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Entries tagged "Letelier-Moffitt awards"Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 Next
October 14, 2011 · By Father Pedro Pantoja Arreola
La dolorosa migración forzada Centroamericana: “Mis puertas abrí al caminante y la noche no pasaba afuera.”
Desde hace ocho años atraviesa el territorio mexicano de frontera a frontera una enorme caravana hambrienta, despojada, perseguida, violada en todos sus derechos… Son mujeres y hombres “los sin poder” “nómadas sin derechos”… son los caminantes “de las ciudadanías negadas”… Y cuando han sido secuestradas desaparecen… Pero, cuando sucede todo esto parece que fueran invisibles…Nadie jura haber sido testigo de todo esto… Porque hay otros grupos que son mas invisibles que ellos… Son guardias del tren, policías federales, agentes de migración, guardias de seguridad, policías municipales, que se vuelven tan invisibles para cometer sus crímenes y delitos contra esta población migrante, y el estado mexicano jura que nunca los ha visto…
Y como defensores y defensoras juramos que no son fantasmas invisibles, que nosotros hemos visto la sangre, la rabia, y la tristeza de las mujeres violadas y abusadas sexualmente… Hemos recogido los restos humanos despedazados y nuestros manos se han manchado de sangre como el territorio mexicano desde la frontera de Guatemala, hasta la frontera del Río Bravo… El Libro de los Jueces en el capitulo 19, narra el crimen de Guibea: “aquel levita caminante de Belén que fue a rescatar su concubina y que durante la noche cuando se hospeda en Guibea, los habitantes criminales de este pueblo atacan la casa y toda la noche abusan de la concubina hasta dejarla muerta. El levita recogió a su concubina, cargó su cuerpo muerto y cuando llegó a su pueblo de Belén, tomo un cuchillo y despedazo el cuerpo de su concubina en doce pedazos y envió cada pedazo a los doce tribus de Israel, con este mensaje: “¿Han visto ustedes algo semejante a esto? Piensen en esto, deliberen y tomen una decisión”…
Lo mismo ha pasado con estos migrantes centroamericanos en territorio mexicano: así lo narra un testigo viviente… el Hondureño xxx:
“Los criminales, los Zetas, nos secuestraron como a siete… Nos golpearon en el campamento…Nos desnudaron y sin ropa nos golpearon con tablas dejándonos la espalda y nuestros glúteos totalmente de color morado, porque no entregábamos el numero telefónico para que nuestros familiares pagaran el rescate… Entonces nos llevaron a un pozo de cemento, cerca de Coatzacoalco.. El pozo estaba lleno de cocodrilos… Agarraron a uno de mis compañeros y dos de los criminales lo despedazaron con un machete y arrojaron los pedazos de su cuerpo a los cocodrilos…”
Y todo esto pasa con la complicidad de las fuerzas institucionales de seguridad.
Como defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos estamos indignados, tristes, desesperados, y sentimos con rabia que México es un estado de derecho totalmente vulnerado…un estado de derecho desgarrado…Y los derechos humanos totalmente pisoteados, una burla de los derechos humanos… Parece que se repite en nosotros la leyenda de la tela de Penélope, que de noche era tejida y de día aparecía rota. Así nosotros, de noche tejemos esa tela de los derechos humanos y de día las despedazan el crimen organizado, delincuentes comunes, policías y ministros públicos corruptos.
Pero nuestra lucha continua y nuestro trabajo continua ha abandonado a estos “caminantes de esperanzas”, jueces de este sistema neoliberal injusto y hemos aprendido una nueva perspectiva en la lucha de los derechos humanos: el grito de los derechos humanos y su practica social, no se da desde una aula de académicos o con un taller de especialistas que desde una cátedra imparten un curso de derechos humanos…Ahora no…
El grito y la lucha de los derechos humanos se da “con” y “desde” los victimas, cuando con ellas enfrentamos los mismos riesgos, los mismos terrores, cuando nosotros somos también un blanco perfecto para estos criminales.
