Ecuador: A Rebellion for the Renewal of Struggle

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An Indigenous uprising is, once again, at the heart of the struggle, opening a horizon of re-appropriation in the face of an attempt to expropriate from all the peoples of Ecuador.

Americas

History at the Barricades: Evo Morales and the Power of the Past in Bolivian Politics

The following excerpt from my new book, The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia, looks at the roots, rise and presidency of Evo Morales, who was overthrown in what is widely understood as a coup on November 10th. The book excerpt, written before this month of violence and state repression, describes how histories and symbols of indigenous resistance have been wielded as tools for liberation and political power in Bolivia, from the government palace to the street barricades. read more

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19 hours 34 minutes ago

This reported piece about maca is required reading for anyone who is interested in what happens when a traditional medicinal plant from a particular region is branded "superfood."

“We estimate that maca began to leave Peru illegally around 2002 and 2003. Today, China produces more maca than Peru,” says Andrés Valladolid, president of the National Commission against Biopiracy at the Peruvian government’s National Institute for the Defence of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi).

China’s National Health Planning Commission approved maca powder as a new food resource in 2011. A marked rise in Chinese crops followed. Velazco says that by 2014 China had 12,000 hectares of maca sown, while Peru had only 5,000. Chinese state-run news outlet Xinhua claims that there were 1,660 hectares in Yunnan in 2012, which could expand to 13,000 by 2020.

By 2015, Peruvian producers were already feeling the blow. “From exporting about US$5 million in 2014, we went to zero the following year and never exported to China again. We lost customers from Europe and the US, who started buying from China. They even wanted to sell it back to us, can you believe it?” asks Velazco rhetorically.

Toward Freedom

1 day 22 hours ago

Happy Friday everyone! Sharing seven songs inspired in seven weeks of protest and repression in Chile, curated by Sandra Cuffe.

Toward Freedom

2 days 20 hours ago

Sharing a powerful essay by Nikhil Pal Singh on the structuring violences of settler colonialism, published in the Boston Review.

"Following the last Indian wars and the closing of the territorial frontier at the end of the nineteenth-century, President Theodore Roosevelt romanticized 'the winning of the west' as the arc of progressive history. He ridiculed the anti-imperialists of his day who criticized brutal U.S. counter-insurgencies in the Philippines and Cuba as sentimental dreamers who would give Arizona back to the Apaches. The settlers’ outlook and its understanding of freedom poses the question 'would you want to give it back?' to demonstrate an absurd proposition. The idea that there could be such a thing as settler decolonization is not only impossible, but also unthinkable.

By connecting the concept of democratic self-rule with a continual project of expansion, the settler narrative shaped collective institutions, ways of war, visions of growth and prosperity, and conceptions of political membership that still run deep.”

Toward Freedom

3 days 22 hours ago

Sharing a new piece from Chile by Raúl Zibechi, looking at debates regarding the new constitution held in the context of a recent meeting of the Coordination of Original Nations.

"If it is true that the uprising in Chile that began in October 2019 closes a cycle that was opened on September 11, 1973 with Pinochet’s coup d’etat, it must also be true that a new cycle is opening, though we still don’t know what its key characteristics will be.

But from what we can see in the streets of Santiago, this cycle will have two key protagonists: the police state, the armed wing of the dominant classes; and the popular sectors in urban neighborhoods and in Wall Mapu. The pulse between these two forces will determine the future of Chile. "

Toward Freedom

5 days 17 hours ago

Sharing a new translation of a piece reviewing events in Bolivia since the October 20 elections.

"The government of Evo Morales committed fraud, after violating regulations and manipulating the Constitution in their favor. This–together with an accumulation of ecocidal, extractivist, and anti-communitarian aggressions over the last 14 years–cannot be disregarded, minimized, or pushed into the background if the future of the Bolivian political process is to be understood."

Toward Freedom

1 week 14 hours ago

Sharing a new review of Andrew S. Lewis' book The Drowning of Money Island.

