Edward S. Herman
Obama vs. Romney
Pennies For Your Thoughts
Psychologists Subvert Democracy
Bruce E. Levine
Citizens United and Walker
Cocaine, Power, and Gaza
Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
No Such Thing As Rape
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
People's Health Tribunal
A few years ago, our people, the people you can see around you, began to realize what was happening,” Maudilia López told the hundreds gathered to attend the first ever People’s Health Tribunal in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, the main site of the Marlin mine, an open pit gold mine that is one of the most important projects of Canadian gold mining giant Goldcorp Inc.
The gathering, held on July 14-15, was the result of an organizing effort originating from communities affected by the Marlin mine. Also present were people affected by Goldcorp’s Los Filos mine in Mexico and its San Martín mine in Honduras, as well as representatives from throughout Central America (El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama), who provided a regional examination and critique of the resource extraction model and its effects on communities.
“For now, we will ask, before this community, that you will swear to arrive at a conclusion based on what you have heard people say,” López continued, turning her attention to the panel of judges in front of her. Sitting in front of the audience were the Tribunal’s 13 judges on a panel comprised of prominent human rights defenders and ecologists, health specialists, and scientists from 5 different countries, including Robert Goodland, a Canadian Tropical Ecologist who worked for 23 years as an environmental consultant to the World Bank; Dr. A. Chicas, doctor, public health specialist, and Secretary of the Ethics Board for the Medical Profession in El Salvador; Jesús Lara Chivarra, indigenous authority of the Wixarika Nation (Mexico) and member of the Wirikuta Defense Front; Yolanda Chalí of the Association for Community Health Services of Guatemala; and Rachel Sieder from the Center for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology, Mexico. They travelled from both north and south to listen to dozens of ordinary people, technical experts, women, men, mine workers, indigen- ous leaders, and even children, tell how open pit mega-mining has impacted their lives.
The International People’s Health Tribunal (IPHT) was modeled on a popular practice of public justice known as Permanent People’s Tribunals, which have been used throughout the Americas to denounce harms caused by multinational corporations that otherwise enjoy full impunity from national and international legal systems. The IPHT was unprecedented in that it marked the first attempt by a popular tribunal to tackle the issue of health systematically.
The tribunals are meant to give voice. They provide a space for people to speak out, have their grievances heard, and hear the grievances of others—a space for information to be systematized and for experiences to be transmitted and shared with a broader public. Their results are not legally binding, but they aim to break the impunity of corporations, at least symbolically.
The premise of the IPHT—which was inspired in part by a study conducted by registered nurse and doctoral student Susana Cajax—was to look at the holistic health impacts of open-pit mining in the region. Despite the mining industry’s long history of accumulation through dispossession in the
The psychological and social dynamics are more abstract. What people described as impacts on the social fabric of their communities, on their psychological state, and on their ability to exercise self-determination over their lives are often neglected. These problems stem from the initial imposition of mining projects, a violation of the right to free, prior, and informed consent upheld by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the right to be properly consulted, as protected by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169.
As Mexican representative Gustavo Lozano explained: “This is also about psychosocial health. Communities live with great anxiety because they’ve lost control over their own lives. This directly impacts their dignity. In fact, we could say that this is one of the definitions of dignity. All of a sudden, you don’t know what will happen with your life. The mining industry is like a trauma for communities. They bring us irreparable harms, harms that have no price, that last for hundreds of years. But they also bring repression. They bring martial law, military bases, criminalization in the form of unjustified arrest warrants and drug trafficking charges, personal threats to our lives, and even rape.”
Dr. Juan Almendares, Honduran doctor and founder of the
They’ve always wanted to buy my land and they’ve always threatened me for not wanting to sell it. Once I had my grandson in my arms and they put a machete to my neck. It wasn’t until my grandson cried—that is what saved my life,” testified Diodora Hernandez, who repeatedly refused to sell her land to Goldcorp. Hernandez explained the threats to her life that have resulted from the mining company’s presence in her community. In 2009, she was shot in the eye by two former mine employees, but survived the attack. “This is what they have done and continue to do and I have committed no other crime than not wanting to sell my land.”
In addition to reporting on pressures, threats, and coercion from mining company employees to sell their land, communities surrounding Goldcorp’s Marlin mine used the tribunal to denounce the health, environmental, and human rights violations that the mine has caused, which stand in stark contrast to the picture the company has painted to shareholders and the media.
Dirty Business in
Marlin is one of Goldcorp’s most important and lowest-cost projects in
“The number one and most important factor is that we are operating the mine to international standards from the very beginning,” said Goldcorp CEO Chuck Jeannes in response to allegations of human rights violations and environmental damage. (Jeannes earned $11.4 million in total compensation in 2011, making him one of
Many in San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa, the two municipalities touched by the Marlin concession, attribute the severity of community divisions and social conflict they are now experiencing to this initial lack of consultation. In fact, to formalize their position in response to the Guatemalan government’s failure to uphold its international legal responsibilities, on June 18, 2005, communities in Sipacapa held a referendum on the mine. The result was an overwhelming rejection: 2,486 people voted against the mine, 35 in favor, and 32 abstained. The vote was deemed non-binding by
In the years following, Goldcorp acquired Glamis Gold and various media reports, studies, and testimonies have come out, offering evidence that the mining project has, in fact, been causing harm to the integral health of the communities. An analysis of Goldcorp’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment conducted by Etech International found “mine wastes have a moderate to high potential to generate acid and leach contaminates.” It also found “existing data suggest that tailings seepage may be migrating to the drainage downstream of the tailings dam” and “that water treatment will not address leakage of contaminants into groundwater.”
