Global Exchange’s Carleen Pickard, Shannon Biggs and Medea Benjamin and fellow climate justice campaigners, environmentalists and social justice advocates from around the world are in Cancun for the COP16 climate summit. In conjunction, climate activists from around the globe have been planning activities on and around December 7th to unite as a community for climate justice and to denounce false solutions to climate change. The event is called “1000 Cancúns Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. The next segment in our ongoing coverage of COP 16, today Carleen reports back about actions that happened IN Cancun for the 1000 Cancuns Global Day of Action for Climate Justice:

The Via Campesina march began today surprisingly on time, at 9am. We approached the intersection just outside the space where hundreds are camping with Via members from across the Americas to a sea of green. Green scarves, flags, shirts, hats and banners – all denouncing Monsanto’s invasion of genetically modified corn into Mexican traditional strains, and celebrating campesinos.

After walking through the streets of downtown Cancun, several hundred people boarded buses and we were moved out of town towards the COP16 talks at the Moon Palace. Throughout the week decisions were being made about the specific route of the march, and it appeared that we would be advancing towards the official UNFCCC site.

I boarded a bus with the Bolivian civil society contingent and talked with elders on the bus about their journey to Cancun and their thoughts on the talks compared to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba. They shared some cocoa leaves with Medea Benjamin (Global Exchange and Code PINK Co-founder) who joined us in the downtown march, and we were strengthened for what was to be a long day.

As we gathered on the highway to the airport (and blocked a full lane of the road), thousands joined us and the chants began. The air was filled with drumming and chants of ‘globalizamos la lucha, globalizamos la esperanza’ (globalize struggle, globalize hope), ‘REDD no! Coahabamba si!’, ‘del norte al sur, del este al oeste, ganaremos esta lucha, cuesta lo que cueste!’ (from the north to the south, from the east to the west, we will win this struggle, it will take whatever it takes!)

We continued for 6 miles until we were met by a line of riot police and behind them a heavily fortified road block.

An indigenous man carrying a ‘No REDD’ banner walked to the federal police and pleaded for their compassion and understanding, explaining that we were there in legitimate protest to have the people making crucial decisions listen to us.

We spread out onto both sides of the highway and once a makeshift stage was set up with a microphone, the crowd was greeted by Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN Pablo Solon who reported on the attempts being made by the Bolivian government to have the Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth recognized on the inside. Two brief videos of his talk to the crowd are here and here (in Spanish).

A member of the official delegation from Uruguay also spoke, as did Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, their official delegate to the UNFCC and a member from CLOC in Guatemala.

Below are more pictures from today and a quick shout out to the folks in Toronto, Canada for their solidarity action this afternoon.