Y cuando todavía no descansamos en los procesos educativos y terapéuticos de esta población perseguida y luchamos para que pasen de la victimización a la subjetividad social, para que dejando de ser victimas, se conviertan en nuestros sujetos sociales, históricos, los nuevos sujetos emergentes, protagonistas de su misma lucha e historia.
Y a ustedes, de lo mas profundo de nuestro corazón les decimos el mensaje del levita con su concubina despedazada…
“¿Han visto algo semejante a esto? Piensen, deliberen, y tomen una decisión.”
October 14, 2011 · By John Matthews
It is indeed thrilling for us to be here with you tonight. The Institute for Policy Studies has a long and highly valued reputation of promoting and protecting human and civil rights. For MTI to be recognized by your organization is an honor for our Union; and to have been selected, among many equally qualified to receive the Letelier-Moffit Award, on behalf of the Wisconsin Progressive Movement, adds a hundred-fold to the honor. The list of recipients of past Awards is not only most impressive, but causes us to be humbled.
While our fight is often looked upon as occurring over two bitter-cold months last winter, such is not the case. Our fight continues. We cannot and will not let up, until both individual worker rights and Union rights of representation, both stolen by a puppet governor at the behest of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, have been restored. Wisconsin has long been a progressive state, the origin of which began with Governor Fighting Bob LaFollette, early last century.
It is funding by the Koch brothers, Amway, Walmart, and the like, which has, in recent years, stolen our elections, including that of Governor, the U.S. Senate, both houses of the Legislature, and even the Supreme Court. I’m glad to say that the Wisconsin Progressive Movement is on its way back, having won two State Senate seats in solid Republican areas in this fall’s recall elections, and preserving three Democratic seats, which were also challenged by recalls. We must now remove Governor Walker.
Our protests changed the electoral landscape. Totaling the votes in the 9 recall districts, and comparing it to the votes the Governor received last fall in the same Districts, his vote count would fall by 65,000, more than half of what provided his victory only 10 months prior. And, we came within one-tenth of a percent of winning a Supreme Court seat, and that with a candidate who likely would have lost by 30% without the surge in the Progressive Movement.
Ironically the Governor and his cronies across the country got elected by hoodwinking the middle class and inducing them to vote against their own interests. Their campaign was a slick one – effectively pitting the private sector workers against public sector workers, by painting public sector workers as the “haves” and private sector workers as the “have nots,” when it was the corporations which stripped private sector workers of their benefits and broke their unions.
MTI is a member driven organization. Organizing which usually takes weeks, if not months, was accomplished by MTI leadership in a matter of two days in mid-February. On a Monday, when I was advising the MTI Board of the Governor’s anti-worker, anti-union agenda, the response was immediate, “we need to call our school representatives”. They promptly divided the names and began calling Representatives to a meeting the following day. At that meeting, the over flow crowd of representatives sprung to action and began calling Members advising, “The Governor is taking our rights - be at the Capitol in the morning! Madison’s schools were closed the next four days while MTI members engaged in political action. Unions of Madison’s Firefighters, Police Officers, Deputy Sheriffs, State County and Municipal Employees, and University Teaching Assistants joined the demonstrations. Soon it was thousands, then tens of thousands and finally 135,000. Public and private sector unionists were joined by progressives from across the country. The Capitol was occupied 24/7 for 3 weeks. Support also came from freedom loving people in more than 50 countries around the globe.
In fear of the mounting demonstration, the right-wing legislative majority created a bogus committee to act on the Governor’s proposed legislation. His minions in the State Assembly acted immediately, and without following legislative rules. To put the brakes on, all 14 Democratic members of the Senate left the state, and without them the Senate Republicans lacked the necessary quorum to act. The Democratic Senators stayed in Illinois for 40 days. This caused a delay in moving the right-wing agenda. It also gave the progressive movement time to become better organized, engage in legal action to attempt halt the legislation or at least amend it. Because of the heavy handed politics it was not possible to defuse it. Unfortunately, it passed and when the Secretary of State refused to publish it, the last step to make it official, it was finalized by a publication method not enabled by legislative rules or Statute.
