On Orthodox Easter, Pope Francis talked about all the lives and beauty destroyed by war, ending his litany with this: “The war also destroys everyone watching superficial news to see who’s the winner and who’s the loser. The war destroys everyone. Beware of it.”

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland last March. Manuel Ortiz for Global Exchange

Russia’s war on Ukraine has already killed tens of thousands of civilians and left countless others to face bombardment, suffering, death, and starvation in brutalized cities like Mariupol and more than a hundred other towns large and small across a country inhabited by 40 million humans. As of May, according to the United Nations, more than five million have already fled their homes.

And of course, thousands of combatants have also died on both sides of this, the biggest ground war in Europe since the Second World War. And no matter who they are – Ukrainian volunteers defending their homeland or Russian conscripts killing and dying for the designs of others – they leave behind grieving families.

And the losses don’t stop with just those killed and injured. The devastation is widespread.

We have all seen images of Ukrainian cities lying in ruin. Less visible, but possibly just as deadly is the loss of grain crops that will cause havoc with shortages and soaring prices that will mean hunger and starvation in northern Africa and elsewhere.

The fight against the fossil fuel industry and its forced march toward catastrophic global climate disaster is also on the line.

It is not just the burning fuel depots and habitat loss due to combat. Spiking international tensions and escalating economic sanctions severely undermine the frameworks of global cooperation and mutual self-interest we need to successfully confront the planetary climate emergency that threatens all of us with a future of mass extinctions. We need peace now or life on earth as we now know it will vanish within a few decades.

Here in the U.S., war pushes all the wrong policy buttons and reinforces backward priorities – ceding power to the Pentagon and the fossil fuel industry while starving green innovation and urgent investment in people and the space-race-speed industrial transformation we need, right now to beat back climate disaster.

More domestic oil drilling or tapping of strategic reserves is not the answer. Nor is urging the Saudis and Gulf States to raise their output – or even flirting with oil producing countries like Iran and Venezuela, long demonized by U.S. policy makers.

People to People Ties?

Back in the Cold War 1960s Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” At Global Exchange, we believe people-to-people-ties are about spiritual survival – finding collective power by connecting – even across ‘enemy’ lines to build a dissident, resistant, and creative civil society that can map out a course of de-escalation. None of us can do this on our own or by doom scrolling and expressing outrage on social media.

In his response to the invasion of Ukraine, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Argentinian pacifist awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for organizing resistance to the (U.S. backed) dictatorship in his country says: “we must ‘disarm armed reason’ in order to build peace, not as an absence of conflict, but to re-establish relationships of coexistence and mutual respect among people and peoples.”

Pérez Esquivel is right, but ‘disarming armed reason’ is easier said than done; especially at a moment like this, when global society is caught between opposing propaganda streams delivered with firehose intensity. People-to-people-ties in wartime can be dangerous and even illegal, but they are essential to decoding the propaganda streams and establishing the basis for ceasefire and eventually, reconciliation.

In our Western version of this conflict, Putin is a paranoid, isolated, megalomaniacal dictator, unmoored from reality as he brutally wields absolute power, ordering Russia’s military to trample Ukraine in pursuit of restored Russian glory.  It is hard not to agree, but that is only one of many facets and perspectives.

Flag of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic declared in 1919.

Three days before his 2022 invasion, Putin recognized the ‘independence’ of parts of Ukraine and said that USSR founder V.I. Lenin had been mistaken to recognize Ukrainian identity over a century ago.

Another version is that the U.S. and NATO took advantage of Russia’s vulnerability in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse – squeezing Russia geographically, politically, and militarily ever since. This view remembers that Nazi armies slaughtered 25 million people in the USSR during WWII and supports Russia’s right to a demilitarized sphere of influence in its border regions. Russians view U.S. political meddling along their borders and possible further NATO expansion to Ukraine as existential threats. The Russians accuse Ukrainian nationalist “Nazi” groups of organizing violence and the “ritual murders” of Russian speakers in the Donbas. In their view this trumps Ukrainian sovereignty and necessitated both the Donbas intervention of 2014 as well as the current 2022  “special military operation” to “demilitarize and denazify”Ukraine.

