terça-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2011
Faced with the world financial crisis, budget cuts, and tuition hikes, students across the hemisphere are increasingly standing up for their right to education. In Chile, students have been in the streets since May, calling for an end to Pinochet-era policies that prioritize private profit over education.
The following interview with José Ancalao Gavilán, spokesperson for the Chilean Mapuche Federation of Students (FEMAE), and Giovanni Roberto, spokesperson for the UPR students’ National Negotiation Committee during the 2010 strikes, took place on November 3.
Read the complete article.
segunda-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2011
December 19, 2011
By Sílvia Leindecker and Michael Fox
In Patricio Guzmán's most recent film, Nostalgia for the Light (Icarus Films, 2011), the Chilean filmmaker points his camera toward Chile's Atacama desert, where astronomers, archeologists, and the relatives of Augusto Pinochet's disappeared intertwine in a search for the past and the present. In this interview, Guzmán speaks about his new movie, nostalgia, Chile, the Latin American "pink tide," filmmaking, and the need for an audio-visual revolution. NACLA published a review of Nostalgia for the Light in the May/June issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas, "Chile and the Traps of Memory," by Steven S. Volk.
Sílvia Leindecker is a Brazilian photographer, philosopher, researcher, and documentary filmmaker. Michael Fox is the Editor of NACLA. Their latest film, Crossing the American Crises: From Collapse to Action, was released in April by PM Press.
segunda-feira, 21 de novembro de 2011
On November 17, 2011, the 2-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, thousands took to the streets to shut down lower Manhattan. Three hundred protesters were arrested. Only days before, the occupation at Zuccotti Park had been raided and the occupiers expelled or arrested. These actions have only further inspired the movement.
Photos taken by Michael Fox
Estreito Meios Production
For more images, visit flickr.com/photos/estreitomeios.
domingo, 20 de novembro de 2011
November 20, 2011
On Thursday, November 17, the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, occupiers and supporters took to the streets of New York City for a day of action. In the morning, protesters blocked intersections around Wall Street, resulting in over 200 arrests. University students across the city held a day-long strike. In the afternoon, roughly 30,000 people gathered at Foley Square for a rally. Shortly after dark, the multitudes marched past City Hall and over the Brooklyn Bridge.
The words of the chant, “El pueblo unido, jamás será vencidos” (The people united, will never be defeated), echoed off the buildings of Centre Street in Lower Manhattan just South of Foley Square. Among those in the crowd were unions, teachers, students, immigrants, youth, and older activists.
“Why did you come out here tonight?” I asked a pair of students in the crowd.
“We are part of the cause. We had to come out here. I have been here since the second week supporting,” said Juan Peralta, a high school student from Washington Heights, whose parents are from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. “Its time that we revolt, its time that especially starting from us the youth, we are the ones that are suppose to stand up because for many years our predecessor didn’t stand up, and its about time that we fight for everything that they had to suffer through.”
The chant “whose streets? our streets!” cut through the crowd, drowning out Peralta’s voice. He smiled, looked at his friend, Candice Rodriguez. They both motioned to the march. “Exactly,” they said, almost in unison, “this why we are here.”
“It’s sad that I am sixteen and if I got a job right this second I would get taxed more than a rich person would, of the 1%,” said Rodriguez who is from Queens, is of Puerto Rican and Irish decent, and like Peralta, is studying journalism at the High School of Graphic Communications Art in Midtown Manhattan. “That’s why I feel like its unjust that we have to pay the banks to be bailed out.”
“If we don’t stand up for ourselves, then who is going to stand up for us?” asked Peralta.
Not far behind Peralta and Rodriquez, in the sea of marchers, was Jane Lu, from Families for Freedom, a New York-based network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation.
“I have been a progressive for a long time. I know about Occupy Wall street since the first day they announced it in an email and I have been following it closely. After they arrested 700 people on the bridge, I come every chance I get to Occupy Wall Street and I’m always very excited about it,” said Lu.
