We are devastated by the news that 54 migrants lost their lives and more than 105 were seriously injured last night when the trailer in which they were traveling overturned in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico. This tragedy is a direct consequence of the anti-immigrant policies – put in place by Trump and continued by Biden – that put already at-risk populations (families and individuals fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty) at even greater risk.

The Biden administration has failed in its promise to reverse the worst of Trump’s draconian, anti-immigration policies – not only by continuing, but also expanding Title 42 and the Remain in Mexico Program to deny entry and due process to those seeking safety and refuge in the United States. 

We know these policies violate the human rights of migrants and refugees and put these already vulnerable populations at grave risk of further persecution and violence. 

Governments must end these deadly policies and focus their efforts on protecting the life and rights of everyone, but particularly of vulnerable populations that seek refuge from violence and poverty.

Global Exchange is continuing our work to advocate for an end to Title 42, the Remain in Mexico Program and all “Safe Third Country” agreements. (Watch my recent interview with Marc Lamont Hill on UpFront.)

But today, right now, we are asking you to help us protect those who face the gravest risks as these policies continue. Please make a gift to our Migrant and Refugee Relief Fund; 100% of the funds raised will go to frontline shelters and legal aid organizations across Mexico working to protect and support migrants and refugees.

We have been able to send critical support to shelters that provide humanitarian assistance to the migrant population in Mexico. With your contribution, we can continue to support these vulnerable populations who face increasing hardships and dangers that threaten their lives.

Thank you for supporting the Migrant and Refugee Relief Fund.

Never another night like last night.

I am an immigrant and I live in New York City. I know now is a time to stay home and be safe, but I work with other immigrants and families who don’t have that option.

So, while we fight for our health and applaud those essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic, we need to also remember that many of those on the COVID-19 battlefront are immigrants, some of whom will have no “normal” to return to when the fight ends.

Right now families across Mexico and the U.S. are being held in unsanitary immigration detention facilities for no good reason. Many of them are parents and children who left home to escape violence and unbearable conditions in their countries of origin. Now, as detainees, they face the deadly risk of infection by COVID-19. They are held in crowded conditions, are unable to socially distance, and lack access to adequate health care, medicine, and, in some cases, even basic things like soap to wash their hands.

This pandemic has reminded us how vulnerable all of us are, even as it casts a harsh light on economic fault lines and festering injustices in our society. Among those injustices is the inhumane nature of the U.S. immigration system. Even during this pandemic, undocumented workers – many of whom are out there doing essential work every day on farms, in warehouses, restaurant kitchens, and in nursing homes – and their families continue to be subject to detention and summary deportation.

As the pandemic began, Global Exchange took the lead to bring together organizations across the U.S., Mexico, and Central America to call on both U.S. President Trump and Mexican President López Obrador to immediately free all immigrants from unsafe detention centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our letter underlines that “the health and safety of detainees who have committed mere civil infractions (often in the act of seeking asylum from violence in their homelands) is in the hands of Mexican and U.S. authorities, who are morally and legally bound to take immediate action to minimize their risk of infection without undermining their rights to due process”.

More than a hundred leading human rights, immigrant rights and social justice organizations from both Mexico and the U.S. have signed on.

As of writing, federal courts in Mexico have backed the demands to free detainees due to the public health conditions generated by COVID-19.

To give broader coverage to these issues, we hosted webcasts with immigrant rights leaders from Mexico and the U.S. in both Spanish and English. They addressed thousands of viewers on the pressures immigrants, especially women and indigenous migrants, are facing. They looked at the broad safety and legal issues faced by immigrants with a focus on detention centers in both countries where those imprisoned face greatly elevated risk from the pandemic.

In April, Global Exchange joined a fast-growing national campaign to support the nearly 100 migrants who had started a hunger strike to press their release demands at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in Southern California. The Otay Mesa facility, run by the private prison giant, CoreCivic, is the largest immigrant detention facility in the United States with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

Our immigration system has long been broken. There will be no “normal” when this pandemic loses its grip – we will still face a long fight to build a new immigration system that respects basic human values, welcomes refugees, and has open arms for those who have suffered violence in their homelands.

Take Action and Demand an immediate total moratorium on the detention of immigrants.

