Lacy’s Reportback 2 of 2: G20 is illegitimate, says Mexico

From the streets of La Paz, Mexico, two hours away from the Cabo G20 Summit

At a press conference to conclude the G20 Summit in Cabo, Mexico, Mexican President Felipe Calderon reinforced why so many people oppose the G20’s neoliberalism, austerity, and corporate elitism. Austerity measures, he said, are like “bullets” that need to be “reloaded” again and again. His metaphor was appropriate. G20 policies promote systems that lead to suffering, destruction of communities, and destruction of the environment. These policies are like bullets, killing the people of the world.

 

Here in La Paz, Mexico, a two-hour drive north along the coastline from Cabo, Mexico, the people held their own summit, as the G20 leaders and rich corporate elite met inside a militarized security barrier, in posh hotel rooms with shimmering seaside vistas. It was impossible for protesters to get closer to the official summit, though some tried to find a bus driver willing to brave the checkpoints and the security guards with automatic guns slung over their shoulders. Locals were told that no one could enter Cabo unless they were a documented resident.

 

Activists with the Peoples Summit, Cumbre de los Pueblos, held a colorful march down the main tourist strip in La Paz on the evening before the official G20 summit was slated to begin. Several hundred strong, the march poured into the main plaza of the town,La Kioska, and held a rally and a rock concert. The Peoples Summit also contained two and a half days of energetic panel discussions and workshops on topics like capital flows, offshore tax havens, and climate change and adaptation.

 

The most enthusiastic discussions, though, were less reform-oriented – feminism, the financialization of nature, mining, workers’ struggles, corporate tourism development – discussions on creating our own solutions outside the security barrier in Cabo. Many summit participants felt that the hopes of the people cannot be expressed through the dry and corrupted policies of the G20.

 

Much of this spirit of change is expressed in the Statement of the Peoples Summit Against G20, a document that was put out by the summit participants. It was also felt through the words of the participants.

 

“We need system change, not reform,” said Romulo Torres, Peru, with the network LATINDADD. “If a new system doesn’t begin, none of the other changes will be important.”

 

“We do not recognize the people who govern for us,” said one local activist who spoke with a mask on, in the Zapatista tradition. “Solutions come from the streets. They come from what we do in our homes. That’s where solutions come from… We are the 99 percent and we will not obey.”

 

“Capitalism is alienation,” said one feminist speaker from La Paz. “If we want to take down capitalism, we have to take down alienation.”

 

“The only way to oppose capitalism is through direct action,” said Imelda Garibay, La Paz, a local student activist. “We do not recognize the G20. The G20 is responsible for depleting the resources of the earth.”

 

A passionate and valuable part the conference were Las Mujeres, the women. Feminist@s at the conference were loud, visionary, and full of life. A “Feminist Views on the G20” conference had been held the week before in Mexico City, and the energy from that conference was carried into the Peoples Summit. Many women shared their bold visions for “un buen via,” a good life that blends community with respect, tradition, and connection with the earth.

 

“I want to make a proposal. The proposal is community,” said Julieta Paredes, a feminist@ from Bolivia. “We’re telling to the world that individualism and collective individualism… is destroying us.”

 

“We are in love with life. We are in love with the future,” said Paredes, speaking – and singing – at the rally at the end of Sunday’s march.

 

An important discussion took place about the position of women in the movement for a better world.

 

“We must have equal representation of women and men, otherwise we are not being progressive,” said one feminist@ from Oaxaca.

 

“It’s very important that we contribute our part from different perspectives,” said feminist@ Marta. “We must use all forms of struggle. We must be creative. Governments are using all possible means to exploit us, so we must use all possible means.”

 

The discussion concluded with summit participants working to amplify female-identified voices at the conference and taking steps toward equal representation in panelists and speakers.

 

Last week I marched with thousands in Mexico City against the G20. There was something beautiful about the moment we marched into the Zocolo, the center of the city. I was carrying a banner that read “G20 –> G7,000,000,000” with friends from Occupy London, the M15 movement in Spain, the “Yo Soy 132” movement in Mexico, the Our World is Not for Sale network, and many more. Based on what I heard, saw, and felt in Mexico City, I believe the resistance here in the region of Cabo would be an incredible force except that Cabo and La Paz are tourist towns, and the people are too poor to take a vacation. But everywhere in Mexico, resistance was visible.

 

Summit participants included activists who had been offered the opportunity to meet with the Mexican government to discuss G20 issues with Mexican government officials. Global justice activists such as Hector de la Cueva of the Mexican Action Network Against Free Trade had been invited to participate, but had turned down offers to participate in the government’s photo op.

 

The proposed meetings were a “farce,” said la Cuerva. “They were done by an authoritarian, anti-democratic, violent government.”

 

Everyone in Cabo had been told they had to have identification on them at all times. They were told that the schools would be closed, and the hospitals were only for G20 dignitaries and related personnel. I spoke with one woman who had a pregnant family member in Cabo. The woman was told that the hospital would not be available, even if she were giving birth. They were lucky: The baby was born last week.

