Friday, April 22, 2005


The Right to Exist

New York City's recent quarter million dollar settlement with the National Lawyer's Guild for NYC police misconduct in arresting protesters at the Republican National Convention last summer, may seem like small potatoes compared to the gazillions Republican officials are helping corporations steal from our state and federal treasuries these days, but that--in my opinion--would be misplacing the emphasis of the story.

Putting things in historical context, sometimes, requires stepping outside our provincial (or in this case, US) box. After all, it's a small world.

One good place I found to open my door to the world has, itself, a remarkable history. I first discovered during the renowned Battle in Seattle encompassing the November 1999 WTO talks. With my newly-acquired access to the internet, I was able to simultaneously watch the cable TV news blackout of the conflict (justified by news anchors' claims of violent protestors run amok) and the real time world wide web video footage of Seattle Police tear-gassing, pummeling, and pepper-spraying dissidents sitting peaceably in the street singing We Shall Overcome.

Six years later, with this vivid image of the malfeasance of corporate media still fresh in my mind, I stopped by Indymedia this morning to witness the social uprising in Ecuador against the betrayal of their government in catering to US econo-military interests. For those not familiar with what's going on in South America, I strongly recommend an Indymedia visit. What's happening in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru makes the Battle in Seattle look like child's play.

Not hard to understand, really. The majority of their populations--like Guatemala--are indigenous peoples. But unlike the first five hundred years of genocide in the Americas, this time the natives are organized, and they're not going to let US corporations, death squads, or anyone else deprive them of the right to exist without a fight.

Lest we think this movement in pursuit of the right to self-determination is a fleeting phenomenon, step outside your box sometime and stroll through the Indymedia archives to Northern Ireland, Basque Country, South Africa, Chechnya, or Palestine. And while you're there, picture a group of gasping, red-eyed young adults in Seattle, standing outside their police-ransacked office, with camcorders and cellphones and laptops transmitting via satellite to me in the comfort of my home what was really going down in the streets of America.


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