Photo Credit: Shannon DeCelle

From environmental justice in Ecuador, to Indigenous rights in Mexico, and revolution and change in Cuba, this summer Global Exchange is offering several Reality Tours that will highlight important issues around the world.

Join us as we meet with local leaders and movements to learn about the innovative ways communities and individuals are organizing for social change. Return with a new understanding of the issues and, perhaps most importantly, new ways to engage and support these inspiring movements from home.

Cuba: Revolution and Change

May 18-27, 2018

Be a witness to a rapidly changing Cuba, while engaging in dialogue with local economists, historians, doctors and teachers. Learn about the Cuban revolution while traveling across the country. We’ll start our historical adventure in Santiago where the Cuban Revolution began with the 26th of July Movement. While in Santiago, learn more about the events leading up to the Cuban Revolution as well as celebrate Santiago’s annual Carnival! Continue on to the Sierra Maestra mountains, beautiful Camaguey, Santa Clara and then to Havana.

Haiti: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

June 2-11, 2018

Join us as we examine the impact that foreign actors, like NGOs and volunteers, have had on disaster relief and development in Haiti. Led by Rea Dol, a Haitian educator and grassroots activist, we will engage local organizations and individuals working to sustainably build education, health, and financial services in their communities.

Ecuador: Social & Environmental Justice from the Andes to the Amazon

July 13-21, 2018

This delegation takes a hard-hitting dive into local and international efforts to bring environmental and social justice to the Andes and the Amazon. You will visit Chevron/Texaco’s toxic waste pits and see, firsthand, the impacts of extractive industries on the environment and Indigenous communities. You’ll visit the Yasuni national park, a UNESCO declared world-biosphere reserve that is under renewed attack for its crude oil. And you will meet with a range of actors resisting in creative and powerful ways, including community run ecotourism programs that are local economic alternatives to natural resource extraction.

The Guelaguetza Festival: Indigenous Resilience in Oaxaca, Mexico

July 19-28, 2018

Explore Indigenous resilience through food, culture, and social movements in Oaxaca — home to one of the largest Indigenous populations in Mexico. During this 10 day trip, you will meet with community leaders, activists, artisans, artists, archaeologists, and experience resistance in different ways. Taste the region’s renowned gastronomic traditions rooted in farm-to-table cuisine and mezcal production. See the preservation of pre-Columbian artifacts and practices, including a visit to the Monte Alban ruins. Attend the Guelaguetza festival, a yearly celebration of the customs of Oaxaca’s Indigenous communities.

Peru: Ancient Civilizations and Modern Day Peru

July 6-17, 2018

Travel from Lima to the Sacred Valley and learn along the way about Peru’s ancient civilizations and contemporary social challenges, all while tasting the country’s world-famous cuisine. From Lima’s informal settlements to Andean villages, you will meet with Indigenous cooperatives, artisans, and NGOs working to empower women, practice fair trade, and preserve their traditions.

Chiapas: Indigenous Rights & Environmental Justice

August 3 – 11, 2018

From a base in the colonial town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, our delegation will travel to surrounding Indigenous and campesino communities to learn about Chiapas’s long history of mass mobilization and collective resistance to the Mexican government’s repressive imposition of neoliberal agendas. We will see, firsthand, how popular movements like the Zapatistas organize for economic, environmental, and Indigenous justice while getting a unique look into their time-honored traditions.

Bolivia: Spanish Study & Cultural Immersion

August 6-21, 2018

Looking to pair language school with cultural immersion and social justice? During this trip, we will spend mornings in class learning (or brushing up on) Spanish while exploring social justice issues through guest lectures, debates, and group discussions. During our afternoons, we will explore Cochabamba via visits with activists, scientists, journalists, artists, and government officials. On weekends, we’ll head to the Bolivian countryside and learn about climate change, food justice and the coca industry. All the while, you will live with a Bolivian family, providing an intimate opportunity to practice Spanish in everyday situations and get a better feel for the rhythm of Bolivian life.

Everyone is talking about Cuba after President Obama and President Castro simultaneously announced changes to Washington’s 54 year blockade against Cuba and the travel ban denying U.S. citizens the right to travel to Cuba. This announcement ignites new hopes for normalized relations, and what better way to witness this key moment in history than to travel to the Island with us on a very special trip!

Join Global Exchange as we explore the history, culture and beauty of an often misunderstood place from the inside. We offer unparalleled access to the people and institutions that make the island tick, from political leaders and scientists to musicians and dancers. Whether you’ve never been or this is a return trip, now is the time to explore what this intriguing island has to offer.