We disagree with the conclusion that any of these factors justify war, but Americans must contend with an additional argument – one with a lot of traction around the world – that the U.S. (and by extension NATO) have no credibility to call out violations of international law since we have used our superpower status to violate these laws with impunity, time and time again: Arming the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, bombing Panama to detain (rogue CIA agent) President, Manuel Noriega; 20 years of brutal, pointless conquest and military occupation of Afghanistan; invading Iraq, citing faked WMD evidence; pointlessly overthrowing Gaddafi (even after he did everything the U.S. asked him to) and, of course, ordering countless illegal drone killings around the world in the last two decades. That full, grim list is much longer.

We could let either one of these contrasting narratives form our entire worldview….and learn to “love Big Brother” as Winston finally does after being tortured in Orwell’s, 1984. But though some version of “all of the above” is probably correct; bucking orthodoxies is hard, especially when we are isolated within one media universe.


We don’t have to be isolated. What open-minded traveler from the United States has not

been told at some  point that, “I like and respect you. It is the policies of your government I disagree with”? People-to-People connections are an antidote to nationalistic groupthink. Little by little they let us experience the humanity in folks who our respective governments (and media environments) push us to fear and loathe.

Ukrainian refugees.

Global Exchange and Manuel Ortiz from Peninsula 360 Press have been working together since the invasion started to humanize the victims of this war. Manuel traveled to Ukraine and Poland in early March to report on the war and the plight of refugees. He helped us organize a fascinating pair of webcasts in both Spanish and English with Russian graduate students and dissident activists; as well as with Ukrainians, Belarussians, and academics from Mexico. And upon return to North America, Manuel visited migrant shelters in Tijuana to report on Ukrainian refugees there, waiting to enter the United States. He observed the expedited handling Ukrainians received and wrote that he was glad to see them treated kindly, but noted that it was impossible not to see the contrast to the brutal indifference experienced by Haitian and Central American refugees. Manuel’s reporting helped open one small people-to-people window and we are grateful to him.

Wars eventually end, but as I write, this one seems to still be escalating dangerously as the “West” steps up deliveries of heavy conventional weapons and Russia threatens a nuclear response. We urgently need to de-escalate, but how can we weigh in on the side of peace when “armed reason” is on the march.

The long-ago San Francisco to Moscow Peace Walk of 1961 is an example of how mobilizing “disarmed reason” can have an outsized effect. Standing alone, this action by a small band of pacifists achieved little; but, their tireless walking, talking, and praying served as a counterweight to annihilation at one of the most dangerous points of the Cold War – and its original organizers triumphed two decades later as anti-nuclear organizing grew and blossomed to reaching a peak when a paradigm shifting march of over one-million people descended on the United Nations in June of 1982 – shutting down the embassies of all the nuclear states and demanding disarmament. This demonstration and the international movement it reflected set the stage for building trust, liberating minds, and freeing the hands that brought down the Berlin Wall and ended the Cold War.




Thinking big by thinking small. One step at a time for peace. I am not necessarily proposing that we organize a walk from San Francisco to Moscow, but I wouldn’t want to rule it out, or rule out other bold, visible, persistent, undeniably non-aligned actions for peace.

It is still true that by facing our problems honestly and acting together, we can change and rearrange the world.


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took the oath of office and celebrated the rituals of our democracy today against the stark backdrop of a National Mall filled with flags and ringed by soldiers — but devoid of people — due to the pandemic and threats of right-wing terror.

I took a minute to meditate on the nature of change with Sam Cooke. I hope you will too.

There is no need to remind anyone that Joe Biden faces monumental challenges: out of control Covid, profound economic distress, accelerating climate change, and an unpredictable new fusion of right-wing media and a paranoid, disinformation fueled personality cult.

