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Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People’s History

Source: Common Dreams

This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus. It was one of a number of books adopted by Tucson’s celebrated Mexican American Studies program—a program long targeted by conservative Arizona politicians.

The school district sought to crush the Mexican American Studies program; our book itself was not the target, it just got caught in the crushing. Nonetheless, Tucson’s—and Arizona’s—attack on Mexican American Studies and Rethinking Columbus shares a common root: the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements. read more

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Blood, Gold and Coke: The Price of Free Trade in Colombia

Source: Truthout

The Colombia Free Trade Agreement opens Colombia to foreign corporations and investment, creating an improved environment for the exploitation of natural resources and labor. Union leaders, activists, farmers, indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples are paying the price – in blood.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has restarted talks with the country’s main guerilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – for which he’s received laudatory press outside of the country, and a more cautious response inside it. read more

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South Africa’s ‘Marikana Moment’

Source: The Nation

The Marikana strike in South Africa is finally over, but the legacy of the massacre that took place there two months ago may prove to be as enduring as that of the Sharpeville massacre more than four decades earlier. On March 21, 1960, the South African police fired into a crowd of demonstrators protesting the apartheid pass laws at Sharpeville, killing sixty-nine. On August 16, 2012, the South African police fired at a crowd of striking wildcat miners at Marikana, killing thirty-four. Not surprisingly, many in South Africa have labeled Marikana the Sharpeville of our times, all the more devastating because the fingers pulling those triggers were controlled by a government voted into power to realize the aspirations of the majority rather than to shoot them down. read more

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Haiti and the Global Food Crisis

Having accompanied and translated for Haitian housing rights activist Reyneld Sanon on his recent trip to Washington, it became all too evident from many sectors: the State Department, Senate, USAID, or World Bank – the ability to sell an image is often more important than the lived realities for Haiti’s poor majority.

Time and again in DC we heard that the Martelly government is a good partner and making good progress, that Haiti is on the right track, that the relocation out of camps is going well, and that the private sector holds the (only) key to solving Haiti’s housing crisis. Further, low-wage export processing jobs are hailed as the magic bullet: with a decent income people can afford to build or rent their own housing, without the need of a government handout. read more