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28.06.2018 Waging Nonviolence

Calls to abolish ICE grow as encampments multiply across the country
The encampment outside of ICE in Portland, Oregon (Image by WNV/Daniel V. Media)

By June 27, 2018

It was about 3:30 a.m. on the morning of Monday, June 25 when armed Federal Protective Service officers returned to the Portland, Oregon office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE personnel had not been back since June 19, when protesters began disallowing easy access in and out of the building. A mass of people had formed the night before and began blocking the exit at closing time on Monday afternoon.

As the protest ramped up that evening, an ICE staff person came out and demanded the protesters move so that the ICE staff could “go home to their families.” It was that line that caused an insurgent uproar, cementing the creation of a community that included hundreds of people and tents.

Family concentration camps

The Trump administration’s “no tolerance” policy on undocumented immigration, and the revelations that families are being broken up and children placed into cages in detention facilities, has created a vitriolic wave of anger across the country. Protests exploded in dozens of cities, targeting ICE operations who many allege have created a system of terror and oppression for people of color and immigrants. Stories about sexual assault in ICE facilities, the use of forced labor in camps, and the “losing” of children in custody have made this an issue so divisive that the public has been forced to confront it.

While the movement has hit a fever pitch in affected communities in every pocket of the United States, the protests hit a tipping point in Portland, Oregon. A local organization, the Direct Action Alliance, held a rally at the local ICE facility in the city, nestled near a track of high-priced condos newly built along the Willamette River waterfront. That first action pushed for an occupation, a blockade that would directly contest ICE’s ability to continue aggressive immigration arrests, and the growing numbers of protesters decided to enact a round-the-clock vigil.

“The feeling has been one of community and defiance and revolution. It really felt like once the occupation started, and started growing, that we were on to something here,” said organizer Jenny Nickolaus.

A community quickly formed, built on the principles of direct democracy and anti-hierarchical decision making. In the model of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the tent city included a fully functioning kitchen, medical and mental health tents, an accessibility area, childcare and a growing complex infrastructure meant to sustain more than just the protest. Committees and working groups were formed with an eye on maintaining the simultaneous purpose of building relationships and halting the functioning of the building it was quickly engulfing. This was more than just a challenge to ICE, it was a vision of something to replace it with.

Committing to disruption

The Portland occupation sparked a nationwide shift in tactics, moving beyond simple protest and into actions where organizers were committed to the longer-term blockage of ICE functioning in the various administrative and detention centers it operates in.

In New York City, the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, or MACC, took the lead on turning a Bikes Against Deportation protest on Thursday, June 21, into a rolling encampment to challenge ICE operations in Lower Manhattan. As the protests continued well into early Friday morning, and confronted an ICE van trying to enter the 201 Varick Street entrance, it was clear that a continuous blockade was starting to form. They had taken over two city blocks by Sunday and were operating in shifts with 20 to 30 people at a time to maintain coverage on the entrance to the facility. While police came and hosed off chalked messages about ICE overreach, ICE canceled all immigration hearings in the building that were scheduled for June 25.

The ICE Out of L.A. coalition, along with groups like L.A. Against ICE and Ground Game L.A., started with a protest action at the Metropolitan Detention Center, which is used by the LAPD, federal authorities, and ICE for detention of undocumented people. As the protest swelled, organizers wanted something that was more than just symbolic and could actually interfere with the basic functioning of ICE in the Los Angeles area.

The protest continued through the weekend, bringing out dozens to maintain watch and keep the protest going on a continuous basis. Those incarcerated in the building have been flashing their cell lights to communicate with protesters on the outside, building a bond between those facing incarceration and the movement of solidarity on the sidewalk.

“It is bigger than just reuniting families, but fixing the problems with, or abolishing, ICE,” said Motter.

Just down the road, and closer to the Mexico border, Occupy ICE San Diego formed out of a massive coalition of groups, from Redneck Revolts to the Democratic Socialists of America, attempting to disrupt ICE operations in a city known for its border militarization. Using a multi-front approach, organizers hit both the Chula Vista Border Patrol and the Otay ICE location on Saturday, shutting it down for 14 hours before state police came in and started making arrests.

“We are a group of organizations, groups, and regular folks who are committed to standing up for the migrant members of our communities. The violence and trauma that Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy has inflicted on migrant families must stop,” said Yesenia Padilla at the encampment.

Viewed from the White House

As the occupations grew, the Attorney General’s Office doubled down on its “no tolerance” policy while opposition from inside the political ranks mounted. Donald Trump finally announced that he would end the policy of separating families through a temporary executive order rather than a concrete policy.

“Trump’s executive order is not even a bandage on this gaping wound, and continues to allow ICE to inflict violence upon our neighbors, family members and friends,” Padilla said, echoing the growing view that the entire system of immigration in the United States is untenable.

As the protests grew, it was not just the policy of family separation that was brought into focus, but ICE as an institution. Organizers keyed in on the goal of abolishing ICE wholesale, using the language of prison abolition of a way of linking up these movements.

