Los Angeles Review of Books: On the Front Lines of Climate Change

I reviewed Todd Miller’s new book Storming the Wall for the Los Angeles Review of Books. “In 2015, as European nations repelled African and Middle Eastern migrants arriving on their shores, the United States was engaged in its own naval operations to ward off mass migration from the Caribbean. With current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly then at the helm of US Southern Command, more than 500 members of the joint military and homeland security task force ran a simulation designed to “prevent…Continue Reading “Los Angeles Review of Books: On the Front Lines of Climate Change”

Fusion: Mexicans say ‘hasta siempre’ to Fidel Castro, a revolutionary with deep ties to the Aztec nation

MEXICO CITY—Several hundred Mexicans gathered in front of the Cuban Embassy on Sunday holding roses, flags, and homemade banners to bid a final farewell to Cuba’s Fidel Castro. … … Castro’s death has struck a nerve with many Mexicans who lament the loss of an iconic leader from the revolutionary left at a time when the world seems to be shifting back towards the reactionary right. “The Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro were important parts of our political education as leftists in Mexico,” said Uriel…Continue Reading “Fusion: Mexicans say ‘hasta siempre’ to Fidel Castro, a revolutionary with deep ties to the Aztec nation”

Protesters Red-Line Climate Change at Close of Paris Talks

My final report for CIP America’s Program on COP21 in Paris was publsihed Sunday. Please follow this link to see photos and coverage of the final march in Paris on Saturday. “On December 12, the final day of the Paris climate talks, an international group of protesters filled the streets of the French capital to mark their ‘red lines’ for climate justice. The Red Lines Coalition, which includes Attac France, 350.org, Climate Games, Avaaz and Confédération Paysenne, described the action as a way to, ‘honor…Continue Reading “Protesters Red-Line Climate Change at Close of Paris Talks”

Social Movements at Paris Climate Talks Refuse to be Collateral Damage to Security Measures

My first report for the America’s Program from the Paris Climate Talks, COP21, is up. “Critics have pointed out that marches during the climate talks were banned under security pretexts, yet other large public gatherings such as soccer matches and concerts have continued. The timing indicates the protest ban is a convenient pretext to quell social protest during the summit.” Check out my commentary and photos here.

The Carrot, the Stick, and the Seeds: U.S. development policy faces resistance in El Salvador

When I visited the Bajo Lempa region of eastern El Salvador this year, my new acquaintances taught me a joke. “Why aren’t there coupes de états in the United States?” they asked me. “I don’t know, why?” To find out why, read my recent article for the Americas Program. When the U.S. Ambassador in El Salvador required the country to re-evaluate a program distributing local seeds to farmers in order to receive development aid, people took note. Yet this is just the latest problem facing the…Continue Reading “The Carrot, the Stick, and the Seeds: U.S. development policy faces resistance in El Salvador”

Seven Years in Impunity

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Today is the seventh anniversary of Brad Will’s murder in Oaxaca. October 27, 2006, paramilitary police officers killed the independent reporter and activist as he filmed them barrel down on the barricade he held down alongside members of APPO- the city-wide assembly which formed out of a teacher’s strike and soon consumed the city. This is also the week to honor the dead. Día de los Muertos is November 2nd and altars are starting to go up for those passed on. It feels fitting to honor one of the dead of the strange tribe that I find myself a part of- American radicals in Mexico.

Llegó el momento de las mujeres con el pesar en los ojos. Tres mujeres, tres viudas. Florina Jiménez Colmenares, Angélica Martinez Avella, Carmen Marín García. Hablaron con el corazón en la mano, lamentando el dolor de los familiares de Brad, alabando a Brad por ser un periodista inocente que quiso contar las verdades de los pueblos de Oaxaca, y pidieron a la familia que luchara para que se hiciera justicia porque ya sabían que no habría justicia en ninguno de los otros asesinatos si el de Brad, el extranjero, quebada en la impunidad.

The moment for the women, with heaviness in their eyes, arrived. Three women, three widows. Florina Jiménez Colmenares, Angélica Martinez Avella, Carmen Marín García. They spoke with their hearts in their hands, lamenting Brad’s relatives’ pain, praising Brad for being an innocent journalist who wanted to recount the truth of Oaxaca’s communities, and imploring the family to fight for justice to be served, because they already knew that there wouldn’t be justice for any of the other murders if Brad’s, the foreigner, remained in impunity.

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El levantamiento en Oaxaca: afan de impunidad de Brad Will. John Gibler, 2012.

My translation to English from Spanish text.

You’re not supposed to cry in cafes. Sip your coffee, surf WiFi, chat with a friend. Mexico might permit more emotional expression than back in New England, but crying is a bit much.

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Pipeline Politics: Indigenous Solidarity and the Climate Crisis

Originally published in The Black Sheep Journal.

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The Keystone XL pipeline struggle has created new alliances between environmental NGOs opposing the pipeline, and indigenous peoples whose lands it would cross, which the strong presence of indigenous speakers at the recent Forward on Climate rally in DC illustrated . For environmentalists Keystone represents “game over” for climate change. For indigenous peoples it is another development project imposed without Free, Prior and Informed Consent, which will not benefit their communities. For these alliances to last beyond the limelight of the Keystone fight, grassroots activists of non-native backgrounds must ground their solidarity in a commitment to supporting long-standing indigenous struggles.

My involvement began on August 31, 2011 when I joined the first major tar sands action in Washington, DC, and was arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House, calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Despite protests, the southern leg of the pipeline is already under construction as are numerous pipeline projects in Canada, including Pacific Trails and Northern Gateway. Near where I live in New England, the Enbridge Trailbreaker is proposed to bring tar sands oil from Ontario to Portland, Maine. Even if we strike down Keystone, it is just one arm of the strategy of energy companies to transport tar sands oil and fracked natural gas to the coasts. The struggle against Keystone is quickly expanding to join with efforts against other pipelines.

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Oil and Natural Gas Frontlines: First Nations Lead the Way

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Population and Development Program, based in Amherst, MA, which works at the intersection of reproductive freedom, environmental justice and peace. (However since then it’s made the rounds to Common Dreams, It’s Getting Hot in Here, and WeArePowershift.org. Perhaps my most cross-posted blog yet. I’m gratified to see this under-reported aspect of the tar sands issue getting some attention.) American environmentalists are declaring victory over the announcement that the United States will research alternate routes for the…Continue Reading “Oil and Natural Gas Frontlines: First Nations Lead the Way”