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The Arivaca Connection & Homeland Security
On May 15 an overflow crowd pressed into the community center of Arivaca, an isolated Sonoran desert town 13 miles north of the Mexico-Arizona border. Over 100 peoplemost of the towns citizensturned out to tell the border patrol and other Homeland Security representatives they dont want a 96-foot-high Boeing surveillance tower snooping on them from the edge of town. There were people who were concerned about protecting the yearly influx of Mexican bats from the radars and with the impact on humans and other species of the 130 decibel alert horn; a citizen from Tubac, 25 miles away, wanted proof that radio frequency waves would not interfere with the three space observatories on surrounding mountain tops. But the unanimous concern was about the 24-hour video cameras pointed directly at their town.
In recent months, it has become clearer that the placement of the Boeing Corp tower as part of a network to hunt migrants crossing the border would allow federal agents to watch peoples everyday activities around the clock. Resistance to this government intrusion in the towns life turned to rage when local people learned in April that Boeings site selection for the government-sponsored project was irreversible and not subject to public review. The tower was going up whether they liked it or not.
As one might imagine, life on the Sonoran desert is difficult. There is little water, thorny brush vegetation, and temperatures can climb to over 100 degrees most days. At least 80 undocumented immigrants died in the first five months of 2007 (eight of them right before this meeting). Local people take their independence and their freedoms seriously. As one middle-aged woman told the uniformed government agents, We have been losing our rights in this country back at least since the time of the Reagan presidency and you are telling us to trust you when you declare we have no say over your spying on us in our own town? I am outraged.
Tensions increased when a Border Patrol-Immigration-Homeland Security representative responded that the entire SBInet 28 (Secure Borders Initiative) project is aimed at defending the town and the nation from dangerous intruders. Since 9/11, we have to worry about terrorists, he declared, provoking an audience-wide groan of disbelief.
Among other routes through the desert, migrants pass through the two drainages near town. They get help from some and are treated less favorably by others, but none of the 30 or more citizens who spoke out think the growing web of surveillance is going to stop migration, none voiced fear of the desperate thousands trying to make their way north into or back into sustainable lives in the U.S., and all viewed the tower as government intrusion into their own lives.
Later in the discussion, after Boeing and federal reps had insisted the surveillance radar and cameras would be looking south to the border and away from town, an apparently knowledgeable man stood to tell them that the line of sight of the radar and cameras could not see south or into the dry washes because of land elevations south of site 29. The feds were non-plussed. Speakers pointed out that the radars would be constantly sending back false alarms because the 29 site is frequented by hunters, cattle, walkers, bikers, joggers, campers, and children playing. The government representatives remained undaunted, saying theyd work out the bugs. When challenged by a woman as to how each of them would feel if cameras were being set up outside their homes, all six responded that they had no problem with the idea because the benefits of protection from the bad guys outweighed the negatives of intrusion.
Driving back to Tucson, Steve Johnston, an activist with No More Deaths (an immigrant rights group which runs a summer training camp southeast of town) summed up the gathering. It was a great meeting, but there was an unspoken elephant in the room, he said. Both the Federales and the Arivacans know the purpose of the tower is to watch them day and night. Other towers are the new high-tech approach to trying to stop people from coming across the border, but this one is different. A lot of marijuana comes through Arivaca and thats what the feds are targeting here.
These are good people, Johnston asserted. They have a hard, tough life. When they found some folks running a meth lab here a few years ago they literally ran them out of town. But the intermittent marijuana trade helps people to survive out here. The feds talk about bad guys. They talk terrorism and homeland security, about closing the borders to protect us. But the whole Homeland Security thing is a ruse to watch the town.
Then he chuckled. These people are tough, though. They have other plans for this tower.
Marc Sapir is the executive director of Retro Poll.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.