A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) US, Miami Tuesday - A Tale Of Two Struggles

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 22 Nov 2003 22:52:35 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

Canadian postal worker Dave Bleakney contrasts the AFL-CIO meetings and rallies
with the action of Root Cause and the grassroots activist convergence center.
It has been an interesting two days in Miami. In spite of the massive
repression forums and meetings continue to take place. Farmers,
workers, greens, indigenous people and the poor are all part of this
delicious millieu of resistance and power preparing to take to the
streets on Thursday. But there are differences of style.
On Tuesday the AFL-CIO and the Organizacion Regional
Interamericana de Trabajadores (ORIT) held a workers forum at the
beautiful Gusman theatre. Delegates to the FTAA had been told not to
wear suits lest they be identified in the streets and face the music for
their crimes. Ironically, or perhaps not, the ORIT offical appeared in a
nice suit and spoke to to a small audience of 50 people in a theatre
designed to hold hundreds. I had come to hear about our hemispheric
struggle as workers fighting for

I knew something was up when I was asked to open my bag before
entering. For the first time in my life I was asked to reveal the
contents of my bag at a meeting of workers. This is something one
expects full well from a repressive police state and its agents. It was
a shock to see such a practice employed at meeting of the working

The ORIT offical, Victor Baez, complained that the leaders "won't let
us in" to their meetings. He pined over the fact that even ministers of
labour have been "relegated from the negotiation process". He said
that there was "no place for workers" and that "in spite of a very
active movement they (the political establishment) have read some of
our papers but they have never allowed us to negotiate with them".
Mobilization wasn't even mentioned. After presentations from a panel
the audience were "allowed" to ask five questions. No debate. No
ideas. No dialogue. No resistance. Just a mere petitioning of the king,
and a plea for more crumbs. Disturbing and revealing was the notion
presented by Baez that "these agreeements lack legitimacy" because
workers "have not been consulted." Is "legitimacy" the name of the
game for the FTAA ministers and ORIT?

My first morning in Miami left me feeling a little depressed. Is this it?
Has our struggle been reduced to polite petitions to legitimize a
corrupt order? Is there a strategy for resistance or is our lot to press
our faces against the windows of the feast? Can we really hope to join
up and legitimize them? Do we merely want to be thankful that we all
are not forced to sleep in the street, be beaten up by cops or be
deported on a whim?

Indeed, reducing things to requests for unenforcable labour standards,
(a frequent mantra from some quarters of the labour movement) not
only adds an air of legitmacy to the illegitamizable FTAA process but
dismisses the 500 year struggle for indigenous rights in this
hemisphere relegating it to a mere footnote in history. It suggests that
the aim is to maintain a corrupt system rather than smash it. Beg for a
piece of the pie without questioning the nature of it. Besides, even IF
you believe in this
ruse called capitalism, any good negotiator knows that negotiating
from a positon of weakness is a recipe for failure.

Needing a break I headed to the street. My photo of cops on bicycles
pedaling around like armed boy scouts in short pants was met with
yelling and screaming from members of the killing machine known as
the Miami-Dade police. Unphased and bemused I headed back to the
forum only to be asked, once again, to reveal the contents of my bag.

I was hoping to find the convergence space (no one seemed to know
where it was at the workers forum). It was suggested by one
organizer that I "ask the police." Not a chance.

All this contrasted sharply with a visit to the convergence "welcome"
centre. There was an entirely different vibe there alogether. People
were creating, talking, sharing, painting, cooking, preparing and
training to take on a system that has no future. Those without
institutional support had much greater numbers than the
worker-subsidized 50 or so at the Gusman theatre. This was not a
place of pleas or buy-offs. This was a place of resistance and hope. A
space to plot rebellion and agency. And it only got better...

The United Steelworkers of America have put on a fantastic show
here. They have mobilized in the thousands and are a real formidable
presence in the street. All of us in organized labour could learn from

On my way to another labour meeting on Tuesday night I was
absorbed into a festive march organized by Roots Cause. They had
taken to the streets. People marched for 30 miles into the streets of
Miami to be escorted by rows of police on bicyles ordering people off
the sidewalks who were cheering on the march. Aggressive demands
were barked at the locals. MOVE! NOW! One wonders what terrible
danger those on the sidewalk posed. It seemed more about exercising
authority and barking orders from a sad and damaged cult of Sargeant
Slaughter clones. For a city with a large African American population I
spotted one black cop in the gang.

This was a dignified march of resistance, celebration and power.
These were farmworkers and the most exploited. They were black,
brown and hispanic. The working poor who put food on our tables were
not taking no for an answer. This contrasted sharply with the fear of
the state. Riot cops, helicopters with powerful spotlights, and hidden
cameras were in abundance. Armoured personel carriers remained
parked on sidestreets ready to pounce in an instant. Yet no one
appeared intimidated. The power and dignity of this crowd
constrasting sharply with my morning experience. There was no
begging and petitioning here.

This is resistance and I had found it. Now that's a struggle I am
hungry to join.

Dave Bleakney, postal worker
See also:

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
INFO: http://ainfos.ca/org http://ainfos.ca/org/faq.html
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
SUBSCRIPTION: send mail to lists@ainfos.ca with command in
body of mail "subscribe (or unsubscribe) listname your@address".

Full list of list options at http://www.ainfos.ca/options.html

A-Infos Information Center