“They come and mark the houses like the Nazis did.” The story flows from Inalva’s mouth with gentle fluidity, as if speaking of something far removed from her. “They mark three letters—SMH  and a number, and you know which ones they are going to demolish.” At a glance, one in three or four houses of Vila Autódromo are marked.
It has been five months since the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity led a peace caravan across the United States to end the war on drugs. Yet much has happened in that time that changes the context for our movement, or rather, collection of movements.
Since January 2010, there has been a constant stream of killings of members of land rights, campesino movements in the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras. At least 88 campesino movement members and supporters have been killed, along with five bystanders apparently mistaken for campesinos. Most recently, on Feb. 16 two campesinos were killed–Santos Jacobo Cartagena was gunned down while waiting for a bus, and Jose Trejo, an outspoken advocate for the investigation of his brother’s Sept. 22, 2012 murder, was shot while driving.
After enduring the suffering of receiving the scarce and mutilated remains of one’s presumed disappeared daughter, families of disappeared women from Ciudad Juarez and the human rights defenders that accompany them now must also endure open harassment by state agents. They report that their homes have been raided, they have received threats and are under surveillance.
By granting mining permits that will affect the sacred zone they call Wirikuta, “the state committed irregularities and didn’t consult the people”, explains Santos de la Cruz, president of the Autonomous Commission of Communal Property of Bancos de San Hipolite and member of the Wirikuta Defense Front. “Because of this, we demand that they find alternatives to resolve them.” he added.
We’ve been hearing a lot about quinoa lately.[i] While US consumers prize it as a delicious ‘super-food,’ there is growing anxiety about the impact of the quinoa boom in the Andes, and particularly Bolivia, the world’s top producing country. The media has focused primarily on the fact that global demand is driving up the price of quinoa, placing it beyond the reach of poor Bolivians—even of quinoa farmers themselves—leaving them to consume nutritionally vacuous, but cheap, refined wheat products such as bread and pasta. By this logic, some suggest, northern consumers should boycott the ‘golden grain’ to depress its price and make it accessible once again.
In the face of the Sebastián Piñera administration’s ongoing disregard for the many social demands raised by students, indigenous populations, poor people and workers, social movements are converging and politicizing diverse sectors by rejecting the economic and political model inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship.