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Chilean girls stage 'occupation' of their own school in education rights protestFor five months, girls demanding free university education for all have defied police to occupy their state school


Sleeping on a tiled classroom floor, sharing cigarettes and always on the lookout for police raids, the students of Carmela Carvajal primary and secondary school are living a revolution.

It began early one morning in May, when dozens of teenage girls emerged from the predawn darkness and scaled the spiked iron fence around Chile's most prestigious girl's school. They used classroom chairs to barricade themselves inside and settled in. Five months later, the occupation shows no signs of dying and the students are still fighting for their goal: free university education for all.

A tour of the school is a trip into the wired reality of a generation that boasts the communication tools that feisty young rebels of history never dreamed of. When police forces move closer, the students use restricted Facebook chat sessions to mobilise. Within minutes, they are able to rally support groups from other public schools in the neighbourhood. "Our lawyer lives over there," said Angelica Alvarez, 14, as she pointed to a cluster of nearby homes. "If we yell 'Mauricio' really loud, he leaves his home and comes over."

For five months, the students at Carmela Carvajal have lived on the ground floor, sometimes sleeping in the gym, but usually in the abandoned classrooms where they hauled in a television, set up a private changing room, and began to experience school from a different perspective.

The first thing they did after taking over the school was to hold a vote. Approximately half of the 1,800 students participated in the polls to approve the takeover, and the yays outnumbered the nays 10 to one.

Now the students pass their school days listening to guest lecturers who provide free classes on topics ranging from economics to astronomy. Extracurricular classes include yoga and salsa lessons. At night and on weekends, visiting rock bands set up their equipment and charge 1,000 pesos (£1.25) per person to hear a live jam on the basketball court. Neighbours donate fresh baked cakes and, under a quirk of Chilean law, the government is obliged to feed students who are at school – even students who have shut down education as usual.

So much food has poured in that the students from Carmela Carvajal now regularly pass on their donations to hungry students at other occupied schools.

Municipal authorities have repeatedly attempted to retake the school, sending in police to evict the rebel students and get classes back on schedule, but so far the youngsters have held their ground.

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Chilean teenager shot dead during protests
Boy, 16, dies in hospital after sustaining gunshot wound during mass demonstrations against Chile's president, Sebastián Piñera



A Chilean teenager has died after being shot in the chest during huge protests against the president, Sebastián Piñera, in the capital.

Local media said the 16-year-old boy was shot near a security barricade as protesters fought police in Santiago on Thursday – the second day of a two-day strike against Piñera, which was marked by violent clashes and sporadic looting.

"The youth died from a bullet impact in the chest. He died in hospital," a police spokesman said.

Local media said witnesses blamed police for firing the shots.

"The death of any citizen is a very serious situation," Rodrigo Ubilla, an interior ministry official, said..

Led by students demanding free education, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent months to call for wider distribution of the income from a copper price boom in the world's leading copper-producing country.

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Seeking Social Justice Through Education in Chile


The ongoing student protests in Chile are an unwavering accomplishment aimed at combating the social injustice riddling the country's education system. What started out as a series of peaceful protests has become a manifestation of unity between students, artists and much of the general population in a stance defying the current government’s position regarding social class, cultural difference and political division with regard to education.

Upon assuming power in a military coup that ousted President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet implemented a series of policies that spelled poverty for the working class. To this day, remnants of the military dictatorship are evident in Chile. Upon Milton Friedman’s advice, Pinochet altered the education system in Chile. Responsibility for public schooling was transferred from the Ministry of Education to public municipalities. Private schools were financed by the voucher system in proportion to student enrolments. The elite families began enrolling their children into schools which charged for enrolment. No effort was made on behalf of the government to improve the curriculum, education quality or management, resulting in a society which, for decades had to contend with social class division within education.