Marco Castillo is the U.S.-Mexico Program Co-Director at Global Exchange.


View this live streamed webinar (October 12, 2018) to hear a  discussion between leaders from the US and Mexico to learn about how people are organizing to defend immigrants in both of our countries. Hear about challenges, victories and new strategies from Bill Hing, Law professor and founder of the Immigrant Legal Resource; César Vargas, a national immigration reform advocate, co-director at Dream Action Coalition and New York’s first undocumented immigrant to practice law in the state and; and Gretchen Kuhner, director of IMIUMI, one of Mexico’s leading defenders of women and families. Moderated by Global Exchange’s Marco Castillo.


Last week Town Hall Summer launched — a campaign of unity and civic mobilization — in Fresno California.

The event was a great coming together of progressive groups and people. Many of them — from the immigrant rights struggle, anti-war organizations, environmental groups, civic organizations, fair trade networks, voter registration powerhouses, labor unions, and other movements — said that they were happy to meet fellow activists and organizers because, while living in the same town, they rarely meet up or find ways to work together.

That is the idea of Town Hall Summer:  In the face of an unprecedented attack on immigrants, the environment, workers, and the very foundations of democracy and civility we are coming together to strengthen our movement and build a different future; A future where all of us can live together, work together, and show respect for one another.

The Fresno Town Hall started with wrenching testimonies from immigrants who shared painful stories of abuse and separation. You can read more the stories shared in the Fresno Bee or watch it online here.

Their stories underlined the urgency of the crisis we are facing and the need for unity, civic participation and massive voter turnout this fall to turn our words into action and start to turn our country around.

Movement leader, Armando Gudino, from Drug Policy Alliance, took the stage to demand an end to the War on Drugs, because it’s clear it’s “war against the people, and particularly a war against people of color and immigrants. This can’t continue”.

Amy Arlund, from the California Nurses/National Nurses United, said that the separation of families “is an attack on our health system, because it affects the health of thousands of migrants. Health is a basic right that everyone should have access to”.

And Samuel Molina from Mi Familia Vota called the public to act, register to vote and help others getting registered, so we can change the current state of things.

All the many speakers were all clear about this: while participation means a lot more than voting, voting is one of the few ways we can all come together to have a voice and collectively transform our communities. Many speakers exhorted those who can vote to remember that voting is a privilege not everyone has – and that those who can need to exercise this right on behalf of those who cannot.

The day ended in a spirit of unity and good vibration as the band La Meta serenaded the crowd and got lots of folk on their feet and dancing.

Town Hall Summer continues — next in Arizona and then in Florida and Texas.  And for those of you who are at a distance, we will have virtual Town Halls online that you are invited to join.

A big thank you to all of our local and national partners who supported this event:  350.org, SEIU-USWW, Drug Policy Alliance, Alianza Americas, Democracy Initiative, LEAP, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, California Trade Justice Coalition, Central Valley Partnership, California Nurses/National Nurses United, Mi Familia Vota, Californians for Justice, ACT for Women and Children, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, United Farm Workers, WILPF, ILRC and FIOB.


Parents seeking asylum in the US and separated from their children by immigration authorities will launch a national education and defense campaign in partnership with a broad front of national and local organizations convening in Fresno.

The Fresno event is the kickoff event of a nationwide civic mobilization called “Town Hall Summer” that will convene a series of events in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida to defend basic human rights, the health of our planet, healthcare as a human right and the vitality of our democracy.

Town Hall Summer is sponsored by Global Exchange, the San Francisco based human rights organization. It has the active support of dozens of national and local organizations including: 350.org, Alianza Américas, Drug Policy Alliance, California Nurses Association/  National Nurses United, California Trade Justice Coalition, Democracy Initiative, Law Enforcement Acion Partnership, Mi Familia Vota, Californians for Justice, ACLU of Northern CA, Planned Parenthood of Mar Monte, Youth Leadership Institute, SustainUS, ACT for Women and Children, CHIRLA (Fresno), Centro La Familia, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Fresno Center for Non-Violence and many more.

The Town hall will include entertainment, skills workshops, voter registration, and presentations by the representatives of national organizations and local their local partners. Some national organizations are sending speakers including:

  • Neil Franklin, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
  • Cristina García, Alianza Americas
  • Amy Arlund, California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United
  • Tianna,  SustainUS and Powershift Network
  • Will Witschko, California Trade Justice Coalition
  • Armando Gudino, Drug Policy Alliance

When and Where:

July 21st, from 11:00 AM to 3:00PM , at the Mosqueda Community Center, located at 4670 E Butler Ave, Fresno, CA 93702.


This will be the first of a series of events that Global Exchange and its partners will be organizing throughout the US, including Arizona, California, Texas and Florida in the lead up to the election and beyond.

According to Marco Castillo, Town Hall Summer’s lead organizer,  “We have had enough of our federal government pushing policies that result in the violence of family separation and mass incarceration; Policies that lead to irreversible environmental destruction, criminalization of minorities, disregard for public health and healthcare as a right and the loss of labor rights. We need massive mobilization and unprecedented civic participation to change course.” 

We are starting this campaign in Fresno to give voice to people –like parents whose children have been snatched away by U.S. government agencies.  

Please join us in standing up for ourselves — and each other.

Please visit twww.townhallsummer.org for details on upcoming events and actions.

More information: contact Marco Castillo at 646.826.9834 or marco@globalexchange.org


We are facing a moral and humanitarian crisis.

The Trump Administration’s cruel and calculated decision to separate immigrant children from their parents is, without a doubt, the clearest display of the real intentions of this racist and heartless Trump led federal government, and evidence of its absence of ethics and morals.

It is estimated the more than 2,000 children, some as young just 12 months old, have been separated from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions instituted the family separation policy in May. Children are left without rights to any legal council, and parents are being told they may never see their children again.

It is hard to imagine the terror and desperation these families face.

We must all stand up and stand against this horrifying action by our elected government.

Call on Congress to pass the HELP Separated Children Act. Take Action!

We at Global Exchange are outraged by this action, and we stand with the hundred of organizations and activists along the border and across the country fighting this decision.

Today we joined Families Belong Together at ICE’s San Francisco headquarters to protest this moral horror of family separations and imprisonment of immigrants and refugees.

But we won’t stop there!

We must make our opposition to these immoral and horrifying policies heard in D.C. (write to Congress and tell them to pass the HELP Separated Children Act), at the border (we are organizing actions at our Town Hall Summer events in Arizona and Texas this August), and at the ballot box in November (register to vote now).

Now is when we must stand together in defense of the most vulnerable and the values (human rights, justice, equity, peace) we share!

Today we ask you call on Congress to pass HELP for Separated Children.

This summer we ask you to help us build a united and mobilized electorate. Join Town Hall Summer, and help us build a people’s first agenda that protects immigrant families, workers, the climate, our environment, and our future.

P.S. Join us June 28th for our Town Hall Summer National Organizing Call. RSVP here.



Over the last month President Trump has focused a stream of racists tweets and ugly comments at a “caravan” of refugees and migrants from Central America and Mexico traveling north to seek asylum in the United States.

While ignoring U.S. support for the drug war and repressive government in Honduras that gave rise to the caravan, Trump spewed invective against these asylum seekers, depicting them as a national security threat to rally his nationalist base.

150 families and many unaccompanied children have now arrived at the border. They are requesting asylum and are being processed by border agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. U.S. laws grant asylum seekers a fair audience with a judge after a “credible fear” interview.

We think they should be given a fair hearing, but even before knowing the details of the cases, U.S. authorities, led by President Trump have sought to undermine the credibility of their claims.

Revealing woeful ignorance of the laws he is sworn to uphold, President Trump said they were “trying to take advantage of DACA” and DHS Secretary Nielsen said that they were trying to take advantage of “loopholes” in current immigration law.

Their anti-immigrant messaging is intended to influence the criteria of judges and the general public with false perceptions of “imminent influx of asylum seekers” with “harmful consequences”. The truth is U.S. border crossings along the southern border are at their lowest level since 1971.

These families are fleeing from organized violence in countries where U.S. policy has contributed to unlivable conditions. We owe them their human and legal rights as asylum seekers.

Call Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen

Demand Secretary Nielsen allocate the necessary resources and personnel to ensure an expedited and due process for Central American families seeking asylum in the U.S.


