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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eyes Wide Open: A Journey Through Today's South America

A documentary that proves, as always, that poets make the best revolutionaries

By Brenda Norrell.
Censored News
Film website and contact info:
Watch for this film on Link TV

The documentary, Eyes Wide Open -- A Journey Through Today's South America, reveals some of the most censored issues of corporate greed and colonialism, while revealing how governments in South America are rediscovering their lands and reinvisioning their futures.

It is a good primer for those struggling to gain background information on the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, as in why Bolivia's President Evo Morales expelled the US consulate and why Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is so threatening to the US, as in bringing in Cuban doctors to save the eyesight of the poor in Bolivia. It offers background on the Wikileaks cables, revealing details on why the US spied on Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil and all the other countries who dared to say 'no' to the US or offered support to those countries who did.

It reveals how Chavez led the movement to say 'no' to free trade policies, in the face of George Bush, and how the Bolivarian Revolution evolved and shook the US.

The film and its makers prove, as always, that poets make the best revolutionaries.

It speaks of the people who were annihilated in the oil fields of the Amazon, with the oil fields now bearing the names of these Indigenous Peoples.

It also shares the voice of the elder who carries the jaguar spirit.

In its final and most poignant piece of poetry, the film reveals that Ecuador, ahead of its time in cutting age Constitutional reform, and the beauty of truth, has recognized the rights of nature.

It is a film that remembers Che, and carries with it the voices and heartsongs of tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples who were tortured, raped, murdered and disappeared by mining and other multi-national corporations in South America.

These are the stories, the truths, that the US does not want you to hear.

--Censored News

Eyes Wide Open Synopsis

In his 1971 standard work Open Veins in Latin America, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano describes the centuries of economic exploitation of his part of the world. Almost 40 years later, Uruguayan documentary filmmaker Gonzalo Arijon reevaluates the situation in Eyes Wide Open -- A Journey through Today's South America. His search takes him from the soybean plantations of the Brazilian Amazon and the tin mines of Bolivia to the deep jungles of Ecuador. Arijon, winner of the Joris Ivens Award in 2007 for Stranded, shows how the current crop of leftist leaders in these countries are attempting to resist the squandering of natural resources by large, international companies. The principal culprits he identifies are the neoliberal ideology and the ensuing wave of privatizations. Arijon's politically committed film allows the local populations to speak for themselves, interspersing this with archive footage of speeches by the likes of Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Lula da Silva (Brazil), and Evo Morales (Bolivia). Galeano himself also talks -- sometimes in poetic language -- about how the rise of socialist governments in the early 21st century is benefitting Latin America, and what more can be done.

Roberto Rodriguez: John McCain's wildfire accusations

John McCain's wildfire accusations

The Arizona senator accuses Mexican immigrants of starting wildfires, but he is fanning the flames himself – of prejudice

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

John McCain said there was 'substantial evidence' linking wildfires in Arizona to illegal immigrants. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Does it surprise anyone that Arizona Senator John McCain has blamed undocumented immigrants for the wildfires in his state?

Hard economic times drives desperate people to do desperate things. Throw in the subject of immigration and a little bit of xenophobia … and shazzam! You have the recipe for a political ideology: blame the Mexicans! Send that recipe into Arizona and you have the perfect storm:

• Uneducated and unable to find a [high-paying] job? Blame the Mexicans.

• Social security and Medicare going broke? Yup, it's the Mexicans.

• Terrorism in the Middle East has you up at night? Blame the Mexicans for your insomnia, send troops and wall the US-Mexico border.

• Crime, drug usage and communicable diseases on the rise? You know the answer.

Blaming Mexicans, or "illegal aliens", is a tradition here; and in Georgia and Alabama, too … the whole country, really. Last year, McCain claimed that "illegal aliens" were intentionally causing accidents on freeways.

