As the international and Mexican delegates met on the beach in Acapulco this morning under a towering Mexican flag, representatives from local and state organizations and unions welcomed our participation on the Via Campesina caravan, and wished us well. They told us that by spending the next 2 days in the state of Guerrero we would be lending support and strength to the struggles that these communities faced.

The international contingent makes up 20 activists and independent media journalists from the USA, Holland, England, Ecuador and Canada (me!). Throughout the day we have picked up people joining the caravan, and expect to have a full bus by tomorrow.

Our spokesperson, Mickey McCoy from Kentucky, let everyone know that what we would see and learn during the next few days would inform our actions in Cancun and into the future. He also connected his work to stop Mountain Top Removal in the Appalachian Mountains to the struggle to stop the La Parota dam in Guerrero.

We then boarded the bus and after a short drive joined the community of Puerto Marquez, just outside of Acapulco, in the newly created hotel zone called Acapulco Diamante. On November 10, 150 families were descended upon by 2 levels of police and forcibly removed from their homes, their homes burned and they are still living in crisis and fear for their lives. We met them on the road, above the now fenced off and police ‘protected’ area where their houses stood. Men, women and children told of their experience of being woken, beaten and thrown out of their houses in the middle of the night. One small girl said that her only request was to the Governor: that he allow her family to have a house for Christmas.

We were left with an uncomfortable feeling of the true costs of unchecked ‘development’ driven by tourist dollars. While ocean and sand may cover the postcards and glossy airline ads, we heard today from 150 families whose lives are in chaos as a result of our aggressive sun seeking.”This land is not for sale,” they told us.

Then on to Agua Caliente, the community where the Council of Communal Lands and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam (CECOP) formed and is fighting against the construction of the dam. It was explained to us that while the government has claimed that the construction of the dam is postponed until 2018, bits of construction continue and the community remains vigilant. They by no means feel that the fight is over. We were taken down to the rushing Papagayo river and a CECOP representative mused about how, with the construction of the dam, the river would cease to flow.

We have heard word of the other caravans’ travels today and as we learn more and more about our convergence in Mexico City and then on to Cancun, I’m in awe of this project that Via Campesina has organized and feel the responsibility that community members have bestowed on us to ensure that their voices are heard in Cancun. As one of my traveling mates remarked today, “makes me proud to be people.”

Throughout the day we have been honored to be joined and guided by Rodolfo Chaves Galindo, a CECOP founders and a tireless fighter to stop the La Parota dam. He has reiterated again and again “this land is not for sale”.

I’m just about to meet my international and Mexican traveling companions for the next week and board the Via Campesina caravan from Acapulco, Mexico. First stop on this journey today will be to the much disputed potential site of the mega hydro-electric dam called La Parota to meet with community members and the organization Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Prensa La Parota (CECOP).

When Vicente Fox came to presidential power in 2000, he aggressively advocated for the La Parota dam, and it was called his ‘crown jewel’ throughout his presidency. Yet International Rivers reports that “as many as 25,000 people would be displaced by the dam, and tens of thousands more downstream would suffer negative impacts because of dam-induced changes to the Papagayo River.” CECOP was founded in 2003 specifically to fight the construction of the dam and has functioned collectively, organizing the community base into forming blockades and challenging the federal approval process in law.

Facing fierce divide and conquer tactics of the state and federal government and the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), CECOP also tragically lost two of its members in 2006: Tomás Cruz Zamora and Eduardo Maya Manrique. The stories of their deaths are told here.

In late 2009 the Mexican government announced that it remained committed to building La Parota, but postponed construction until 2018. Many claimed victory and speculated that this meant the end of the project but as tensions have remained high in the community and threats against CECOP members continue, La Parota remains a possibility. Earlier this year, the human rights accompaniment and observation group SIPAZ reported on the ongoing tensions.

Take Action! Send a letter to President Calderon through Amnesty International’s urgent action tool.

After La Parota, the caravan will continue to Chilpancingo to meet with human rights defenders later tonight.

Thanks to International Rivers for the photos and background info.

The people create thousands of solutions to confront climate change

Thousands of Cancuns for climate justice

La Via Campesina calls on social movements and all people to mobilize       around the world

Peasants are cooling down the planet

Globalize the struggle

Globalize hope!

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.

Get involved by participating wherever you are. Mobilizations can take many shapes: direct actions, parties, markets, festivals, discussions or exhibitions…. They can take place in any city, village, school or community. Actions are being posted every day at the Via Campesina webpage. In North America, the Mobilization for Climate Justice and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance both have resources and updates.

Locally in the Bay Area, Mobilization for Climate Justice West is hosting a teach in on Dec 1. More details on that here. Also on Dec 7 MCJW will be pushing for the creation of a public park in the Mission on publicly-owned land currently used as a parking lot. Everyone is invited to build a garden, celebrate community-based activism and enjoy speakers, theatre and music!