Private universities meant excessive tuition fees, causing students and their families to incur debts whilst education quality was barely improved. Universities were mostly attended by students from the middle class and higher income families. Impoverished areas had no access to quality education, with low income families obliged to send their children to public schools where no incentives, such as better working conditions for teachers were offered, to promote and enhance student educational performance. Discrepancy in Chile’s education system led to society incurring yet another split. The current system exploits class as well as cultural differences. Low income families have no option but to send their children to public municipal schools. Mapuche people living in rural areas having to contend with an inferior education as well as lack of intercultural awareness.
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For instance, if the protests were being held by a Mapuche girl, I wonder what the response to her by the world's media would have been?
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Chile's Commander Camila, the student who can shut down a city:
Camila Vallejo's call for better and cheaper education has seen student protests transform into a two-day nationwide shutdown


Not since the days of Zapatistas' Subcomandante Marcos has Latin America been so charmed by a rebel leader. This time, there is no ski mask, no pipe and no gun, just a silver nose ring.

Meet Commander Camila, a student leader in Chile who has become the face of a populist uprising that some analysts are calling the Chilean winter. Her press conferences can lead to the sacking of a minister. The street marches she leads shut down sections of the Chilean capital. She has the government on the run, and now even has police protection after receiving death threats.

Yet six months ago, no one had heard of Camila Vallejo, the 23-year-old spearheading an uprising that has shaken not only the presidency of the billionaire businessman Sebastián Piñera, but the entire Chilean political class. Opinion polls show that 26% of the public support Piñera and only 16% back his recently ousted Concertación coalition.

Wednesday saw the start of a two-day nationwide shutdown, as transport workers and other public-sector employees joined the burgeoning student movement in protest.

"There are huge levels of discontent," said Vallejo in a recent interview. "It is always the youth that make the first move … we don't have family commitments, this allows us to be freer. We took the first step, but we are no longer alone, the older generations are now joining this fight."

Elected as only the second female leader in the 105-year history of the University of Chile's student union, Vallejo, who is also a member of the Chilean Communist party, is the face of a movement the likes of which has not been seen since the last years of Augusto Pinochet in the 80s.

 

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In Chile, Dissent Has A Woman’s Face

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Ya know? Yes, she's beautiful. And the fact that the media are falling all over themselves to note that, ignoring that they would have ignored her if she wasn't? PISSES ME OFF. Also, teh GUardian keeps going "protests turned violent" completely erasing who turns the protests violent ...THE FUCKING POLICE.


We are prepared to give our lives for education
High school kids on hunger strike
SANTIAGO, Aug 25, 2011 (IPS) - As students and teachers continue their massive protests in the streets of Chile's cities, one of the most extreme methods of demanding higher-quality, free public education is the hunger strike being undertaken by 28 youngsters at secondary schools across the country, four of whom have not taken food for nearly 40 days. One teenage girl in the south of Chile had to be urgently admitted to hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 24 in unstable condition, and last week another young woman in Santiago required medical attention. Several of the hunger strikers have lost 10 kg or more.

The government of rightwing President Sebastián Piñera, under heavy pressure from the ongoing demonstrations, is attempting to pass on responsibility for solving the crisis to Congress. Its proposals have so far been characterised as insufficient by the teachers and students fighting for radical changes to the education system. To cap Piñera's problem, social grievances have expanded beyond the issue of education, and Thursday was the second, and last, day of a nationwide general strike called by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, the main union federation, to demand structural changes in the political and economic system, that was also joined by 80 other social organisations and opposition parties. The protest by students and teachers has lasted over three months so far, making it the longest demonstration since 1990, which marked the end of a 17-year dictatorship that in its dying days imposed the present education structure, which subsequent democratic administrations have left unmodified.

Education Minister Felipe Bulnes was particularly critical of the hunger strike, saying it "does not solve any of our problems; in fact, it only complicates the situation." Francia Gárate, an 18-year-old in her final year of secondary school, joined the hunger strike over a week ago and told IPS they were fasting "so that they take us seriously." "I would ask (Piñera) to realise that we are not playing games; he should wake up, because what we are doing is not a game, and we are prepared to give our lives for education," Gárate emphasised. MORE
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Wikipedia: 2011 Student Protests Naturally the Heritage Foundation would be defending this crap. I wonder how fast the US system will devolve to this?