“It is directly connected to our other causes, prison abolition, abolishing the police,” said Kim Kelly, an organizer with MACC in New York. “Every cage is still a cage, no matter what the jailer is wearing.”

In Detroit, occupiers came with a clear goal of shutting down the facility, disrupting the “business as usual” approach to incarceration of undocumented people. Groups had come together with the intention of blockading from the start, and they blocked all three entrances to the Detroit ICE facility for several hours on Monday morning until police swarmed the protesters with threats of pepper spray and zip ties. The group has reconvened and re-establishing the encampment on June 26.

“With 40 people we shut down operations at an ICE facility for six hours. Come out and let’s see what we can do with 400,” said Robert Jay, of Occupy ICE Detroit and the Metro Detroit Political Action Network.

Occupy ICE PDX

On Sunday, June 24, a rally with hundreds of people was held at the Portland City Hall with politicians and community leaders openly calling for the abolition of ICE. Chloe Eudaly, the Portland city councilor who rode into office with the support of tenant rights organizations, came out to the occupation to show her firm support. This has been echoed in some sectors of the Democratic Party, with Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan introducing a bill to eliminate ICE.

By mid-morning on June 25, law enforcement had put out an official notice to the Portland encampment indicating that occupiers could face criminal charges. In their public release, which they attempted to hand out to the encampment, they stated that the blocking of areas such as entrances, the creation of loud noise, or anything that “disrupts the performance of official duties by government employees” could be subject to criminal charges.

One organizer, who asked to remain anonymous, said that they were visited by a federal public defender who noted that the Federal Protective Service was planning to evict the camp and possibly seek prosecution of the occupiers on federal statutes.

“I don’t think we have weeks. I think we have days,” the organizer said.

That certainly seemed correct as the pressure mounted on June 25, with police making return visits and occupiers alleging tear gas being fired at them from inside the ICE facility. The Portland encampment is maintaining itself despite threats from law enforcement, including potentially serious federal charges.

“No one has any plans on leaving anytime soon,” said Jordan Sheldon, a member of the Occupy ICE PDX media team. “We will be making sure we keep everything in order to make sure we don’t get swept.”

With the encampment continuing, they are calling for the city to do what it takes to become a “true sanctuary city” and to disallow ICE operations. This is part of the larger push to dismantle the system of mass immigrant incarceration that Trump and Jeff Sessions are expanding, and to see abolition and community as the answer to this policy. If the occupations are able to multiply, grow and withstand state intervention, the large scale demands of abolition — rather than the incremental reforms offered by politicians — will continue to gain traction.

27.06.2018 Pressenza London

This post is also available in: Spanish

The Carnival of Resistance: Trump not welcome in the UK
(Image by Stop Trump campaign)

By Stop Trump

In 2017 a coalition of organisations and individuals joined forces to protest against Donald Trump’s planned visit to the UK. Their letter to the Guardian called his presidency dangerous and divisive and committed to organising one of the biggest demonstrations in British history.

Two cancelled trips later and this time we think he’s really coming. And when he does, the carnival of resistance will be waiting.

We will make it clear to the British government that it’s not OK to normalise Trump’s agenda and the hate and fear it has sparked.

Trumpism directly threatens steps towards tackling:
Inequality
Peace and disarmament
Climate change
Fighting discrimination, particularly against already marginalised groups like migrants and Muslims
Corporate greed

Be part of the fight back. Pledge to join the carnival of resistance now.

22 June 2018 An open letter to the UK government

The Stop Trump Coalition stands in unity, in action and in a carnival of resistance against a man and a system that rips babies from their parents and cages them like animals as part of its day to day agenda.

The shocking and appalling revelations about US border practices are the latest in a long line of shocking and appalling revelations, highlighting what Trump values mean to the people impacted by them; misery and suffering and infringement of their most basic human rights.

We stand for a world where diversity and freedom not only matter but are integral parts of the fabric of society – we reject migrant scapegoating, and attacks on Muslims. We stand in solidarity with LGBTQI communities, and with women who are resisting patriarchy and sexual violence.  We welcome refugees always and everywhere.

We reject in the strongest possible terms the greedy system that Trumpism represents, that impacts on the weakest, the most vulnerable, and that if unchallenged will eventually lead to the destruction of this planet.

We stand for a world where climate justice and economic justice can be a reality – where humane and long term foreign policies lead the way to a better more civilised and peaceful society.

We call on the Government to Stop Trump from visiting the UK next month in recognition of the fact that the normalisation of Trumpism is wrong and destructive. In recognition of the fact that the vast majority of people in this country are against Trump and the politics of hate and division he encompasses. In recognition of the fact that we, as a society, value humanity and family and the safety of children, here and throughout the world.

We are clear. If the visit goes ahead the demonstration on the streets of, not just London, but Manchester and Liverpool, of Barnstaple and Edinburgh, of Leeds and Blackpool, will be among the biggest and the most united in the history of this country.

Disdain for Trump and his hateful agenda unite neighbours and political opponents, brings people of faith and those of no faith together. In meeting rooms and village halls, in mosques and churches, at dance classes and music practice, the people of the UK are getting ready for the carnival of resistance.

