Cuban Women Dancing

Since 1988, Global Exchange has been offering meaningful, socially responsible travel through our Reality Tours. For eight of those years, Drea Hightower has been the backbone of our tours to Cuba. As a tribute to her leadership, and appreciated presence at Global Exchange, we would like to share with you a deeper look at our Reality Tours through the eyes of one of our most passionate team members.

We present to you, a Q&A with Drea.


Question: What separates Global Exchange Reality Tours from other modalities of travel?

Answer: Reality Tours provides participants the opportunity to have unique visits with groups and individuals that you wouldn’t have access to if you were traveling on your own. Our trips are always led by local guides and experts that are educated in a number of areas; they can speak with expertise on a variety of issues, as well as to the realities of the people in-country. Global Exchange and our partners are committed to exposing you as best as possible to the realities on the ground in each country; both the challenges and the achievements.

Question: Do you believe that people to people tourism helps alleviate cultural and political tension?

Answer: Absolutely. Simply giving yourself the space and opportunity to see and feel and experience another country, it’s people, and culture is a first step in suspending the tension that comes from simply not knowing. The same can be said on the other end when folks see you are taking the time to learn about them via travel. In my opinion it speaks volumes.

Question: What does an average day look like when on a Reality Tour?

Answer: When trip leading, I’m always busy. I’m up early, making sure everyone is feeling good and ready to start the day! I work as a team with local guides and drivers to ensure we’re supportive of each other during this experience. I’m always available to our participants to answer questions and facilitate dialogue if necessary. Of course I also take time to connect with our long-time friends and partners on the ground. Trips are a learning opportunity so you’ll also find me taking notes about new developments in-country, or just ideas on how to make our trips better!

For a participant, the day starts with breakfast with their fellow travelers. The morning comprises of meetings with community project leaders, and visits with ICAP hosts to hear about their perspective on Cuba and U.S. relations. After a relaxing, leisurely lunch and cafecito, (oh! and cuban ice cream or flan of course), participants will meet with local artists, visit polyclinics to learn about the healthcare system, and engage with educators through school visits. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the trip is meeting with CDR committees for the defense of the revolution. During this meeting you exchange with community members, which includes: one on one interactions with all age groups, lots of music and dancing, performances from kids while sharing fruits and beverages. This is an incredible opportunity for community building, by breaking down barriers through personal exchange. Also, because the trips are always led by a local guide, it really sets the tone for the tour. Participants are able to travel through a cuban prospective. Such a rich alternative experience would not be possible without our long time relationships with our partners on the ground.

Question: What have the participants expressed of their time in Cuba; regarding their mental state going in, and coming out of such a dynamic experience?

Answer: I talked to a woman today on the phone who is a part of a group of Black educators here in the states. She has been eagerly waiting to return to Cuba with Reality Tours. She told me, “The trip changed my life. It opened my eyes to other possibilities that work in the world.” She was speaking to the fact that a nation is able to survive in a different way than our own, concerning anything from education to healthcare.

Another participant from the New Years Eve trip to Cuba expressed to me that she felt like she came away from the trip as a daughter of the revolution. She truly understood how people were on board with the revolution, and how humbling Cuba has been to recognize that their economic model needs to evolve with the global economy. They are moving forward to be able to successfully progress with the world for their people. She was inspired by the pillars of the revolution, and by the governments ability to take accountability for a system that has not been as successful as they hoped, and then make steps to improve.

You learn in Cuba that the revolution prioritizes things that not even the US has.  Like education, health care, the arts, culture, and community. They removed access of private funding/business for programs like healthcare and education. Its not about who’s making money, its about their people and what they need.

Question: How has the reality tour impacted you, and your view on Cuba and the world?

Answer: Well it certainly impacted me in many ways. I’ve sort of become jaded. Not that Cuba has the best systems, but that they do have great systems in place that provides their community with the right to social programs such as health care and education. It has shown me what is possible in a society where you don’t have privatization. It gives me hope that we can strive for better in this country. But it has also opened my eyes to just how much emphasis we put on corporate interests here in the U.S. It just becomes that much more in your face. You start to see how corporations have taken control over aspects of our life. It is as though our government does not prioritize making its people healthy and educated, its about how can they make a dollar.

There is no denying that, politically speaking Cubans are divided. Just as anywhere else in the world. However, I doubt you would ever find a Cuban saying,  “Yes, I think privatization is a good idea.” Whether or not you believe in the revolution, the point of the trip is to see what we can learn from Cuba. Why it is a right to exchange with Cubans, to have people to people dialogues, to see what we can learn from Cuba, and how we can apply those things to enrich our lives.

