decent living conditions and halt illegal evictions and maintaining a sustained media campaign exposing Dawnay, Day’s harassment.

Movement for Justice in El Barrio will continue the struggle for dignity and against displacement with more strength and energy than ever before.

Dawnay Day tenants will be available to conduct media interviews.

To arrange interviews call Movement for Justice in El Barrio at 212-561-0555.


Casero negligente pierde viviendas
El Diario NY

NUEVA YORK — Después de más de dos años de luchar contra el desalojo de sus viviendas contra la corporación londinense Dawnay, Day Group, dueña de 47 edificios en El Barrio los inquilinos recibieron recientemente una noticia que los alegró: por problemas financieros, este grupo dejó de pagar su hipoteca y los inmuebles han quedado bajo el control de la Corte Suprema de Nueva York.

Harvey Fishbein, designado por la Corte como Administrador legal de los edificios, informó a los inquilinos el 29 de septiembre pasado que Dawnay, Day Group no ha estado pagando su hipoteca, y los prestamistas—el Banco de Nueva York Mellon Trust y National Association— han comenzado un procedimiento legal para ejecutar la hipoteca. “He sido designado por la Corte no sólo para colectar el alquiler, sino también para ciertas responsabilidades de mantenimiento”, comunicó Fishbein.

De acuerdo con Juan Haro, del Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, la noticia fue recibida con alegría por los inquilinos de Dawnay, Day Group, porque desde que esta corporación tomó posesión de los inmuebles, “empezó un plan bien agresivo para desalojar a los inquilinos, cobrándoles cargos falsos”.

Esta lucha, según Haro, llegó a los inquilinos a unirse, protestar e incluso demandar al casero en corte.

La noticia de la salida de El Barrio de Dawnay, Day Group se produce pocos días después de que los inquilinos ganaran una demanda contra el grupo por miles de dólares en cargos falsos a los inquilinos. Fue presentada por el Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, en asociación con los Servicios Jurídicos de Manhattan, NEDAP, pero no bajo las leyes de Vivienda, sino bajo las leyes de Protección al Consumidor.

Los inquilinos denunciaron cargos en el alquiler por gastos en mantenimiento responsabilidad del casero. “Los inquilinos recibieron compensación monetaria al ganar la demanda y, entre otros beneficios, se estableció un tope de 3% de cargos por pagos atrasados en el alquiler”, dijo Haro.

Paula Serrano, quien reside con sus dos hijos pequeños en el 328 East de la calle 106, dijo que desde que Dawnay, Day Group tomó el edificio, empezó a recibir cargos falsos de $300 y $400 por supuestas reparaciones, y su balance llegó a $2,000. “Estoy muy contenta de que se haya ido Dawnay, Day Group, porque el plan de ellos era sacarnos de aquí”, dijo.

Los inquilinos esperan que los nuevos dueños se ajusten a la ley.

Llamadas a Dawnay, Day Group no fueron contestadas al cierre.

Read More!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Homeland Hip Hop II

We're breaking down borders from Native California to Detroit,
from Iraq to Brooklyn... to Palestine.

If you are in or around NYC -or at least will be next week!- make sure to come out on Wednesday (October 21st) and Thursday (October 22nd) for two powerful events --> see full details below... but first, a Multiple Choice Question:

The first ever Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine is back and gearing up to:

a) produce a documentary about the delegation

b) release a hip hop track that was recorded during the music workshops in Palestine

c) publish the next issue of SNAG Magazine in Arabic, English, and Spanish... with the writing and photos from the indigenous and Palestinian youth this summer

d) create a section on thinkpalestineact.org focused completely on education and organizing tools for folks working on Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) campaigns within indigenous communities in North America.

e) develop and organize multimedia delegation reportbacks in the different communities, schools, and organizations that the delegates come from.

What's the answer? These kids are on the grind -> it's ALL OF THE ABOVE! Now here are those two events (in reverse chronological order):

if you made it to the first concert than you already know... and if you didn't, than make sure to get yourself to the sequel!

Thursday, Oct 22
doors at 8pm, show at 9pm
advance tickets $12, $15 at the door
@ Public Assembly (70 N. 6th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)


Invincible --> Detroit's finest... if you need convincing, check out those hot music videos at the Emergence Travel Agency.

Audiopharmacy - This is the band of one of the indigenous delegates to Palestine, Ras K'dee of SNAG Magazine.

The Narcicyst - PLEASE tell me you've seen the P.H.A.T.W.A. music video already.

PEP Youth Performers - These Brooklyn kids go hard for Palestine... it'll warm your heart :-)

Hosted by Remi Kanazi
...and DJ Oja on the 1's & 2's

Purchase tickets: publicassemblynyc.com

Proceeds from this show will go to support the hip hop group DAM in Palestine, the Palestine Education Project's work with youth in Brooklyn, and our indigenous partners throughout the U.S.

#2 Indigenous Delegation to Palestine: NYC Reportback

Wed, Oct 21

6:30pm- Reception with light food & drink
7:00pm- Reportback- live music, photos, and stories shared by Ras K'dee,
SNAG Magazine delegate visiting from San Francisco

@ the American Indian Community House (AICH)
11 Broadway in the Financial District (Take the 4,5 trains to Bowling Green). AICH is on the 2nd Floor.

Read More!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

From El Barrio to Durban

Eyewitness video from the recent attacks on the Kennedy Road Settlement and Abahlali baseMjondolo

UPDATE October 13 '09: Here's Picture the Homeless' reportback from Friday's consulate protest here in NYC.

UPDATE October 8 '09: Protest at the South African Consulate in NYC this Friday (tomorrow) from Noon to 1:30p at 333 E 38th St btwn 1st & 2nd Aves --> organized by Picture the Homeless, the Poverty Initiative, and Domestic Workers United.

UPDATE October 6 '09: Press Statement by the Kennedy Road Development Committee, Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Poor People’s Alliance

Before we get to Movement for Justice in El Barrio's message to Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Durban, please take these actions in support of their South African shack dwellers' movement at this critical moment:

1) Circulate eyewitness video coverage of the attack on the shack dwellers, which can be found at http://www.abahlali.org
2) Sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/274924944
3) Alert any press connections and send them to http://www.abahlali.org
4) Send emergency resources (even as little as $10):

Tax-exempt donations can be made by check. Please make checks payable to "South Africa Development Fund" which has promised to forward 100% to AbM and mark them for Abahlali baseMjondolo and mail to:

South Africa Development Fund
555 Amory Street
Boston, MA 02130


transfer directly to Abahlali baseMjondolo Bank account with the following details:

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement
Bank: First National Bank
Acc no: 62218884577
Branch: Umgeni Junction
Branch Code: 00200913
Swift Code: firnzajj759

Please mark payments for Abahlali baseMjondolo.

Thank you! Now here's the word from Movimiento...

Statement of Support to the Shack Dwellers Movement of South Africa
From Movement for Justice in El Barrio in New York City

To our sisters and brothers in Abahlali baseMjondolo [AbM] (Shack Dwellers Movement), the Kennedy Road Settlement in Durban, South Africa:

Greetings in solidarity on behalf of Movement for Justice in El Barrio. We want you to know that we, the simple and humble people of East Harlem, New York, are filled with rage for everything that is happening to you, our sisters and brothers, in your country of South Africa. It pains us to hear that 3 members of your community have been pronounced dead and there may be more, many are missing, and even more are seriously injured. This repression that began on the evening of Saturday September 26th, and has yet to cease, in the form of invasion and violent raids in your community are a blatant attack on democracy and the movement for the power of poor people.

It is obvious that not only are the local police behind what is happening in the Kennedy Road shack settlement, but local politicians, that are members of the state party, the ANC, as well. We know that when the Sydenham police were called, they did not respond, and that police dressed in plain clothes that were present during the attacks did nothing to stop the destruction. In addition, we know that of the arrests that have been made so far, none of the people who are part of the militia that launched this completely unprovoked attack on Saturday evening have been arrested, and that most of the Kennedy Road Democratic Committee (KRDC) is behind bars at the Sydenham Police station (including those that were not even present during the attacks because they were attending a public event nearby!).

It is obvious that the police knew about these attacks and that they support this militia that clearly wants to destroy everything the Kennedy Road shack settlement has created and stands for. And, of course, the police can do this because they know they can get away with it as they have the support of powerful local politicians who want to destroy the Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement) and KRDC because they are in the way of their political and economic control.

As we stated to you when you visited us, we stand with you sisters and brothers because we too are fighting the same system that uses vicious and aggressive strategies of displacement to remove us from our homes, only we are in different places. But no matter, we know that in all parts of the world the capitalist system and its political class from above impose these practices against the simple & humble people.

Which is why we are sharing these words from across the oceans and continents to let you know, from here in East Harlem, New York, that we are going to support you and we will do everything necessary so that this ends in favor of the South African community, so that one day in the future we all will be able to achieve our liberation.

Sisters and brothers you are not alone, we are with you and unite in one cry of dignified rebellion and rage.

Long live the dignified struggle of the Abahlali baseMjondolo!