This has always been about more than about one man, it’s about the politics of Trumpism which is shamefully mirrored here in the UK, across Europe and the world. We not only reject those politics, but we are committed to resisting them.

#CarnivalofResistance #Resist #StopTrumpism

26.06.2018 – Madrid, Spain Pressenza Budapest

This post is also available in: Spanish

Why Spain could and should Ban the Bomb
(Image by Jo Straube, for ICAN on Flickr)

This week ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn visits Spain to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, with meetings planned with Spanish members of parliament at a national and regional level who have signed the Parliamentary Pledge in support of the treaty.  Further events include a Forum with diplomats and students at the Complutense University of Madrid, a meeting with Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid to talk about ICAN’s participation in the upcoming II World Forum Against Violence and for Peace Education, and a meeting with Rafael de la Rubia from the organisation World without Wars and Violence to discuss ICAN’s  support for the II World March for Peace and Nonviolence.

Spaniards may think that they are very far away from any problems connected to nuclear weapons, but no country is immune from the risk of accidents as the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash illustrates.  Part of the Spanish mainland is still contaminated with plutonium and one of the four nuclear weapons that fell from the sky remains unaccounted for, presumed to be lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean. 

In this context, ICAN has produced a briefing paper explaining why Spain should actively support the TPNW which we reproduce here.

Spain and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Background

  1. On 7 July 2017, 122 nations voted to adopt a landmark global agreement to outlaw nuclear weapons, known as the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It opened for signature on 20 September 2017 and will enter into legal force once 50 nations have ratified or acceded to it. Pending the treaty’s entry into force, nuclear weapons remain the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to an explicit global ban. Thus the new agreement will fill a major gap in international law.
  2. The TPNW prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, transferring, possessing, hosting, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities. A state with nuclear weapons may join the treaty, so long as it agrees to destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan. Similarly, a state that hosts another state’s nuclear weapons on its territory may join, so long as it agrees to remove them by a deadline.

Why Spain should join

  1. Nuclear weapons threaten every nation’s security and would cause catastrophic humanitarian consequences if used. The impact on civilians and the environment would be devastating. The ongoing nuclear modernization programmes of nuclear-armed states and the inflammatory rhetoric of certain leaders increases the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons, either by accident or intent. This would seriously endanger Spain and the world.
  2. It is vital that states committed to nuclear disarmament and a rules-based world order work to strengthen the nuclear taboo by joining the TPNW. Nuclear weapons serve no legitimate military or strategic purpose. The TPNW offers the best hope of ending decades of deadlock in disarmament and moving the world towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
  3. Spain has joined international treaties banning biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines, and cluster munitions based on the inhumane and indiscriminate impact of these weapons on civilians. As a responsible member of the international community, Spain should now join the UN treaty banning the worst weapons of all: nuclear weapons.

Alliance policy

  1. There is nothing in the TPNW that prevents Spain from maintaining a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state. (Indeed, a number of states in alliances with the United States have already signed and ratified the TPNW.) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s legal foundation, the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, does not mention nuclear weapons. NATO members are not legally bound to endorse the policy of “extended nuclear deterrence”.
  2. While NATO’s first strategic concepts did not mention nuclear weapons at all, the current strategic concept, finalised in 2010, commits NATO “to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons – but reconfirms that, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance”. The purpose of the TPNW is precisely to “create the conditions” for a nuclear-weapon-free world.
  3. Decisions about whether the arsenals of NATO’s nuclear-armed allies are dismantled, retained, or upgraded are made not by the Spanish parliament, but by French, British, and American decision-makers. When it comes to Spain’s defence and foreign policy, however, the Spanish parliament is sovereign. NATO’s strategic concepts are in any case not legally binding.
  4. Spain does not possess nuclear weapons, and as a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) of 1968, it is forbidden from ever acquiring them. In addition, Spain has long maintained a policy against hosting US nuclear weapons on Spanish territory. In fact, when the Spanish people in 1986 voted on whether to remain a member of NATO or to withdraw, the remain-vote was explicitly premised on the continued validity of Spain’s ban on the deployment of nuclear weapons on Spanish soil. Although the validity of this ban has subsequently been called into question, Spain has remained free of nuclear weapons to this day. Spain is therefore already in compliance with most of the prohibitions contained in the TPNW.
  5. From a legal point of view, it is not clear that Spain would have to make any considerable changes to its current practices were it to join the TPNW. Most important for Spain is the undertaking contained in the TPNW not to “[a]ssist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party” under the TPNW. In practice, such a commitment would oblige Spain not to act in a manner that could be seen to support the possession or use of nuclear weapons. Spain would have to opt out of any language in future NATO strategic concepts that endorses activities prohibited by the TPNW. NATO members have on several occasions opted out of specific statements in, or attached additional comments to, NATO documents dealing with nuclear weapons.