Former President Eisenhower said “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog”. When it comes to the rights of people, we cannot be deterred by those who want to further improve their lot at our expense. We must fight on. Those like Governor Walker may prevail in the short term, but the people will not stand idly by while he moves to steal their rights, quash our freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. It is well known that the existence of a middle class is the result of effective unions, and society depends on unions for the middle class to continue.
Unions enable workers to speak collectively as regards a fair wage for their labor, to assure that work is under safe conditions, and to assure that workers enjoy dignity. Why are those on the far right not respectful of those who work for a living and wish to benefit from collectivism. Recognizing this, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Hughes observed, “Long ago we stated the reason for labor organizations. We said that they were organized out of the necessities of the situation: that a single employee was helpless in dealing with an employer;… that union was essential to give laborers opportunity to deal on equality with their employer.” Remember it was the Union that brought the weekend, the 40 hour work week, the eight hour day, sick leave, worker safety, and the ability to live the American dream.
One of the interesting things that is now surfacing is that the Right wing failed to take into consideration the negative impact on the local economy of wage reduction caused by workers having to pay more into retirement plans and more for health insurance. Because of his legislation, Governor Walker has reduced by one billion dollars per year Wisconsin public sector workers’ disposable income. Wages were reduced by approximately 15%, because of the legislated mandatory payments in retirement deposits and health insurance. That has had a huge negative impact on local businesses, and they are reacting – public workers have less to spend on food, clothing, and the essentials – restaurants are hurting, as many have cut back on eating out. There is such distaste for the Governor that he has been asked by proprietors to leave their establishments.
For those of us who have spent our careers, championing human and civil rights, and working to expand them, experiencing the planned and willful trammeling of these rights is gut wrenching. Thus, being invited to receive the Letelier-Moffit Award on behalf of the Wisconsin Progressive Movement is indeed rewarding. In closing, let me thank you again, on behalf of Madison Teachers and the University of Wisconsin Teaching Assistants Association. We must stand firm against those whose aim is to take away our rights and destroy our unions; the vehicle which provides power and equity to working people. It was the shipyard workers in Gdansk whose action caused the first crack in the Iron Curtin.
Together – we shall overcome!
October 13, 2011 · By John Cavanagh
A journalist asked me the other day where the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC protests came from. This is the story I told him.
These movements have deep roots. They were planted over the past century by the millions of workers who stood up to exploitation and won basic labor rights and drove up taxes on the wealthy to create a middle class.
That fight sprouted a new root — the struggle for civil rights — and that fight melded with fights to end an unjust war in Vietnam. Then, in the 1970s, women came together to change how the nation thought about sexism, creating the space for new movements that said if you think sexism is wrong, why is homophobia OK? Then environmentalists started asking why it's OK to leave our grandchildren with a polluted planet. These are deep roots.
Around that time, in 1976, the exiled Chilean leader who was working at the Institute for Policy Studies, Orlando Letelier, was speaking before a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, demanding an end to dictatorship. When he and his IPS colleague Ronni Karpen Moffitt were assassinated by that dictatorship 15 days later, their family and friends — including some here tonight at this human rights awards ceremony we hold in their names — responded by turning this tragedy into a powerful force for international human rights.
Then, two decades ago, these movements gave birth to the global justice movement, and millions came together to oppose corporate greed and corporate rule. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous people stood up to free trade They said: enough. Nine years ago, 15 million people in 600 cities said no to war against Iraq. Three years ago, millions poured into the streets to fight for immigrant rights.
This is the Peoples History. And if Howard Zinn were alive today, he'd be writing a new chapter right now.
It might start with the fruit vendor in Tunisia who said: enough. It would describe the millions of Egyptians who said: enough. It would describe the thousands of Mexicans who have stood up to the violence and said: enough. And it would tell about the brave people of Wisconsin who said: enough.
Yes, a part of our history is one of war, racism, genocide, and violent inequality. But, the more important part is the history of people coming together, fighting back, and creating a more decent and humane union.