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

Introduction to Abahlali baseMjondolo:

The Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement) began in Durban, South Africa, in early 2005. Although it is overwhelmingly located in and around the large port city of Durban it is, in terms of the numbers of people mobilized, the largest organization of the militant poor in post-apartheid South Africa. Its originary event was a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road settlement in protest at the sale, to a local industrialist, of a piece of nearby land long promised by the local municipal councilor to shack dwellers for housing.

The movement that began with the Kennedy Road blockade grew quickly and now includes tens of thousands of people from more than 30 settlements. In the last year and a half the movement has suffered more than a hundred arrests, regular police assault and ongoing death threats and other forms of intimidation from local party goons. It has developed a sustained voice for shack dwellers in subaltern and elite publics and occupied and marched on the offices of local councilors, police stations, municipal offices, newspaper offices and the City Hall in actions that have put thousands of people on the streets. The movement also organized a highly contentious but very successful boycott of the March 2006 local government elections under the slogan ‘No Land, No House, No Vote’. Amongst other victories the Abahlali have democratized the governance of many settlements, stopped evictions in a number of settlements, won access to schools, stopped the industrial development of the land promised to Kennedy Road, forced numerous government officials, offices and projects to ‘come down to the people’ and mounted vigorous challenges to the uncritical assumption of a right to lead the local struggles of the poor in the name of a privileged access to the 'global' (i.e. Northern donors, academics and NGOs) that remains typical of most of the NGO based left.

The movement’s key demand is for ‘Land & Housing in the City’ but it has also successfully politicized and fought for an end to forced removals and for access to education and the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, health care and refuse removal as well as bottom up popular democracy.

The AbM office is in a community center on Kennedy Road, located in the Kennedy Road informal settlement, and is also home of the AbM meeting hall and a childcare center. The office is the location of most AbM General Meetings as well as the meeting place for the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC). The KRDC is just one of many autonomous political organizations that function within each settlement; these organizations, often called Development Committees, constitute AbM.

Background information on the attack

1. On Saturday night members of the Kennedy Road Development Committee were subject to a surprise attack by a group of about 40 armed men chanting anti Mpondo slogans. The police failed to intervene. People were killed. Later on that night all key AbM leaders were subject to attack. Everyone's houses (and businesses in two cases where people had shops) were destroyed. This mob (now known as 'the Zulu mob' in the settlement) has direct connections to the local ANC who had promised, two weeks ago, to turn the AbM office into an ANC office.

2. The police arrived in the morning and arrested 8 people all (as far as we know - we'll only be sure who has been arrested when they appear in court this morning) are members of the KRDC – the same people who were attacked. Among the arrested are people who were performing a dance at a public event elsewhere in the city on Saturday night. Attacks and threats continued unimpeded in the presence of the police. Calls for help were ignored.

3. Thousands have fled the settlement and some individuals, all key AbM activists, are in hiding as they have been told that they will be killed. Some Xhosa and Pondo people organized themselves against 'the Zulu mob' - this was independent of AbM or the KRDC, which are multi-ethnic organizations. There may well have been counter violence from this quarter. If so it may well be accurate to characterize it as defensive.

4. On Monday morning a huge police presence descended on the settlement as the local ANC councilor and the provincial MEC for Safety and Security arrived (proving that it is easy to get the police there when the state wants them there). They spoke in the hall and offered a clear endorsement of the fact that AbM has been driven out of the settlement. Some of their statements have been recorded. They began, bizarrely, to claim that the KRDC had launched the attacks - this is a total fabrication that they will not be able to sustain, as there were many witnesses on the scene - including some who are independent of local politics. They have also denied the ethnic character of the first attack.

5. After the politicians left so did the police. The settlement was left in the hands of groups of armed men - many not know to the residents. They trashed the AbM office and banned, on the pain of death, all AbM activists and supporters as well as media from entering the settlement.

Read More!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Study Groups Roundtable

Issue #8 of Upping the Anti

Our NYC-based study group, Another Politics is Possible, participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with three other US-based radical/revolutionary study groups at the beginning of this year. The results were published in Issue #8 of Upping the Anti. Also participating in the roundtable are the LA Crew, The New York Study Group, and the (Bay Area-based) Activist Study Circles. Posting this piece now feels timely as some organizers of the latter two groups will be launching a new website, "Organizing Upgrade," tomorrow.

Thank yous are due to Dan Berger and Chris Dixon for pulling this roundtable together and to Upping the Anti for allowing us to publish it for the first time online here at zapagringo. And by the way, that fine Canadian "journal of theory and action" has been doing some crucial work in supporting the development of fresh, radical political thought here on Turtle Island for over four years now (Enter the Intergalactic was featured back in Issue #3!) and deserves our support.

Navigating the Crisis: A Study Groups Roundtable
by Dan Berger and Chris Dixon

Our moment is marked by both crisis and possibility. Economies are plunging worldwide, and ecosystems are in undeniable danger. State repression is expanding, and the US, Canada, and Israel continue to wage wars of occupation. In this context, the recent US presidential election tapped into a reservoir of popular energy for change. However, mass movements in North America continue to be relatively demobilized. The left itself is in crisis and lacks clearly defined visions and strategies. Although progressive sympathies now run high, progressive options – let alone radical ones – are few.

Radicals thus face urgent questions: How do we understand the current conditions and develop a revolutionary politics appropriate to them? How do we foster mass movements that can exceed “politics as usual” and burst into new fields of action? How do we create strategies that can activate popular sentiments? And how do we build organizations capable of advancing movements and consolidating gains?

One way that activists and organizers wrestle with these issues is through study groups – intentional spaces for critical and collective reflection. Study groups are a hallmark of the left. Previous periods of crisis, like the 1930s and 1970s, compelled radicals to jointly investigate theoretical and practical models of revolutionary struggle. Often, these investigations led to new organizations or campaigns. Similarly, the current crises have generated several formations that intentionally use study to advance political priorities and explore organizational forms. The following roundtable brings together four such groups in the United States:

Another Politics is Possible (APP) is a group of organizers and activists in New York City. Their core values include collective leadership, democratic self-determination, challenging all systems of oppression, and centering the experiences of people most targeted by these intersecting systems.

The Activist Study Circles (ASC) is a multi-tendency socialist study group in the Bay Area. It brings together Marxists, anarchists, and revolutionary nationalists committed to a racial, economic, social, and gender justice anti-imperialist politics and to building power in oppressed and working class communities.

LA Crew (LAC) is a collective that was brought together by a shared commitment to learn lessons from all of the rich traditions of liberatory resistance, and to engage others with their analysis and principles. The LAC studies, analyzes, experiments, and creates community through collectively agreed upon political work and shared principles.

The New York Study Group (NYSG) is a network of activists and organizers, mostly people of color, based in diverse communities and organizations in New York City. Since 2005, NYSG has been studying left organizational forms – mainly revolutionary parties and united fronts – and strategy.

These groups represent different, if overlapping, political strands. The tensions between their approaches, in turn, point to key unresolved questions concerning leadership, organization, and politics. Regarding leadership: Are leaders elected, established, or developed? Is leadership about exercising authority, manifesting group decisions, or about developing collective power? Regarding organization: Should we be oriented toward a revolutionary party or set of parties, or should we discard the party model altogether? Can the party model co-exist with other models of revolutionary organization? Is a revolutionary organization committed to seizing power, redefining it, or something else entirely? And regarding politics: Are there important issues that we neglect by attempting to bridge multiple left tendencies, or do our political differences obscure common ground? These questions are not resolved here. Responses to these questions, meanwhile, expose differences not just of definition but of emphasis. Each group believes in building revolutionary organization(s), developing inter-left unity, and popularizing radical politics, yet they prioritize them differently.

The groups participating in this roundtable attempt to engage the perennial question – what is to be done? – by drawing upon an eclectic set of politics. The commitment to such politics varies: the NYSG draws explicitly from Marxist-Leninist history, APP looks to anti-authoritarian social movements like the Zapatistas, and the ASC and the LAC each work in their own way to bridge the divide. Despite these differences, all four draw from a range of tendencies on the revolutionary left, recognizing that whatever we build must both learn from and be different than what has come before. They suggest that, in responding to today’s conditions, we must try to avoid the mistakes that revolutionaries of all stripes – Marxist and anarchist, revolutionary nationalist and identity-based – made in the past.

At their best, these study groups offer lodestars – orienting concepts rooted in practices – that we can use as we grapple with the pressing questions of our time. This roundtable thus sets a foundation for the kind of non-sectarian and principled debate we so urgently need.

Tell us about the origins of your study group.

APP: Another Politics is Possible first came together at the end of 2006 as a New York City-based study group of 15 organizers, activists, educators, dreamers, and revolutionaries committed to a collective process of self-education and political articulation.

We came together because of a shared practice. Many of us were already working in organizing projects and collectives to implement some aspects of the core principles that brought us together as APP. We were doing work on gendered violence, education, queer and youth organizing, childcare and community building primarily as members of immigrant and women of color organizations.

One of our primary intentions was to articulate a practice – a way of doing politics – that values collective leadership, seeks democratic self-determination for all people, and centers the experiences of people most targeted by the intersecting systems of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy and their multiple permutations.