Eliminating nuclear weapons

  1. As a party to the TPNW, Spain would be in a stronger position to work with other members of the international community to advance nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The TPNW contains mechanisms for a diplomatic process to improve and expand the treaty. A refusal to join the TPNW and engage with its processes would cast serious doubt on Spain’s commitment to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and could be seen as tacit support for a new and dangerous nuclear arms race.
  2. The TPNW is designed to help implement the NPT, which requires all its parties, including Spain, to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament. Such negotiations had, until last year, been at a standstill for more than two decades. The NPT itself envisages the creation of additional legal instruments for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. ICAN was disappointed that Spain chose not to participate in last year’s negotiations.
  3. At a time of great global tension, when nuclear-armed states are modernizing their arsenals and threatening to use their nuclear weapons, it is all the more important for nations such as Spain to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons and to help strengthen international norms against them. The voices of fire and fury should not be met with silence. Joining the treaty is the only responsible course of action.

24.06.2018 – New York City Amy Goodman

This post is also available in: Spanish

How Four Words Changed History
(Image by social nets)

Q: “And babies?”

A: “And babies.”

These four words, broadcast by CBS News in 1969, had a profound impact on the American public, the Nixon presidency and the course of the Vietnam War. Questions about babies have arisen again at the White House, this time about thousands of immigrant children, some only months old, ripped from their parents and jailed in cages on the orders of President Trump.

That question, asked half a century ago, “And babies?” was posed by veteran investigative journalist Mike Wallace while interviewing a young Vietnam veteran named Paul Meadlo. “And babies,” Meadlo answered. He was an Army private who, along with scores of other U.S. soldiers, conducted a raid on March 16, 1968, attacking a Vietnamese village called My Lai.

What followed came to be known as the My Lai Massacre. U.S. soldiers slaughtered over 500 civilians over the course of the day. “They was begging and saying, ‘No, no.’ And the mothers was hugging their children and … well, we kept right on firing. They was waving their arms and begging,” Meadlo told Wallace.

Meadlo was brought to CBS by a young freelance reporter named Seymour Hersh, who was investigating the massacre. He tracked down Meadlo, got his story and convinced him to do the CBS interview. What Hersh uncovered about the My Lai Massacre haunts him to this day. Speaking on the “Democracy Now!” news hour about his new book, “Reporter: A Memoir,” Hersh said, “Instead of meeting the enemy, there were just families, women and children and old men. And so they began to murder them. They put them in ditches. And they raped. They killed. They threw babies up — this was hard for me to even, in the first year — and caught them on bayonets. Some of the stuff I kept out of the initial story, it was just so awful.”

He recalled, of Meadlo’s CBS appearance, “Mike Wallace, who’s tough as nails, asked him — he asked him five times in that interview, ‘And babies?’ Again, he kept on saying, ‘And babies?’”

Hersh later published the story, through the small anti-war Dispatch News Service, after several major U.S. media outlets turned down the story. It earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1970.

Hersh sees parallels with how the press is finally covering the immigrant family separation crisis now. “This could be a turning point,” he said

Today we see photos of crying toddlers next to handcuffed parents, accompanied by an audio recording released by the news outlet ProPublica in which children are heard crying, “Mama! Papi!” while a guard mocked them, saying in Spanish: “Well, we have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.” Elected officials and the media have flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border region, demanding access to detention centers. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was questioned at a White House press briefing, asked why her department had only released photos of jailed boys in cages over the age of 10, with no photos of girls or toddlers there. “Where are the girls? Where are the young toddlers?” she was repeatedly asked. Her confusion as to their whereabouts stoked even more furor.

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers along the U.S. southern border, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 6, allowed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement division (ICE) and Border Patrol to arrest adults whom they suspected of crossing the border without proper documentation, and to separate them from their children. The number of children kidnapped by DHS and ICE is over 2,300, The Intercept estimates over 3,700 have been taken since October.

Scores of immigrants rights activists across the country have been protesting Trump’s order since the day it was issued. The movement snowballed. Congress members demanded to see the children. Democratic and Republican governors began issuing executive orders withdrawing or preventing their National Guard troops from going to the border to assist DHS. Airlines joined in, refusing to transport children stripped away from their parents. By Wednesday, Trump issued an executive order, reversing his own decision. Families would not be separated moving forward.

But that does not solve the crisis for those thousands already snatched from their parents. There is no mechanism in place to reunite parents, some of whom have already been deported, with their children, who are still in cages, jails and hastily erected tent cities scattered around the country in 17 states.

Fifty years ago, four words broadcast nationally changed the course of the Vietnam War. Question: “And babies?” Answer: “And babies.” Four words heard this week, “Mama, Mama. Papi, Papi,” have exposed the cruelty of the Trump administration, and have powerfully changed the course of the immigration debate.

17.06.2018 Pressenza London

Tips from Tomas Hirsch, Chilean parliamentarian: how other parties can recover their meaning

In spite of their different roots Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties have been occupying similar slots in the political spectrum, and are suffering today a similar crisis, brought about by their efforts to adapt to neoliberal dominance, not only in economic terms but also existential.