So, today, we celebrate you all: you who are ending the wars, from CODEPINK to Peace Action; you from trade unions; you from progressive faith groups; you who are stopping the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; you who are creating marriage equality; you who are rebuilding the American Dream and winning support for a DREAM Act; you who are Caring Across Generations; and you who will build the new economy that will provide dignified livelihoods to our next generation in a way that preserves the planet.
And for the thousands who are unrolling your sleeping bags in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza and Liberty Park tonight, and in occupations all over this country, we celebrate you as you continue the history of resistance to make this country and this world better for all of us.
What does the Institute for Policy Studies have to do with Occupy Wall Street? For 48 years, IPS has turned ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment, linking our work with the dynamic social movements of our time. And, we speak truth to power, so today, for example, one of our central messages in this time of supposed austerity is that there is no shortage of money.
And, our work details how we can mobilize that money while pursuing peace — by eliminating hundreds of billions in war spending; while pursuing justice — by sensibly taxing the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street speculation; and while protecting the environment — through carbon and pollution taxes.
There is plenty of money for jobs and for the other things this country so desperately needs.
Institute for Policy Studies Director John Cavanagh is a leader in the movement against corporate-led globalization. He delivered this speech at the 2011 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards ceremony on October 12.
Today, the occupation of Wall Street spreads to Washington, where it's gaining momentum. These occupations are focusing the nation's attention on confronting the giant corporations that have grabbed too much economic and political power after decades of deregulation, subsidies, tax avoidance, and bailouts. In cities across the country, other occupations are beginning with the message that we must shift from a speculative Wall Street economy to a green Main Street economy and address extreme wealth inequality.
The roots of this new social movement reach deep into the soil of Egypt and Wisconsin, where hundreds of thousands of people made the statement with their bodies that they would be present until governments that were oppressing their basic rights were changed. Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC are aiming their sights on both a rapacious Wall Street and a corrupt Washington. They are demanding that jobs come before cuts, and that Wall Street, corporations, and the wealthy pay for those jobs.
This week, IPSers Chuck Collins and Sarah Anderson joined courageous lawmakers Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee to release a new study on tax dodging corporations at the "Take Back the American Dream" conference hosted by our board member, Robert Borosage. Our "America Loses" study exposes 58 "built-to-loot" firms that reaped billions from a 2004 "tax holiday" and then proceeded to slash nearly 600,000 jobs. Many of these corporate giants are now lobbying for another "tax holiday." We urge you to add your voice to those saying no.
And as we say no to Wall Street, we say yes to honoring today's heroes. We invite you to join us Wednesday, October 12 at the National Press Club for the 35th annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights awards reception and ceremony as we pay tribute to the leaders of the progressive Wisconsin struggle and a valiant Mexican group that protects the rights of migrants. Don't miss out on one of DC's must-attend events for progressives. Buy your tickets today.
Please join the youth-led movements on the streets and donate to help the Institute's efforts to do the work that provides the facts, figures, and analysis that will help these movements win.
October 4, 2011 · By Matias Ramos
One of my earliest inspirations in the undocumented youth movement was Mario Angel Escobar, a former child soldier from El Salvador who was among the first to publicly share his story and tell the world he was indocumentado. Mario took to legislative allies, and leveraged the power of media, to advocate through a complex immigration case and earn asylum. Mario, now a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, took to poetry to share the story of the pain that undocumented young people, and he will be reading a piece during Thursday's special screening of Nostalgia for the Light.
Here's an excerpt of a poem that appeared on the publication Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out:
I am the backbone
An equal to any
The chant at the end of the day
I am the caresser of voluptuous earth
Her and I become one
The hands that pluck and pick
to satisfy your hunger
I am the tender callus
The naked wind
The new tongue
Flesh seeking peace
I am the silent lip
The gaze that shouts
Click HERE to purchase a ticket to the special screening of "Nostalgia for the Light," a prelude to the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award. Pre-screening features include a special reception and light fare, with music from Son Cosita Seria and poetry from Mario Escobar.