Building on this commitment, we align ourselves with those who argue that engaging state power is not enough. Drawing from the lived experience of decolonized states and from women of color feminist critique, we’ve seen that it’s not just a question of who holds power but also what form that power takes. We’ve learned from history that when seizing state power is the primary strategy, it often ends by confirming Audre Lorde’s sage wisdom that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” We must work to reclaim, reimagine, and rebuild our own home. Creating liberatory forms of social organization beyond the state is a necessity. Attempts to model the society we envision transform our cultures and relationships, and create a guide for our politics and organizing. This prefigurative sensibility, popular in many of today’s movements, has deep historical roots worldwide. These include forms of resistance that are often overlooked by traditional left analysis and range from communities of care to the transformative role of culture and spirituality in larger scale organized movements.

Some of the political questions we believe are fundamental to exploring different possibilities for revolutionary organization are: How do we both transform our interpersonal relationships and build broader cultures of liberation? What does collective leadership and democratic self-determination look like? How do we make sense of the many strategies to engage with the state as we seek liberation? How do we understand the process and significance of rebuilding community? How do we really build a movement that addresses the intersectionality of oppressions?

ASC: In the late 1990s, many longtime Bay Area organizing efforts were coming to fruition. They brought a broad range of people together around radical left politics and practice. September 11 changed the context of our struggle. Over the next few years, many of us brought our organizations and communities into the streets as part of the anti-war movement. During that period, leaders from different parts of the Bay Area left began conversations on building a broader socialist unity drawing from multiple traditions. This included communists developing new approaches to democratic organizing, grassroots power, and strategy, and anarchists developing new approaches to leadership, revolutionary politics, and anti-authoritarian organizing. In late 2003, a group of 30 of us from 20 organizations came together to think about what the Bay Area movement lacked and what we thought was needed. Out of that discussion a committee formed to plan a project called Movement Generation that brought together leaders in community-based organizations from different political traditions (Marxist, revolutionary nationalist, feminist, and anarchist) to engage in a nine-month study to develop strategy and guide our struggles. Through this process evolved a multi-trend movement building approach.

From this experience, a group of us decided in 2005 that we needed a study group to foster relationships and political unity in order to build left organization. Our planning committee met for about two years. We developed trust between us and trust in our ability to play a meaningful role in building a dynamic left. We then invited more than 100 people to participate and 80 of these went on to form the ASC program. We meet once a month in large groups, and then once a month in smaller groups to delve deeper into subject matter. We have continued as a group of about 40. The study group began as, and continues to be, majority people of color, majority women, and a large percentage queer. To help create an intergenerational movement, we invited some older-generation comrades to participate. Most of us are in our late twenties to early 40s, with the majority in our 30s. We are multi-trend socialists (anarchists, Marxists, feminists, revolutionary nationalists, etc.) with demonstrated unity on key issues like anti-racism/anti-imperialism, the need for grassroots peoples’ organizations to build powerful democratic movements, the need for a synthesis of left politics, and a desire to develop new politics and forms of organization.

LAC: Those of us who first began studying together had come to the conclusion that no single political trend had found the answer to creating the change we are fighting for. We concluded that every trend had lessons for us, both in their victories and in their failures. We came together to look at these trends and to determine what principles and strategies felt useful for leftists today.

The question of leadership has been central to our growth. Drawing from anarchist and horizontalist models, we hold each other accountable to the principle of non-hierarchy by “throwing power back.” When we “throw power back,” we commit to being “leaders” that inspire others to see themselves as agents capable of making social change, and to see their most important role as developing others to participate in making that change. We believe that everyone has the ability to learn from history and to participate in creating collective visions for the future.

Like Ella Baker said, “strong people don’t need strong leaders.” We see our group as a location to build strong people so they can in turn develop others to do the same. People have different levels of experience when it comes to reading, engaging with political ideas, and organizing. Because we want to create a space that’s not dominated by the most “experienced” people, we aim for an equitable distribution and rotation of tasks and responsibilities. We encourage each other to take on roles that challenge us to grow in areas where we don't have much experience, and have a buddy system for supporting each other’s development outside of meetings. We consciously challenge all the societal messages that tell us that “someone else is the leader.”

NYSG: After a March 2006 discussion at the Brecht Forum on the need for a left party, five young activists and organizers from New York City came together to initiate a study group around the question of left organization. That first year of study brought together about 20 or 30 folks from diverse sectors of the social justice movement. Most of us were people of color in our 30s, politically active for more than a decade in a range of community-based organizations, and not ideologically fixed – some influenced by Marxism, some by anarchism, many agnostic or still figuring it out.

We started by studying the theories of the “united front” and the “revolutionary party,” and by looking at the history of struggles in South Africa and the United States, and at new organizational models in Mexico and Brazil. During this first round, we found that we had some significant differences about the “revolutionary party” model. These tended to arise between autonomists, who wanted to discuss alternative organizational forms, and people from a range of ideological positions (Marxist, revolutionary nationalist, and “agnostic”) who believed that revolutionary parties were necessary.

The participants who were compelled by the idea of a revolutionary party decided to initiate a second round of study. About 30 people came together to explore different historical models of revolutionary parties, learn from their contributions, and engage with their historical errors without abandoning them. This round of study was guided by two questions. First, what is our vision for a left organization/party that will help build a successful liberation movement in the United States? Second, how do we most effectively advance movement-building and left-building: by joining an existing left organization, initiating a new one, or something else?

At the end of this round of study, no individual from our study group chose to join an existing socialist organization, and no one argued for starting a new party. However, we all agreed that it was important to continue working with existing left organizations and invest in transitional projects that would lay a stronger groundwork for the re-emergence of a more relevant left organization in New York City.

In framing the objectives of our study, we skipped over a crucial step. We found that we couldn’t figure out what kind of left organization we needed or how we might build one without a clear assessment of our political conditions and a strategic vision for the development of a successful revolutionary movement. We realized that we needed to re-open our study process and engage questions of strategy. That is the focus of our studies and dialogues over the next year.

What texts and movements have been instrumental to your study group?

APP: When we came together, we sought to locate our group in a historical and theoretical trajectory. Given what was happening in the world, we also sought to articulate what form our politics would take at a mass level.

Some of the texts we’ve read have focused on movements like the Adivasi of India, the Unemployed Workers Movement in Argentina, the Movimento Sem Terra in Brazil, the Zapatistas in Mexico, and the Black Freedom Movement in the United States. The critique of the not-for-profit industrial complex promoted by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence provided an important lens through which to think about the weakened state of social justice movements in the US.

We have prioritized politics that are prefigurative, horizontal, autonomous, and based on the development of new social relations. Each of the movements we studied has also addressed the non-material dimensions of oppression, which include the ways it impacts our individual and collective emotional lives and the damage we inflict on each other and on ourselves. Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, and Audre Lorde have reflected extensively upon the ways that the oppressor’s tactics permeate our interpersonal relationships and psyches. They have thus served as important examples of the need to integrate healing and self-care within a collective framework into our broader movement work.

ASC: Initially, the planning committee studied Martha Harnecker’s essay “Forging a Union of the Party Left and the Social Left.” Harnecker convincingly describes the need for anti-capitalists from the Party Left and social movements to come together and develop a new socialist politics together. For us, the Party Left includes traditional Left Party organizations as well as cadre organizations of various political stripes, like the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Most of us come from the grassroots organizations, campaigns, and struggles of the social movement left.

We developed our study by voting on various case studies and themes. As a multi-trend group, it was important to us to select a set of case studies and readings that would help us to learn what we could take from each tradition. We began with an examination of the current moment. Studying the state of US imperialism, we took stock of our role as first-world leftists and discussed our visions of socialist politics for this century. From that grounding, we began looking at case studies of revolutionary organizations in various historic periods. We studied Guinea-Bissuea’s national liberation struggle, which was very important to revolutionaries of previous generations but not so well known to radicals of our generation. We studied the Zapatistas’ historical development and their contributions to current movements. This launched a larger discussion about Zapatismo and its applicability to the US. We explored the complex organizing strategies of the Communist Party in the US South during the Great Depression and the roles of the left in united fronts.

Our final case study focused on STORM in the Bay Area and the national Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation. This allowed us to look at organizations from the 1990s in which some of us had been involved and brought us to a rich discussion on the role of contemporary third-world Marxist and anti-authoritarian/anarchist organizations. Through all of these studies, we’ve tried to highlight both the successes and shortcomings of social movements in order to draw lessons for today.

LAC: We want to understand the whole diverse history of revolutionary movements – not just to develop our own theoretical foundation but to understand what other folks are drawing from and to develop our own critiques of different political trends. As the history of the 20th century shows, we don’t think that any one trend “got it right.” Nevertheless, many have something to contribute to a revolutionary politics for the 21st century. In our study, we try to grapple with the tension between useful insights, and limitations, obstacles, and contradictions. Within that framework, we study texts from the classical marxist tradition (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Gramsci, etc.), third world marxism and revolutionary nationalism, Maoism, and the New Communist Movement, anarchist and autonomista movements, US people of color liberation movements, feminist and queer liberation movements, the Earth liberation movement, and others.