Students demand the end of the school voucher system in pre-school, primary and secondary levels and the end of the current public university financing policy, that mixes deliberate underfinancing, a shadow toll called "Indirect State Payment" (Aporte Fiscal Indirecto, in Spanish), high parents' payments even in public universities (tuition fees in private and state universities are about the same), and a state-guaranteed loan scheme that allow private banks to finance already high tuition fees. The Chilean system, although defended by researchers linked to the Heritage Foundation, is criticized by researchers like Martin Carnoy[5], blaming on it the tremendous inequalities across all the Chilean educational system, measured by OECD's standards. Chile only spends 4.4% of GDP on education, compared to the 7% of GDP recommended by the UN for developed nations.[6]

The students want those systems replaced by a true publicly financed and managed education system, covering from pre-school to tertiary education.[6]Some segments of the student movement have called for other changes, such as a new constitution or the renationalization of Chile's copper resources in order to fund public education.[7]

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Chilean Students Lock Lips for Love of Schools and use other varied and different methods of protest.

In Chile, months of student demonstrations across the country have given way to mass protests in the capital of Santiago. Nearly 900 protesters have been arrested today in the crackdown against the demonstrations, the New York Times reported.

Tens of thousands of the nation’s high school and college students have been demonstrating for two months against a higher education system that was largely privatized under General Pinochet and since left students in serious debt. Students have called on President Sebastián Piñera to support reforms promising high-quality and free compulsory education and an overhaul of the university system.

But in Chile, protests are not limited to walkouts and marches and hunger strikes, though there have beenplenty of those too. The New York Times reports that at any one time two to three protesters can be seen jogging outside the presidential palace. They’re attempting to reach 1,800 laps to symbolize the $1.8 billion that they want the country to invest in the education system. They have dressed up as superheroes and choreographed dance routines. They’ve staged collective suicides, with lines of people collapsing into the streets at once.

They’ve also staged kiss-ins. Protesters have paired off and started kissing marathons, smooching in the streets to bring attention to their cause.

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I am irritated with the way that a lot of mainstream American and European media has been characterizing the protests (when they haven't been ignoring them) and the whole zomg they are so surreal bit is irritating the fuck out of me in this article. The protesters gave reasons for the fucking things they do. Tell us what they are and stop going OMG what are those crazy ppl doing?!?!?! Chile student protests explode into violence Riot police clash with protesters calling for education reform as anger with Sebastiàn Piñera's government boils over

But on Thursday these surreal protests exploded into violence as school and university students clashed with police and seized a TV station, demanding the right to a live broadcast in order to express their demands.

The Chilean winter, as it is being called, appears to have captured the public mood, just as the Arab spring did six months ago.

After a day of street clashes, 874 people had been arrested and department store in the capital was smouldering after being attacked by protesters. Outrage against the rightwing government of Sebastiàn Piñera boiled over, with polls showing he is more unpopular than any leader since the fall of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Striking school students led the charge as they tried to march on the presidential palace early on Thursday, only to be thwarted by hundreds of police in riot gear and clouds of teargas. Tucapel Jiménez, a member of the Chilean congress, called for sanctions against government authorities who authorised what he called "brutal repression" by riot police.

"This is unacceptable, the centre of Santiago is a state of siege," said university student leader Camila Vallejo, tears rolling down her face after being doused in teargas. "The right to congregate has been violated."

"I don't see any other solution than a general referendum," said Giorgio Jackson, president of the Catholic University student union as he described the distance between student demands and the government offer. "There are some points of agrement, but clearly there are other points that are very relevant and in which we have grand differences." News coverage of students being gassed and hauled off buses by police squads led Vallejo to call for the resignation of Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Chile's interior minister. Government officials insisted the students did not have a permit to march and defended the police reaction as necessary to maintain business as usual in Santiago. Government spokesman Andrés Chadwick estimated vandalism damage at $2m.MORE


Dude. FUCK you and your "business as usual". And FUCK your "permit to march" BULLSHIt too. The point, you specious ass; is that the people are rejecting business as usual. And democracy and the right to air one's grievances are not dependent on a fucking PERMIT. The government serves the people, NOT the other way around.





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April 8th War is not peace
For decades, School of the Americas Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois has argued that embracing militarism will never bring us the security we seek. But he thinks he knows what will.

It’s known as the School of Assassins among the poor of Latin America; a vessel for the spread of democracy among its U.S. military proponents; and one of the world’s most infamous human rights offenders for the thousands of protesters who gather in Fort Benning, Georgia, each November to honor the names of union leaders, campesinos, priests, and children who have been gunned down by its alumni.