“A lot of things that I have been thinking about over the years I get a chance to talk about it at Occupy Wall Street with the people,” said Lu. “Like the problem with modern society, with the government, with Wall Street, social issues, there are so many things. It’s all adding up to this point. There are a lot of problems not just one problem.”
Lu has lived in the United Sates for 16 years, but she was born in Vietnam, and grew up in China, where she participated in the Tiananmen Square protests.
“They had protest every year in Beijing in those years and that year they started on April 15, When [CPC General Secretary] Hu Yaobang, in the Communist Party, died. It went on until June 4; the Chinese government couldn’t take it anymore,” said Lu. “I don’t know if this will come to that point. The government was so scared.”
Lu finished speaking and the woman behind us tapped me on the shoulder. “I was at the Pentagon for the big march on the Pentagon in 1967,” she said, referring to the October 21, 1967 march, when 100,000 people descended on the Pentagon against the Vietnam war. Her name was Leah Margulies, and she worked with NACLA in the 1970s. I asked her to tell me more about the Pentagon march.
“That was a powerful march and we ultimately wanted to stop the war. It took a long time. It took almost ten years of protesting, from ‘65, when the first teach-ins started against the war and when Martin Luther King Jr came out against the war. It took until ’74,” she said.
“So how does it feel to be here today?” I asked.
“It’s great. I think it’s wonderful when people come out and stop being inactive and passive and try to change policies,” she said.
“Why are you here tonight? Why is this so important?”“I have always worked to get laws to control multinational corporations. I’m part of an organization called Corporate Accountability International. We run campaigns to try to put laws in place to control multinationals and to work internationally," she said. "To change the world, basically.”
quarta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2011
In Honduras, state-sponsored repression is on the rise, even as the Porfirio Lobo government champions human rights as one of its “highest priorities.” Honduran human rights defender Bertha Oliva explains how human rights discourse in Latin America is being transformed from a tool to protect the victims into one for publicity and manipulation.
Read the complete article.
quarta-feira, 14 de setembro de 2011
Across the street, protesters demand that the cover-up around 9-11 be truly investigated, and that the Bush administration be held responsible for “engineering” the attacks. “9/11 was an inside job,” reads the shirt of one man, blindfolded by an American flag.
Pictures taken by Michael Fox (Estreito Meios Productions). For more pictures, visit flickr.com/photo/estreitomeios.
quarta-feira, 7 de setembro de 2011
When the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression hit the US on September 15, 2008, filmmakers Sílvia Leindecker and Michael Fox began a journey across the country to see how the economy was impacting people’s lives. Their interviews, which span two years and nearly 40 states, draw from farmers, truck drivers, homeless people, workers, immigrants and more. The result is the documentary Crossing the American Crises: From Collapse To Action, a film full of desperation, hope and grassroots solutions.
Leindecker and Fox are the makers of the earlier documentary Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas, and Fox was an editor of the book Venezuela Speaks!: Voices From The Grassroots. Like these earlier works, Crossing the American Crises highlights the voices of people participating in grassroots activism and everyday struggles for a better world.
The first stop of their trip is Detroit, where the camera cuts to empty store fronts and factories. “Detroit is what it is because of industry and the industrial revolution, and capitalism, and so-called democracy and how all those failed. And this is what we have left with it,” Jon Blount of the activist collective Detroit Summer tells Leindecker and Fox. Such bits of hard-won insight from streets, factory floors and living rooms across America are interspersed throughout the film.
The next visit is to the Rosebud Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where they speak with Alfred Bone Shirt. “We’re seeing that there’s a segment of our society that feel we’re left out, neglected, abused; rights are violated. We’re in a depression down here so bad that people just wanna give up.” His words are underscored by footage of the reservation itself, a place crushed by economic depression.
After stops in Utah, Oakland and Los Angeles, they head out onto Route 66, where, Fox tells the camera they want to “see the direct effects on the local community.” And indeed, that is what they find at nearly every stop in their tour; very real life stories of how the US economy is making life difficult for people from coast to coast and everywhere in between.
In New Orleans, they speak with people in the Lower 9th Ward, a neighborhood that was destroyed by Katrina in 2005. Robert Green and his family lived in this community for 38 years before Katrina hit, and at the time of the shooting of the film they were still living in a FEMA trailer. Green is interviewed with his daughter and wife next to a string of empty lots – places where his neighbors’ homes used to be located before the storm destroyed them.
Fox asks Green what he thinks about the government bailout, the major issue of the day. Green tells him, “It’s ironic that it only took [the government] two weeks to issue a $700 billion check. It took them three years after Katrina and this is what you see.” He pointed to the empty lots, saying the names of the families that used to live there. “So basically every house, every family that’s gone actually was a family that should be here now. And if they would have been given the money in two weeks like the way they did in Congress, the way they did in Wall Street, then every last one of these families would have rebuilt their houses, and this whole Gulf Coast area would have been rebuilt because everybody in the Gulf Coast is basically like the people down here: family first.”
This story conveys a sentiment shared by many of the interviewees in this film: outrage at the disparity between the government’s concern for Wall Street over the people bearing the everyday grind of the crisis.
Crossing the American Crises then turns to the hope people felt in the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Yet after the election, the camera cuts to a stream of grim economic news, and stories of people struggling to make ends meet. One college graduate appearing in the film went through 109 job interviews before finally finding a very low-paying position at Staples. A homeless man on the Gulf Coast tells Fox and Leindeker he’ll ask them for money after the interview so he can get some lunch.
On a cold, snowy street corner in New York City, they interview John Lambertus, a homeless man who lost his job in May of 2008 and couldn’t find new work. Lambertus points to a plastic bag he’s carrying, saying, “You see this? This is my blanket, another jacket in case this one gets messed up, and another pair of pants – and that’s my situation.” He worked in a printing press for thirty years before losing his job. “I’ll be 51 in April and I’m in the street,” he says, the cold wind thundering against the microphone.
So what is to be done with all of this bleak news from the American crises? That leads to the second part of the film: Action. Crossing the American Crises goes on to include many solutions to these economic and social problems, focusing on inspiring stories of grassroots alternatives and responses.
There is the Vermont Workers’ Center fighting for affordable healthcare for all, the Green Worker Cooperative in the Bronx that sells recycled building materials, the Santa Fe Alliance in New Mexico advocating for local producers and businesses over tax-dodging multinational chains, and the Iraq Veterans Against the War struggling for veterans’ benefits. There are stories of people working for affordable housing, jobs, better working conditions, improved public transportation and prison justice.
These groups are largely led by the people who are impacted the most by these various crises. Organizers are meeting these challenges in states across the country. “Organizing is the key! Organizing is the key!” JoAnn Watson from the Detroit Council tells a boisterous crowd at the US Social Forum in her city.
Alongside these stories of hopeful organizing is a vision for a better world. “The people have to act through their own organizations to implement their vision of what life should be like,” explains Kathleeen Cleaver, a law professor at Yale University.
That’s a central message of this film – that when the politicians, banks, bosses and economy fail to work for the people, it’s the people that have to form the backbone of movements for economic justice, peace and equality and rights. In the midst of these crises, those movements are already thriving across the US today.
As Robert Green from the Lower 9th Ward says, “Basically, we need to start taking back our government, taking back our taxes, start taking back our control from our elected officials because they’re not putting us first.”
Such insight from people across the country makes Crossing the American Crises an impressive film that captures the spirit of America today. Its stories of human hardship, solidarity and hope paint a portrait of America that is both heart-breaking and inspiring. This documentary is a powerful reminder of the countless social movements working each day to transform this country, from the fields of Oklahoma to the streets of New Orleans.
Benjamin Dangl is the author of the new book Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). He edits TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events, and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America. Email Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.