Daily violence continues around the Chapare
where police and soldiers with automatic weapons raid
small coca farms, terrorizing families and burning
down homes. In a very real way this is the front line
of the war against terrorism -- poor people fighting
back against the terror of our empire with rocks, road
blockades, strikes, and mass demonstrations.
Right now the movement here is being divided by
vicious rumors that sound so much like the lies the
FBI and the CIA spread through the North American left
in the 1960s. But the people are strong and the
people are wise and they are forging ahead anyway.
Oscar Olivera, one of the most brilliant organizers in
Cochabamba, talks about how this is a revolution
carried out through radical democracy, horizontal and
transparent, and that it is about the transformation
of every day life. He tells the story of a village
nearby that joined the struggle against water
privatization. The company that was privatizing the
water here diverted the stream that flowed through
town. The people still had water to drink because
they had wells and rain barrells. But when the stream
was diverted the trees began to wither and die. And
when the trees withered, the birds no longer came.
And when the birds no longer came, there were no
birdsongs in the morning to lift the hearts of the
people as they went off to work. And so the people
took to the streets to fight for the right to hear
birds singing in the trees by the river.
Diane DiPrima wrote that the only war that matters is
the war against the imagination. Every war begins
with our failure to imagine the humanity of others,
the reality of their lives and their joy and their
suffering. Birdsongs are as essential to the
imagination as water is to the body.
Thank you so much for being in the streets today to
speak out against Bush. I wish I could be with you.
The web seems to be weaving itself, Spider Woman skillfully doing her work.
Wondering, would any of us claim that there is a social justice movement in America? I think 911 squelched it in it's infancy. But, perhaps we are still a handful.
Is it time to begin to build one?
I am influenced by a presentation in Seattle by some people, Ramão Aldo da
Silva, from the MST in Brazil - the Landless Workers Movement. They are big, successful, non violent, operate with concensus and true representation of the poor people, they teach and promote paticipation. Their basic political unit consists of 10 families, about 40 people. They are now 400,000 people strong and spreading to China and Africa. They are 20 years in the making
Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement is the largest social movement in Latin
America. Since their first victory in 1985, MST land-takeovers earned land
titles for 250,000 families living on more than 15 million acres of
farmland. In 1999 alone, 25,099 families occupied unproductive land. The MST
also battles Free Trade Agreements like the FTAA, which subsidize corporate
agriculture while destroying the ability of small farmers to produce their
I think in the movement in America, we are focusing on mobilizations ( i
know that for me for the last 3 years most of my energy is used up getting to the next action ), in Brazil they focus on the education and empowerment of
those family units. Participatory politics.
But their goal is not to get representation to the State, but to involve
everyone in a process that truly represents the people.
The suggestion from the MST speaker is that we have to figure out how to do
it differently. That we study other people's revolutions and create a unique movement of our own.
How do we Reclaim the Commons in America? What will wake us up? ( perhaps a
Bush coup will do just that for us ) How do we reclaim a government of the
people, by the people? How do we look at and own our terrible legacy that is reflected in the Bush administration?
I think a consumer strike is a pretty good place to start. There are
hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the Earth...
At the RNC, maybe we can do an action or work magic that helps to kicks off
a social justice movement. Something that calls for more than a
mobilization. Something so crazy sounding and radical that media will love it.