Yet we need Joe Biden to succeed in rolling back the outrages of the Trump years and he started on day one: cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, stopping oil drilling in the Arctic, starting the process to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, extending loan and mortgage moratoriums to debt distressed people and businesses and a lot more. On the legislative front he submitted an apparently well-designed immigration reform package to Congress.

Donald Trump ran amok in America, seeking to bring out the worst in us. We don’t want him or his movement back. Everyone of us needs to find a place in the struggle ahead.

We don’t have to be fans of Joe Biden to want him to succeed in the work of healing our nation and engaging productively with friends and adversaries alike, around the world.

How we get from here to where we need to go is never an easy question. And we should not expect Joe Biden to do anything we are not willing to fight for. The main lesson from the last time a Democrat was in the White House is that we must stay active, deepen our involvement, remain critical, and help become the change we want to see.

Together, we will figure this out and together, we will get to the other side.

Back in 1985 — when all of us were a lot younger — or maybe not even born yet — a stellar group of American musicians got together to sing We are the World, a “charity single” that topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling U.S. pop single in history. 

Times were tough in 1985, but the sentiment of “We Are the World” — it’s true we make a better day just you and me — hit a sweet spot, in a world starved for solidarity. Many of its great artists are no longer with us. So, even if you thought it too cheesy back then, take another listen now. 

No song could break the chains of Apartheid in Southern Africa or stop Reagan’s Contras in Central America, but this song played everywhere from Los Angeles to Soweto and raised $63 million (equivalent to more than $147 million today) for humanitarian aid in Africa and the U.S.

The good vibes swept the world, even in places like Nicaragua — then under siege by U.S. backed terrorists. “We are the World” boomed from the loudspeakers of the gigantic July 19th rally in Managua commemorating the 6th anniversary of their revolution…with Soviet built helicopters buzzing overhead — and Burlington Vermont Mayor, Bernie Sanders there to promote peace and solidarity.  

A lesser known part of this story is that a few thousand dollars of the money raised by the song went to launch a new, anti-imperialist human rights organization called Global Exchange. It turned out to be a good investment.

For Global Exchange that time to “heed a certain call” has never ended. That is why we’ve built people-to-people ties in many ways and in many places over the last three decades. And in this current moment of unparalleled challenge, we are still at it, supporting a new generation to bring the “world…together as one.

Global Exchange needs your help in 2021 — to build a vibrant and powerful movement for change at home and abroad.  With elections finally over, it’s our social movements that keep up the momentum for change. 

We need you — more than ever — right now.

Thanks for your love and support!!

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s visit to the most racist American President in modern history — in the midst of a uniquely divisive presidential campaign — is a big mistake. So say the dozens of immigrant community and rights organizations in the U.S. and Mexico who signed this letter: “Mr. President, Please Stay Home”.

Technically, the visit is a celebration of the regurgitated NAFTA accord, redubbed USMCA. But the USMCA’s third signatory, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau managed to find “schedule conflicts” to avoid a state visit with Trump during election season, a social rebellion against racism, and a new coronavirus surge.

It might seem strange to some that Global Exchange, an organization long-dedicated to citizen diplomacy and people-to-people ties would join our partners in the immigration rights movement to oppose this visit, at this time, with this American president. We are, of course, believers in the power of respectful dialogue. That is our mission. But a visit that provides political cover to Trump  — who rose to power race-baiting Mexicans and who has dedicated 3.5 years in office to making life miserable for immigrants in the USA — is ill advised.

If you speak Spanish and would like to hear our allies  discuss the realities that are hiding behind the visit, please join us this afternoon for our latest live “Old Neighbors, New Dialogue” webcast.  We will speak with immigrants and their defenders in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America.

For all our English speakers, please tune into our regular webcasts like this one from last week looking at the underbelly of the “new” USMCA trade deal. To be notified of all upcoming webcasts, please sign up here.


I was in Mexico City last night and I watched the Democratic debate (and part Trump’s re-election rally in Milwaukee) with Mexican friends, some of whom peppered me with questions.