In this context the advice given by the Humanist Party parliamentarian in the Chilean chamber of deputies for the Broad Front, Tomas Hirsch, to the Christian Democratic (CD) Party could be an invaluable material for discussion for parties willing to recover their sense of meaningful political action at the service of society.

Here is a translation of Pressenza Chile’s report:

Invited to the forum organized by the Chilean Christian Democrats, regarding their own crisis and rescuing visions aa well as opinions of representatives of other collectives to define what they need to get out of their situation of decomposition, the Humanist deputy of the Frente Amplio, Tomás Hirsch, expressed his opinion with the following words:

“Many thanks to the organisers for the invitation to reflect on the current needs of CD. I have been asked to give my views (from outside) on the crisis of the Christian Democratic Party and what should be done to get out of it. Of course, my vision is given from a particular point of view: as a humanist, and as a member of the Broad Front. For this reason, I am grateful for the willingness to listen to external voices, convinced that this is the right thing to do, since on many occasions it is “other eyes” that allow us to identify our most important virtues. These virtues are the ones we rely on to advance, including at the individual level.

Throughout this reflection, my vision will seek to rescue key milestones and leaderships from the history of the Christian Democrats in Chile, which may serve as an inspiration for the current crisis. It seems to me that the recovery of these pillars can be useful to orient the CD once again in a communitarian, mystical and coherent direction. Three key elements for the solution to its current crisis, marked by individualism, pragmatism and contradiction with its own principles.

First of all. Christian democracy has a strong communitarian component, which has led it to promote policies to rebuild the social fabric at various points in its history. It has a focus on building social and political community. Thus, during the government of Frei Montalva, progress was made in the creation of cooperatives and new social organisations, with the idea of creating grassroots organisations capable of responding to their own problems. The same direction can also be seen in the strengthening of trade unionism during the same mandate. Perhaps the strongest reference point in this direction is the impetus given to agrarian reform during those same years. This communitarian component can be a key doctrinal pillar for the solution of the current crisis in CD. As a bastion of social organisation in the face of the draconian individualism of the neoliberal model that has prevailed in our country for several decades. The historical political doctrine of the CD is not in line with the neoliberalism embraced by some of its most conservative activistss, such as Mariana Aylwin. That is not the DC’s historical line. I believe that as a party it has a role to play at this time in Chile’s politics, offering alternatives to this petty individualism governed by the markets.

Second. Another of the historical elements that must be rescued is the mystical achievement present in the Christian Democrats in many of their struggles. The “March of our Young Land” or the struggle against Pinochet’s dictatorship are examples of this. Such transformative actions need to be rescued and serve as guidance and inspiration at these times. Recently I read an interview with Senator Huenchumilla in which he stated that the Christian Democrats do not have a strategy today, that “we simply coordinate the day to day”. That is the synthesis of my argument and one of the keys to the crisis. This is a clear reflection of the current situation and the lack of a strategic project that I mentioned earlier. The CD went from wanting to transform the country to administering the neoliberal model. In the face of pragmatism and the short-term situation, in the face of the immediacy of particular interests and the simple search for power; the mystique -now absent- can be a springboard towards a policy that builds meaning and transcends the particular. You have to look for it, because it’s there. That mystique that is present in grassroots activists and that is present throughout DC’s history. It is not in the “Personages”, but in the common people.

Third. There is often talk of the “two souls” of CD: one progressive and one conservative. There are those who say they can live together and those who say there is no room for the two souls in the party. The (conflicting) coexistence of the two souls has a limit, and this limit is the contradiction with the principles themselves. The principles that give rise to the Christian Democracy are unique, beyond the multiple interpretations. This declaration of principles of 1957 mentions that the mission of CD is “to achieve true democracy”, that it is a task of “human liberation” and that it “promotes the rise of popular forces aimed at transforming the structures of society in our time”.(1)

I don’t see two souls, I see only one. I see a very clear soul and principles. If there are “personages” in the party who want to go in another direction, it will be with the burden of contradicting those principles, beyond any justification for the number of souls that the CD may have. However, be clear that when a party contradicts its own principles, it is destined for political irrelevance. The crisis arises when one loses connection with the deeper meaning that guides political action, and loses and dilutes it in short-term analysis and the simple search for power (for power itself). The Christian Democrats have lost coherence with their own principles and must regain it. An incoherent party has no destiny other than disappearance.

I think it is valuable to recognise that the CD Party is in crisis. It is in a huge crisis. And there’s no sign of change at the moment. Its reality is marked by power struggles, loss of direction and strategy and inconsistency with its own principles. It has no project. However, with adequate reflection, it has in itself the elements to be able to emerge from the crisis. They don’t abound, but they are there. Its communitarian position in opposition to neoliberal individualism, its mysticism and principles  against short-term dominance and pragmatism are some of the pillars it can (and should) embrace if it is interested in emerging from the crisis.