Inaccurate environmental impact assessments appear to be an industry-wide problem. In December 2006 EARTHWORKS, an extractive industry watchdog, conducted a study of 25 mines in the United States, where regulations and oversight far exceed those of their Central American neighbors. EARTHWORKS found “76 percent of studied mines exceeded water quality standards, polluting rivers, and groundwater with toxic contaminants, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cyanide.”
In 2010, Physicians for Human Rights released an independent study of the Marlin mine and determined “some residents living near the mine have relatively high levels of lead in their blood and arsenic in their urine.”
Political persecution and criminalization were also denounced as contributing factors to the psychological and social trauma within affected communities. Throughout the life of the Marlin mine thus far, at least 15 arrest warrants have been issued against community members who are opposed to the mine. They have been subject to various allegations, including sabotage, harboring intentions to commit a crime, and sedition. Eight of the persecuted community members were women, some of whom had to flee their community to avoid being detained. But Gregoria Crisanta Perez, who had two separate arrest warrants issued against her in 2008, testified, “We live from the earth. We eat beans and corn. I’d give my life to defend everything that sustains us.”
Toxic Legacy in
Carlos Amador from the Siria Valley Environmental Committee in
Since 2004, independent studies have concluded that Goldcorp’s San Martin mine in the
In a May 2006 article for London’s the Independent, journalist Andrew Buncombe noted that Goldcorp’s San Martin mine “highlights how—with the world’s most accessible gold reserves having already been taken—mining companies are now using highly destructive and toxic methods in the developing world to feed our enduring demand for this precious metal.”
Buncombe also pointed out that the methods of mining that Goldcorp uses, which can “produce up to 30 tons of toxic waste for each ounce of gold produced,” have been dismissed as a source of health problems by the company. He quoted one company official as linking health problems to local Hondurans’ “bad diet.”
In another public hearing in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2007, the Latin American Water Tribunal, an autonomous, independent, and international organization of environmental justice, ruled that Goldcorp’s subsidiary in Honduras, Entre Mares, was “guilty and must take responsibility for inappropriate use and contamination of water sources in the [Siria Valley] region and for causing harm and risk to the ecosystem and to human health.”
“Goldcorp must clean up its act so that the people of
In 2008, the company started the so-called reclamation process at the site. In the company’s closure plan, missing was any program to effectively address people’s health problems from surrounding communities affected by the mine. But the experiences of community members speak for themselves. Olanda Occosta, testified at the tribunal about how she has lead and arsenic in her blood and is losing her hair.
Rodolfo Arteaga, a former Goldcorp worker, testified that he was diagnosed with “serious bronchitis and a lung infection” leaving him unable to work and that he suffered psychologically from the destruction of his community, Old Palorama, where he had lived for 37 years before being forced to resettle. “My community was founded in 1880,” he explained. “All it took was for a company to come in March 2000 to destroy it in just a few days.”
Finally, Angel Torres, another former mine worker of eight years who burned cyanide containers for the company, developed chronic leukemia and was unable to work. He testified at the tribunal that 36 of his fellow mine workers were suffering from severe illnesses and that some had become sterile, adding that women who had worked inside the mine serving food had developed uterine cancer.
Los Filos, the largest gold mine in
Mijangos also pointed out the way in which Goldcorp takes advantage of local conditions to reach lowest-common-denominator contracts with communities that maximize its profits. “Goldcorp, in Carrizalillo, to extract one ounce of gold, invests $430. That’s what it costs and they sell it at $1,600. Here in
M4 Against the Mining Development Model
On July 15, the tribunal’s judges demanded that Goldcorp pay reparations to the victims of its mining activities, compensate communities for past, present, and ongoing damages to health and the environment, and suspend all operations in
The day following the tribunal, representatives from Mexico, Costa Rica, Panamá, El Salvador, and Guatemala gathered to announce the inception of the M4 movement—the Mesoamerica Movement Against the Mining and Extraction Model. It is a project of regional coordination for the advancement of territorial and national defense against mining and other imposed development models. Grace Garcia, a representative from
The suit was filed when the state denied the company’s extraction license due to local and national opposition to mining. Olmedo Carrasquilla of Panamá spoke of alternative development models being implemented by communities. All confirmed their belief that mining is “the single most contaminating and human-rights violating activity in
Nely Rivera de Silva, who works with the Center for Research on Investment and Trade in
Beth Geglia is an activist and independent documentarian from
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.