Like millions of people around the world, a lot of Mexicans feel they have a stake in the outcome of the U.S. electoral process and are watching closely as it unfolds. Worldwide, people are alarmed by the ugly rhetoric, racist policies, support for authoritarian rule, and the erratic military actions of the current U.S. administration. This is particularly true in Mexico, a neighboring country that has been in the crosshairs of Trump’s hostility since the day, back in 2015, when he first announced his plan to run for office.

Personally, I did not learn a lot from tonight’s debate. We only saw the six candidates who had met the Democratic Party’s escalating participation standards and, with just three weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, the candidates pretty much stuck to their well known talking points. Climate change, health care, Iran, impeachment and NAFTA 2.0 all came up, while the media focused more on the dust-up between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. At issue: Did Sanders cast shade on the idea that a woman can beat Trump in a private meeting he had with Warren last year?

The questions from my Mexican friends, however, kept me busy. Most were about the intricacies of our arcane electoral system like the vagaries of the primary process and why we still use the anti-democratic, slave-era anachronism called the Electoral College. But the question that made me think hardest is one we should all consider: Does it really make any difference whether we elect a Republican or a Democrat? My interlocutor insisted (over my feeble objections) that from the point of view of Mexico it really didn’t. Policies that have deeply injured Mexico — like NAFTA and the drug war — are eminently bi-partisan. Equally, support for corrupt leaders in Mexico has a bi-partisan history, as does U.S political and military intervention in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.

Food for thought indeed, and for me, yet another reminder of the urgency of our mobilization for thoroughgoing change.

We must transform our politics. As they say in Spanish, “no hay paso atrás”. There is no road back to some imaginary past where everything worked. We must forge a new and untrodden path that leads to genuine international cooperation and humble leadership on tackling the many urgent global issues and existential choices facing humanity.

Thanks for all you do to help build that path. There is so much to do in 2020. ¡Si se puede!


High-tech surveillance being deployed against immigrants threatens civil liberties of all.

Many think of Amazon as the company that has made shopping so much easier – turning a few clicks into bargains arriving at the front door. But as much as this convenience is appealing, there are aspects of Amazon’s business – albeit, less obvious – that some Amazon customers, employees and shareholders, not only denounce as insidious, but are actively challenging.

John Harrington is one of those people.

Mr. Harrington is President and CEO of a socially responsible investment advisory firm, Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII), based in Napa, CA,. He spearheaded an Amazon shareholder resolution in 2019, denouncing the facial recognition software, Rekognition, which the company has marketed and sold to government agencies.

“This invasive and sometimes inaccurate surveillance technology has great potential for violations of privacy, as well as human and civil rights abuses by government,” states Mr.  Harrington, asserting that “… it is marketed as an enhancement for law enforcement but its implementation could ultimately undermine democracy and empower authoritarian rule, worldwide.”

Mr. Harrington does not level these charges lightly. And this is not the first time he or HII has tangled with corporate titans. He is a pillar of the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement in California and in 1972, he wrote the first state report on South African apartheid and U.S. corporate involvement, resulting in one of the largest divestitures in the nation’s history, ultimately bringing about the end of apartheid and the democratization of South Africa.

Mr. Harrington compares the threats of tools like Amazon’s Rekognition that fuse government, law enforcement and corporate surveillance to the restrictive “pass system” used by the South African government during apartheid.

He cautions, “If South Africa’s racist regime had the kind of surveillance tools Amazon now wants to sell worldwide, they might still be in power today.”

In September, HII reintroduced the updated Amazon resolution for inclusion in the company’s proxy material and shareholder ballot for 2020.

Susan Perez is a board member of Secure Justice, an organization with the mission of working ‘against state abuse of power, and for reduction in government and corporate overreach’. She highlights that immigrants are among the top targets of surveillance technology utilized by government.

Ms Perez says, “Amazon’s involvement in repressive tools used to pursue immigrants goes way beyond their Rekognition software that is being targeted by shareholder resolutions”.