Two more resources:

Via Campesina has created a great 7 minute video about climate justice looking towards Cancun, check it out here (also the Via Campesina call out for action) or here.

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance offers a fantastic action and communications toolkit for mobilizing here.

…And here are links to few principles sheets and documents in case you do not have them:

Cochabamba Accord

Indigenous Environmental Network Four Principles of Climate Justice

IEN Report and Statement on REDD

Global Justice Ecology Project Podcast on Cancun Climate Talks Exposes REDD (click on the 11/20/10 Earth Minute)

I join the Acapulco leg of the Caravans of Resistance and Against Environmental Destruction and Inaction (Caravanas en Resistencia en Contra de la Destrucción Ambiental y la Indolencia) tomorrow and will report out soon!

To support LVC’s actions in Cancun, donate here.

To act locally (Bay Area), support MCJW here.

Climate justice campaigners, environmentalists and social justice advocates from around the world will be arriving in Mexico over the next week for  the COP16 in Cancun. Those arriving on the La Via Campesina organized caravans, myself included, will have spent the past week traveling through the Mexican countryside, visiting communities in struggle and resistance, learning about the local effects of climate change and adding our voices of solidarity to communities constructing a better future.

In Cancun both La Via Campesina and Dialogo Climatico – Espacio Mexicano are organizing spaces for activist convergence, workshops and panels. The La Via Campesina forum will take place from Dec 3-8. Inviting international delegates from around the world, they state:

“While transnational corporation and complicit governments convene at the COP16 to promote new ways to capitalize off the climate crisis, La Via Campesina and allies will be present to denounce and resist false market-based solutions. Defend the rights of mother earth and build real solutions for a cool planet at the Alternative International Forum for Live and Environmental & Social Justice.”

The Diálogo Climático – Espacio Mexicano forum – International Climate Justice Forum – Community Dialogue – will take place from December 5 – 10 with the “objective of creating a space for information, discussion, analysis and formulation of proposals and strategies from civil society, organizations and social movements and indigenous communities about climate change from a climate justice perspective.”

For information about either of the forums, information is available on the websites listed above.

Shannon Biggs, Director of Global Exhange’s Community Rights Program, will be presenting and participating on the Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth in both spaces with Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Belen Paez of Fundación Pachamama and Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Movement. To see a video report back from the World People’s Climate Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia where the Rights of Mother Earth/Rights of Nature were codified in the Cochabamba Accords, click here.

And if you have not seen this yet, watch the Story of Cap and Trade.

Stay tuned for more on the global day of action on Dec 7 – ‘Thousands of Cancuns for Climate Justice’ coming up next!

COP16 starts on Nov 29 and runs until Dec 10 in Cancun, Mexico. COP16/CMP6 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP). After the failure of COP15 in Copenhagen, sights are set both high and low for this round.

Climate justice campaigners, environmentalists and social justice advocates from around the world will be arriving in Mexico over the next week, many joining the three caravans set to depart Acapulco, El Salto (Guadalajara) and San Luis Potosí, arrive in Mexico City and then travel on to Cancun, arriving December 3rd. The international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, has arranged the caravans, which will stop at a variety of communities in struggle and resistance, with the objectives of:

– unmasking the double moral standard on the environment with which the government of Mexico maneuvers itself amidst the world-wide climatic crisis. At the same time exposing its true rapacious attitude towards the environment and its subservient attitude with the United States government.

– opening up a practical path of convergence between diverse social organizations of the United States, Canada and Mexico, which nowadays share, without knowing it and without much contact, an effort to struggle against neoliberalism.

– connecting numerous environmental struggles of Mexico with the global agenda of the movement against the world-wide climatic crisis.

– contributing, nationally and locally, to the global civil society’s enormous effort of denouncing the destructive attitude present in many regions of the world, and which is being espoused by the decisions and greed of the governments of the richest nations of the world and transnational corporations.

– nurturing as much as possible the campesino, indigenous and peoples mobilizations against the indolence with which the main countries and capitalists of the world will make themselves present at the COP-16 in Cancun.

– contributing in the preparation of new networks of international coordination.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from Acapulco will be: community struggles against dump sites, water contamination, hydroelectric generation and control of water, resistance and struggles in the mines and will travel through Guerrero, Morelos, and DF.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from Guadalajara will be: community struggles against damns and control of water, Indigenous struggles against deforestation, resistance against expropriation of communal agricultural lands for development, resistance against displacement by superhighway development and will travel through Jalisco, Michoacán, México and DF.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from San Luis Potosí will be: contamination by export agriculture contamination of local communities and rivers by fertilizers and other chemicals, community resistance to development and industrial contamination, community resistance and struggles against toxic waste sites and will travel through San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Hidalgo and DF.


The caravans are scheduled to arrive in Mexico City and thousands will participate in the protest for ‘Life, Social and Environmental Justice’.

Global Exchange will be participating in the caravans from Acapulco and Guadalajara all the way to Cancun and will be reporting daily from the road. More on what is being planned for Cancun tomorrow!