From Tehran to Scotland, from Hong Kong to the always fiery, militant youth of Rome, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread across the globe. Tired and angry over decades of corporate owned capitalism, where wealthy stockholders and huge multi-national corporations set the agenda for political and economic policy decisions, plunging millions of middle-class families into poverty, exacerbating the conditions of the already destitute, and forcing millions of youth into either wage slavery or no future at all; the world’s 99% have taken to the streets.
…parish by parish, village by township, city by city, they began organizing…
Yet, on that vast continent south of the Atrato Swamp, colonized and exploited for centuries, there were no “occupy” encampments. The people of South American, with the exception of still Yankee dominated Columbia, over the last two decades, have, slowly at first, then rapidly, begun to take back their governments and economies from both the international corporations and their own local corrupt elites.
There was no sudden revolution – only the memory of Che – no storming of the Bastille nor no Concord Old North Bridge, no shot heard ‘round the world;” just the experience of authentic community action and tangible solidarity. First, the villagers took control of what was closest to them – their faith. Steeped in the liberation theology of Jesus’ true ministry, his support of the poor and the disenfranchised, they kicked out the priests and bishops who pampered and supported the rich. Then parish by parish, village by township, city by city, they began organizing, putting forth candidates for local offices; when some of those were arrested, beaten and sometimes killed, others stepped into their places. Workers throughout the continent began occupying work places (a thought for U.S. occupiers, no?) and taking back their unions from corporate lackeys and power liberals with huge salaries.
The growth and strength of the Latin American labor movement for participatory democracy and economic fairness will highlight the 8th Annual Latin American Labor Conference in Tijuana, Mexico. The theme of the early December international gathering is “Continental Integration & Working-Class Unity,” and will explore how Latin American countries have chosen to “create alternatives which integrate economies focused on human needs (healthcare, education, housing) and not corporate profits.”
A vital component of people first economies according to the conference’s organizers – the U.S. based Labor Exchange – is to build co-operative, collective and worker-owned systems and structures outside the corporate and bank controlled neo-liberal model. Participants of the Trade Union Meeting of Our America movement, who have held meetings throughout the hemisphere and in Central America and Mexico recently, will report on their efforts at worker emancipation. Also to be discussed will be the Bolivarian Alliance’s determination (9 Latin and Caribbean Nations) to achieve a viable alternative to the greed, environmental destructiveness and dehumanization of the corporate owned economic system.
The Conference in Tijuana, December 2-4, at the Hotel Palacio Azteca will be preceded by a three day “Worker’s School,” November 29, 30 and Dec. 1, formed by the Federacion Sindical Mundial of Mexico and the Central Trabajadores de Cuba. The classes, both in Spanish and English, as is the conference itself, will educate and prepare workers, employees, the unemployed, under-employed and youth without possibility of a decent future, for the coming conflagration between the 1% who hoard the planet’s wealth and all the rest of us.
Speaking at both the worker’s school and the conference will be those on the front-line of the war for economic democracy: including Juan Barahona, of the often attacked Honduras Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular; Leonardo Batalla, from the PIT CNT of Uruguay, Jacobo Torres de Leon, representing the Fuerza Socialista Bolivariana de Trabajadores de Venezuela; Joao Batista Lemos, who is Secretario Adjunto de Relaciones Internacionales for the Brazilian labor union CTB; and, Humberto Montes de Oca, from the government mugged Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas.
There will also be representatives from Ecuador’s Confederacion de Trabajadores; Bolivia’s Central Obrero Boliviano, Cuba’s Central de Trabajadores, and the United States’ SEIU local 721.
The Labor Conference registration is $80.00 for the three-day event or $55.00 for the week-end only. The Worker’s School fee is $60.00 for the entire three days of classes and discussions. Registration is at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (313) 355-8566. Reservations at the Hotel Placio Azteca can be made at (01) 8000266660.
For any local student or unemployed person who wishes to attend, the Director of the San Diego Renters Union’s lover, a Mexican national, has made accommodations in his home in Tijuana available free of charge for the full six days of classes and conference. Also, the San Diego Renters Union is offering three scholarships for both the school and the conference. Go to their website, www.SanDiegoRentersUnion or call (619) 450-9804 to apply.
Across the Southern Hemisphere millions of workers and unemployed have locked arms in solidarity to create space for justice and equality, to not only occupy their workplaces but to own them; let us not only support them but learn and “spread the experiences.”