New Earth Minute: Anne Petermann on Zapatista Women Who Fight

Chilean Uprising. Photo: Langelle

We Are The Ones Who Will Awaken The Dawn

Chilean protesters with fire on the street. Photo: Langelle

Tricontinental December 26, 2019

Vijay Prashad

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Millions of people are on the streets, from India to Chile. Democracy is both their promise and it is what has betrayed them. They aspire to the democratic spirit but find that democratic institutions – saturated by money and power – are inadequate. They are on the streets for more democracy, deeper democracy, a different kind of democracy.

Sharply, in each and every region of India, ordinary people unaffiliated to political parties alongside the Indian Left have taken to the streets to demand the withdrawal of a fascistic law that would turn Muslims into non-citizens. This immense wave rises even when the government tries to declare demonstrations illegal, and even as the government shuts down the Internet. Twenty people have been killed by the police forces thus far. None of this stopped the people, who declared loudly that they would not accept the suffocation of the Far Right. This continues to be an unanticipated and overwhelming uprising of the population.

Democracy has been shackled by capitalist power. If sovereignty were merely about numbers, then the workers and the peasants, the urban poor and the youth would be represented by people who put their interests first and would be able to command more of the fruit of their labour. Democracy promises that people would be able to control their destiny. Capitalism, on the other hand, is structured to allow the capitalists – the property owners – to have power over the economy and society. From the standpoint of capitalism, democracy’s full implications cannot be allowed. If democracy gets its way, then the means of producing wealth would be democratised; this would be an outrage against property, which is why democracy is narrowed.

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Zapatista Update #3: Second International Meeting of Women who Fight

Photo courtesy of Censored News

Zapatista Women: ‘Fight for your lives’ Second International Meeting of Women who Fight

Censored News January 2, 2020

Brenda Norrell

Words from the Zapatista Women at the Opening of the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle



December 2019

Updated English Translation

Compañeras and sisters:

Welcome to these Zapatista lands.

Welcome sisters and compañeras from geographies across the five continents.

Welcome compañeras and sisters from Mexico and the world.

Welcome sisters and compañeras from the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion.

Welcome compañeras from the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council.

Welcome compañeras from the National and International Sixth.

Welcome compañeras from the Zapatista Bases of Support.

Welcome compañeras who are milicianas and insurgentas in the EZLN.

Sister and compañera:

We want to report that as of yesterday, December 26, 2019, registration for this second gathering came to:

3,259 women
95 little girls
26 men

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Conversations in Southern Illinois on Sojourner Truth with Margaret Prescod

Conversations in Southern Illinois highlights conversations with residents, farmers and environmentalists of rural Southern Illinois, home to Shawnee National Forest. It is part of a new occasional series bridging the rural-urban divide in the U.S.

The Shawnee National Forest, which consists of about 280,000 acres of federally managed lands, is the single largest publicly owned body of land in the state of Illinois. There are seven officially designated wilderness areas lying within Shawnee National Forest.

In the 1990s, early environmentalists with Earth First! joined local Southern Illinois residents and took direct action to stop logging in the forest. Their actions resulted in a 17 year moratorium on logging in the forest, saving thousands of trees and greatly benefiting the surrounding community. That struggle was an inspiration to the newly growing environmental movement. But now that moratorium has been lifted and logging restarted. In the past few years, grassroots environmental protection groups have formed to protect these lands.

Today, residents are again mobilizing to protect the environment in the region. Groups including: Friends of Bell Smith Springs, SNAG (Shawnee Natural Area Guardians), SAFE (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment), and Shawnee Forest Defense! have come together to challenge most recent threats to the Shawnee National Forest and to other parts of Southern Illinois.

In October 2019, the Shawnee Forest Defense! The Global Justice Ecology Project, the Indigenous Environmental Network and others co-sponsored The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest and Climate Movement Convergence at the forest. The Sojourner Truth team covered the event. After the Convergence, I returned to the area to meet with local residents, including environmentalists.

Zapatista Update #2: Concerning the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples and USMCA

Building with Zapatista murals in Amador Hernandez. Photo: Langelle

via Tonatierra

January 1, 2020

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
5100 O’Neill House Office Building
200 C Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20515

Good greetings.