She further explains that “… Amazon Web Services (AWS) users like Palantir, a company that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) relies on to gather and fuse data on undocumented immigrants’ employment, phone records, housing in violation of sanctuary laws related to data sharing”.

Amazon’s cloud computing service hosts Palantir and other large enterprises systems on its platform, holding over $50 million in ICE contracts.

Working in Coalition

Amazon is a tech industry behemoth with the third largest market cap ($847.5 billion) of any company in the world – only Apple and Microsoft exceed the giant. So what will it take for it to listen, much less change its corporate behavior?

Brianna Harrington is HII’s research analyst and shareholder advocacy coordinator and she says her work shows that that roughly “twenty eight percent of Amazon’s own shareholders supported conducting an independent study on the risks of Rekognition.”

“We are not declaring victory,” says Brianna, “but this coalition of supporters is amassing, and Amazon has taken notice that this issue is far too important and will not go away – we are in this for the long haul.”

With key partners like the American Civil Liberties Union and Open MIC and support from other groups, organizations, individual and institutional investors, momentum is indeed building.

Companies are not immune to public outcry regarding social issues – and have felt this sort of pressure before, and at times, responded favorably. Recently, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays and PNC were targeted by the Families Belong Together Coalition because of GEO Group and CoreCivic’s investments linked to the financing of private detention centers and prisons. With concerted campaign effort, these companies were persuaded to divest and Geo Group and CoreCivic lost an estimated $2.35 billion – or 87.4% – in lines of credit and term loans.

This is an example of what’s in store for Amazon until it changes its ways.


Assault weapons smuggled and imported legally from the United States to Mexico are a big and growing problem — as chilling events this week in three different Mexican states — illustrate.

Assault weapons trafficked into Mexico were used in an ambush and massacre of police officers in Michoacán on Monday, in Guerrero on Tuesday, and in a gunfight between Sinaloa police and gunman yesterday.

On Monday, thirty gunmen attacked police in Aguililla, Michoacán, killing 14 members of state police who were on their way to pick up a witness. Press on the scene identified used shells from .223 and 7.62 calibers used in assault weapons as well as military rifles. They also documented holes in police vehicles caused by .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifles. All such caliber weapons are not legally sold to civilians in Mexico but are commercially sold in most U.S. states.

Then Tuesday, in the state of Guerrero, 13 armed civilians – allegedly gang members – shot at Army patrol near the city of Iguala, killing one soldier. Soldiers responded, killing thirteen of the attackers. The military recovered six AK-47 rifles, six AR-15s, a Galil rifle, hand grenade, and six handguns at the scene.

On Thursday, heavily armed gunmen in Culiacan, Sinaloa surrounded and fired on police who had detained the son of “El Chapo” Guzmán the notorious kingpin now serving a life sentence in the United States. The gunmen forced Guzman’s release using Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles that are available from gun dealers in Texas and Arizona, and regularly trafficked over the border to Mexico.

Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico has just published a map of illegal firearms recovered by the army in Mexico from 2010 through 2018, together with a map of licensed gun dealers in U.S. border states, by city.

We call on elected officials and activists who support a ban on assault weapons to speak out on the human toll of these U.S.- sourced weapons in Mexico.

For more information, contact:
John Lindsay-Poland
Stop US Arms to Mexico
A Project of Global Exchange
Tel: 510-282-8983

September 26, 2019

Tonight marks five years since police in Iguala, Guerrero in southern Mexico, armed with Colt assault rifles exported from the United States, attacked students from the Ayotzinapa teachers school, killing six people and forcibly disappearing 43 students. The students have yet to be found.

Documenting the Weapons Used “Because the police used weapons, my son disappeared 40 months ago,” Antonio Tizapa, the father of one of the 43 disappeared students, told weapons producers gathered in Washington last year. “He is my son. Please, don’t send more weapons to Mexico.”

Efforts to control U.S. exports of dangerous weapons such as those used against the Ayotzinapa students are at a key juncture . On this anniversary, take this chance to press U.S. Senate leaders to stop a move by President Trump that would make it much easier for companies like Colt to sell military-grade weapons to anyone without Congressional oversight.