We also try to look at everything through the lens of what we call “unbreakapartability.” Because oppressions are intersectional and affect all of us in complex and overlapping ways, the many forms of struggle for human liberation cannot be broken apart. An unbreakapartable approach aims to reveal that, as whole people, our struggles must reflect our whole selves. As well, unbreakapartability calls on us to learn from the vision and organizational forms of multiple struggles so we can build a truly integrated liberation movement.

NYSG: We studied the “classics” of Marxist thinking on the revolutionary party and united front (Lenin’s What is to be Done?, Gramsci’s political writings, and Mao’s speeches on the United Front), looking to draw out the often-ignored dynamism and democratic thinking underlying these texts. We felt that Lenin and Gramsci demonstrated the important role of parties, the need to root those parties in popular struggles, and the possibility for a deeply democratic orientation.

Among the contemporary analytical pieces that we read, Harnecker’s “Forging a Union of the Party Left and the Social Left” stands out. Harnecker distinguishes between the “party left,” who are organized into explicitly socialist left organizations and parties, and the “social left” (which we have re-termed the “social movement left”), who are rooted in mass movements rather than socialist parties or organizations. She points out that both “lefts” have their own assets and challenges. She argues that we will only be able to build an effective left rooted in powerful social movements if we forge a “union” of these two “lefts.” This approach helped us to identify the central role of building vibrant social movements that can help to reinvigorate the “party left” in the United States.

In our studies, reading history was just as important as theory. We found the history of the U.S. Communist Party in the 1930s to be particularly helpful. The mass scale and revolutionary orientation of the CPUSA during that period inspired us to think bigger. We saw that revolutionaries need to be deeply rooted in mass struggle and guided by a clear strategy. We learned that revolutionary parties played an instrumental role in almost every serious revolutionary movement over the past century and that many of those parties made serious anti-democratic errors. We saw that revolutionaries needed to be deeply rooted in working class communities of color but that we also needed to build functional unity with broader social forces in order to contend for real power. Finally, we learned that cross-class and multi-racial alliances encounter serious pitfalls.

Has your group worked together politically beyond study? How has your study process affected your political practice?

APP: In the summer of 2007, we organized a delegation called “Another Politics is Possible: Living the Vision from Below and to the Left” to travel from NYC to Atlanta to attend the first US Social Forum (USSF). This delegation was the first time we worked together on a larger scale. We sought to embody the politics we had been articulating together through the journey itself. Instead of choosing a few individuals to travel by plane and renting hotel rooms for them alone, we raised funds so that more than 70 women of color, mothers, children, youth, and childcare volunteers could attend the USSF. Ground transportation enabled more participants to attend, particularly immigrants and families with children.

We also used the USSF to collaborate with groups from around the country that had been exploring similar politics. Together, we created a 25-session track of workshops addressing topics like collective and non-hierarchical approaches to organizing, addressing violence against women of color through transformative justice, alternatives to institutional schooling, solidarity work, and community-generated visions and practices of autonomy. Several of the people we worked with on this track were beginning to form or were already participating in local study groups. Since the USSF, APP has teamed up with these study groups to engage in continued collaboration and dialogue.

ASC: Although we have moved away from the goal of forming an organization, we remain focused on building relationships and shared understandings to build the left. We put organization building on the back burner because of the need to bring together a large group of people engaged in many different areas of work. While we have unity on the political principles of the group, the level of experience working together varies widely.

We want to create space for discussions about larger questions of strategy and left organization. For example, many of us believe in the need to both build new forms of liberatory power and win existing power. However, what that means for organizational strategy is a question we want to explore. We are looking at various organizational forms because we believe there is much to be learned from both the Zapatista fight against neo-liberalism and the Communist Party campaigns during the Great Depression.

The ASC is not currently designed to take collective action. However, as individuals involved in other struggles, we have come together though long-term alliances, new campaigns, electoral work, fundraisers and cultural events, and new friendships. We hope the ASC will continue to foster a healthy left culture and allow us to find creative and meaningful ways to share common vision, analysis, and strategy so that we can move more effectively together.

LAC: After studying together for a few years, we formed a new collective, instead of joining an existing one. This was because we didn’t see an organization that was drawing on multiple movements and deeply incorporating lessons from different trends. Our priority is building grassroots movements that can give masses of people the skills and vision required to transform the world. It is critical for us to find others who are committed to long-term movement building so that we can deepen our consciousness together. We believe in doing this within collective organization, where we can practice accountability and cross-sector coordination. Ultimately, this coordination should happen nationally and internationally as we have begun to see with the emergence of collectives that demonstrate how “another politics is possible” in the 21st century.

Within the LA Crew, we organize in education, healthcare, immigration, and the garment industry. We discuss our individual work collectively and look for opportunities to work across sectors. We are guided by six core principles: unbreakapartability, non-hierarchy, self-determination, experimentation, acknowledgement of our whole humanity – what we call “mind/body/spirit” – and dual power. This last concept flows from the history of popular movements creating alternative institutions that pose a revolutionary challenge to the system and lay the groundwork for a new society.

Our commitment to these principles shapes what we study and what we study shapes our practice. Our interest in dual power led us to study the Zapatista movement, which sparked questions about state power and the limits and benefits of dual power institutions. This impacted our thinking on the healthcare sector. Is it better to create small, model institutions or make demands on the state to provide universal access? How do we encourage people to think about the healthcare system they want while also taking advantage of opportunities to make system-wide changes?

NYSG: At the end of our second round of study, we were invited to help plan the Revolutionary Work in Our Times Summer School. Co-sponsored by Solidarity, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, the LA Crew, and the NYSG, this four-day gathering brought together almost 200 revolutionaries and radicals from across the U.S. (along with small delegations from Puerto Rico and Canada) in August 2008.

Helping plan the summer school reflected our conclusion that we need to overcome the history of sectarianism on the left and build unity among those committed to radical transformation of society. Based on the assessment that the “social movement left” has an important role to play in building a stronger left, we worked hard to recruit our comrades from social movement organizations to be participants and presenters. We hope the relationships people built through the school will provide a groundwork for developing the broad-based, movement-rooted, and ideologically diverse left organization we need today.

How has your group changed based on the challenges you've encountered while studying together?

APP: The successes, challenges, and limitations of our delegation to the USSF have greatly informed our second cycle of study and the ways we organize ourselves today. The experience of large-scale participatory democracy allowed us to engage our principles in practice. Our commitment to praxis left us with a series of new questions. Central themes that emerged included coordination, leadership, structure, organization, and transformative community building.

At the level of coordination, we’ve found it necessary to clarify that non-hierarchical-organizing doesn’t mean a free-for-all or a disavowal of power dynamics. On the contrary, horizontal organizing requires intentional structure and coordination to directly address the different experiences and knowledge that people bring with them. While many of us have addressed these issues in our own collectives, we realized the need to develop a tighter and more transparent structure for APP.

Coming together for our initial round of study, many of us shared critiques concerning the patriarchal nature of the “charismatic” and individualized styles of leadership that have dominated many traditional forms of left organizing. As we grew, the need for a pro-active definition of leadership became increasingly clear. One of our current goals is to articulate an alternative leadership that emphasizes deep listening, actively nurturing a culture of participation in which everyone feels that their voice is valuable, and being cognizant of how power dynamics impact participation and emotional well-being.

ASC: It’s difficult to create a space where our different socialisms can grow like flowers instead of like weeds choking the life out of each other. However, through the years of practice in our various organizations, through Movement Generation, and now through the ASC, we are developing left culture and practice that draws from our different strengths. As the ASC, we changed our goals on organization building as many of us had little experience collaborating with one another. We quickly learned that there was much to be done in terms of building our theoretical foundation and our capacity for political study. Despite these challenges, our primary goals of relationship building and bringing together larger segments of the left continued.

We struggle to simultaneously comprehend what we are studying and to draw meaningful lessons. While trying to see shortcomings in past experiences, it’s important that we understand the conditions that impacted the decisions made in order to avoid sloppy and simplistic conclusions. We need to develop methods to understand our own conditions and possibilities. We need to remain humble and grounded when learning from the past and assessing political work today.

At times, people have critiqued the material we’ve read as being from one tradition or another. This has led the planning committee to ongoing solicitation of input from the membership. We’ve also struggled to maintain momentum and participation. In particular, while the ASC remained majority people of color, most of the people dropping off were people of color. Many have said that it was due to time pressures with their other work. We were also told that more follow up and reminder calls would help. The challenge remains creating participatory democratic processes when so many have so little time to participate. The planning committee of five recently expanded to eleven. We did this to build more leadership and increase participation, as we work to find a good balance between the planning committee moving the group forward and the larger group providing direction and focus.

How we work together is a critical part of the learning process. It’s where we can experiment with the kinds of leadership and organization we need.