Photo Credit: Code Pink

Photo Credit: Code Pink

It would be easy to make a list of 10 bad things—wars, government shut-down, drone attacks, lack of progress on immigrant rights, lousy health-care reform.  But it’s also been a year of extraordinary activism: whistleblowers, DREAMers, Walmart workers, peacemakers, gay rights advocates, garment workers. As the year ends, let’s pay tribute to the good things their efforts have wrought.

1. A spontaneous uprising by the American people kept President Obama from invading Syria. This Fall’s “peaceful insurrection” was by far my favorite moment of 2013. It was one of those all-too-rare occasions when folks came together across ideological divisions, flooding their congressional reps with calls. Yes, after 12 years, Americans have become “war-wise”, understanding that US intervention is no solution. So instead, chemical weapons are being destroyed thanks to successful negotiations. But the war in Syria rages on, with casualties mounting daily. Peace talks are scheduled for January 22 in Switzerland, and women’s groups—including CODEPINK—are mobilizing to surround the meetings with a desperate plea to all the guys with guns: Ceasefire NOW!

2. Talks with Iran are progressing, despite Israel and AIPAC’s objections. The P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany has made great headway in finding a solution to diffuse the crisis around Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiators are anxious to take advantage of the opening represented by the election of a moderate Iranian leader, President Hassan Rouhani. Sadly, a group of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, along with the AIPAC lobby, threaten to derail the talks by pushing for greater sanctions against Iran. If we can move ahead with talks, 2014 could be the year we finally ditch the Bush-era “axis of evil” treatment and build friendly relations with Iran.

3. Edward Snowden has rocked the world of NSA spying. When Edward Snowden first blew the whistle on the NSA’s sweeping surveillance, he said his greatest fear was not what the government would do to him, but that nothing would change. A mere six months later, the cascading effects have, according to the Washington Post, made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.” There is now a vibrant global dialogue about privacy rights. In December, a federal court judge declared the secret collection of domestic phone records unconstitutional and President Obama’s own review panel called a major overhaul of NSA’s activities. President Obama claims he will consider the review board’s suggestions, indicating that reforms are necessary to restore public confidence. While Snowden is under indictment for criminal acts here in the US, thanks to this whistleblower, the days of the NSA doing whatever it wants—in secret and free from public criticism—are coming to an end. Thanks, Edward, for your service!

4. Killer drones are taking a beating. The international community is finally standing up to the use of killer drones and the proliferation of this technology around the globe. With reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, investigations by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs, and two briefings in Congress with testimony by drone strike survivors, the dialogue and the outrage around the drone program has increased. This year saw a ban on drone strikes by both the Pakistani National Assembly and the Yemeni Parliament (if only the U.S. would listen!), more protests inside the U.S. and the creation of a global anti-drones network.

5. Yes, the Pope, who beat Snowden for Time’s Person of the Year, is astonishing. I must admit that even as a secular Jew, this pope fills me with awe. He sneaks out at night to feed the homeless; invites homeless people to celebrate his birthday in the Vatican; washes the feet of young prisoners; says he is not one to judge gay people; calls on the church to get beyond its fixation on reproduction and sexual morality; debunks trickle-down economics and questions the morality of capitalism; lives simply and loves to take public transportation. What a cool guy! Unfortunately, he doesn’t support abortion rights or the ordination of women, but he is certainly injecting new spirit into the moribund, scandal-ridden Catholic church.

6. Low-wage workers rise up, saying “Low Pay Is Not OK!” Around the county, fast food and other low-wage workers from McDonalds to Walmart rose up in to demand a living wage.  Today, 34 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, as well as dozens of cities, have introduced or passed legislation on minimum wage issues, including increasing the state minimum wage, automatic cost-of-living increases and addressing base wages for tipped employees. (And overseas in Bangladesh, after a huge factory blaze in April left 1,100 people dead, massive strikes led to a 77% pay increase for Bangladeshi garment workers!) Pressure is now on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, which has remained at a shameful $7.25 per hour for the past three years.

7. Immigrant advocates did spectacular organizing, and are poised to reap the benefits. They held prayer vigils, press conferences, marches. They chained themselves to the White House fence and the gates of detention centers. They encircled ICE facilities to shut down deportations.  Hundreds were arrested, including 8 members of Congress, calling for immigration reform. They fasted on the national mall in Washington DC, getting a visit from the President and his wife. This organized, mobilized community with significant voting power stands ready to see major changes in U.S. immigration policy next year.