In late January, the Canadian Broadcasting Company aired two episodes about Cuba on it’s program Rewind. Using more than 75 years of radio history, the program pulled stories from the archives a year before and a year after the Cuban Revolution, creating The Cuban Revolution – A Look Back, in two parts. These episodes are great background to plan for your trip to Cuba with Global Exchange!

Part 1 examines the events that led to the Cuban Revolution with a documentary from December of 1958, just weeks before Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista. The roots of the revolution started in the summer of 1953 when Fidel and his brother Raul Castro, along with a group of others, launched a guerrilla campaign against the dictatorship. During the years that followed, CBC Radio occasionally reported on the attacks, counter attacks and skirmishes. In May of 1957, when Castro and his rebels were organizing and fighting from their position in the hills of Eastern Cuba, CBC brought the story to its listeners.

Listen here.

In Part 2, it’s a year later, Batista has been overthrown, and Castro and his guerrillas are in power. In April of 1960, the CBC program Project 60 decided to go back to Cuba to see what had happened since their last visit before the revolution.

Listen here.

And then, join the Revolution and Change Reality Tour to Cuba! For more information, click here

Every now and then in history, the human race takes a collective step forward in its evolution. Such a time is upon us now.

Renowned water/environmental activist (and Global Exchange ally) Maude Barlow

 As we ring in 2012, let the revolution begin! From Tunisia to New York, from Spain and Greece to Oakland and  ‘Occupies’ everywhere, people have taken to the streets to reclaim what is rightfully ours.

We the 99% seek more than the illusion of democracy… we want government in the hands of the people, not the corporations. We want just, fair, sustainable policies that benefit the majority — not only the wealthy few.

Global Exchange's Zarah Patriana speaking out in 2011

We will no longer stand by and allow banks, oil companies or our political system to place corporate interests above our shared values of justice, equality, good jobs and vibrant, resilient communities and ecosystems. We’re speaking out everywhere to deliver the message: Enough is Enough!

People across the world are saying enough is enough with the global economic and environmental crisis, and we are responding with a massive outpouring of activism and energy. Together we are changing the rules and creating a world that champions people power not corporate power, builds positive alternatives and promotes human rights, peace and democracy.

When a magazine like TIME names ‘Protesters’ the Person of the Year, it’s clear that our movement has truly captured the zeitgeist.

We are so inspired by the growing movement and the millions who have stood up against oppression, corporate exploitation, and environmental ruin. We, the 99%, are changing the rules!

Along with other Occupy activists, Global Exchange is speaking out in DC, New York, San Francisco and Oakland. We’re holding organizing workshops, taking critical next steps to stop the tar sands Keystone XL pipeline, organizing to oppose big banks and corporate greed, mobilizing our members to join us in taking a stand for system change and using all the tools of social media to reach thousands.

We are in the midst of revolution to end inequality. We are making history. The rule by the greedy few is collapsing. We know it.

This is what revolution for building positive alternatives looks like…

Rebuilding local green economies and sustainable, just communities!

Detroit is Ground Zero for the impact of casino capitalism. Shuttered buildings and vacant lots, unemployment and struggling schools are a grim testament to the power of an economic system that destroys entire communities to benefit the 1%.

In Detroit, we aren’t just Occupying — we are hard at work building the revolution.

Our Green Economy Leadership Training program helps rebuild the blighted Detroit community of Highland Park, neighborhood by neighborhood. We are working with local youth and residents to grow sustainable food, use clean renewable energy and create green jobs.

We’re not just theorizing. We’re digging, hauling, hammering and sweating — turning the ideas of local green economies into reality. Together we are demonstrating what economies and communities designed for the 99% look like.

This is what revolution for government by the people, not corporations looks like…

Transforming our laws to protect the rights of our communities not corporations.

Current laws leave our communities at the mercy of corporate greed. Our communities are the battleground for the policies of corporate profit, from mass pollution, to the mortgage bailout, GMOs, fracking and more.

We are not just occupying public spaces, but working to occupy our local government and change laws to put communities — not corporations — in charge.

When the law denies rights of people and nature, we can and must change the law.

Our Community Rights Program is organizing in California, across the country and around the world to pass revolutionary laws that strip corporate protections and assert the right of communities to themselves decide what happens where they live, and at the same time to recognize the Rights of Nature.

This is what revolution for oil independence looks like…

Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline Project!

The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands in Canada to the United States, is the largest and most disastrous industrial project in human history. And although our determined activism to stop Keystone recently led to a delay in the decision to build it, we’re not out of the woods!

The Pipeline will not only put our communities and ecosystems from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico at risk, it will expand the production of tar sands oil, and in the words of renowned climate scientist James Hansen, it will be “game over for life and the planet.”

Across the country we ‘occupied’ President Obama’s fundraisers, campaign offices and rallies — calling on the President to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

We activated our networks across North America to join the movement to stop the pipeline, through protests, actions, rights-based organizing and letter writing campaigns.