LAC: One challenge we’ve faced is getting people to feel comfortable reading and understanding difficult, primary source material – reading Lenin as opposed to reading a book about Lenin. People are sometimes challenged by the language and the references to people, groups, and events they don’t know about. We also face the challenge of making such study accessible to non-English speakers, people with children, and people not accustomed to study and reading as a form of learning.

We’ve tried addressing these challenges by reading “easier,” newer things first, by creating activities that encourage drawing as a way of exploring ideas, and by using visuals for the material we cover. We also check in with people one-on-one as they are reading, before the group actually meets, to offer support and an opportunity to ask questions. Within the study group sessions, we use smaller break out groups to give people a chance to ask questions and “warm up” before large group discussion.

We’ve also found it important to incorporate our principle of mind/body/spirit into the study group process. This has meant giving people an opportunity to hear each other’s stories, and creating a space where feelings have as much value as intellect. This seems to allow people to feel more comfortable. They take more risks in the statements they make and the questions they ask.

NYSG: We’ve struggled with the fact that our participants come with very different degrees of theoretical and historical knowledge. This is somewhat, though not absolutely, related to differences in educational background and pre-existing familiarity with explicitly left theory. It was difficult to find methods that would ensure that people were clear on the fundamentals and also challenge everyone to go deeper. We’ve worked hard to make our group accessible by combining training on fundamentals with critical engagement using both popular education and presentation-discussion formats. We’ve also invited people from different socialist organizations to help us unpack certain histories and theories. We’ve encouraged all participants to help plan at least one session, and have shared childcare costs.

Our study group has struggled with the tension between our ambition to build a stronger left and the fact that the many demands we face keep our level of capacity low. We also struggle to ensure that our study remains connected with the organizing work of our members. To deal with these tensions, we are currently working to develop a new structure that will alternate between smaller study groups (or “grupitos”) based in our members’ mass work and large group studies.

In light of the deepening economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama, how is your study group thinking about the organizational and strategic demands of the current moment?

APP: In other regions of the world, we are able to identify truly transformative movements coordinated across issues, sectors, and communities. In Latin America, we take inspiration from the Zapatista-initiated Other Campaign, the powerful movements transforming Bolivia with and beyond the Morales government, and the Landless Workers’ Movement of Brazil as it moves toward creating alliances with urban movements in response to the neoliberal policies of the Lula administration.

As of yet, there is no radical movement with such broad and deep roots here in the US that is either positing or building viable alternatives in the face of a worsening world-economic crisis. This is what we want to create. Today, there are more possibilities for democracy, justice, economic equality, and ecological sustainability than ever before. The deepening economic crisis has led to a generalized understanding that we need a new system. The Obama administration’s response to some early mobilizations against the crisis suggests that more concessions can be won. The risk of cooptation, on the other hand, is much higher now than it was under the previous administration. The problems we face are global, however, and it is at this scale that we must ultimately be able to coordinate ourselves, both to fight back and to create new social relations.

ASC: We need a new kind of politics. This involves learning from the past but also looking at the moment in which we live. Socialisms of various sorts are in power again in Latin America. Anarchism and horizontalism is alive and well from occupied factories in Argentina to collectivized workplaces to Zapatista struggles. It’s important to take direction from many quarters – from Freedom Road Socialist Organization, to community-based organizing in the Right to the City Alliance, to the Zapatistas – and try to draw together important lessons and insights that are relevant to our struggles.

Through our experience, we’ve come to face the question of how can we build a left that deserves to lead – a left that provides space for people to grow, study, heal, and get trained to build healthy self-governing communities that can transform society. This is happening throughout the country in thousands of organizations and projects. However, there is a tremendous need to create formal spaces to push to the next level. Many of us lack tools to make sense of the world around us. Many of us lack historical knowledge of our movements. We are struggling to move beyond comfortable left positions and place our revolutionary goals in the conditions we face. Our goal is not to be a marginal radical pole but to radically transform society.

As we begin our second round of study, we are focusing on national politics and strategy in this period of economic crisis and an Obama presidency. We are focusing on struggles for health care, immigrant rights, ecological sustainability, peace, and economic justice with the following questions: What is our vision and what are our transitional demands toward socialism? What should we be fighting for in this period? And what should left strategy be to both win immediate demands and build the power of working class and oppressed peoples? We are excited to step up to the challenges and opportunities before us, and the ASC is one space to help us do that.

LAC: We need to be flexible and encourage organizing and experimentation in many different spaces. The work we do today is like planting chamise, a brush plant native to California. When exposed to open flame, the chamise releases combustible gasses that accelerate the spread of wildfires. We can’t predict exactly when and where these fires will start, but history shows us that people do rise up. Whether these uprisings can become movements powerful enough to transform society has a lot to do with the ideas that have been put out there and the organizing that has been done ahead of time.

The widespread energy created by Obama’s election has ignited hope and inspired many people to believe in the possibility for change. We see this as an opportunity to encourage folks to engage in collective action to achieve broader changes instead of waiting for it to come from ‘above’. The radical left’s weak response to the economic crisis also teaches us that we need to break with old paradigms and experiment with new strategies for change.

Although we don’t think it’s particularly useful at this stage to develop a rigid view of which communities or sectors will be “in the lead” of future movements, our principles do guide how we prioritize where to work. Specifically, we try to make connections between different struggles. In our education organizing, we push for a vision in which the experiences and demands of teachers, students, and parents are seen as unbreakapartable. As we prepare for this year’s May 1st actions, we are emphasizing cross-sector demands that point toward a broad popular response to the economic crisis. This means moving beyond a narrow focus on immigrant rights to include demands for housing, healthcare, education, access to food, and dismantling the security state.

NYSG: We find hope in several developments on the social movement left. In the last couple of years, social movements have consolidated into national formations such as Grassroots Global Justice, the Right to the City Alliance, and the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, and – in a different vein – the US Social Forum. But while the social movement left is the site of some of the most dynamic struggles, it remains limited by its relatively small scale and lack of strategic vision. We are also limited by the weakness of the explicitly socialist left and the disunity between left organizations. We find hope, however, in the unity built through the Revolutionary Work in Our Times Summer School.

We need strong revolutionary organizations that can bring together the social movement left with the membership of already existing left organizations. In order to lay the groundwork for that level of revolutionary organization, we identified four priorities: First, community-based organizing work in oppressed communities is the most important work that revolutionaries can be doing today. More revolutionaries need to be engaged in the work to build the power of oppressed people. Second, we have to promote the broadest possible development of revolutionary leadership rooted in oppressed communities, particularly in working class communities of color. Third, we need to continuously develop and refine a systematic understanding of the world we live in and what it will take to bring about the revolutionary transformation of society. We need spaces to develop and debate revolutionary theory and strategy, and forums to coordinate their implementation. Fourth, the constitution of a revolutionary left organization for the 21st century depends on the unification of the emergent left forces from social movements with socialist organizations (which need to build a higher level of inter-group unity in order to overcome past divisions).

We recently launched a new phase of study focused on developing left strategies to address the challenges and opportunities of the economic crisis and the “Obama era.” This new focus has produced an overwhelming response and brought together more than 150 activists and organizers from around the city. We are combining both historical reflections on the high tide of resistance in New York during the Great Depression and assessments of our current conditions. This is a unique historical moment, and we hope these strategic dialogues will help us to develop the clarity we need to step up to the historic plate. We believe that if we can get more coordinated and strategic, our movements will look radically different ten years from now.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

'08-'09 Year in Review

Zapagringo began three years ago following a trip I took to cover the beginnings of the Other Campaign from Oaxaca. Inspired by the zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle (the Sexta), most of the Oaxacan organizers I met remarked that this Other Campaign they were building would "take at least ten years." And here we are three-and-a-half years since Subcomandante Marcos left the zapatista communities to tour Mexico, and four years since the release of the Sexta.

In 2006, Mexico was shaken by the Other Campaign, the Oaxaca Commune and another stolen election. In these few years that have followed, the regional, national and global organizing related to these Mexican initiatives have continued to simmer, build and transform. Some of this you'll be able to find documented here (check out the '06-'07 and '07-'08 years in review).

For zapagringo's 3rd season, I slowed to keeping a pace of one post a month to make room for all the work and changes that have taken place in my political and personal work. We started off this round with the 3rd Anniversary of the Other Campaign last September, wherein the zapatistas reaffirmed their commitment to struggle for the freedom of the political prisoners of Atenco and convoked the first World Festival of Dignified Rage.

The World Festival of Dignified Rage was held in Mexico City, the zapatista Caracol of Oventic and San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas over the last week of 2008 and the first of 2009. Here you'll find reports of activities and analysis generated in the lead up to, during and following that gathering 1,2,3,4.

It was also during this same time that Israel launched a brutal military offensive against the people of Gaza; messages and actions of solidarity rang out from Chiapas, Oaxaca, NYC and so many corners of the world. Thinking more long term and along the lines of the kind of direct connections between communities-in-struggle that is proposed in the Sexta, an initiative to link indigenous youth on Turtle Island to youth in Palestine literally took flight this year -> here's a post from a cross-struggle, solidarity-building fundraiser for the Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, as well as a link to that delegation's blog.

