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A recent US Supreme Court decision, “Williams vs. Pennsylvania,” could open the door for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom. The decision ruled that a prosecutor cannot later sit as judge over the same defendant’s appeal. This is exactly what happened in Mumia’s case. On December 8, marking the 35th anniversary of imprisonment for American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and to protest the refusal by prison authorities to provide necessary medication, a coalition of supporters in Philadelphia, Toronto, Wellington, and Oakland demonstrated.
On December 23, Israeli forces suppressed Bethlehem’s “Santa Claus March,” shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at participants, with many suffering from tear gas inhalation. A number of demonstrators participated in a march near Israeli checkpoint 300 which separates Bethlehem residents from Jerusalem. The march, which included participants dressed up as Santa Claus, close to the Christian holiday of Christmas, was launched under the banner “Terrorism and Occupation are Two Sides of the Same Coin,” and demanded the opening of Israeli checkpoints for Christian tourists to celebrate the holiday in the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Korean Port Truck workers have struck against deregulation and union busting by South Korea President Park Geun-hye. They were attacked, beaten, and the leaders were jailed by the government. Many union leaders including the president of the KCTU have been jailed by the government. Supporters of the Korean general strike against the government spoke out at the San Francisco South Korean consulate on November 30.
Chanti Ollin, a well-known autonomous cultural center in the gentrified financial district of Mexico City, was violently evicted on November 22. Eight hundred riot police, two helicopters, and an armored car executed the operation, illegally breaking into the building and detaining 26 individuals without so much as a judicial order. This eviction takes place against the backdrop of Mexico City's new constitution, which seeks to privatize land and resources, and suppress any political or cultural activity that disrupts this profit-making program.
On October 15, about 40 people, including students from UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, and Watsonville High School, as well as community members from Santa Cruz and Watsonville, came out to the Driscoll's Distribution Center and Berry Store in Aromas, California, to relay the message that the boycott of Driscoll's continues until Driscoll's negotiates a union contract with the farmworkers in San Quintín, Mexico who harvest the lucrative berries. Currently, farmworkers receive as little as $6 a day for 12-15 hours of work, with no benefits or job security.
Thu Sep 22 2016 (Updated 10/13/16)
Driscoll’s Boycott in Full Force
Labor groups have issued a statement clarifying the Driscoll's berries boycott is still in full effect and farmworkers in San Quintín, Mexico continue to work for the recognition of their union in order to negotiate the signing of a collective bargaining agreement. In Washington State, the results of an election on September 12 confirmed the independent union Familias Unidas por la Justicia as the formal representatives of farm workers at Sakuma Brothers Farm, a supplier to Driscoll’s. A rally and protest will be held at the Driscoll's distribution center in Aromas on October 15.
The National Labor Council for Latin American Advancement passed a resolution in solidarity with farmworkers at the 21st LCLAA National Membership Convention held August 18-20 in Orlando, Florida. In the resolution, the Sacramento LCLAA Chapter went on record in support of "the struggle of the 70,000 farmworkers in San Quintin and the 468 farmworkers in Skagit County, Washington, for better wages, working conditions, and the recognition of their fighting unions..."
Mon Jun 20 2016 (Updated 06/22/16)
“Welcome to Oaxaca” 2016
The looming federal police attack on the people and striking teachers of Oaxaca, Mexico has begun. There are reports of between six and eight demonstrators killed on the morning of Sunday, June 19 at the highway blockade in Nochixtlán, northwest of the city of Oaxaca. They were shot and killed when police opened fire with live ammunition on the blockade. At least 45 others have been hospitalized with injuries, the majority gunshot wounds, and 22 have been disappeared.
On May 31, students at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA voted overwhelmingly to endorse resolutions expressing support for freedom and equality for Palestinians and labor justice for migrant workers at Sakuma Bros farm in northern Washington. The three resolutions asked students to condemn the presence of Caterpillar Inc. equipment on campus, to de-shelve Sabra hummus, and prohibit the use of Sakuma Bros berries from campus dining services.