In our letter to the USMCA Working Group of the US House of Representatives on September 13th of last year, we informed the Working Group members and House Speaker Pelosi that upon review of the public record of debate concerning the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of the proposed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the systemic disregard for the human rights of Indigenous Peoples is blatantly discriminatory, unacceptable and must be addressed before the agreement is put to vote before the House of Representatives.

Specifically, we called for a full public hearing before the appropriate committees and/or Working Group formations of the US Congress for the purpose of informing the US congressional representatives on the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as stipulated in the UN Declarationon the Rights of Indigenous Peoples regarding projects which impact their collective rights.

The purpose of this communiqué is to urge the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to conduct a full public hearing on this issue before the vote of approval on the USMCA in the US Congress.

Today, January 1 2020 we reissue this call with greater urgency as the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico who have convened recently in the Zapatista (EZLN) territories have made known to the international community their determined opposition to the imposition of the USMCA scale mega development projects that already are being illegally implemented and sanitized via “deceptive consultations” in a subversive attempt by the government of Mexico to manufacture “consent”.

For the US trade representatives and the US Congress to move forward with a vote of approval for the USMCA in light of this information, would implicate the US government as complicit in a deliberate act of international aggression against the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.  The EZLN has stated that they will remain in the fulfillment of their duty as “guardian peoples of Mother Earth” until death if necessary.

The USMCA has been promoted as a necessary “update” of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In distinction from NAFTA which was adopted in 1994 thirteen years before adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), the signatories of USMCA must comply with the minimum standards of FPICor the corporate consortia investing in any development project in violation of FPIC will immediately become financially liable and exposed to the risk of legal challenges and financial penalties that must be presented before their constituencies (states) and shareholders (corporations).

This principle is now well established, having been the subject of the Soft Woods Lumber Dispute (1982) between the US and Canada which acknowledged the proprietary rights of Indigenous Peoples over territories and resources in the international trade tribunals. Recognizing this fact, the World Bank has restructured its procedures, protocols and practices regarding Indigenous Peoples and the right of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent under the Environmental and Social Standard 7 to shield its interests.

Today we hear daily references in the public media to the “Founding Fathers”, invoking the principles of the rights and responsibilities of self-government and American democracy as the impeachment proceedings against President D.Trump advance (or degrade) in the US Congress.

It is timely then to juxtapose the issues of “wrongdoing” and violations of “Oaths of Honor” by the representatives of the US government when reviewing the history of international relations beginning with the original thirteen British colonies and the long “Trail of Broken Treaties” with the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples whose history on the continent precedes the founding of the USA.  A fair and impartial evaluation of this history, which must include the fast tracking of the Dakota Access Pipeline by President D.Trump in 2017, would conclude that what is in contention is not any honest effort by the US to honor its word, or live up to the rule of law and justice for Indigenous Peoples, but instead a continuous exercise in wrongdoing where what is really in debate is “How much can I get away with?”  In a word, impunity.

Indeed, the perpetuation of this historic pattern of systemic “wrongdoing” committed by the agencies of the states vis-a-vi violations of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the fundamental purpose why the UNDRIP was developed as a necessary instrument of contemporary international human rights law after decades of negotiations among all parties.

The historic pattern of systemic “wrongdoing” committed by the agencies of the states in violation of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is evident once again by the failure of the USMCA Working Group to address the core issue of unethical and illegal discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in the processes of  negotiation and collusion by the three USMCA governments.

There can be no approval of USMCA without recognition, respect, and effective mechanisms for the equal protection of the internationally recognized Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the trade zone encompassing the three countries, specifically the right of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).  Consultation is not consent.

Without the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, as Peoples equal to all other peoples, there can be no legitimate approval of the USMCA.

Tupac Enrique Acosta


Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)

All Peoples have the right to self-determination. It is a fundamental principle in international law, embodied in the Charter of the United Nations and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The standard, Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as well as Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories and natural resources are embedded within the universal right to self- determination. The normative framework for FPIC consists of a series of international legal instruments including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the International Labour Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169), and the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD), among many others.

FPIC is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous Peoples and is recognized in the UNDRIP. It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. Once they have given their consent, they can withdraw it at any stage. Furthermore, FPIC enables them to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated.

Consultation is not consent.