Some powerful zapatista-inspired thinking/practice has come out of the US as well in this past year. There's Kolya Abramsky's piece written in the days before the first World Festival of Dignified Rage. Grace Lee Boggs and crew at the Boggs Center continue to develop a powerful analysis from their home in Detroit as do the compas building El Kilombo Intergaláctico in Durham, North Carolina 1,2. There was some exploration of "science fiction from below" and, in response to the crises of the moment, the international Midnight Notes Collective put out some excellent analysis.

Moving closer to (my) home, Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) continue their organizing against displacement in East Harlem and beyond 1,2. Especially important to their participation in the Other Campaign has been their persistence in organizing for Freedom and Justice for Atenco. Amongst other actions, they held a special International Women's Day event, shut down the Mexican Consulate in NYC, and held a live cross-border press conference at this year's Allied Media Conference to raise awareness and seek freedom for Atenco's political prisoners. MJB recently published a report from this press conference, which can be found (in Spanish) here. To learn more about the people of Atenco, in their own words, check out this letter from the People's Front in Defense of the Land to the zapatistas.

Looking forward to the year ahead, we may just see the ongoing struggles in Mexico burst forth once more as rebels seize on the 200th anniversary of Mexican Independence (1810) and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (1910) to take the initiative in transforming their country. For my own part, I'm hoping to finally find some space to write again after a tumultuous past year. Perhaps a good English-language piece on all that has been going on around Atenco and the Other Campaign? Maybe some collectively written pieces from my work with Regeneración Childcare NYC, the Challenging Male Supremacy Project and Another Politics is Possible... or perhaps I'll be publishing a piece by you, dear zapagringo reader?

Although the frequency may change from time to time, this is still your channel for zapatista-inspired struggle on Turtle Island and throughout the galaxy - hasta pronto, compas!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Arts of Living in Common

This talk by El Kilombo was given as part of an event at El Kilombo social center in Durham, NC, titled "Art and Revolution," held on Februrary 19, 2009 with guest speakers Fred Moten and Robin D.G. Kelley. The event was part of El Kilombo's spring 2009 speaker series: "Things Unseen: Building Autonomy in a Time of Crisis."

The Arts of Living in Common
by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

I want to expand on the presentation that was given by Kilombo at our last event by briefly proposing an additional four points which we feel directly relate to tonight’s topic and which we hope will resonate with what Robyn Kelly and Fred Moten have already said. I will make sure to be brief so that everyone has an opportunity to participate in the Q&A that will immediately follow:

1) The Way of Viewing Change From Above: Exceptionality and Appear(ing) in the Given Field of the Visible.

I wanted to start giving some context to the points below by mentioning that Kilombo lives in this neighborhood that you find yourself in tonight, a neighborhood that in Spanish is known as “El Hoyo,” which I think we can translate as “the hole in the ground.” In the process of starting to learn to live in this hole in the ground Kilombo has begun to see things upside down. That is from the bottom up. But in order to better explain this I will start from the top down. Given our starting point we have begun to delineate that in the world out there, in the world up there, there is a way of viewing the issue of change, even of revolution, that we feel expresses itself simultaneously in art and politics. This vision begins with a simple premise; all movements for change should be directed outward and upward—the goal of movements for change should be to grow beyond themselves so as to eventually have the strength to “take power” and occupy the existing political and cultural institutions of our society. Power is up there and we must somehow get at it. As a consequence of this obsession with that which exists above, this vision of change has two defining characteristics; the first is that an overwhelming amount of energy is placed on appearing in the given field of the visible. Thus, the activist, the artist, the academic, and the politician all share a thirst for the various mediums of appearance; the bright lights of the media, the walls of the hip gallery, the pages of that sexy journal publication, and the microphones of the next electoral process. The goal is to organize that one protest, that one opening, to write that one article or that one special speech, that will allow you to be seen and heard by those who have not seen and heard you, believing that through the expression of opposition to existing policy there can be a change in the correlations of forces that will eventually allow you entry into those institutions up above. As a correlate, this vision of change has a second characteristic; in order to believe that it is you or your group that should be seen and heard, you must also believe that you have something to show and say that others do not. In other words, the desire to appear is always accompanied by an implicit belief that you are exceptional; unlike everyone else whose words, semblance, or images might appear, the appearance of your words, semblance or images is “different.” Your appearance, unlike all the other appearances that have come before and that will follow you in those very mediums, will produce change. In sum, for this vision from above, power is up there, and only by being led by those with the exceptional skills to appear, what we used to call the vanguard or the avant-garde, can we get there, can we get to power and use it for change.

2) The Creative Class, As Our Local Vanguard

From this hole in the ground we see our neighborhood under assault. An assault that takes various forms; one obvious form is the constant harassment of Black, Latino and poor white residents by all types of police forces, a second more subtle but yet equally effective form of assault on the life of Durham's neighborhoods has been the deployment of the discourse of art and creativity to relegate the poor residents of our neighborhood and of the city of Durham as a whole to the realm of the unproductive, to the living dead. That is, before we were sold the idea that Durham was being "revitalized" (that it was being given an injection of life) it was necessary to convince us all that somewhere along the way it had died. Part and parcel of this project has been the discourse of the "creative class" as a vanguard of sorts, a discourse that insists that our neighborhoods become interesting only when an exceptional class of artists, students, academics, and high-tech knowledge workers more generally move into the area and place their images and semblances up for display. Of course these neighborhoods weren't suffering from a lack of creativity but from the processes of white flight and suburbanization that led to an enormous disinvestment from urban neighborhoods across the country. In order to further obscure this fact, the "revitalization" of Durham has been intimately tied not only to attempts to attract "the creative class," but also to portray Durham as a city friendly to the arts more generally. Our neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods have in particular been selected as the site for an "arts corridor," a series of arts galleries, and a newly constructed Center for the arts, all sponsored by the very people who through their investment practices force the removal of Durham's Black, Latino, and poor white populations. A fact that in itself makes one wonder whether this influx of the “creative class,” wasn’t in fact the influx of a “new middle class” intended to make Durham safe, not for creativity, but for real estate speculation.

3) The Way of Viewing Change from Below: Life in Common and The Reorganization of the Sensible.

This narrative from above that has been built around the “creative class” as the agent of change in Durham has to be seen as a rather obvious attempt to invert reality. Composed primarily of a population running from those cemeteries known as suburbs, the new residents of the city are attracted to the neighborhoods that they settle in exactly because of the forms of life nurtured by their poor Black, Latino and White neighbors. The very people portrayed in the narrative of the “creative class” as unproductive. That is, anyone who has spent time in this neighborhood knows that it is teaming with life. On any given day one can walk through this hole in the ground and find: a daily pick up soccer game in the park, a tamales sale, merchandise day on Trinity Ave. with the accompanying food and music, parking lot festivals, enormous block wide barbecues, what seems to be an infinite number of apartment complex wide quinceañeras and baptisms, outdoor movie nights, neighbors planting their own stock of corn and beans in their front yard, full fledged impromptu parades up and down Geer St., and of course the endless circulation of chisme (gossip) that takes place around the Paleta cart. The point I want to emphasize here is not that these neighborhoods are entertaining, but rather, that these outward signs of conviviality are under-girded by an invisible and yet immense network of social cooperation that is simply unimaginable in other parts of the city. The very condition of exclusion from the benefits—the property and the income, although not the process, of socialized production, forces these communities into a struggle for survival. In this struggle, and having limited access to outside goods and services, these neighborhoods begin to collectively produce goods and services for themselves, and to establish rules that guarantee the equitable distribution of those items (Sudhir Venkatesh and Mike Davis). That is, in sharp contrast to the vision of change up above that places such value on exceptionality, here below it is understood that an improvement in social conditions can take place only to the extent that one accepts that one’s condition is common. Quoting Eduardo, who played for us earlier tonight, the situation down here forces us to acknowledge that in order for conditions to change in this neighborhood “we have to build a life in common and understand that within that life each of us is common.” Thus, these invisible practices of cooperation become seeds that grow inward and downward, the very seeds that today comprise Kilombo. That is, they do not seek some future point where they might appear in the given field of the visible. Rather, the logic of these seeds, of these practices, of these exercises of power, is to reinforce themselves, to intensify the experience of the new social relations that are built within them so as to enact a reorganization of the senses, so as to produce new subjects with a radically different field of vision. That is, these seeds are not content to act merely in the given, rather they tend to reach beyond and directly work on the parameters of possibility. Yet, if one has doubts of the extent or capacity of these invisible forces to intervene in the real, ask yourself, who up above was not caught by total surprise at the enormity of the events of May 1, 2006? (The day that Kilombo first opened its doors)

4) The Art of Revolution Today

Today, in the world up above, there is endless chatter about a “financial crisis,” a crisis that has no doubt bruised the new middle class, and devastated poor Black and Latino communities. Up there we’re bombarded with questions of whether we should bailout the financial sector, nationalize the banks, or reconstruct “the real economy?” In short, in the world up above, the discussion remains limited to asking what forms of knowledge will help us to rebuild the corporate and institutional ladders that have just crumbled out from underneath our feet; to rebuild the system in which artists, academics, politicians...etc. can continue aspiring to heights of visibility and exceptionality. Down here where capitalism has never been experienced as anything but a crisis, talk of the “crisis of capitalism” hardly helps to clarify the situation. Rather, down here the persistence of things unseen demands a rather different discussion, one that directly raises the question of belief. Do we believe in this world? Do we believe that this world is always and forever giving birth to another? Do we still believe in the power of the invisible? If so, and if we’re ready to act on our belief then another option begins to take shape…we must turn the world upside down, and make those invisible forms of cooperation already in motion down here the very basis for a new life, a life where there will no longer be a down here and an up there. From our perspective, from this hole in the ground, it is only these practices that open to that which is beyond the given that will allow us as artists, activists, and academics to introduce collective action and innovation back into the very heart of art and politics. In other words, for Kilombo this inversion is the art of revolution today. Anything else will be more of the same.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reports from the 2nd NYC Anti-Displacement Encuentro

photo by Karen Yi

UPDATE July 2 '09: Check out Voices of the Other New York on ZNET.