Questions: Are there any last words that you would like readers to take away from this inside scoop on a Global Exchange Reality Tour?

Answer: I would like to share one of my favorite sayings that I believe embodies our Reality Tours, “Suspend disbelief.” If you can just pause and give yourself the opportunity to see something for what it is, knowing it’s not perfect, how we can learn from it, and apply the lessons learned to our own lives. This is the biggest gift of all, and I thank Cuba for giving me the opportunity to do so.

End Q&A 


Global Exchange is first and foremost a human rights organization, dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. Reality Tours is just one of the many ways we aim to make change. By offering experiential educational tours, and connecting people to people, issues with movements, we know that our participants will leave feeling empowered to take action. Traveling is great, traveling with a purpose is even greater. Join us, or learn more about our Reality Tours here!


Special thanks to Drea Hightower,


GX-birthdayGuess what today is…it’s Global Exchange’s 25th Birthday!

To celebrate, Global Exchange Human Rights Program Director Ted Lewis takes a look back over the past 25 years at Global Exchange’s never ending struggle for peace and human rights in his article which originally appeared in Global Exchange’s 25th Anniversary Newsletter. (Become a Global Exchange member and you can receive our newsletter delivered right to your mailbox.)  


Ted Lewis

Ted Lewis

25 Years in the Never Ending Struggle for Peace and Human Rights by Ted Lewis

Throughout human history, great movements for peace, human dignity, and self-determination have never been tidy or predictable. They have never succeeded without vision, patience nor sacrifice. Nor have their costly gains been destined to endure in the absence of ongoing struggle. The vision of those who founded Global Exchange in 1988 was to plunge directly into the ancient, immediate, and always turbulent currents of this perpetual quest for human liberty; bringing their talents, energies, communities, and good hearts to the work of building, renewing, and sustaining it.

They knew their work and their tactics would be controversial. Artists of social change have always stirred deep passions amongst both those who cast their lot with them and those who bitterly opposed them. Consider the lives and spirits of a few figures who have shaped our world and wrought dramatic changes over the ages: Jesus Christ, King Ashoka, Joan of Arc, Mother Jones, Emiliano Zapata, Mahatma Ghandi, Dorothy Day, Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, Oscar Romero, Harvey Milk, Wangari Maathai, Samuel Ruiz, Rachel Corrie and so many others.

These leaders fought vastly different battles, were inspired by distinct visions, and have left unique footprints in their wake, but all had this in common: They were bold, took risks, spoke their minds, and adopted tactics that scandalized many of their contemporaries. They also succeeded in changing countless minds and the course of history.

No one at Global Exchange would presume to compare ourselves with these great leaders. We do unabashedly acknowledge learning from them and studying the ways they have shed light on injustice, illuminated a path to change, and inspired millions of people to participate and persist, both in success and failure. Aware of the contradictions, responsibilities, and great opportunities that confront the citizens of a world-spanning empire we have struggled for the last 25 years to free our own minds while devising an array of tactics to challenge the arrogance and excesses of power.

In practical terms this has meant mounting dozens of public education campaigns. To build an informed constituency for change we have organized more than a thousand educational tours to countries where U.S. policies have had strong – usually negative – impacts. We opened stores on both coasts to promote Fair Trade and expand markets for cooperatives and other producers around the world.

We have convened hundreds of targeted demonstrations, exposing abusive practices by governments and corporations – using shaming, consumer boycotts, and non-violent direct action to pressure for reforms. We have also provided direct support to movements for revolutionary change around the globe, often giving visibility to their leaders by organizing speaking tours for them in churches, community centers, universities, libraries, and public plazas across the United States. We have organized international elections observation at key transitional moments in more than 15 countries. Throughout we have engaged media –print, radio, television, and, of course, the Internet, as it blossomed into a powerful communications and organizing tool over the last two decades.


Global Exchange Staff--Then!

Global Exchange Staff–Then!

The Early Years

In 1988, the year Global Exchange was founded, freedom struggles in Central America, Haiti, and Southern Africa confronted systematic repression by regimes long supported by the United States. But that was changing. Fierce opposition on the ground and strong solidarity movements in the United States were making a difference. Years of organizing and a massive civil disobedience campaign had forced the Reagan Administration to join an economic boycott of South Africa it had long resisted. Similarly, deep opposition and Congressional votes against the Administration’s ugly proxy war on Nicaragua resulted in illegal funding of the war whose revelation in the “Iran Contra” scandal almost brought down the erstwhile “Teflon” Reagan.

Global Exchange joined the fray by organizing delegations in solidarity with Honduran opposition groups. Honduras, where death squads had obliterated a small revolutionary movement, was host to a large U.S. military presence and served as a base for the Contras who were attacking Nicaragua. Global Exchange recognized that that era’s solidarity movements had largely overlooked Honduras. Medea Benjamin’s widely read, Don’t Be Afraid Gringo chronicled the struggles of an extraordinary Honduran peasant women and helped move the debate as peace negotiations and disarmament began to replace war in the region. Meanwhile delegations to southern Africa helped build public awareness in the U.S. where deepening opposition to Apartheid accelerated its demise.

In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and the rotten and oppressive regimes of the Soviet bloc collapsed in the face of massive popular discontent, great hopes were awakened in the United States. Perhaps now, many thought, with the Cold War behind us we can finally put an end to the militarism that has diverted our precious resources and twisted our national priorities. Perhaps now we can invest in our people and the solutions to looming environmental disasters.

But that dream was not fulfilled. Instead, then President George H.W. Bush found new pretexts for war –against Saddam Hussein, against Manuel Noriega, and against “drugs” to keep the illusions of “security through strength” alive. Under the guise of the “New World Order” he sought to consolidate U.S. power and lay the groundwork for what we have come to know as “economic globalization” –or in other words opening the path to corporate domination of the world economy under rules that undermine labor, the environment, popular movements, and national sovereignty — all in the name of growth and efficiency.

Global Exchange naturally joined the opposition to the wars spawned by the first President Bush. Kevin Danaher began writing and speaking about the threat posed by unrestrained corporate control of the rules governing the world economy. Kevin’s persistent campaign – in public meetings, in articles and in books he authored; and, perhaps most importantly, on radio shows large and small in communities all across the United States, earned him the moniker: “The Paul Revere of Globalization’s woes.”

Recognizing the danger it posed for both Mexico and the United States, Global Exchange joined the labor movement and other progressive forces in the United States in adamantly, though unsuccessfully, opposing ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

On January 1, 1994, the first day of the treaty’s implementation, indigenous peoples in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas rose up in arms. They invoked the spirit of the legendary Mexican revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata who had famously proclaimed that, “The land belongs to those who till it.”

The poorly equipped Zapatista forces were immediately and ferociously attacked by the Mexican Army under the command of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the fraudulently elected, Harvard educated president of Mexico who was one of principal architects of NAFTA. As a pre- condition for NAFTA, Salinas had worked closely with U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte to eliminate collective land rights that had, until 1993, been enshrined in Mexico’s constitution.

Sympathy with the rebels ran high and after just 12 days Salinas was forced to call off his offensive when more than a hundred thousand Mexicans flooded Mexico’s City’s Zocalo in support of the rebellion. As peace negotiations got underway a call for international solidarity was issued and Global Exchange responded immediately, sending delegations and direct support to army occupied communities that formed the civilian base of the Zapatista movement.

For the next ten years, Global Exchange maintained a continuous presence in Mexico’s southeast. Our team recruited, trained, and housed    taken a leading role in pushing big hundreds of volunteers who worked in cooperation with local human rights organizations and the Dioceses of San Cristobal to permanently maintain observers in more than 40 remote, army occupied villages.

These tenacious observers faced army harassment, threats from paramilitary organizations, and even illegal deportation. Nevertheless, they persisted, producing a series of reports, hosting dozens of international delegations, and coordinating sophisticated, high profile international elections observations in both Chiapas and nationally over a 12 year period highlighted by the demise of one- party rule.

During this time there were horrific events such as the 1997 paramilitary attack on the hamlet of Acteal that killed 45 children, women, and men. Nevertheless, the larger civilian observation effort Global Exchange formed a part of what was indisputably a vital factor in limiting and deterring the kind of unrestrained genocide that occurred during the prior decade in neighboring Guatemala – where more than 80,000 were slaughtered and 400 indigenous villages entirely obliterated.

Economic Activism

During the 1990s Global Exchange became a leading voice in the Fair Trade movement. This reflected our growing understanding that the new global economy thrives on geographically separating those who produce things from those who buy them, even as it sets up a race to the bottom for workers around the world. Opposing such pernicious trends is difficult and requires new tactics, one of which is educating people and harnessing their collective consumer power to force corporations to improve working conditions, pay workers fairly, and respect the environment.

That is why Global Exchange has opened Fair Trade stores and taken a leading role in pushing big companies like NIKE and GAP to adopt workplace health standards that set a bar industry wide. Other big corporations like Starbucks, Proctor & Gamble and Hershey have responded to pressure as well. Despite these successes, we also recognized that as long as the rules of the international economy favor corporate power over control by the people the wealthy will have a club to beat the rest of us into submission.