And how does that translate (from our point of view as Broad Front) into a concrete legislative agenda? In an agenda of strengthening democracy, with an emphasis on the decentralisation of power and strengthening the social base. In an agenda that prioritises the strengthening of trade union organisations, taking negotiation by branch as a central axis. In the recovery of natural resources, common to all Chileans: water, copper and lithium. In strengthening the common, the collective. That’s what I think DC’s progressive history talks about.

I hope that my reflections will serve as a contribution to identifying diagnostic elements in the CD crisis, but also some “virtues” that can serve as a pillar to get out of it. Every crisis can be painful, but it also brings with it the possibility of changing things and opening up new horizons. I close my presentation by expressing my sincere hope that these elements of the future that I mentioned will prevail over those that have led to the deepening of the crisis.

Thank you again to the organisers of this event for inviting me.”

1 Declaration of Principles of the Christian Democratic Party (1957). Retrieved from: http://www.archivochile.com/Partidos_burguesia/pdc/de/PBdepdc0001.pdf

16.06.2018 – St. Mary’s, Georgia Pressenza New York

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7

Reprinted with permission from The Catholic Worker, Mary House, NYC for the July 2018 issue.

By Amanda Daloisio

On April 4th, 2018, seven activists entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. Their destination included the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic Administration building, the nuclear weapons storage bunkers and the Trident D5 monument. At each site they used everyday hammers and poured their own blood, dramatically highlighting the destruction inherent in the planning, creation, and use of nuclear weapons and our desperate need to dismantle them. As Martha Hennessy has written since, “We walked onto a military base that harbors the ultimate destruction and we prayed for the power of a message, of a witness that could reach many ears; conversion of free will towards life-giving work and away from death-dealing.” Calling themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares, they became the latest in over one hundred similar actions that have spanned the last thirty-eight years.

Opened in 1979, the Kings Bay Naval Base is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world, housing six ballistic missile and two guided missile submarines. Activist Mark Colville wrote from jail, “The destructive capacity of the D-5 missiles fitted for the six Trident submarines home-ported at Kings Bay is enough to kill an estimate of more than six billion people. “(See nukewatchinfo.org) So it was on this site that they gathered to take action, to draw the attention of a distracted society to the very real consequences of this one part of the US nuclear arsenal. As Liz McAlister explained “We acted to expose this criminality and withdraw our consent to participate in the crime of the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons.”

The first Plowshares action occurred on September 9th, 1980, when eight activists went to the General Electric ReEntry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Then, and today, Plowshares activists enact the Biblical call of Isaiah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Hammers are used to dismantle our weapons of war but also to remind us of all we are capable of building for the common good. Blood is poured to bring home the blood shed worldwide by our constant thirst for war making. The seven spelled it out by writing Love One Another on the ground, a reminder that God’s call to us is that of justice and peacemaking. Writes Liz McAlister, “But, above all, we come with our voices and our lives. We raise our voices in a cry to dismantle the weapons—all of them and we risk life and limb and our future hopes to make this plea: Dismantle the Weapons.”

Reflecting on the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., their statements reads, “Dr. King said, ‘The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.’ This remains true in the midst of our endless war on terror. The United States has embraced a permanent war economy. ‘Peace through strength’ is a dangerous lie in a world that includes weapons of mass destruction on hair-trigger alert. The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth. Nuclear weapons kill every day through our mining, production, testing, storage, and dumping, primarily on Indigenous Native land. This weapons systems is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet.”

The seven activists are Mark Colville of New Haven, Connecticut; Clare Grady of Ithaca, New York; Martha Hennessy of Springfield, Vermont; Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ of Oakland, California; Liz McAlister of Baltimore, Maryland; Patrick O’Neill of Garner, North Carolina and Carmen Trotta of the New York, New York. Writes Clare Grady, “We invite others who have been privileged by these systems [referring to Dr. King’s triplets of racism, materialism and militarism] to join us in withdrawing consent from their deadly function and purpose. We live with hope for a nuclear-free, decolonized world.”

For up to date information and to support: www.kingsbayplowshares7.org

15.06.2018 World beyond War

What Else Canadians Should Be Sorry For — Besides Burning the White House

By David Swanson,

Six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and (fail to) drive the French out of what they considered their continent.

The colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again).

They got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again).

General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed, except in the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans).

The British and U.S. attacked in 1758 and took away a Canadian fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup.

George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775.

An early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada’s lack of interest in being included.

Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand Canada over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Just imagine what that might have done for Canadian healthcare and gun laws! Or don’t imagine it. Britain did hand over Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. (At least they know they’re free!)

In 1812 the U.S. proposed to march into Canada and be welcomed as liberators. They weren’t. But the Canadians didn’t burn the White House. That was done by British troops that included men recently escaped from U.S. slavery. Killing some of those escapees is celebrated in the U.S. National Anthem, as is the fact that during a battle in which people died, a flag survived.

The U.S. supported an Irish attack on Canada in 1866.

Who remembers this song?

Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain’s crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!