This week, activists led by longtime peacemaker Father Roy Bourgeois are fasting in Washington, D.C. to demand the closure of the “School of the Americas,” a training center, funded by U.S. taxpayers, for tens of thousands of Latin American soldiers and police forces.

The institution was initially founded to curb the spread of communism in the region—training, arming, and supporting some of the 20th century's most deadly regimes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Bolivia, and on. With an eerily Orwellian turn of phrase, the school, originally founded in Panama in 1946 before it was relocated to U.S. soil in 1984, was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC, in 2001.

"We rely on what our leaders tell us is true, and we don't know what our foreign policy means to those on the receiving end."

According to Bourgeois' watchdog group, the School of the Americas Watch, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people—from Jesuit priests to village children—have been traced to the more than 60,000 graduates trained during the school's 59 years of operation. Bourgeois, a veteran and firsthand witness to the carnage in Vietnam, first went to work in Latin America in 1972 as a priest. Five years living with the poor on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia, exposed him to the United States' complicity in atrocities committed by General Banzer’s regime. “I met my country there,” he says. “We were the ones giving them guns and teaching them how to use them.”

Bourgeois' outspokenness eventually got him arrested and effectively deported, but it also got him rolling. Every Sunday, he spoke at different churches throughout the U.S., explaining how our own military might, money, and expertise were supporting some of the world's most merciless oppressors.

In 1989, a congressional task force investigating the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their co-worker, and her teenage daughter, revealed that some of the killers had been trained at Fort Benning. Bourgeois organized a 35-day fast at the base’s gate.

Two decades later, Bourgeois' activism has spread, with tens of thousands of participants from all over the world demanding the closure of the school. Bourgeois has personally petitioned leaders—from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Bolivian President Evo Morales—to discontinue their militaries’ involvement with the school.

Bourgeois believes that American people must find new ways to be in relationship with the rest of the world—with or without the official support of our leaders. Militarism, he argues, has been an American addiction for years. But with drastic unemployment, languishing social services, widespread insecurity, and the creeping consolidation of power, we may finally learn how to say, enough is enough. MORE
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[personal profile] azuirehas links and commentary including ways to help.

Massive tsunami devastates Japan

Coastline swamped and hundreds dead as biggest quake in centuries sends wave crashing ashore and puts Pacific on alert.


Hundreds of people are dead after one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Japan, triggering a devastating 10-metre-high tsunami along parts of the country's northeastern coastline.

The massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday afternoon local time, creating gigantic waves which swept away cars, boats, homes and people as the surging water overwhelmed coastal barriers.

Widespread fires burned out of control and Japan's nuclear industry was on alert as reactors shut down automatically as a safety precaution. Millions are reported to be without electricity, airports are closed and public transport in Tokyo and other cities has come to a halt as Japan reels amid the twin devastations.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai where hundreds of buildings have collapsed. Japan's NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned. Police said another 88 were confirmed killed and 349 were missing.

Thousands of people living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture were ordered to evacuate after the reactor developing a cooling fault. Officials said the move was a precaution and there was no evidence of leaking radiation.

Meanwhile, countries around the Pacific basin are on tsunami alert amid warnings that a wall of water could completely wash over low-lying islands.MORE


Why Japan is prone to earthquakes

Al Jazeera's senior meteorologist Steff Gaulter gives insight into why earthquakes and tsunamis strike the island nation of Japan:

To put the effects of the latest earthquake in Japan in context, it could help to compare it to other recent quakes: the Haiti earthquake was 7.0 magnitude; the Chile one was 8.8 and the New Zealand one was 6.3.

"So, this as an 8.9, bigger than any of those. It is the seventh-most powerful earthquake that has ever been recorded. So we are talking about a massive earthquake there.

The reason for this activity is because of where Japan is situated, on the joint of four different plates.

"So we have got the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate to the east; and to the west, we have got the North America plate and the Eurasian plate. And what is happening is that the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate are heading towards the west; they are going underneath the other two plates and that is what is causing all the problems.MORE
Video too at link


From California to Chile, residents prepare for waves


Nicaragua: The government issued a green alert for the Pacific area, which makes up 427 coastal kilometers and is home to 100,000 people early this morning. The Chief of Civil Defense, Mario Perezcassar mobilized units to the area, though he has not yet ordered evacuation.

