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Entries tagged "Chilean Student Movement"
October 19, 2012 · By Emily Schwartz Greco
Brave activists from Chile and Boston speaking from the heart. A cameo appearance by actor and humanitarian Danny Glover. The former first lady of Costa Rica and hundreds of other fabulous guests. Peruvian wine. Hearty hors d'oeurves. The top U.S. student leader. An elegant venue dedicated to scientific discovery.
The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards reception and ceremony is always moving and fun. This year was truly terrific. We know some of our supporters had to miss this great event, which we filled to capacity. But you can still watch the whole ceremony right here on our blog, including stellar performances by the DC Youth Slam Team and Patricio Zamorano and his band.
The Institute for Policy Studies has hosted this progressive convergence every year since 1976, when our colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt were murdered in a car bombing near Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle. Along with an opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones, it offers a chance to salute new heroes of social movements who are, as IPS director John Cavanagh put it in his speech, "expanding our imaginations on how to make change happen."
October 17, 2012 · By Camila Vallejo
I would like to thank the Institute for Policy Studies. I thank IPS not only for this Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award that you've given the Chilean Students Movement for our struggle to recover the right to an education, but also for what you stand for and your ties to everything that's happening today in Chile.
After 39 years, it's impossible — even for young people like us who were born after 1988 — to study the history of Orlando Letelier or anyone else who was tortured or assassinated during the dictatorship without feeling paid. We feel the pain of injustice, the pain of that inhumanity, and the pain of a great blow to democracy that hasn't healed to this day.
And although there's been a powerful attempt to erase our collective memory and silence our entire nation, in Chile we won't forget. We can't forget the Pinochet dictactorship's victims, just as we can't forget the aspirations of the movement that gave rise to Salvador Allende's government.
That movement was interrupted by a violent coup and a brutal and bloody dictatorship. But it wasn't defeated, it was interrupted. Its driving force and principles were to defend the interests and dignity of the people.
That movement respected human rights while aspiring to grant all men and women access to a decent education and quality health care. That movement aimed to bring the benefits of our nation's natural wealth to all Chileans. That movement built sovereignty while strengthening democracy.
In that movement, men and women developed the awareness and will to organize for justice and freedom.
I believe that the Institute, through its work, represents women and men like Ronni and Orlando — people who embodied this movement's ideals and gave their lives for their activism.
It is with sorrow, but also with joy and hope that we cherish the ideas and ideals that embody this movement — the defense of human rights and the struggle for social justice.
Many Chileans are now taking back the reins of history, as indicated by today's great social movements. We must recover from the Pinochet dictatorship's terrible consequences if we want to have a true democracy.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights affirmed that even today there still is no justice in Chile because our electoral sytstem guarantees that human rights violators are over-represented in our parliament, relative to their victims.
In our country, there is no justice. Even if we don't have a dictator anymore, we still haven't gotten rid of the political model that his regime imposed upon us — a market-driven dictatorship. This neoliberal model has proven to be incompatible with respect for human rights. When the great wealth of the very few is derived from the life and work of the vast majority, it isn't compatible with democracy.
Our best way to thank you for this award is to carry on with the historic work to which we have dedicated our lives. We will continue to fight for universal, high-quality, and free public education, workers' rights, and excellent health care for all. We will fight to nationalize Chile's natural resources once again. We will continue the struggle for self-determination and respect that our indigenous peoples deserve.
Today, Chile's indigenous people are a shining example of resistance to the repression and militarization they endure at the hands of our government. We should fight for a new Chilean Constitution, which will shed the neoliberal state the dictatorship imposed on us for the benefit the nation's richest people.
As Allende said, the Chilean people's struggle isn't a fight among generations, and it's certainly not the monopoly of one political party. This must be a struggle by workers, students, professionals, and many social and political movements ready to take on the challenge of joining together despite our differences, because we have grasped the historic challenge that we face.
That is why I would like to dedicate this award not just to all Chilean students, who technically won it, but also to our professors and teachers, as well as the indigenous peoples of Chile.
Appropriately enough, in Chile we celebrate Teachers Day every October 16. Just yesterday, we paid tribute to them.
I am also dedicating this award to the indigenous Mapuche people currently held as political prisoners — including the four who have been on a hunger strike for nearly two months. After hundreds of years of resistance, they are not giving up the fight for their land or their right to their own culture. This award is for everyone who is fighting to make Chile a better place.
Camila Vallejo is the vice-president of the Confederation of Chilean Students (Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile). She and Noam Titelman accepted a 2012 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies.
October 17, 2012 · By John Cavanagh
Welcome to the 36th annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards.