McCain's charges read like comedy but here in Arizona, immigration is serious business – and so is scapegoating. It is [Sheriff Joe] Arpaio country, where racial profiling is American as apple pie. It is this state that gave us SB 1070 – based in large part on the unproven allegation that Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was killed by "illegal aliens". Amazingly, another whopper was conjured up one week after SB 1070 was signed – that a Pinal County sheriff's deputy had been shot by Mexican drug smugglers (the incident was self-inflicted). And two weeks before SB 1070 was set to go into effect, Governor Jan Brewer began to warn people about finding headless bodies in the Arizona desert. But the fantastical tales don't end there: in this state, it's not even that Mexican migrants are falsely blamed for real problems; they are also blamed for invented problems. Dana Milbank from the Washington Post writes about this:

"Border violence on the rise? Phoenix becoming the world's No 2 kidnapping capital? Illegal immigrants responsible for most police killings? The majority of those crossing the border are drug mules? All wrong."

Per the FBI, we know that the border region is safer than it was a decade ago, and that many of the safest US cities are along the US-Mexico border. But when it comes to fueling xenophobia in this country, facts never get in the way.

For example, Tucson's highly successful Mexican American Studies programme is on the verge of being eliminated because our current attorney general, Tom Horne, has long maintained that the classes foment revolution ("Viva Che!"). A recent independent audit found all the charges against the programme to be false.

"Illegal aliens" causing Arizona wildfires? While the US Forest Service has made no such claim, McCain and his ideological supporters would have us accept his speculation as fact. What's next? Blaming Mexicans for increased sun spot activity?

(c) Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: -

Berkeley: Peoples Movement Assembly June 25, 2011

Check out the Peoples Movements Assembly's Southwest Organizing Tour, including videos from Havasupai, video interviews with Navajo activists in Flagstaff, a report on ethnic cleansing in Tucson and visits to Albuquerque and the US/Mexico 'Berlin Wall':

Struggles in Arizona (Tucson)
Racism in Arizona

The Southwest Organizing Tour of the Peoples Movements Assembly (PMA) visited Tucson, Arizona. We contacted Isabel Garcia, Civil and Human Rights Lawyer and she told us of the struggle against the ‘ethnic cleansing’. The visit coincided with the ‘ethnic cleansing’ taking place in public schools in the state. “Acting on a new state law, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal has condemned the Tucson Unified School District's controversial Mexican-American studies courses and warned the district could lose a portion of its state funding if it does not comply with the law within 60 days.”

It is known that Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law last year. It bans classes in kindergarten to 12th grade that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, is designed primarily for pupils of one ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity. The Tucson district is threatened with $15 million lose, Arizona Department of Education officials said. On Jan. 1, the day the law went into effect, outgoing state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced the courses violated the new law and should be axed. Horne had lobbied for three years for the legislation

Read more:

Photos: Renegade Walkers to DC: 250 miles to DC

Renegade Walkers for Diabetes, with 250 miles to go to DC! Carl, Manny, Lisa, T-Hawk and Paul!
New photos posted Sunday, June 26, 2011:

Ben Carnes: 'Cobell Settlement: A knife in our backs'

Cobell Settlement: A knife in our backs
By Ben Carnes

“Real justice for these Indians may still lie in the distant future; it may never come at all. This reality makes a statement about our society and our form of government that we should be unwilling to let stand.” Judge Royce Lamberth

Those prophetic words by Lamberth became a reality on June 20 when the federal court in Washington, DC approved the Cobell settlement. There is much ado how this was a major victory as in a David and Goliath scenario. However, one only needs to read in between the fine print to know this was a serious setback. I had already suspected it was a foregone conclusion when the settlement was first announced and Obama signed off on it. This was an easy out for the government; they secured the victory, not us.

The basic provisions of the settlement are:

$1.4 billion to pay Individual Indian Money (IIM) account owners$1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund to "purchase" fractionated Individual Indian trust lands.Not more than $60 million for an Indian Education Scholarship Fund to assist Native people to attend college or vocational school.

More details are available at

IIM Accounts

Initially, the estimates arrived by Cobell was that approx. 176 billion was missing from the IIM accounts. So why did she and the attorneys spend more than 2 million dollars encouraging people to accept this settlement? A settlement that only constitutes less than 2% of her original estimates? From what I have gathered by being in the courtroom listening to the attorneys, they admitted their chances of success at trial had grown smaller.
Read the column at Ben Carnes' 'Eaglemanz Communique's'

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