Obama has temporarily heeded our call, and the State Department is once again reviewing its plans — this time without the input of a company closely allied to tar sands interests. But if this catastrophic project is reborn, we will again go state-by-state and work with local indigenous communities, ranchers and community members to shut Keystone down.

This is what revolution for Human Rights looks like…

Standing in solidarity with Mexico’s growing peace movement!

There is a growing citizens’ movement for peace and justice in Mexico. While they don’t term the movement “Occupy,” our brothers and sisters across the border are rising up to save their very lives. They are working to change a system that has left over 60,000 Mexicans dead.

We must stand with them. Global Exchange has joined with Mexican civil society to call for an end to the bloodshed and the policies that continue this brutal violence.

We are organizing our allies on both sides of the border to curb the flow of arms into Mexico, to address drug prohibition and to call attention to and ultimately end U.S. military support for Mexican drug interdiction forces.

We are the 99%. We are the revolution.

We are changing the rules and our future! We cannot let up. Together we can change the rules to build a world that respects human rights, protects the planet and practices true democracy — a world that is not governed for and by the 1%, but democratically led by us all. But we can’t do it without you and we look forward to working together in 2012.

Consider making a special gift and supporting the work of Global Exchange.  Please give what you can today. Together let’s build a movement the 1% can’t shut down.

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

I was in the middle of buying some mints from a street vendor on Cairo’s Talat Harb Street—right off Tahrir Square–when the rocks started flying. I had given a 20-cent coin to the vendor. He gave me one pack of mints, and all hell broke loose.

“Run, run,” people yelled at me. I saw a group of men running down the street, carrying a man whose face was streaming with blood. Then I saw the pro-Mubarak thugs, armed with rocks, metal pipes, whips. “Run, Run,” the Egyptians on the street told me. I ran for shelter as fast as I could.

This has become a pattern the past few days. Thugs hired by the regime, many of them plain-clothes police, try to create chaos on the streets just outside the entrances to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution. They randomly attack people, including us foreigners. Many of us have been beaten, our cameras smashed. My CODEPINK colleague Tighe Barry had been picked up on this very street two days ago, thrown into a car, roughed up, and later dumped out with a warning to stay way.

Tighe refused to stay away, and so did a million Egyptians who, despite the threats of violence, teemed into Tahrir Square today in what was termed the “Day of Departure.” Young, old, rich, poor, religious, secular—they defied the desperate acts of a dying regime.

Ever since this uprising began on January 25, the determination and bravery of the Egyptians has been overwhelming to witness. The democracy forces in Tahrir Square have braved tear gas, water cannons, rocks, sniper fire and mobs storming in on horses and camels. All the while, they have stood their ground and continued to hold on to this sacred square.

Today they were determined to liberate the outside streets as well. While I was running away from the Mubarak mob on Talat Harb Street, a huge crowd came rushing out of the square, running towards the thugs. Just the sight of this oncoming sea of people was enough to frighten the thugs. The Mubarak mob disappeared as quickly as it had formed. Talat Harb Street, the site of street battles the last few days, was once again liberated. People cheered “Horreyah, horreyah”—freedom, freedom.

Out of breath from running so fast, I turned around and saw the street vendor who had sold me the mints. He had run after me. It turns out that the 20-cent coin I had given him was enough to buy two packs of mints, not one. He had come to give me the second pack.

“Welcome to Egypt,” he said, smiling.

“Something wonderful is being born here: an inclusive, grassroots, democratic movement which is, even in this time of extreme crisis, enacting ideals of nonviolence, creativity, courtesy, public service…what can I say? This revolution is not just Egyptian; it belongs to everyone who believes in the possibility of a better way for us all to live together.”
–Ahdaf Soueif, Acclaimed Egyptian novelist sent this message to Medea and CODEPINK to share with you.

One voice among millions, a simple yet elegant declaration of the aspiration of a nation on the precipice of revolution. We have been awed and inspired by the determination of Egypt’s people, their refusal to back down from their rightful claim to freedom and dignity, despite increased violence and heavy personal cost.

Along with the rest of the world, Global Exchange is closely watching the struggle for freedom in Egypt. Global Exchange Co-Founder, Medea Benjamin, is on the ground in Cairo, blogging the latest news from the embattled Egyptian people.

Medea, along with a delegation of CODEPINK activists, is in Cairo standing in solidarity with the people of Egypt. Follow her latest reports on our blog.

Medea has met with dozens of women and groups in Cairo and learned this:

The next major demonstration has been called for this Friday after prayers. People are desperate for it to be a peaceful mobilization. They have a plan to deliver hundreds of flowers to demonstrators, wounded protesters, and to the gun barrels of the Army’s tanks during the next big uprising on Friday after prayers.