UPDATE June 15 '09: The Indypendent just posted a slideshow of the Encuentro.

Below is the report from Movement for Justice in El Barrio on their Second Encuentro for Humanity and Against Displacement. I'll link to more reports on the Encuentro at this post as they come out...

(en español abajo)

To our sisters and brothers of The People’s Front in Defense of the Land:
To our Zapatista sisters and brothers:
To our compañer@s, adherents of the Other Campaign in Mexico:
To our compañer@s adherents of the Zezta Internazional:
To our compañer@s adherents of the International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio and our allies from all over the world:

From the Other New York and zapatista East Harlem, which is not for sale and does not forget the prisoners of Atenco, receive a greeting from the women, men, and children, those socially marginalized and globally excluded, who belong to The Other Campaign New York, Movement for Justice in El Barrio:

We are writing to share with you that this past Sunday, June 7th, 2009, we held here, in zapatista East Harlem known as El Barrio, the Second New York City Encuentro for Dignity and Against Displacement, with the participation of 38 organizations representing the resistance against neoliberalism in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. This second encuentro, just as the first one – held two years ago -, was inspired by the encuentros of the Zapatistas in Mexico from below and to the left, in order to get know each other and recognize one another in our struggles for a world where many worlds fit and against neoliberal exclusion.

As The People’s Front in Defense of the Land expressed in their message sent to us from Atenco for our Second Encuentro: “One fight unites us, the fight against capitalism. It does not matter where we find ourselves, in Harlem, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Zaragoza, Sidney, Cochabamba, Paris, Manchester, the fight against all forms of domination are one and the same.” This is what we confirmed in this encuentro, where in addition to exchanging experiences and informing each other about our forms of struggle, we had the opportunity to go into depth about who we are, where we are, the conditions we face, our forms of struggle, who is our enemy, and what is our dream. We arrived at the conclusion that, just as we did in the First Encuentro, the enemy of the organizations fighting displacement is the capitalist system of global exclusion, including the fact that this system has allies who operate at a local level as tools of the system.

As our compañero Filiberto expressed, representing Movement for Justice in El Barrio:
Eviction and displacement are happening all over the world. Which is why we have to organize so that united we can destroy this corrupt system in its entirety. Here in El Barrio we have realized that the Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the city council members: Melissa Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson, and Inez Dickens do not represent the community and on the contrary support and implement aggressive plans for displacement. These politicians have approved projects that directly affect the entire community, they make the people think that they are for the development and progress of the community, but they do not publicize the bad side of their proposals… By keeping themselves in a position to fill their pockets with money, these politicians are capable of buying the people, as in the case of one of our compañeros whom Melissa Mark-Viverito offered money to in exchange for abandoning Movement and working with her, but he refused and did not sell out. But we know that certain organizations and groups do sell out and receive money from politicians and do not represent the community, also they do fake publicity stunts and promote themselves as being against displacement when everything is the contrary.

The distinct groups from New York that participated in our round table discussion echoed this reflection. Representatives from the Thomas Jefferson Houses Tenants Association, Coalition to Preserve Community, Harlem Tenants Council, Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors, and the combative group CAAAV from Chinatown were there, amongst others, including the group Make the Road New York that presented us with a skit about their struggle, with songs that spoke about the deplorable housing conditions they face and the useless or false response from the landlords and politicians.

Through this exchange CAAAV informed us that, in Chinatown, urban rezoning plans in the last year have accelerated to the point that people must remove all of their belongings and evacuate their homes within three hours. Meanwhile, in Harlem, the criminalization of being young and African American is a tactic of war against the community in order to expel them, not just from Harlem but from the entire system, since the young people who are arrested and marked with criminal records will no loner have access to basic services, such as housing, and to essential human rights, such as education. “Our young people are being killed in our streets by the police, for the single fact of being youth,” expressed our compañeros.

With respect to the subject of education, which should be free, and the repression of youth, we want to share with our fellow student and youth members of The Other Campaign the reflections concerning the rezoning plans in the surrounding area of Columbia University, which is a private university. “They tell us that the university is good, that it cooperates with the community, and that the reurbanization plans for its surrounding areas are good for the community because they will bring a safe environment. But how? As soon as neighborhoods become residential zones, along with evicting the original community members through violent means, police arrive, sieges arrive, armed detectives arrive,” expressed our compañero from the Coalition to Preserve Community in the surrounding area of Columbia University, pointing out that this has to do with a system of global exclusion. Referring to a university that promotes excluding rebellious and informed students and educating only the elites of the United States, he stated, “It is not just the elites of this country but the elites of the whole world, so it will be those who are privileged who will be displacing poor people from communities.”

For their part, the representatives of that community told us the history of Central and West Harlem and of the streets that are beginning to change due to Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to rezone the area. A fundamental part of our dialogue referred to those allies of the system: elected public officials that, in their district, try to bribe the people, and the “community boards” that first tried to fool the people into believing that the displacement will only happen with their opinion. “Meanwhile, the contracts with the big construction companies were already signed a long time ago; the government officials and the members of these community boards already know the pact is made since before: they don’t fool us,” expressed the representing organizations.

Likewise, one of the aspects of our struggle in our very own community, El Barrio, consists of dealing with cosmetic organizations that, paid for by the local government, try to confuse the community by organizing activities that don’t represent the local community, with merely theatrical effects, without any social or economic repercussions, even falsely imitating symbols of the social struggle. While they do this, they promote the political agenda of public officials that approve and impose, from above, their plans of displacement. Nonetheless, we were pleased to see that, at this second encuentro, in addition to the organizations in favor of our same cause and that were with us two years ago, many more organizations joined us as well.

In the segment of our program that followed, we showed the New York City premiere of the video that we received about the struggle in New Orleans against neoliberal displacement. As very few know, at the end of last year, the City Council of New Orleans, made up by mostly white people, not only allowed an attack, but they themselves ridiculed in front of the cameras, the protesters, members of the African American community, victims of Hurricane Katrina whose homes were demolished in order to build luxury condos. They were reprimanded, beaten, sprayed with tear gas and arrested.

We expressed our solidarity with the people of New Orleans in resistance and we reiterated our struggle is not only local, but also national. And worldwide...

It extends from New York to New Orleans and from here to Atenco, Mexico. With great excitement we read the message from our sisters and brothers from Atenco and we concluded this dialogue by showing a video about the repression in Atenco. In the video we also showed the different protests that happened in distinct parts of the world during the day of solidarity with Atenco, including the takeover of the consulate in New York on May 4th by the members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, who succeeded in entering the consulate, unfolding their signs once inside, marching, chanting loudly, demanding the liberation of the 12 political prisoners and handing out to the people in line copies of videos of the struggle of Atenco, which made the authorities shut down the Consulate.

The pain was shared, but also the solidarity and the joy of recognizing one another: of knowing that we are not alone. In closing, once again, we asked the children to break the neoliberal piñata. They broke it with force and, by doing so, found candy, just like candy are the fruits we hope to find in the end of this struggle for a world where many worlds fit, for peace and justice, dignified housing, health, and education for all, and for the liberty of political prisoners in Atenco, in Mexico, and throughout the world. Our heart is with all of you.

We are all Atenco!
Liberty for political prisoners!
Long live the Other Campaign!
And long live the Zapatista Army for National Liberation!
Movement for Justice in El Barrio.The Other Campaign New York


A nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos del Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra:
A nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos zapatistas:
A nuestr@s compañer@s, adherentes de La Otra Campaña en México.
A nuestr@s companer@s de la Zezta Internazional:
A nuestr@s companer@s adherentes a la Campaña Internacional en Defensa de El Barrio y nuestros aliados de todo el mundo:

Desde la Otra Nueva York y el Este del Harlem zapatista que no se vende y que no olvida a los presos de Atenco, reciban un saludo de las mujeres, hombres y niñ@s, los marginados sociales y excluidos globalmente, pertenecientes a La Otra Campaña Nueva York, Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio:

Les escribimos para compartir con ustedes que este domingo 7 de junio de 2009, realizamos aquí, en el Este del Harlem zapatista conocido como El Barrio, el Segundo Encuentro Nueva York por la Dignidad y Contra el Desplazamiento, con la participación de 38 organizaciones sociales representativas de la resistencia contra el neoliberalismo en Nueva York, Connecticut, Nueva Jersey, Pensilvania y Massachusetts. Este segundo encuentro, al igual que el primero -realizado hace dos años-, se inspiró en los encuentros realizados por l@s zapatistas en el México de abajo y a la izquierda, para conocernos y reconocernos en nuestras luchas por un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos y contra la exclusión neoliberal.

