War on the Environment
U.S. Arab Disconnect
Edward S. Herman
Billionaire Phillip Anschutz
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
The San Jose Project
Labor Must Play Its Wild Card
Obama's Jobs Proposal
Court Allows U.S. Citizens to Sue Rumsfeld
The Filthy RIch
"Soft Power" in the Middle East
The World of Drones
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.
The San Jose Project
In 2006, the Mexican government ceded over 143,000 acres of indigenous land to a Canadian mining company. When Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines celebrated the grand opening of its first Mexican mine in September, communities on the ground felt some familiar impacts. “We felt a ‘boom’ come from the ground and then there was this crack in the wall,” said Bernardo Vásquez. The cracks would appear, sometimes suddenly, sometimes over time as the ground quivered from explosions as the mineshafts were being hollowed out below.
One of over 60 damaged buildings in the Zapotec
Vásquez points to a discolored spot in the corner of the room where water seeps from another crack when it rains. “We built this house 25 years ago,” he said. “I hope my house doesn’t fall down, but the cracks keep getting bigger. If the walls give way, where will we go? We live in extreme poverty. There’s no future for us.”
Like most Oaxacans, Bernardo Vas- quez never made it past the sixth grade. Income is irregular and sometimes dries up completely, so the family relies on its small cornfield in hard times. With no running water, the springs that quench the crops and animals are all that stands between the Vásquez family and nutritional disaster. “The mine is a death sentence,” said Bernardo’s brother Hilario. “They poison our corn and our cattle. They dry up our water. They bring in pistoleros to push us around. But everyone knows what happens when the foreigners come. We will shut down the mine, cueste lo que cueste,” whatever the cost. A dozen heads nod agreement.
The family patriarch, Abuelo, or grandpa, mutters from under his cowboy hat that the Canadians’ industrial slurry pond—dug just a few hundred yards from the village’s freshwater reservoir—will contaminate the groundwater like so many other mines have done across Mexico. “God knows how many microbes I’ve drank in my day,” Abuelo says, “but these chemicals, well that’s a different question.” Talk turns to the nearly 12 million tons of waste the company predicts it will produce, as well as the villagers’ acquaintances from neighboring towns who ended up with nothing to eat and nowhere to go after gringo corporations finished with similar mining projects.
Seven miles away in San Jerónimo Taviche, toxic byproducts from older mining projects poisoned the soil and groundwater. After losing their farmland, many residents moved to urban slums in the capitol city.
“For years animals were dying in Taviche and the people didn’t know why,” said José David, a veterinarian in the nearby urban center of Ocotlán de Morelos. When a peasant’s cow took ill in 2008, he knocked on David’s door and asked if he would come take a look. “But when we got to the village, the cow was already dead.” David took tissue samples from the cow and water samples from nearby streams for analysis. The results confirmed the animal died after ingesting dangerous amounts of arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Lead levels in the streams were well above
At another mine site 45 miles to the north, Fortuna’s former partner on the San José Project, Continuum Resources, contaminated the soil with heavy metals and dried up 13 of the 20 springs in the indigenous
A few decades ago this kind of project would have been illegal in San José del Progreso. Part of an ejido—communally held indigenous land constitutionally protected by the land redistribution programs of the Revolution of 1910—the land around San José del Progreso was reserved for agricultural use by the community. But in 1994 President Carlos Salinas repealed those protections to open up the countryside to foreign investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Today ejido dwellers are still afforded some measure of control over their land—any industrial project taking place there must have written approval from the ejido council—but the land is no longer viewed as sacrosanct by government or business, even if it remains so in the eyes of indigenous peasants like those in San José del Progreso.
Canadian corporations run 70 percent of the mines currently operating in
Fortuna never made an agreement with the ejido council, nor did it bother to fill local communities in on its plans before showing up with the rights to a swath of public land five times the size of
“Native people have the right to be consulted before this kind of project takes place,” said Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, resident of
In 2009, Vásquez Sánchez and other ejido residents passed a referendum calling for the mine’s closure. If the mayor didn’t make the company leave, residents warned, then they would. The mayor didn’t budge. Hundreds of residents from
Such a brazen challenge of authority irked local politicians. “The mayor walked around with a sawed-off shotgun like in the wild west movies,” said a former soldier who drives a taxi in
Human rights groups have charged Canadian mining companies with violating laws relating to everything from workplace safety to forced child labor. But with plenty of spare change for the occasional fine from regulators and little media scrutiny, companies are often able to continue mining. In
“The majority of the population has supported us from the beginning,” said Manuel Ruiz-Conejo, who runs community relations for Fortuna’s subsidiary, Minera Cuzcatlán. “We’ve been working in relative tranquility, because the population sees the opportunities this investment provides them in development, education and work.”
But residents say Fortuna uses these “community relations” programs to buy support for the project. “People who back the mine and the government are poor just like everyone else,” said a local community radio reporter. “But somehow they can afford new cars and nice houses. Their kids go to private schools in the city. The businessmen offer these things as incentives to people they think are sympathetic. Now those people will fight their neighbors to keep their nice things,” he said.
The Cost of Dissent
The padre always liked to listen to the Beatles,” said Sergio Perez, the priest’s personal assistant. It was Sunday evening and the old mission-style church should have been bustling with activity, but a sign taped to the sanc-tuary door read “No Service Today.” Across the highway in San José del Progreso, police stood guard at the vacant city hall. Both buildings were without their masters—the priest in handcuffs at the hospital and the mayor and his health minister in the morgue.
Father Martin’s office was just the way he left it the Sunday before, when he rushed out with Perez for evening mass in
Earlier that day, a group of villagers had stumbled upon members of
Now Perez watched in horror as the priest lay curled on the ground, taking kicks from the masked assailants. “I got out of the car and shouted for the crowd to help, but everyone just watched. It was as if they all knew in advance.”
The men dragged Father Martin into a pickup truck and drove to a house down the road. As the crowd dispersed, Perez called the police: “Two officers came an hour later. I told them what happened, that they were holding the padre in that house down the street. But they wouldn’t do anything. They just left.”
After tying Father Martin naked to a chair, beating him senseless, and threatening to set him on fire, the kidnappers drove him to a hospital in
Faced with public outrage over the incident, the state dropped the charges against Father Martin and released him. The Church quickly whisked him to an unknown diocese for his safety. There was no investigation into the incident. Though the identities of the kidnappers are widely known, they have never been charged.
Ed Williams is a reporter at KDNK FM in Carbondale,
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.