Canada has a heck of a lot to answer for, including having served as sanctuary for people fleeing slavery or conscription into evil wars, not to mention providing handy evidence cited in millions of futile debates against U.S. proponents of the impossibility of providing healthcare or banning guns or achieving freedom without a bloody war or ending slavery without a bloody war or being truly happy without a lot of bloody wars. Then there’s that whole banning land mines thing; what was that about?

In defense of Canada, however, it should be noted that Canadian companies deal weapons around the world, Canada buys U.S. weapons, Canada spends $20 billion a year preparing for wars, Canada is a member of NATO in good standing, Canada has not joined the new treaty banning nuclear weapons, Canada’s cruelty to its indigenous nations knows no end, Canada’s rapacious extraction of fossil fuels knows few rivals, and Canada is a disastrous promoter of the myths of humanitarian war and the so-called responsibility to protect (by bombing). So, there’s hope yet for such northerners, and if Canada fails to find its way as part of the global epidemic of organized violence, I imagine the United States would be happy to invade.

Let’s Continue Progress Toward Peace in Korea

Less than a year ago, President Donald Trump was threatening North Korea with “fire and fury.”

Today such threats are completely absent from his remarks and tweets.

Today Trump said, “We will be stopping the war games . . . I think it’s very provocative.” This move has been a central proposal in the People’s Peace Treaty and other petitions and actions that Korean and American and global peace activists have advanced — and precisely for the reason that practice bombing flights are extremely provocative. It was their suspension during the Olympic truce that advanced peace, and their resumption more recently that — together with threatening comments from the likes of John Bolton — impeded progress and temporarily canceled the just-held summit.

But we should not forget the earlier necessary focus on halting the verbal threats coming from Trump himself. That we have moved away from those is the big news.

Yes it’s embarrassing and annoying to watch Trump brag and praise himself falsely and present a false history of the world and of his own recent actions, all of which he did in Singapore following the screening of a ridiculous propaganda video that his team had produced and shown to the North Koreans as well as to the press. But these things are not more embarrassing or annoying than watching humanity actually end in “fire and fury.”

The important thing to notice about Tuesday’s Singapore press conference is that every question from the U.S. media pushed for greater hawkishness, while Trump alone suggested anything in the direction of peace. Last week seven Democratic senators insisted in a letter to Trump that sanctions relief for North Korea await total North Korean disarmament and inspections. Tuesday Trump spoke of sanctions relief as part of the process ahead.

If the U.S. government is going to get out of the way of the peace process that Koreans from the North and South are pursuing, the U.S. public is going to have to actively demand it. The corporate media will not help. The Democratic and Republican “leaders” will not help. Trump will trip over his own ego and willful ignorance if not guided in a useful direction. That such a thing is possible, that the Korean War may finally end, that the U.S. military presence in Korea may actually end — Nobody can doubt these things any longer. And that makes it our responsibility to work for them.

12.06.2018 – Singapore International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

ICAN Singapore Summit Response Press Release
Trump gives Kim a thumbs up in the summit room during the DPRK–USA Singapore Summit (Image by Dan Skavino Jr on twitter @Scavino45)

As Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump signed an “agreement” in Singapore today, ICAN welcomes the diplomatic efforts but warns that only a process based in international law and existing treaty frameworks will achieve nuclear disarmament and fully denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said, “Trump just pulled off the photo-op of a lifetime. Rather than signing an unsubstantial agreement, Trump and Kim should be signing a real document based on international law, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty doesn’t tweet, it doesn’t change its mind on the plane home, and can’t have it’s ego bruised. It’s the only comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible way to achieve meaningful nuclear disarmament.”

At a press conference in Singapore yesterday, ICAN presented a concrete plan for removing nuclear weapons and threats of their use in the region. The Korean Peninsula Denuclearisation Framework outlines five steps to denuclearise North and South Korea.

The plan calls on the countries to recognize the unacceptable humanitarian risk of nuclear weapons; reject nuclear weapons by joining the TPNW; remove existing weapons with verifiable and time-bound plans; ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); and rejoin the world community through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Speaking at the Capella Hotel, the site of the Summit, Akira Kawasaki of the ICAN International Steering Group responded to the agreement saying, “The commitment by the US and DPRK to establish new relations and build lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula is positive and a testament to the skillful diplomacy of President Moon of South Korea.”

He added, “Any peace with nuclear weapons will not be sustainable. Real peace is only achieved by eliminating nuclear weapons, prohibited weapons of mass destruction. We already have international treaties to achieve it. We’ll continue to urge all parties to join the TPNW. ICAN’s five-step proposal should serve as a guide in the process to come.”

11.06.2018 Waging Nonviolence

When you have an AR-15 but want a garden hoe
Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares, a sculpture by Evgeniy Vuchetich in the United Nations Art Collection (Image by Neptuul • CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By June 6, 2018 for Yes! Magazine, vía Waging Nonviolence

Blacksmiths in Colorado use their anvils to turn guns into gardening tools, reshaping America’s gun culture one strike of the hammer at a time.