Como nos manifestó el Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra en su mensaje enviado desde Atenco para nuestro Segundo Encuentro: “Una lucha nos une, la lucha contra el capitalismo. No importa desde donde nos encontremos, en Harlem, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Zaragoza, Sídney, Cochabamba, Paris, Manchester, la lucha contra las formas de dominación son las mismas”. Eso fue lo que corroboramos en este encuentro donde, además de intercambiar experiencias e informarnos sobre nuestras formas de lucha, tuvimos la oportunidad de profundizar sobre quiénes somos, dónde estamos, qué condiciones enfrentamos, cuáles son nuestras formas de lucha, quién es nuestro enemigo, y cuál es nuestro sueño. Llegamos a la conclusión de que, si bien tal como nos habíamos planteado en nuestro Primer Encuentro, el “enemigo” de las agrupaciones que luchan contra el desplazamiento es un sistema capitalista de exclusión global, también es verdad que ese sistema tiene aliados que operan a nivel local como herramientas de ese sistema.

Tal como expresó nuestro compañero Filiberto, en representación de Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio:
...El desalojo y el desplazamiento está pasando en todo el mundo. Es por ello que nos tenemos que organizar para que unidos podamos derrotar a todo este sistema corrupto: aquí, en El Barrio, nos hemos dado cuenta que el alcalde Mike Bloomberg y los concejales Melissa Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson e Inez Dickens, no representan a la comunidad, y por el contrario, ellos respaldan e implementan planes agresivos de desalojo. Han aprobado proyectos que afectan de manera directa a toda la comunidad en general; ellos hacen pensar al pueblo que todo esto lo hacen para el desarrollo y progreso del pueblo, pero no anuncian el lado malo de sus propuestas... Ellos, por mantenerse en el puesto llenándose los bolsillos de dinero, son capaces de tratar de comprar al pueblo, como en el caso de uno de nuestros compañeros, al cual la concejal Melissa Mark-Viverito le ofreció dinero a cambio de que abandonara Movimiento y para que trabajara con ella, pero él se negó y no se vendió... Pero sabemos que ciertas organizaciones y grupos sí se venden y reciben dinero por parte de los funcionarios, y no representan a la comunidad; además, se hacen propaganda falsa y se promueven que están en contra del desalojo cuando es todo lo contrario.

Hicieron eco de esta reflexión las distintas agrupaciones de Nueva York que participaron en nuestra mesa redonda. Compartieron sus luchas representantes de la Asociación Inquilinaria Thomas Jefferson, de la Coalición para Preservar a la Comunidad, del Consejo de Inquilinos de Harlem, de la Alianza de Vecinos Sunset Park, y del combativo grupo CAAAV del Barrio Chino, entre otros, además de que el grupo Se Hace Camino en Nueva York nos presentó una obra de teatro sobre su lucha, con canciones que hablaban sobre las deplorables condiciones de vivienda que enfrentan y la nula o falsa respuesta de los propietarios y politicos.

Mediante este intercambio nos informamos de que, en Chinatown (Barrio Chino), los planes de rezonificación urbana en el último año se han acelerado a tal grado que a la gente se le obliga a sacar todas sus pertenencias y evacuar sus casas en un plazo de tres horas. Mientras tanto, en Harlem, la criminalización por el hecho de ser joven y afroestadounidense es una táctica de guerra contra la comunidad para expulsarla, no sólo de Harlem sino del sistema entero, pues los jóvenes a los se les arresta y se les marca con antecedentes penales después ya no tendrán acceso a los servicios básicos, como es la vivienda, y a los derechos humanos elementales, como lo es el de la educación. “Nuestros jóvenes están siendo asesinados en nuestras calles por la policía, por el sólo hecho de ser jóvenes”, expresaron nuestros compañeros participantes.

Respecto al tema de la educación, que debería de ser gratuita, y de la represión a los jóvenes, queremos compartir con nuestros compañeros adherentes de La Otra Campaña jóvenes y estudiantes las reflexiones respecto a los planes de rezonificación en los alrededores de la Universidad de Columbia, que es una universidad privada. “Se nos dice que la universidad es buena, que coopera con la comunidad, y que los planes de reurbanización de sus alrededores son buenos para la comunidad porque van a traer un ambiente seguro. ¿Pero cuál? En cuanto los barrios se convierten en zonas residenciales, además de desalojar a los antiguos pobladores con métodos violentos, llegan los policías, llegan los cercos, llegan los detectives armados”, nos manifestó el compañero representante de la Coalición para Preservar a la Comunidad en los alrededores de la universidad de Columbia, señalando que se trata de un sistema de exclusion mundial. Al referirse a una universidad que se propone excluir a sus estudiantes rebeldes e informados y educar sólo a las élites de Estados Unidos, señaló: “No sólo son las élites del país sino las élites de todo el mundo, entonces serán los privilegiados quienes estarán desplazando a la gente pobre de los barrios”.

Por su parte, los compañeros representantes de ese pueblo nos contaron de la historia del Centro y Oeste de Harlem y de las calles que están empezando a cambiar debido a los planes del alcalde Bloomberg de rezonificarlo. Una parte fundamental de nuestro debate se refirió a los aliados del sistema: los funcionarios públicos electos que, en su localidad, tratan de sobornar a los pobladores, y las “juntas comunitarias municipales” que incluso en un principio engañaron a la gente haciéndole creer que el desalojo se hará pidiéndole su

“Mientras tanto, los contratos con las grandes constructoras ya están firmados desde hace mucho; los gobernantes y los miembros de las juntas ya saben que el pacto está hecho desde antes: no nos engañemos”, expresaron los representantes.

Asimismo, uno de los aspectos de nuestra lucha en nuestra propia comunidad de El Barrio consiste en enfrentar agrupaciones cosméticas que, pagadas por el gobierno local, tratan de confundir a la población realizando actos que no tienen una representatividad de la comunidad local, con efectos meramente teatrales, sin ninguna repercusión social ni económica e incluso, imitando falsamente los emblemas de la lucha social. Mientras hacen esto, ellos promueven la agenda politica de los funcionarios publicos que aprueban y imponen, desde arriba, sus planes de desplazamiento.

Sin embargo, nos dio gusto ver que, a este segundo encuentro, además de la mayoría de las organizaciones partidarias de nuestra misma causa y que estuvieron con nosotros hace dos años, se sumaron otras muchas también independientes.

En el siguiente segmento de nuestro programa, proyectamos el estreno en Nueva York del video que recibimos sobre la lucha en Nueva Orleáns contra el desplazamiento neoliberal. Como muy pocos saben, a finales del año pasado, el Concejo Municipal de Nueva Orleáns, formado en su gran mayoria por gente blanca, no sólo permitió un ataque, sino que se burló ante las cámaras, de los manifestantes, pobladores de raza negra, damnificados del huracán Katrina a quienes ahora les demolieron sus viviendas para construir zonas de lujo. Éstos fueron reprimidos, golpeados, rociados con gases lacrimógenos y arrestados. Expresamos nuestra solidaridad para el pueblo de Nueva Orleáns en resistencia y reiteramos que nuestra lucha no sólo es local, sino nacional. Y mundial...

Se extiende de Nueva York a Nueva Orleáns y desde aquí a Atenco, México. Con gran emoción leímos el mensaje de nuestros hermanos de Atenco y concluimos ese debate con la proyección de un video sobre la represión en Atenco. En él, mostramos también las diferentes protestas que ocurrieron en distintas partes del mundo durante la jornada de solidaridad con Atenco, incluyendo la toma del consulado de México en Nueva York efectuada el 4 de Mayo por los compañeros de Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, quienes lograron entrar al consulado, desdoblar sus pancartas una vez dentro, marchar, gritar consignas, exigir la liberacion de los 12 presos politicos y repartir a la gente formada copias de los videos de la lucha de Atenco, lo que hizo que las autoridades cerraran el Consulado.

Se compartió el dolor, pero también la solidaridad y la alegría de reconocernos: de saber que no estamos solos. Para concluir, una vez más pedimos a los niños asistentes que rompieran la piñata del neoliberalismo. La rompieron con fuerza y, al hacerlo, encontraron dulces, como dulces son los frutos que esperamos encontrar al final de esta lucha por un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos, por la paz con justicia, vivienda digna, salud y educación para todos, y por la libertad a los presos políticos de Atenco, de México y del mundo. Nuestro corazón está con ustedes.

¡Todos somos Atenco!
¡Libertad a los presos políticos!
¡Viva La Otra Campaña!
¡Y que viva el Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional!
Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio. La Otra Campaña Nueva York

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