The world watched on as Nelson Mandela’s body was transported to its final resting place in his childhood village of Qunu, South Africa this weekend. In the days following his death, we all mourned and remembered and have no doubt resolved to carry on his spirit and determination to continue to fight for social justice.
In the midst of reflecting on Mandela’s life and legacy, we also looked back at the last 12 months of our highlights and victories of 2013, but could not also help but think of other human rights heroes whom we lost this year. Without them, our movement victories would not be possible.
As the Rainforest Action Network’s Executive Director, Becky led the organization with determination and grace, embraced the desire and sought out the opportunity to holistically link environmental and social justice movements. She was a strong woman and leader, fighting, championing and creating a better world for all.
In February, we bid farewell to Fair Trade pioneer, Raúl del Águila. Raúl was the Managing Director of COCLA, a Fairtrade certified cooperative in Peru made up of 23 primary cooperatives. With his own cooperative, they went from selling 2% of their coffee on Fair Trade terms to 40% and used the Fair Trade Premium to open services for victims of domestic violence.
We thank Raúl del Águila for all the work that he has done for producers and the whole Fair Trade system throughout the years. We will continue to take your legacy to build a stronger Fair Trade movement. Our hearts go out to your family, friends, and fellow cooperative members.
Saul Landau was a legendary documentary filmmaker, author, and activist with a prolific body of which work includes more than 40 documentaries and 14 books spanning from an intimate documentary portrait of Fidel Castro, to the indigenous uprising in Chiapas, to the effects of nuclear radiation exposure. Landau’s work was educational, thought provoking, and an inspiration to all of us at Global Exchange.
In particular, Saul Landau was deeply connected to Cuba, and expressed with great clarity the failings of U.S. foreign policy towards the island nation. We honor Saul Landau’s work in both the movement to normalize relations with Cuba and his untiring work to promote justice and equality in all parts of the world.
Robin was leading child rights advocate and director of the investigative documentary, Dark Side of Chocolate, which looked into the realities of child labor and trafficking in the West African cocoa industry. International Labor Rights Forum’s Judy Gearhart had this to say about the passing of Robin:
”Robin Romano’s passing is a tremendous loss to all those who advocate against child labor. Robin’s passion and commitment to exposing injustice and the exploitation of children was an inspiration to me personally, and I’m sure to many others…Robin’s spirit, drive and compassion will continue to inspire our commitment to exploited children in West Africa, the US and so many other places around the world.”
Eleanor Biggs ¡Presente!
Closer to home, and part of our hearts, we lost a supporter, activist, jokester, and mother to all at Global Exchange, Eleanor Biggs, this summer.
Technically, Community Rights Program Director Shannon Biggs’ mother, she regularly made the trip from Sacramento to our offices to stuff envelopes, serve drinks (or just volunteer) at the Open House, tear up the dance floor at the Human Rights Awards, and rallied in the streets dressed in pink. Her commitment to educating her bridge ladies about Fair Trade vs. Free Trade was true people-to-people ties at work. We raise our glass and miss you very much, Eleanor.
Let the spirits of these amazing activists live on through each one of us as we take on another year of resisting injustice, envisioning alternatives, and taking action.