(More on TIME.com: See stunning video of the Japan quake)

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and ordered evacuation of the entire coastal region as well as the Galápagos Islands, taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. “If nothing happens, then that's great, but we can't take any risks,” Correa told reporters. Ecuador's heavy crude oil pipeline operator suspended oil shipments.

Colombia: Issued an alert, though no evacuation was ordered. Luz Amanda Pulido, the director of the National System for Disaster Attention and Prevention had a higher alert for the four Pacific coastal regions of Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.


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How a Tiny Town Sent an International Water Giant Packing:In the fight for water independence, Felton, California has become a symbol of what can be achieved.


In 2008, weeks after communities all over the United States celebrated the Fourth of July, the tiny town of Felton, Calif., marked its own holiday: Water Independence Day. With barbecue, music, and dancing, residents marked the end of Felton’s six-year battle to gain control of its water system. The fight, like the festivities, was a grassroots effort. For when a large, private corporation bought Felton’s water utility and immediately raised rates, residents organized, leading what was ultimately a successful campaign for public ownership and inspiring other communities nationwide.MORE


World's Water Supply: Here Are the Haves and Have Nots

British-based risk consultancy Maplecroft has released a new report showing which countries have the most precarious and stable water supplies. The report is intended to help guide investors, underscoring just how serious water supply is getting when it comes to the world economy. From farming to manufacturing, investors in various industries are starting to seriously weigh where they put their money based on how secure water supplies are or will be, and companies with interests in areas with unstable water supplies are having to put water efficiency in a place of priority. Though it focuses on areas of risk, the report also reveals whole new areas in water where investors may want to pile in funds.
Reuters reports, "African nations led by Somalia, Mauritania and Sudan have the most precarious water supplies in the world while Iceland has the best, according to a survey on Thursday that aims to alert companies to investment risks... A "water security risk index" of 165 nations found African and Asian nations had the most vulnerable supplies, judged by factors including access to drinking water, per capita demand and dependence on rivers that first flow through other nations."MORE


The Price of Water: A Comparison of Water Rates, Usage in 30 U.S. Cities

A first of its kind survey of residential water use and prices in 30 metropolitan regions in the United States has found that some cities in rain-scarce regions have the lowest residential water rates and the highest level of water use. A family of four using 100 gallons per person each day will pay on average $34.29 a month in Phoenix compared to $65.47 for the same amount in Boston.

The survey, conducted by Circle of Blue over the last several months, also found that average daily residential water use ranged from a low of 41 gallons per person in Boston to a high of 211 gallons per person in Fresno, Calif.MORE


Philippines: Manila Water Crisis

Metro Manila, the national capital region of the Philippines, is now experiencing a water shortage crisis with millions enduring water supply rationing. Desperate for a bath, disgruntled residents have taken to breaking a water pipe in Malabon City. Filipino bloggers try to make sense of the crisis. Blackshama's blog finds the fact this rationing is done during the rainy season worrisome.
August is historically the wettest month. Unless weather patterns change, next month may be the driest August. September is the last month of the wet season and then the dry begins. The only thing to be done is to lessen water use.
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Will Drinking Water for Millions be Devastated by Natural Gas Drilling?

The ordinary tap water available to 12 million residents in the New York Metropolitan area has been reliably clean and flavorful since 1842, when an aqueduct was built to bring pristine water from upstate to the city. For years the prideful city's water is a consistent winner in blind taste tests. Easy to take for granted, it comes as a shock to learn it is now endangered by natural gas drilling.

For a couple of years there have been media reports from Pennsylvania to Texas of drinking water so tainted that folks are able to light the water from their kitchen tap on fire. There have been more than 300 instances of contaminated water in Colorado since 2003, and more than 700 instances in New Mexico, according to Bruce Baizel, senior staff attorney with Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project. In West Virginia a once lushly forested area has been transformed into a dead zoneMORE


Community Water Solutions in Action in Laos

XIENG NGEUN, Laos -- With just 13.4 percent of the country’s 6.3 million people having access to piped water at present, Lao authorities would have to work more than double time if the rest of the population are to have clean and safe water within a decade.

Here in Xieng Ngeun however, no one is waiting for the government alone to provide the townspeople with their water needs.