In July, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would stop the transfer of export licensing of assault weapons and other firearms from the State Department to the Commerce Department, whose mandate is to sell as much possible. Since the Senate did not include this measure in its version of the NDAA, the issue will now be decided in the coming days by House-Senate “conferees”.  Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the most critical member of Congress in this process.

Unless the amendment is retained, then there is nothing to stop the transfer of gun exports to Commerce. This transfer would eliminate Congressional notification of proposed assault weapons sales to other countries, loosen the overall rules for firearms exports, and pave the way for the publication of 3D-printed weapons, which could be produced by anyone with a 3D printer, anywhere in the world.

That is why we are urging you to contact Senator Reed to support this amendment.

We don’t know when the 43 students will be brought home.

We know that today it’s important to put the brake on the U.S.-made weapons exported and used in their disappearance.

Please join us in that action. 

In solidarity,

John Lindsay-Poland and Ted Lewis
Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico and Global Exchange

Please take a moment to watch this video documenting the weapons used.


Last night’s Democratic debate in Houston, Texas gave viewers their first opportunity to see all the top contenders for the Democratic nomination on a single stage. There were lively exchanges and passionate views expressed on combating climate change, banning assault weapons, and most of all, defeating Donald Trump.

On immigration and international policy there was little new. Candidates certainly didn’t get around to giving detailed responses to the kinds of questions we have been raising about how they would uphold asylum, defend the human rights of children, hold ICE accountable for abuses, or address the root causes of migration. And the international policy questions we’ve prioritized – like bettering relations with Iran, ending support for the Saudi war in Yemen, reducing military spending, or backing Palestine rights – never really came up.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan did come up – and there was unanimity that the now 18-years of U.S. presence there should end. The consensus on withdrawal included Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who had deployed to Afghanistan with the Navy in 2014.

The topic of Venezuela was raised by Univision moderator Jorge Ramos who seemed to red-bait Bernie Sanders – chiding him for being unwilling to call President Nicolas Maduro a “dictator”, while asking the Vermont Senator to compare his “democratic socialism” to the Bolivarian kind in Venezuela. Sanders replied that Maduro was a “vicious tyrant” and that the comparison between Venezuela and his more Canadian or Nordic vision of socialism was unfair. Julian Castro seized the opportunity to call Maduro a dictator, signalling his support for regime change.

As we mentioned in a pre-debate email: Last week we sent ALL the declared candidates ten specific questions on foreign and domestic topics. We asked them to reply ASAP. We promised to post their answers, starting on Nov 3, 2019, exactly one-year prior to U.S. national elections.

Don’t you want to know — and don’t you think we all deserve to know — their answers?

Over the next month, we’ll need your help asking the candidates (over and over) to answer our ten questions on immigration and international policy. You can email, tweet or try to catch them at a candidate forum or campaign appearance.

We are working on a new tool designed to make contacting the campaigns more efficient for you and that you can share with your social media networks. We will send it as soon as it is ready.

Thanks for staying engaged. It will take great fortitude and the power of community to struggle against the anti-democratic forces our country faces.

We need to help each other stay in the fight for a better world this year.


We long for open, honest, and productive dialogue across borders and between governments and their critics. But in these crazy times such dialogue is vanishingly rare. That is why the successful launch of our Old Neighbors – New Dialogue broadcasts is so unique and exciting. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue/ ]

We have, albeit humbly, forged a new conversation across borders and between Mexican government officials and civil society with the critical support of Spanish language media partners on both sides of the border — like La Opinion and Rompeviento.TV.

Thanks to everyone who expressed interest or viewed the first conversations broadcasts by our Global Exchange en Español — Viejos Vecinos, Nuevo Diálogo (Old Neighbors, New Dialogue) conversations. (If you haven’t had the chance to watch, you can view the five-part series here on our Viejos Vecinos, Nuevo Diálogo webpage here. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue ])

It is the first time we have hosted a series of conversations entirely in Spanish. And it was popular — viewed by many thousands of people on both sides of the border.