8. Gay marriage is becoming like apple pie. The Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. This year alone saw not only Illinois, but Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, California, Hawaii and New Mexico added to the list of marriage equality states. This number is certain to keep rising, now that a majority of Americans are supportive.  Also, the Senate voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is being blocked in the House but a growing number of Republicans are starting to embrace LGBT rights. Who knows? 2014 might not only see more gay marriages in our nation’s homes, but basic LGBT rights in the workplace as well.

9. The death penalty at home and abroad is dying, slowing but steadily. This year Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to abolish the death penalty and the 18th state to do so. Signing the bill, Maryland’s Governor O’Malley said the death penalty does not deter crime, cannot be administered without racial bias, costs three times as much as life without parole, and a mistake cannot be reversed if an innocent person is put to death. The number of people executed in the U.S. declined to 39—near its lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated in the U.S. in the 1970s. The trend is true abroad. In 1981, when France abolished the death penalty, over 150 countries put their citizens to death. Today, only 21 nations do so. In the past five years, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Burundi, Togo, Gabon and Latvia have all abolished capital punishment.

10. One nation has come to its senses about smoking weed: Uruguay. In 2013, the nation of Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize marijuana. Back home in the US, Washington and Colorado passed full legalization laws (yes, that means recreational use without big brother stepping in) and the Federal government has stated it will not mount a challenge. Also this year, Illinois and New Hampshire joined the 18 other states that have legalized medical marijuana use. Even the stuffy Canadian federal government made medical marijuana legal. You’ll soon be able to get a deal on your dope from GroupOn and pay in Bitcoins. The times they are achangin’.

We begin the new year with renewed awareness of the effectiveness of nonviolent action and nonviolent movements. The possibilities for a more peaceful and just 2014 are boundless.

medea benjaminThere are many things to be thankful for in 2012, starting with the fact that the world didn’t end on December 21 and that we don’t have to witness the inauguration of Mr. One-Percent Mitt Romney. The global economic crisis continued to hit hard, but people have been taking to the streets around the world, from students in Chile to indigenous activists in Canada to anti-austerity workers in Europe. And while the excitement of the Arab world uprisings has been tempered by divisions and losses, the struggles are far from over.

Here are some US and global issues that experienced newfound gains in 2012.

1.     While conservatives launched vicious attacks on women’s rights, it backfired—and fired up the pro-choice base! US voters elected the highest number of women to Congress ever, including the first openly lesbian senator (Tammy Baldwin), the first Asian-American senator (Mazie Hirono) and first senator to make the banks tremble, Elizabeth Warren! Voters also rejected 4 crazy candidates who called for limiting a woman’s right to choose—including the resounding defeat by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill over Mr. Legitimate Rape Todd Akin. Don’t forget that when Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, it got so heartily trounced that it caved in than seventy-two hours later. And stay tuned for the 2013 global women rising – a billion of us demanding an end to violence against women on February 14!

2.     Immigrant rights groups, especially young Latinos, mobilized and took great risks to force a change in attitude—and a thaw in policy. They fasted and caravanned and marched and knocked on doors. They pushed the administration and in June, just before the election, President Obama announced a new immigration policy that allows some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization when they apply for deferred action. While not nearly enough, especially in light of this administration’s record rate of deportations, a mobilized immigrant community with significant voting power stands poised to make more impactful changes in U.S. immigration policy next year.

3.     More money flooded the elections than ever before (some $5.8 billion!), but most of it went down a big, black hole—and unleashed a new movement for money out of politics. Billionaires wasted fortunes trying to sell lousy candidates and lousy ideas. Looking at the candidates supported by the biggest moneybags of all, Sheldon Adelson, NONE were elected to office. Right-wing “pundits” like Karl Rove proved themselves to be idiotic partisan hacks and the Tea Party has been tearing itself apart. But best of all, from Massachusetts to Oregon, Colorado to Illinois and Wisconsin, and Ohio to California, citizens throughout the country voted overwhelmingly for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

4.     The marijuana genie is now out of the bottle, with people across the country backing referendums seeking an end to the decades of destructive, counterproductive drug wars. Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational pot, and medical marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. Voters in California passed Prop 34, which restricts lifetime incarceration via the “three strikes” law to violent or serious third offenses, a change that will help limit the prison sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. Prominent leaders including Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy, former President Bill Clinton and President Obama have hinted that they will reconsider the harsh criminal drug policy that has cost so much money and so many lives while failing to curb drug abuse.