Located 25 kilometres south of the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang and part of the province of the same name, Xieng Ngeun boasts of having Laos’s first water-supply and sanitation project in which the community has taken part in all its stages, from planning to implementation.
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One Year After Ontario Ban: Over 80 Percent Decline of Pesticides in Surface Waters

In April 2009, it became illegal to sell or apply pesticides for cosmetic lawncare in Ontario, Canada. It seems like a no-brainer risk versus benefits analysis: the benefit is ...hmmm, just cosmetic...while the risks are real, documented, and pervasive. But somehow the allure of a green, weed-free lawn keeps conquering rationality. A year later, does the preliminary data on the effectiveness of Ontario's cosmetic pesticide ban prove it is a good idea?

The scope of the pesticide ban is described on the News Ontario website:

Pesticides cannot be used for cosmetic purposes on lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, patios, driveways, cemeteries, and in parks and school yards. There are no exceptions for pest infestations (insects, fungi or weeds) in these areas, as lower risk pesticides, biopesticides and alternatives to pesticides exist. More than 250 pesticide products are banned for sale and over 95 pesticide ingredients are banned for cosmetic uses.


If you are a World Cup fan or a golf player, you might be asking yourself: but what about a perfectly groomed playing field? The Ontario ban provides for the continued use of some banned pesticides for special applications, under strict oversight of the Ministry of the Environment. Other exceptions include combatting poisonous plants or disease-carrying insects.MORE



In New Mexico, Ancient Traditions Keep Desert Waters Flowing

New Mexico has a spiritual power emanating from the landscape -- its rios, mesas, llanos, sierras -- that informs our traditional cultures.

Native Americans live each day in a vibrant relationship with everything around them. For them, New Mexico is not just a place to live. It is a way to live.

Similarly, Indo-Hispanos have created an intimate relationship with the landscape over the past three or four centuries. They built acequias -- communal irrigation systems—not only to sustain an agricultural lifestyle, but also to caress and sustain the Earth and its natural creatures.

Acequias evolved over 10,000 years in the deserts of the Middle East and were introduced into southern Spain by the Moors during their nearly 800-year occupation. Spanish colonizers took acequias to the New World. Acequias included specific governance over water distribution, water scarcity plans, and all other matters pertaining to what was viewed as a communal resource. The mayordomo, or watermaster, of the acequia made decisions about water distribution among community members, with the consent and advice of the acequia members.

This communal system of irrigating was a response to the scarcity of water in arid regions and was key to the survival of agricultural communities. In many instances, the acequia governance system was also used to settle other community conflicts, especially in areas like New Mexico, located far from the seat of government in Mexico City. The irrigation system that evolved over centuries and that was implemented in New Mexico was created to ensure a formal civil process to resolve water-rights issues, especially in dry times. Each irrigator had one vote to elect the mayordomo. The mayordomo had ultimate authority over water disputes and his word was final. He derived his authority from the communal power vested in him by all of the irrigators.MORE



Ugandans Return Home to a Demolished Water Infrastructure

AUSTRAILIA: The Biggest Dry is Global Warning of Water Scarcity

The Price of Hydropower Pursuits in Patagonia

War on Water: A Clash Over Oil, Power and Poverty in the Niger Delta

The Himalayas, A Special Report
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Today is Martin Luther King Day in the US and they are playing his I have a dream speech on repeat. But Martin had opinions on many other things, and one of them was working towards a fair and just economy


The Martin Luther King who’ll be on our screens is a memory filtered of its radical light. Particularly in his later life, King had a sharp diagnosis about how the evils of militarism, racism and poverty had a root cause. That cause? Capitalism. Will we hear about that on CNN, from the President, on the news? Not likely.
In his last speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1967, quoted below and available in full here, he said:
One day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?” These are questions that must be asked.
The FBI, in a trope that we see in South Africa today, explained King’s rejection of capitalism through the fact that he’d been brainwashed by the dangerous white folk around him. One of those friends, Stanley Levison, explained this simply as a function of the FBI’s
“racist contempt for the intellect of the black man. No one with a modicum of sense … could have concluded that a man with the force of intellect and fierce independence that Martin King had could have been dominated by anybody…”
King wasn’t anyone’s dupe – and that means that he was critical of the Soviet Union too, as you’ll see in the excerpt below, and from the line:
“Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.”
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In recognition of that...