Our sisters at CODEPINK will deliver hundreds of flowers at tomorrow’s protest in Cairo. Donate $5 to help buy flowers and send a message of solidarity and peace to Egypt. This is one way we around the world can support the nonviolent people’s uprising. Please consider making a larger gift; any donation over $5 will support the ongoing, critical human rights work of Global Exchange, and will be tax deductible.

[update February 8, 2011. Thanks for choosing to support the people’s movement in Egypt. The rally in Cairo has now happened and thanks to GX supporters we were able to send flowers to demonstrate our solidarity for peace and the respect of human rights. Your donation to support our ongoing work is crucial and 100% will be tax deductible.]

Here are ways you can support the Egyptian people in their call for a peaceful revolution:

  • Protest and March in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian people; Join the International DayofMobilization in San Francisco, Sat. Feb. 5th, 2011, 1 pm at the U.N. Plaza, Market and 8th, San Francisco, CA. More info on Facebook.
    Protest in front of Egyptian embassies — Find an Embassy near you.
  • Spread the Word — with information blockades and unprecedented efforts by the regime to cut off access to social media, we need to work together to ensure that the Egyptian people’s voices are heard. Blog, tweet, and share, share, share!
  • Call on the U.S. government to end military aid to the Mubarak regime.
  • Sign Avaaz’s statement of solidarity and let the people of Egypt know they are not alone.

Get firsthand accounts of what is happening on the ground in Egypt.  For continual updates, check our People to People blog.

Thank you for your support of Global Exchange and of our ongoing commitment to human rights, democracy and peace here at home and around the world.

In Solidarity,
Carleen Pickard, Associate Director
Global Exchange

This was originally sent out to our News and Action e-mail list. Sign up for Global Exchange’s Newsletters and stay on top of the latest news in the Global Exchange community.

"Solutionaries" attend Green Festival in Chicago, May 2010

The average lifetime of a species on planet earth is about one million years. Seeing as we humans are about 200,000 years old, you could say that we are exiting our adolescence and entering adulthood. We are waking up to the simple fact that our actions have consequences, such as degrading the environment, and we need to take responsibility for those consequences.

Correspondingly, progressive forces around the world are going through a maturing process, transitioning from being focused on protest (complaining about what we don’t like), to being focused on projects (actually building the next system—sustainability). We are going from a largely negative approach—standing up in opposition to things we define as bad (war, environmental destruction, inequality, injustice)—to creating the alternative institutions that will eventually become mainstream.

The term Solutionary is far better than revolutionary because it carries none of the negative, destructive connotations of revolution. The human race is entering a new epoch. Every revolution up until now has been a national process, with the revolutionaries seeking to gain control of the capital city in order to run that nation differently. The current transition is a global revolution in values: making a transition from a system where money values rule over the life cycle to one where life values rule over the money cycle.

Solutionaries can be activists or entrepreneurs. They know that the key skill set is organizing. They see each problem in the world as an opportunity for action that fixes the problem or at least lessens the suffering and increases the joy. Here are some examples.

Solutionaries look at the inequality in the world economy and address it by:
• opening Fair Trade shops that sell craft products made by low-income producer groups;
• developing Fair Trade certification systems (e.g., TransFairUSA) to educate consumers and drive revenue to the poorest;
• providing financing and technical assistance to grassroots groups in the global south so they can earn their way out of poverty and not be dependent on charity.

Solutionaries look at the fact that we are running out of clean, drinkable water, and they use that fact as the starting point for:
• inventing waterless urinals that each save 40,00 gallons of water per year;
• designing rain catchment systems;
• educating the public about the bogus bottled water industry and promoting the use of reusable water containers filled with tap water.

Huge crowds enjoy the Green Festivals in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago.

Solutionaries look at the 245 million tons of garbage we Americans send to landfills every year and they address it by:

• starting companies such as TerraCycle, which makes dozens of products from waste materials;
• launching recycling and composting programs that divert waste into productive uses (e.g., San Francisco diverts 72% of its waste into recycling and composting, generating income and saving money in landfill costs);
• expanding the Green Festivals, which for nine years have brought together hundreds of thousands of solutionaries and divert more than 90% of the events’ waste into recycling and composting.

So, from now on, when you see a problem in the world, put on your SOLUTIONARY hat and think of how that problem is an opportunity and a challenge to your creativity to find an organizational answer to the problem.

We can either curse the darkness, or we can create cooperative workshops making beeswax candles.

Are you a Solutionary? Check out this video where I discuss how we can unite Solutionaries. And if you have solutionary ideas, we’d love to hear from you!