Why won't the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) support the Driscoll's Boycott? That's one of the questions UFW Vice President Lauro Barajas would not answer after he spoke at Hillary Clinton's rally in Salinas on May 25. The UFW will not reveal when their friendship with Driscoll's began. However, a photograph from May 2013 reveals their relationship with Reiter Affiliated Companies, an Oxnard-based subsidiary of Driscoll's.
The National Coordinating Body of Education Workers (CNTE) began an indefinite strike on May 15, primarily against plans by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to implement neoliberal reforms to the country’s education system. Peña Nieto has attempted to privatize and standardize the Mexican education system, along with instituting policies to disempower Latin America’s largest union, the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), and its dissident and more radical faction, the CNTE.
The California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard is one of the largest outdoor annual events in California that celebrates the success of the multi-billion dollar global agricultural industry. However, this success has come at the great economic, social and overall health expense to those who pick the berries. On May 22, a protest outside the Strawberry Festival challenged the industry and governmental efforts to overlook the social and environmental costs of strawberry production, and questioned the logic of charity festivals.
Thu May 26 2016 (Updated 05/27/16)
Salmon is Theme at San Francisco's Anti-GMO Action
Demonstrators spotlighted salmon at this year’s March Against Monsanto. In their protest in San Francisco on May 21, protesters called out Aquabounty for creating a GMO salmon that will be farm-raised, fast growing, and has recently been approved by the FDA despite insufficient safety testing. If these GMO salmon escape, they could forever change the genes of ocean salmon. Salmon are especially important spiritually to the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Shasta County. In Santa Cruz, protesters demonstrated wearing medical masks to bring awareness to the destruction that is caused by Monsanto and GMO's.
On two consecutive Saturdays, May 7 and May 14, farmworkers called for an international day of action to bring attention to the ongoing struggles in the berry fields in Washington State and San Quintin, Mexico. May 7 was initiated by Familias Unidas por la Justicia in Washington state, while Sindicato Independiente Nacional Democratico De Jornaleros Agricolas (SINDJA) farmworkers in San Quintin, Mexico called for a global day of action on May 14. Demonstrations took place in many locations, including Mexico City; Burlington, WA; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and Eureka, Rohnert Park, Fairfield, San Leandro, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and San Diego, California.
Mon May 9 2016 (Updated 05/16/16)
Newcastle Coal Port Shut Down on Mother's Day
As part of the Global BreakFree mobilization, Australians blockaded Newcastle coal port on Mother's Day, May 8. The protest drew more than 2000 people to Horseshoe Beach, one of the largest climate protests against coal in the NSW regional city of Newcastle. Activists set sail in a flotilla of kayaks and canoes, sail boats, catamarans, and even surfboards to make a line across the harbour. More than 60 people were arrested.
On April 3, members of Watsonville Brown Berets (WBB) traveled to Salinas to attend the annual Cesar Chavez March and Rally presented by United Farm Workers (UFW). WBB were joined by members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union in Burlington, Washington fighting for a union contract, and initiators of the boycott against Driscoll's. Although advocating for farmworkers' rights seems like it would be warmly welcomed by UFW, that was not the experience for WBB and FUJ members.
On Monday, April 11, 2016, around 800 State of Mexico riot police at the service of Grupo Higa laid siege to the Otomí community of San Francisco Xochicuautla, destroyed the camp set up in defense of the forest, used heavy machinery to illegally tear down the house of Dr. Armando García Salazar, and violently dragged out at least 25 men, women and children who were inside the house, including 64-year-old Isabel Hernández, a member of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Xochicuautla.
The spirit of resistance has captured the imagination of a new generation in France, as youth-led opposition to neoliberal labour “reforms” has spiraled into full-on rejection of the whole capitalist system on the street and squares. The situation took on a new dimension after the general strike and day of action on March 31. There was a call for people not to go home afterwards but to stay on the streets, beginning a wave of overnight “Nuit Debout” occupations that has spread from Paris across France and into the Iberian peninsular, Belgium and Germany.
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