As I look around this room, I am in awe of the thousands of collective years of committed activism and scholarship and struggle for a better world that this crowd represents. When Ronni Karpen Moffitt and Orlando Letelier were murdered 36 years ago by agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Orlando was only 44 years old. And yet he'd achieved enough to be considered one of the revered elders of the human rights movement.
Tonight, we have many long-time progressive heroes in the room. Let me recognize just two. First, a man who began stirring up trouble as a White House aide when he questioned the military build-up in the early 1960s — IPS co-founder Marcus Raskin. And second, the woman who turned her husband Orlando Letelier's tragic death into a force for justice and democracy: Isabel Letelier.
But, tonight — in many ways — is about the generation that Ronni Karpen Moffitt represents — the teens and twentysomethings. Ronni's life was cut short at 25, but she'd already made big contributions to the world, and these young people are too. Many here tonight are fighting outrageous student loans, fighting against sweatshops, and shaking up the world in other creative ways. We salute you and your Chilean counterparts here tonight.
At the Institute for Policy Studies, our long-term goal is to speed the transition from a militarized and casino Wall Street economy to a green, caring and democratic Main Street economy. I want to give shout outs to two sets of allies who are giving us a lot of hope these days. First, how about those striking Walmart workers? Isn't it about time we replaced the union-busting, community-destroying Walmart model of business?
My second shout out goes to our European allies in the fight for a financial transaction tax — what many are calling a Robin Hood Tax. Last week, they got 11 of their governments on board — proving it is possible to fight the financial industry and win. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the The Nation magazine, yesterday referred to my IPS colleague Sarah Anderson, as a "relentless warrior" in this fight. And she is. We're proud to be working with many of you on this and looking forward to celebrating a U.S. victory.
So, tonight. Tonight, amidst the clutter of money-soaked politics, we have an opportunity to look into the future and celebrate some clear and inspirational paths forward. For this next generation of struggle, a central part of all of our tasks is to figure out how to roll back corporate rights as we strengthen human and labor rights, environmental rights, and peace. With this lens, our distinguished Letelier-Moffitt selection committee has picked two groups on the front lines of urgent battles: the right to education and the right to housing.
At the same time, both groups keep their sites on larger systemic change. The Chilean Students Movement is not just taking on the need for affordable education, they're taking on the whole free market legacy of the Pinochet era. As our awardees, Camila Vallejo and Noam Titelman pointed out on Democracy Now! yesterday, it was Orlando Letelier who predicted that free-market economics would lead to privatization and inequality. Likewise, City Life/Vida Urbana isn't just taking on the mortgage lenders, they're taking on the whole free market legacy of the Reagan and Bush eras. Both movements are planting the seeds of transformative change through direct action. Both are expanding our imaginations on how to make change happen.
The 2012 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards and ceremony will take place Wednesday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. — a week earlier than we initially planned. Please save this new date and update your calendars.
We urge you to attend this Institute for Policy Studies event, where we'll celebrate two of the great student leaders of our time. They are Camila Vallejo and Noam Titelman. These two dynamos have led hundreds of thousands of Chileans into the streets to demand free higher education.
IPS is bringing them to the United States to tour college campuses and brainstorm about common strategies with student leaders here who are fighting the student debt trap and tuition hikes that are making college diplomas out-of-reach for too many Americans. We will honor them with the international Letelier-Moffitt award at the Carnegie Institution for Science on October 17, and we invite you to join us at this new venue, located at 1530 P Street, NW, for our biggest yearly event. Buy your tickets now for our early-bird discount, and spread the word.
Our dynamic domestic Letelier-Moffitt awardee this year is a group whose members put their bodies on the line to stop home foreclosures. Boston-based City Life/Vida Urbana brings dozens of activists to the homes of people who banks have slated for eviction. They stay with these families until the banks renegotiate. This incredibly effective movement is spreading across Massachusetts and into Rhode Island. Its victories build public and political pressure that drives legislative reform, and sparks similar campaigns. We'll bring several City Life/Vida Urbana leaders to Washington to meet with anti-foreclosure activists.
We also invite you to join us September 23, at 10 a.m. at our yearly outdoor memorial service as we honor the legacies of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador, and Ronni Moffitt, a young IPS colleague. Orlando and Ronni were on their way to work at the Institute in 1976 when they were assassinated in a car bombing on Massachusetts Avenue, near Sheridan Circle. The bomb, planted by agents of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, brutally took their lives but not the memory of their contributions to the quest for equality and justice through reason, not violence. For more than three decades, the pursuit of justice for their murders has been a symbol of hope for victims of tyranny everywhere.
Every year the human rights community, friends, family, colleagues, and supporters gather in remembrance of these tragic assassinations. This moving program takes place at Sheridan Circle, in Northwest Washington, D.C., and ends with the collective laying of flowers on the Letelier-Moffitt memorial plaque across the street.