"The average American hasn’t heard as much about the people who are actually living at the edge of the climate cliff. Flipping the script could help to fill what increasingly appears to be a large gap. Nowhere does this become more obvious than when the National Fish And Wildlife Foundation proposes nature preserves located directly on top of two current Bayshore neighborhoods. As they show their proposed maps to a room full of skeptical Bayshore residents, they realize their error in cringeworthy real time. “It appeared that NFWF [National Fish And Wildlife Foundation] had forgotten to note Money Island or Gandy’s Beach, or hadn’t known that they existed altogether,” writes Lewis.

The book’s microcosmic focus on the Bayshore helps bring into perspective how alien the outside world must look to these survivors. A Bayshore fisherman recounts how New York City oyster bars reject perfectly good, organic oysters in favor of farmed varieties because the natural oysters have sand caked on them.

Residents equate environmentalism with the do-gooders who come to the Bayshore just to flip over upturned horseshoe crabs. The bitter sting of this anecdote is that across the bay in Delaware, medical companies capture and exsanguinate the creatures for their valuable blood. Ecologist Larry Niles points out that conservation agencies may be all that stand between the Bayshore and exploitation by industry, but his words ring hollow. Lewis has already spent the entire book showing us how bureaucracy often lets low-income people down in a climate crisis."

Toward Freedom

1 week 1 day ago

It's Friday, friends. Here's six protest-inspired tracks from Chile. Enjoy!

Toward Freedom

1 week 1 day ago

We've got a new story up today by Sandra Cuffe on how the survivors of police-caused eye injuries have organized for justice and reparations in Santiago, Chile. It's incredible and so inspiring how these folks continue to demonstrate in the streets, even after losing a good part of their sight.

"'I can sort of see but as though I were underwater,' he said, slightly lifting one side of the gauze pad over his right eye to reveal the damage. 'I still have a couple more operations to go.'

Marcelo Herrera has had to spend a significant chunk of this month on total bedrest, even sleeping face down due to a partially detached retina. But when doctors orders and his condition allow, he still attends protests. He went to a demonstration earlier this month right before his second operation, and brought a little frying pan and a wooden spoon to make noise at the protest Thursday outside the presidential palace.

'[Piñera] is the biggest culprit of what is happening,' he said. 'We want justice. He needs to resign.'"

Toward Freedom

1 week 4 days ago

Sharing a report on the strikes in Colombia, reposted from our friends at ROAR Magazine, that gives crucial context on the ongoing uprising.

"A national civic strike (paro cívico) was called for November 21 to protest against some of Duque’s policies, such as proposed labor reforms that would reduce the already-unsustainable minimum income and privatize the pension system. A civic strike is a form of protest in a country where most of the population does not have formal employment and therefore cannot engage in collective action at the workplace. Everyone comes out to the streets to protest in any way they can: workers go on strike, students do not attend classes, people in marginalized communities block the roads, etc.

The Comité Nacional de Paro (National Committee for the Civic Strike), an umbrella organization of Indigenous, agrarian, civic and labor organizations, made the call in October to protest corruption, the cost of living, and the revenue reform; with broad public support, they called for the defense of the right to social protest, an end to repression and militarization and action against unemployment, which borders on 11 percent without accounting for sub-employment and the informal economy that together make up for over 50 percent of the labor force."

Toward Freedom

1 week 5 days ago

Posting our translation of a statement by Niunamenos (Argentina) and Coordinadora Feminista 8M (Chile) regarding #25N actions today.

"We say NO to the gentlemen’s pact that makes us indebted, that makes us poorer, that excludes us and that wants us to be submissive. We say NO to the intervention of the IMF which mortgages [our futures] and regulates our ways of life. We say NO to agreements made from above, and behind the backs of the movements, which shut down our forms of deliberation and political decision making.

We don’t want the false happiness of unlimited consumption, upheld through our own structural poverty and through the impossibility of us deciding. Sexual political violence today treats us as the spoils of war. But we are alert, we have woven our agreements and our differences, which far from dividing us make us stronger, because we know that the way we do politics is not vertical, because we don’t seek to discipline each other, rather we work to open our feelings, to think together and to change it all. As the Chilean feminists said in the 1980s: today, more than ever, we are more (somos +)."