BRAZIL: Solidarity Economy Thriving

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DEVELOPMENT-BRAZIL: Solidarity Economy Combats Exclusion

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INDIA: Hill Women Form Cooperative, Turn Entrepreneurs

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DEVELOPMENT: India Holds Public Meetings on GM Food Crop

Read more... )


MALAWI: Green Belt Initiative Taking Shape


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CHILE: Eliminating Slums


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Q&A: Indigenous Rights Appeals Increasingly Reach Inter-American System


SANTIAGO, Oct 8 (IPS) - Standards relating to indigenous peoples' rights, laid down by the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, are increasingly being incorporated into the laws of countries in the region, according to Víctor Abramovich, First Vice President of the Commission.

In 2006, the prominent Argentine lawyer was elected to a four-year term as First Vice President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which forms part of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and is one of the two bodies in the system for promotion and protection of human rights in the Americas.

He is also Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the Washington-based IACHR.

In this capacity, Abramovich was invited to a seminar in Santiago devoted to the implementation of the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which entered into force in Chile on Sept. 15.

IPS: You have said that the indigenous peoples of the region are increasingly active users of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights. What are the most common problems that lead them to resort to this system?

VICTOR ABRAMOVICH: Recently these problems have basically involved the recognition of communally-owned indigenous property, matters related to investment or development projects that directly or indirectly affect indigenous communities, and the scope of the right to prior consultation.

They also have to do with the right to political participation, electoral participation by indigenous political parties or organisations, and situations of violence that affect the communities, such as cases of forced displacement in the context of armed internal conflicts, and death threats against, or killings of, indigenous leaders.

These matters come under the Commission's competence to issue precautionary measures, or the Court's competence to grant provisional measures, which are protective measures to prevent irreparable harm.
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CHILE: Indigenous Protests on Several Fronts

SANTIAGO, Oct 7 (IPS) - The tense relations between the Chilean government of Michelle Bachelet and the country's large indigenous minority are far from easing up.

While the conflict between Mapuche Indians and the police in the south is escalating, members of the Atacama community in the north are protesting a geothermal energy project, and Mapuche leaders have filed an injunction against the president and a government minister.

Mapuche – the main Amerindian group in the country, numbering around one million people in a total population of over 16 million – communities launched a new wave of land occupations in late July aimed at recovering their ancestral territory in the southern region of Araucanía.

The Mapuche Territorial Alliance's protest demonstrations and occupations of privately owned land that the indigenous communities claim as their own have led to new clashes with the Carabineros (militarised police).

While the centre-left Coalition for Democracy, which has governed the country since 1990, says that more than 650,000 hectares of land have been transferred to indigenous communities since 1994 - 35 percent since Bachelet took office in 2006 - the native activists complain about a slow response to their demands.

On Sunday, the Alliance denounced that seven Mapuche youths and two children, who were not involved in the protests, were injured by buckshot fired by the Carabineros. One young passerby, Pablo Catrillanca, was hospitalised after being hit by buckshot and is at risk of losing the sight in one of his eyes. MORE
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COLOMBIA:Neutrality Impossible for Indigenous Groups

BOGOTA, Sep 10 (IPS) - The latest killings of Awá Indians in southern Colombia – 12 members of a family, including four children and three teenagers –, the forced displacement of hundreds of native villagers, and death threats against indigenous leaders and teachers are signs indicating that their demand to be considered neutral in the armed conflict is still being ignored.

The Aug. 26 murders were preceded by the killings of at least 17 members of the Awá community in February by the left-wing FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas, and by death threats against Indigenous Unity of the Awá People (UNIPA) leaders.

Some become obstacles for the armed groups, as awkward witnesses. That was the case of Tulia García, one of the Aug. 26 victims, who had seen armed men detain her husband Gonzalo Rodríguez on Aug. 23 and later found his body, with shots to the head.

According to a statement by Human Rights Watch, "Colombia: Investigate Massacre in Southern Region; Possible Army Involvement and Effort to Eliminate Witnesses in Killings of 12 Indigenous People", García had accused the army of killing her husband.

The Awá collectively own the land and rivers in the Gran Rosario reservation or "resguardo" in the southwestern province of Nariño, a place of strategic value for the armed groups. They also have strong boys and young men that the armed groups recruit, against the wishes and cultural values of their families.

