The First American Encounter Against Impunity - Primer Encuentro Americano Contra la Impunidad
By Keegan Smith at Jun 22, 2009
On the weekend I went to "The First American Encounter Against Impunity" in the fourth Zapatista caracol of Morelia. It was a call for unity in Latin America against repressors past and present who are living in impunity while the victims of their crimes continue suffering the indignity of illegal actions which have gone unpunished and in many cases unpublished.
357 visitors from all over the world came together to hear depositions from participants of 12 countries from the continent of America including various states of Mexico. It was an opportunity for victims not just to exchange stories of suffering, past and present, but also to share old and propose new solutions and to create new models for justice.
A complete archive of the denouncements and reflections can be found at contralaimpunidad.org/ along with images and audio from the event.
Today reflecting back on the event of the last 2 days I have a mixture of emotions and thoughts. Firstly it was great to have the opportunity to be in the presence of hundreds of individuals who care about the injustices of the world today. People willing to spend resources, time and leave some of the comforts of the city behind in order to address these injustices. It was also great to hear first hand from people from all over the continent about the realities they are living.
I left the event feeling enriched for the experience but wanting more. I felt like too much time was spent talking about the symptoms of a capitalist economy which searches relentlessly to create new fountains of wealth to be bottled and sold by the wealthy few to the masses. There was little time spent on broad discussions of how to combat this situation and even less on concrete actions to be taken by participants. Still it provoked personal reflection about such strategies and probably did the same for most of those present.
My biggest disappointment is the apparent lack of credit being given in Mexico to the new left in Latin America which is attempting to forge concrete and binding solutions to the problem of impunity of and before the state. The Bolivarian Revolution and all of its new economic, military and social initiatives are attempting to change both the underlying economic conditions and address the symptoms of capitalism. It attempts to go beyond its member nations in creating new multinational legal alliances to call to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity. This is happening both in the creation of new media outlets such as TeleSur (telesurtv.net) and the creation of the South American Defense Council (alternativabolivariana.org ).
It seems that being in a Zapatista community or supporting the Zapatista movement for many causes a partial blindness which negates the ability to see that many of the demands of the Zapatistas and the left in general are being realized or at least confronted as the challenges by governments in neighboring countries. Perhaps it's the progress of intelectual debate which makes it so difficult to see the ideals of the left who search for autonomy, without changing the state, finding a path to creating a new reality. This lack of ability or unwillingness to see other solutions means lessons are going by unlearned and much needed unity amongst the left is being lost. It is also pertinent to note that the new left in Latin America supports the Zapatistas fundamentals and draws experiences and concepts from their movement.
I would also like to personally thank the Zapatistas for hosting the event. It was great to have the opportunity to dance, eat, play soccer and speak with them. We openly shared experiences about their local reality and Australia.
Some of the highlights of the presentations included:
Hugo Blanco from Peru who spoke about the current crimes against humanity being implemented by the government of Alan Garcia as part of a plan to clear the way for its free trade agreement with the United States.telesurtv.net la-guerra-contra-los-pueblos-indigenas/ http://blog.buzzflash.com/analysis/803 .
Camilio De Silva from the Landless peasant movement (MST) http://www.mst.org.br/mst/home.php http://www.mstbrazil.org/who spoke about the military being a mechanism of the bourgeois to be used against workers, students, peasants and anyone else who gets in the way of their capitalist interests and the need to get beyond it.
Humberto Mirando from Cuba spoke from his heart about the personal impact of the Cuban revolution on his family. The revolution allowed him and his three siblings to go to university despite being born to a poor mother. He also spoke about President Obama's administrations complicity in the massive injustices associate with the cases of the Cuban 5 wrongly imprisoned in the US and the case of self confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles who's living in impunity in the United States. ( An introduction from a non radical source to the Carriles case wikipedia Luis_Posada_Carriles Superseding_indictment_in_2009 and here for the Cuban 5 http://www.freethefive.org/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbbmp0sfPAc&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.freethefive.org%2F&feature=player_embedded )
Atteresa Contreas from Mexico was widowed by a mining accident. The resulting cover up has failed to recover most of the bodies and has been followed by a fraudulent investigation. She called on the audience and the EZLN to help fellow victims take control of the mine.
The case of former Peruvian president Fujimori who denied justice for many of the crimes committed against the Peruvian people prior to and during his time in office was also presented. The efforts of activists has resulted in him being sentenced to 25 years in prison after being captured in Chile .
The Bolivian representative spoke about the success of their struggle to bring to justice dictator Luis Garcia Meza Tejada. He is currently serving a 30 year prison sentence
There are also legal actions under way against Ex President Gonzalo Sanches de Lozada. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8056718.stm The difference between the cases being that the current President Evo Morales is encouraging that Lozada along with 16 members of parliament be tried for their crimes (which resulted in the death of 60 protestors in El Alto, Bolivia) where previous regimes have been obstacles to the legal process. The MAS government is also investigating cases and searching for the bodies of hundreds who were disappeared during the "dirty war." So far 4 bodies have been recovered.
The participant from the Island of Kiskeya (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) spoke about the situation of extreme poverty, damaging foreign interventions and growing forces for division within and between these two countries which share one island. He also spoke about the two views being presented the future of Haiti, those being: the paternalist view that the country is in such a bad state that it will never be able to resolve it's own problems; and that of Cuba and Venezuela who want to support the country to create it's own path to peace and prosperity. He also mentioned the two coups against popular leftist leader Aristide in 1991 and 2004. http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=405&topic_id=13937&mesg_id=13937 http://www.voltairenet.org/article159651.html