This is the work of the “Swords to Plows” initiative of the nonprofit RAWTools. Gun owners from around the country send RAWTools their disassembled weapons for transformation. Most guns can be made into several tools, such as hoes and pickaxes. Shotguns often become hand spades, and a weapon like the AR-15 that was used in recent mass shootings has a thicker barrel that suits an afterlife as a mattock.

RAWTools’ first donated gun was an AK-47 from a retired public defender. Since then, it has reshaped more than 200 weapons so far, with more in progress. The tools they create are typically returned to the donor, given to community gardens, or sold to raise money for programming.

RAWTools founder and executive director Mike Martin was inspired to learn blacksmithing and start the nonprofit after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. By late May 2018, 23 school shootings in the United States have involved injury or death this year.

This summer, RAWTools and the Newtown Foundation, an organization formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting to focus on post-gun violence healing, will carry out an extensive version of weapons transformation. In cooperation with the New Haven Police Department in Connecticut, weapons from a gun buyback program will be taken apart by a local metal sculptor. Volunteer inmates from the New Haven Correctional Center will do the blacksmithing to create the tools, which will be used by students at local high schools to plant gardens. The harvests will be donated to soup kitchen and shelters.

“The entire process will essentially transform weapons of death into implements of life,” Newtown Foundation communications director Steve Yanovsky said.

Martin is a former Mennonite pastor. “Swords to Plows” is a reference to the biblical quote, “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks … nor will they train for war anymore.”

He works with his dad and three other blacksmiths locally in Colorado Springs, as well as in traveling programs. RAWTools also promotes community dialogue around gun violence and leads peacemaking workshops. It partners with churches, community groups and organizations like the Newtown Foundation and the Children’s Defense Fund.

During the group’s community demos and workshops, participants can try their hand at forging the metal. Cherie Ryans is one of numerous mothers who lost a child to gun violence and has taken a turn at the RAWTools forge. Martin said that between each swing of the hammer to the iron she said: “This bang is bang for bang my bang son.”

“I was holding the hot metal as she did it. Everyone was in tears, and it was all I could do to hold the metal safely,” Martin said.

More than 300 million guns are loose in America — the equivalent of about one gun per person. About 96 people are killed by guns in America every day.

The type of gun surrender program that RAWTools is reimagining has been going on in the United States since the 90s in the form of police-run buybacks. Weapons can be turned in anonymously to police, no questions asked. To encourage participation, police often give out gift cards in return.

A 1994 study evaluating a Seattle buyback, which the National Rifle Association references, concluded that while buybacks are broadly supported by communities, their effect on decreasing violent crime and reducing firearm mortality is unknown. The nonprofit GUNXGUN, which mobilizes community-funded buybacks, states the infrequent and isolated nature of U.S. buyback programs makes it hard to analyze their effectiveness. But, it points out that after a 1996 mass shooting in Australia, an extensive buyback program coupled with stricter gun regulations led to a significant reduction in firearm deaths.

Getting firearms out of circulation is only one of many potential ways to reduce gun violence. Along with changing guns into peaceful instruments, RAWTools runs workshops on intentional conflict resolution. Martin says these range from “serious to silly” and integrate dramatic arts, role-playing and direct instruction.

RAWTools artist-in-residence Mary Sprunger-Froese leads many of these multi-age programs, which might include rapping, personal storytelling, skits, and other ways to train in de-escalation and peacemaking. So far she has taught an adult bystander intervention class and led a theater and nonviolent tools workshop for middle schoolers.

Martin envisions a nationwide RAWTools network, and said it’s happening already.

Volunteers across the country have helped gun donors disable guns for the forge, and churches have opened their parking lots for tents and anvils. Blacksmiths throughout the United States have signed on, and Martin says he needs “more people to help make tools, especially if they come from guns in their region.”

RAWTools is piloting a regional chapter in Toledo, Ohio. This summer, it will host youth workshops involving making tools from guns, creative expression and conflict mediation.

“There’s something beautiful and good about participants forging something that destroyed our community in some way into something that will bring beauty and life to our community,” said pastor Joel Shenk, who is leading the project.

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence in Santa Fe, which previously collaborated with RAWTools, has now started their own creative gun transformation program. They invite community members to use the metal and the plastic from relinquished guns to make tools, sculptures and jewelry.

Elsewhere in the United States, a group called Lead to Life changes guns into shovels for tree plantings at sites affected by violence in Atlanta and Oakland, also citing the “swords to plowshares” tradition as an inspiration. So does Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, who also turned guns into shovels.

For Martin, transforming weapons at the forge and teaching nonviolence are important because guns in America are “elevated to such a level that they are viewed as an ultimate problem-solver.” He said, “Guns drain so much of our imagination to explore other ways to engage with conflict or confrontation. They are a tool to use power over others for the sake of the individual and not the community. This is what motivates me to do the work of RAWTools.”

A military veteran named James gave his guns to RAWTools after studying Christian scripture supporting pacifism. He wrote that he could no longer justify owning the guns because there was “no way to guarantee they would never be used to take a life.”

Another participant, who chose to remain anonymous, wrote: “I’m a teacher. After Parkland, I can’t own a gun anymore. How do I get it to you?”

 

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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