The Awá are intimately familiar with the region, but refuse to serve as guides for any group that carries weapons. Like other indigenous communities, "they are opposed to any form of violence," as missionary Antonio Baraín explains.
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CHILE:Preserving the Kaweshkar Language – In the Nick of Time


SANTIAGO, Sep 30 (IPS) - Sound files containing recordings of spoken Kaweshkar - a nearly extinct indigenous language of southern Chile – have been put together thanks to the work of ethnolinguist Óscar Aguilera and anthropologist José Tonko, and donated to national and foreign institutions with the aim of preserving the culture of one of Chile’s nine native groups.

Kaweshkar is on the verge of joining hundreds of native languages that have disappeared over the past 500 years in South America, a process many blame on colonialism and the imposition of a dominant language, while others attribute it to the natural evolution of languages.

Whatever the reason, the reality is that the vast majority of the 600 to 800 languages that were spoken when the Europeans arrived in the continent have disappeared.

In recent years international agencies and language experts have agreed on the need to work towards preserving languages regardless of the number of speakers, because of their importance to cultural identity and diversity, and a series of legal instruments have been adopted towards that end.

The Kaweshkar - also known as Alacaluf - are one of the nine indigenous ethnic groups legally recognised by the Chilean government.

A nomadic sea-faring people, in the early twentieth century they finally settled down on the Island of Wellington, some 3,000 kilometres south of Santiago, in the Chilean fjords.

Today, only seven speakers of Kaweshkar are left in Puerto Edén, the island’s small port village, which is considered one of the country's most isolated inhabited places.
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RIGHTS-MALAYSIA: Win Some, Lose Some for Beleaguered Penan Tribe

KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 21 (IPS) - In wealthy Malaysia that employs over four million Asians to service its high- rolling lifestyle, a tiny indigenous tribe is fighting for its survival against state inaction and bureaucratic apathy, as well as marauding giant multinationals and timber loggers.

It is an increasingly losing battle for the Penan, a tribe of about 12,000 semi- nomadic people fighting against destruction of their home in the jungles of Sarawak state in East Malaysia, home to the world’s oldest rain forest and a complex ecosystem.

The state’s wildlife and unique tropical ecosystem are equally under threat from loggers who swing into the forest felling the best trees, leaving giant oil palm plantations while clearing the logged forest to grow more palm oil.

In recent months about 3,000 Penan in the Bakun area in upper Rejang River – the second longest river in the country – faced severe food shortage for various reasons, including drought sparked by deforestation. Food supplies had to be airlifted after church groups raised the alarm.

Exacerbating their already harsh living condition is that Penan women and children are being raped by loggers and their workers, according to a long- delayed government report that concluded in mid-September what human rights activists and non-governmental organisations had been saying for at least a decade.

But despite evidence of sexual assaults, Malaysian police are dragging their feet in investigating the cases and bringing the culprits to justice.


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CHILE: Activists Demand Humane Treatment for Women Who Abort


SANTIAGO, Aug 28 (IPS) - Some 30 members of the Chilean Health Ministry's Consultative Council on Gender and Women's Health have asked the government to enforce a directive ordering humane and compassionate treatment for women who have had an abortion.

Three representatives of the Consultative Council delivered a letter to Health Minister Álvaro Erazo Wednesday, demanding that he enforce his own instructions, sent Apr. 24 to the heads of every public health service in the country.

"This is a protest against the disclosure of the identities of young women who had abortions and were admitted to public hospitals," Adriana Gómez, of the Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, told IPS. She handed over the letter along with Rosa Ferrada, of the Movement for the Emancipation of Chilean Women, and Rosa Yáñez, of the Open Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Gómez was referring to two women who were recently admitted to hospitals suffering from complications after abortions induced with misoprostol, a medicine prescribed for gastric ulcers that is effective for terminating pregnancy.

The names and addresses of the women were reported in the media, and they were both prosecuted for the crime of abortion, which carries a three- to five-year prison sentence.

In Chile, abortion is banned without exceptions, even if the mother's life is at risk. In spite of this, unofficial figures indicate that between 120,000 and 160,000 women voluntarily terminate their pregnancies every year in this country of 16 million people. MORE

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