 

The communities in the region of Cabo work in seafood processing plants and mining operations. They work in the hotels and the restaurants that serve tourists.

 

If the G20’s policies are bullets, like Calderon said, the people of La Paz have been hit hard. They have felt the wrath of “foreign investment” development strategies in the mega-hotel projects that are surrounded by devastated shanties in which poverty and drug addiction are rampant. The workers who sometimes work 15 hours per day processing seafood eaten by Koreans and Americans, with the profits going to a Korean company, understand “lowering barriers to trade” better than anyone. The fishing and farming communities that are under threat of being poisoned by a foreign-owned cyanide-leaching gold mine may know the pain of lowering “protectionism.” They feel these “bullets,” and they know them well.

Lacy’s Reportback: Alternatives to the G20 Summit, Mexico City

In a luxurious beach resort on the West Coast of Mexico, presidents and finance
minsters from the “Group of 20” countries plan to meet inside a fortified security
barrier to strategize over financial decisions that impact us all. The people of the
world have to suffer the G20’s actions, but meetings are held in secret. Occupy DC
occupier Lacy MacAuley is Mexico to join the resistance outside the G20 summit.

“We have to fight together globally – to fight the corporations and the government,”
said Armando Robles of UE Local 1110 at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago,
USA. The union’s inspiring shutdown their factory in 2008 has given way to the
prospect of a worker-controlled cooperative in place of a mega-corporation. He
was speaking at the Alternatives to the G20 conference in Mexico City, June 14-15,
organized by the coalition Our World is Not For Sale. “We see it in the US, we see it
in Wall Street, we have to fight all over the world. We need solidarity.”

Reasons to hope are everywhere in Mexico City. The Alternatives to the G20
conference brought together people from a variety of NGOs and movements
from Colombia, Peru, Russia, the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Mexico, India, Spain, the UK, the United States and others. Mexico City
events also put people from the Indignados movement in Spain and the Occupy
movement in the United States and the UK in touch with the inspiring local student
movement, “Yo Soy 132.”

The conference included panels on the illegitimacy of the G20, the financialization of
nature, global agriculture challenges, capital flows, and more.

An overall longing for justice is coursing strong in Mexico, as is an opposition to the
neoliberal economic model – the type of economic model that tells Mexico it must
lower trade barriers, promote foreign investment, and all the things that greedy
corporations want countries to do so they can continue to exploit them. Many
Mexicans boldly state that “Mexico is anti-neoliberal.” This has given me hope.

A lot of the conference participants have drawn strength in the past year from
the social movements that have rolled like a wave over the world in the past year.
Because of my passionate involvement in the Occupy movement in the US, I was
placed in a group that included two wonderful women from the Indignados Madrid
15 movement, Susana and Pepa, and a wonderful occupier from Occupy London,
Shimri. Together we participated in several speeches and panel discussions,
including an expansive and energized talk on the future of social movements, a
press conference with Mexico City reporters from some of the largest news outlets,
and a wonderful speech that we gave to students with the “Yo Soy 132” group at the

[University]. The “Yo Soy 132” student movement, focused on bringing integrity to
the Mexican presidential election in early July and bringing honesty to the media,
has been inspiring young people and students in this country. They were incredibly
inspiring.

Many in the Mexican student movement “Yo Soy 132” are concerned that the
movement will end after the election. This is a common concern among movements
that are focused on a single event (often enough, this is a common problem to
local coalitions who organize against large mobile summits like the G20). We
talked to them about how they are using the political moment created by the G20
to talk about one of their core issues: neoliberalism and the direction that global
institutions like the G20, the IMF, the World Bank and others are bringing the world.
We helped them strategize on how to use Twitter, something that Susana in Madrid
has been developing.

After a chaotic metro light rail ride from the university deep into the downtown
financial district with about a dozen of the students, we joined other Mexico City
activists to symbolically shut down the Bank of Mexico. Protesting on the outside as
many members of the media recorded the event. I was able to take the microphone
for a moment to let everyone know: “On September 17, I marched on Wall Street in
downtown New York. I’m happy to be here with you all to symbolically shut down
the Bank of Mexico, the G20, and neoliberalism!”

Young activists stretched a long piece of butcher paper across the doors of the bank,
then spray painted “CLAUSURADO,” CLOSED. We sat on the sidewalk for a time as
two trucks of police (possibly late to the event?) came, looked, and left. Somehow
we wound up across the street in the elegant restaurant and mini-mall complex that
bequeathed Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man and a Mexican, with his fortune.
Over coffee, we conferred on the Twitter strategy and made their brand new Twitter
handle, @132antineo, focused on neoliberalism.

The Mexican students were crackling with electricity. In their eyes was the hope
that will save the planet. Through the commotion of the day, we were all able to
share our hopes, our visions, and our inspirations. I believe that it is the gleam in
the eyes of these young people – youth who are not interested in working within or
inside the G20 or other institutions that oppress them, but interested in building a
better world on the outside of these institutions that will overpower these systems
in the end.

The second day of the conference there was a meeting to discuss the need for solid
organizing in between summits, and in a way that recognizes the G20’s illegitimacy.

On Friday afternoon there was a massive march from the Monumento del Revolucion,
Monument of Revolution, to the Zocolo, the city center. I got a nice tour of Mexico
City just heading from the site of the “Alternatives to the G20” conference to the
protest. Walking up the Calle de Reforma, I started to feel the hair on the back of

my neck stand up. I looked to my left and saw why. There was the Mexican Stock
Exchange right in front of me.

The march was about 5,000 strong by the time it ended. Many people were focused
on the upcoming election, chanting against a return to the previous, conservative
political party, PRI: “No one vote for PRI!” During the march I cheered along, as well
as “No se vende! No G20!” Not for sale! No G20!, which rhymes in Spanish. Once we
arrived at the Zocolo, the Indignados/Occupy movement group was represented by
Susana, who gave the final speech of a huge rally.

In the evening, we headed out with several of the “Yo Soy 132” students. Several
hours of dancing ensued, and two bottles of good Mexican tequila were finished. As
Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution!”

Occupy Our Homes DC rallys in attempt to stop foreclosure.

Yesterday morning, Occupy Our Homes DC rallied 50 people in an attempt to save Dawn Butler’s home in Northeast DC from eviction at the hands of JP Morgan Chase, which has foreclosed on Ms. Butler’s landlord. Under DC law, tenants have the right to purchase their homes when their landlords are in foreclosure, but Ms. Butler was never allowed to exercise this right, despite expressing interest in buying the house A rally in April had delayed a previous eviction attempt long enough for Ms. Butler to secure a stay, but that order was lifted on Monday night. Although police expressed reservation about moving forward with the eviction on Tuesday, a representative from the bank insisted insisted that Ms. Butler be removed immediately.

Chase’s demands resulted in a violent outburst from the U.S. Marshals leading the eviction. Several people were assaulted, and Marc Smith, who had locked himself to the door of the home and to another protester, was choked and beaten unconscious.

“I feel happy about the action today because it showed others in DC that they do not need to lose their homes and that they can resist non-violently,” said Smith. “However, I feel extremely sad that we did not succeed in saving Dawn’s home. But we will continue our struggle with Dawn in hopes In regaining her home, as well as working in other housing struggles.”

There is ample evidence that this was an improper foreclosure, and both Ms. Butler and her landlord intend to continue with civil action against Chase. Meanwhile Occupy Our Homes DC will continue to fight alongside residents of the Washington metro area who are facing eviction. As a result of Tuesday’s actions, multiple other evictions were delayed and a powerful message was delivered: people will not be shamed into silence while their homes are stolen, this community will stand behind them, and the banks who would profit off misery and displacement can expect mass resistance.

Action Alert: MAYDAY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DC ACTIVISTS PLAN MAY DAY CELEBRATION

Washington, DC

4/26/2012

Activists from a broad spectrum of political backgrounds are uniting for a May Day festival on May 1st at Malcolm X Park at 3:30 pm.

Members of the Occupy DC Labor Committee, Anarchist Alliance DC Network, Industrial Workers of the World, Washington Peace Center, the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, and the Amalgamated Transit Union local 689 as well as other groups will be hosting an afternoon of carnival games, live music, theater, workshops and picnicking followed by a bike tour, rally, and march.

Answering a nationwide call by the Occupy Movement for a May 1st general strike or a “vacation for the 99%,” the festivities will celebrate the many meanings of May Day from its pagan roots as a day welcoming springtime to its more recent association with immigrant rights. Above all, it will highlight the long history of the struggle for workers’ rights in America and around the world.

Through performances and teach-ins the day will showcase significant events related to May Day and the labor movement such as the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 – the bombing of a peaceful demonstration for an eight-hour day that resulted in the wrongful execution of four anarchists – which is considered to be the origin of May 1st as an international day in recognition of workers. Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to learn more about current labor and community-organizing efforts.

Along with bringing attention to struggles for economic and social justice, the day is intended to provide DC-area residents with a celebratory way to get to know one another and forge ties. The festivities will end with a rally and march to Lafayette Park. A radical history bike tour will happen concurrently and convene with the marchers at Lafayette Park for the rally.

The broad coalition sees their differing backgrounds as a strength. The “celebration of the diversity of cultures of resistance” will, in the words of Occupy DC Labor Committee coordinator Mike Golash, show “solidarity in the fight against capitalism.” Nancy Munoz, an organizer from the Anarchist Alliance DC Network, said: “We believe through our participation in the May Day actions we will raise the level of awareness by educating people and showing solidarity with other organizations.” She added: “[we will] empower society and help them understand that they can organize themselves in the fight against the establishment.”

May Day marches and labor rallies have been held in the nation’s capitol many times since the Haymarket Massacre. The organizers hope workers and residents from all backgrounds will join them on May 1st for this long tradition of celebrating struggle and to build greater working class and community solidarity.

Contact:

Tim Butterworth

MAYDAY DC

801 North Pitt St., Suite 1007

ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314-1792

mail@kktb.net

703-589-0441

Lacy MacAuley

MAYDAY DC

1112 16th St. NW

Washington DC, 20036

lacy@ips-dc.org

202-445-4692