5.     This year marked momentous wins for gay rights. Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington legalized marriage equality, and Minnesota defeated a restrictive state constitutional amendment that would have upheld a ban. Now, one-tenth of states in the U.S. uphold marriage equality. Thanks to activist pressure, on May 9 President Obama became the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples. Several prominent leaders in the Democratic Party followed his lead, and muted conservative responses only served to demonstrate how far public opinion has shifted on the issue.

6.     Climate activists have been kickin’ up a storm. Anti-coal activists have helped retire over 100 coal plants, victories that will save lives and clean our air and water, while wind energy hit a historic milestone of 50,000 megawatts. The global anti-fracking movement mounted effective campaigns that has led to local bans in the US and Canada, national moratoriums in France and Bulgaria, and tighter regulation in Australia and the UK. The grassroots campaign to stop the Keystone Pipeline has awakened a new generation of activists (don’t forget the upcoming February 17-18 President’s Day Climate Legacy/Keystone XL rally in Washington, D.C.). And on the national front, in August the Obama administration issued new miles-per-gallon rules on car manufacturers, mandating that Detroit nearly double fuel efficiency standards by 2025.

7.         Unions have been hard hit by the economic crisis and political attacks, but worker’s gains made in 2012 show potential muscle. The Chicago teachers’ strike in September, lasting for seven school days, led to an important victory for public education. Walmart workers staged the first-ever strikes against the biggest private sector employer in the United States and heralded a new model of organizing, with workers and community members coming together to support better conditions in the stores and warehouses even before the workers join a union. And in another example of worker/community organizing, student activism allied with union advocacy in San Jose, California led to a ballot initiative that will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10 per hour for everyone working within the city limits.

8.     On the foreign policy front, opposition to drone warfare is on the rise. After years of silence about the use of lethal drones overseas, the public began to learn more and the level of anti-drone activism skyrocketed. Now there are protests all over the country, including army bases where drones are piloted and manufacturing plants, and US activists have hooked up with drone victims overseas. US attitudes, once overwhelmingly pro-drone, are beginning to change, becoming more aligned with the global opposition to drone warfare. And the increased global opposition is leading to a rethinking of US policies.

9.     The international movement for Palestinian human rights has gained unprecedented momentum. In November the United Nations endorsed an independent state of Palestine, showing sweeping international support of Palestinian demands for sovereignty over lands Israel has occupied since 1967. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions call by Palestinian civil society gained international traction as well, with economic, cultural and academic victories. Several different Christian denominations and college campuses voted to divest from Israeli occupation, the Technical University of Denmark dropped scientific collaboration projects with an Israeli settlement, the South African ANC endorsed the BDS call, Stevie Wonder cancelled a performance at a “Friends of the IDF” fundraiser, and much more. The grassroots call for Israel to adhere to international law has never been louder.

10.       After nearly 15 years of house arrest, Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to Parliament! Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD (National League for Democracy), swept the April by-elections, winning 43 of the 44 seats it contested. After decades of abuse, the military-dominated government released hundreds of political prisoners, enacted laws on forming trade unions and freedom of assembly, eased official media censorship, and allowed the opposition to register and contest elections. President Obama’s November visit, the first by a sitting US president, was an acknowledgement of the reforms. There’s still need for pressure, as hundreds of political prisoners remain, ethnic conflict continues, and Burmese military still holds too much power. But 2012 was a good year for the Burmese people.

There will be no time to rest in 2013, since the wealthy are already pushing to protect their profits to the detriment of the environment, workers’ rights and our democracy. But just as the massacre in Sandy Hook has led to a reinvigorated fight for gun control, so 2013 will surely mark a renewed effort to build stronger coalitions to spread the wealth, reverse global warming and disentangle ourselves from foreign wars. And with the presidential elections behind us, the time is ripe for building a progressive movement that is not tied to any political party but can put pressure on the entire system. Let the organizing begin!!!