Trump’s racist slurs and policy threats toward Mexicans and Central Americans have already encouraged mass shootings, the jailing of children, and the breaking apart of families. And it has devastated bi-national trust.

People like you, who have long defended democracy, know that in the face of a reactionary tide open, honest, and productive dialogue across borders is rare but badly needed. Trump’s international vandalism has provoked a crisis and we need to rewire the whole US-Mexico relationship.

That’s why we have partnered with Rompeviento.tv in Mexico City and La Opinion (the premier Spanish language daily newspaper in the U.S.) to invite journalists, defenders of immigrant and human rights and civil society organizers to engage in conversations with each other and with decision makers, like Tatiana Cloutier who directed the winning 2018 campaign of current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and who currently serves as a member of Mexico’s Federal Chamber of Deputies. She headlined our first session. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue/ ]

Last week, we held the final conversation of our first series. Here is a brief summary:

Marco Castillo of Global Exchange moderated a wide-ranging exchange on border, immigration, and other hot button bilateral topics. He was joined by Ernesto Ledesma of Rompeviento.TV; Gabriel Lerner, editorial director of La Opinion; and Jesús Ramirez, AMLO’s Press Secretary. (Watch it here. [ https://globalexchange.org/2019/08/22/viejos-vecinos-nuevo-dialogo-episodio-cuatro/ ])

Needless to say, this panel did not agree on everything. In fact, the tension was palpable at times when our panelists raised very direct and critical questions about Mexican government policy.

Differences on how Mexico should best respond to Trump’s multiple aggressions topped the list. But, in what we hope can be a model for expanded dialogue and conflict resolution, everyone stayed civil and positive even as they forcefully argued their points.

Gabriel Lerner started the conversation by denouncing the Trump Administration’s decision to resume indefinite detention of immigrant families by overriding the long established “Flores Settlement” designed to prevent such abuses. He lamented that the López Obrador Administration had issued new “migration detention protocols” last June under the pressure of Trump’s threats to disrupt the Mexican economy with escalating tariffs.

Ernesto Ledesma recognized that great external pressure being exerted on Mexico, noting, “one point everyone agrees on is that Trump’s provocations will continue.” He describes Trump’s overall approach as “war against migrants and the poor”. At the same time he critiqued the AMLO government’s inability to meet the needs of migrants even as it steps up repression at Trump’s behest. Ledesma called out the government’s disconnect with NGOs who have long organized vital, and sometimes life saving, services to people on the migrant trail. “Not all NGOs are the same,” said Ledesma.

Jesús Ramírez, (the President’s official spokesperson) responded at. Mr. Ramírez accepted our invitation to join the conversation because he wants to inform people — on both sides of the border– on the government’s side of the story; what they are up against, and why reforms are moving more slowly than people want. Ramirez asked for patience focussing on mid- and long-term solutions like building economic infrastructure projects aimed at making immigration one possible course in life rather than the desperate survival gambit it so often represents for Central American and Mexican families.

There was a lot more to the conversation and we encourage your to listen to it (in Spanish) and share widely. [ https://globalexchange.org/2019/08/22/viejos-vecinos-nuevo-dialogo-episodio-cuatro/ ]

At present, we do not have a transcript of the conversation nor the capacity to put English subtitles on the recording of the broadcast. (We’d welcome volunteers to help us transcribe key bits of these conversations so that we can subtitle them for non-Spanish speakers. Please email ted@globalexchange.org, if you are interested in joining our 2020 translation team.)

And please stay tuned for for our ongoing webinars in English that cover Mexico, gun policy reform, the drug war, climate action, and so much more.

Please help us deepen this conversation and reinforce the humanity that ties us together. Your support makes this work possible. [ https://org.salsalabs.com/o/703/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=7481 ]

Solidarity knows no borders,

Ted Lewis and Marco Castillo
US-Mexico Program Co-Directors