In November 1999, we helped organize a broad coalition of trade unionists, environmentalists, students, Zapatista inspired activists, and many others to surround and shut down the first North American meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle. This action had worldwide resonance and inspired several other massive direct actions aimed to tangle the agenda of the undemocratic global rule makers at subsequent meetings in Washington, Quebec, Italy and elsewhere around the world.

The movement behind these actions was a genuinely global and effective popular challenge to lords of capital and was just reaching maturity when the shocking, criminal, and cowardly attacks on the World Trade Center took place on September 11, 2001. The sickening loss of life and the lust for vengeance it inspired in the United Sates served to wipe all other issues off the table.

Resistance to War and Occupation

The leadership of Global Exchange quickly huddled and decided to buck the tide of war. Just a week after the attacks of September 11 we organized a large commemorative action calling for reflection, forbearance, and peace in San Francisco. We recognized – sooner than many – that this attack was just what the fraudulently elected American president, George W. Bush needed to consolidate his power and give free rein to the neo-conservatives, warmongers, and torture advocates lurking in his administration.

We didn’t want to be right about Bush’s intentions, but we were. As everyone remembers, Bush was not satisfied with attacking Al Qaeda’s base in Afghanistan. He repressed dissent, violated civil liberties, filled the airwaves with lies and propaganda while manufacturing false evidence of an Iraqi threat. Rather than deal with the core issues of the Middle East conflict – like the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands – George W. Bush rushed the country headlong toward a divisive war. In the face of this onslaught, we helped build what became a massive, worldwide movement to oppose the looming    war. Millions took to the streets around the globe in coordinated actions to keep the peace and uphold international law, but it was not enough.

In March 2003 the invasion and all its grim consequences ensued. In the early days of the U.S. occupation, Global Exchange worked with the newly emerging CODEPINK: Women for Peace to build ties to Iraqi civil society and monitor the occupation on the ground. But, as Iraqi resistance to the occupation mounted the situation became too dangerous and chaotic to continue the effort. Close partners suffered kidnappings and the “Occupation Watch” felt compelled to withdraw, even as tragedy mounted, and more than one hundred thousand of Iraqis died, and the country fractured. Not long after, the tragedy became very personal for those of us at Global Exchange. Our dear friend, Marla Ruzicka, a brave young activist dedicated to helping civilian victims of the war had her beautiful life’s work cut short in a car bomb attack near Baghdad.


Global Exchange staff-Now!

Global Exchange staff-Now!

The Road Forward

For several years, fighting back against the Bush Administration’s assault on peace and freedom absorbed most of our attention, but we never lost sight of the need to keep struggling for a peaceful, fair, healthy, and democratic planet. Even as our anti-war organizing continued, we invited elections experts from 15 countries to observe our 2004 electoral process with an international optic. When draconian anti-immigrant legislation threatened to become law in 2006 we join millions of immigrants – documented and undocumented – who took to the streets all across the United States. We worked with groups in Mexico and the United States to make the case that NAFTA had undermined the basic “Right to Stay Home” of Mexico’s people and that measures must be taken to restore it.

As the threat of catastrophic climate change has grown even more imminent we have joined forces with others around the globe who are asserting the natural rights of people and ecosystems, not giant energy companies or their allies in and out of government to control the decisions that will determine our collectives fates.

The next twenty-five years of life on planet earth will not be easy or simple ones, but Global Exchange will continue to be there, fighting together with those who hold life precious and are determined to build a better future. We have never done it alone, and we never will. We are all in this together.


This article originally appeared in Global Exchange’s 25th Anniversary newsletter issue which was mailed out to Global Exchange members. If you would like to receive our newsletter along with other benefits, please consider supporting Global Exchange’s continuing social justice efforts —Become a Global Exchange member.

Share Your Story: What was your favorite Global Exchange action? Where have you traveled with us?  What campaign, victory, event, protest moved you?  What inspired you to join us and take action? Share your stories, thoughts, and memories with us.



Charlie Hinton

Charlie Hinton

The following guest post was written by long-time Global Exchange member Charlie Hinton. Charlie and others are sharing their Global Exchange stories as we celebrate 25 years of activism for human rights.

I’ve worked with and been a member of Global Exchange for almost 20 years.

I always admired their mix of action, solidarity, and education, but became more involved in 1994 when I went to a teach-in on the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that were leading to massive impoverishment throughout the Global South (and in this country under the name of Reaganomics.)

One of the speakers was Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange, who explained in a way that made perfect sense how this maze of cutbacks in government services, privatization of state run enterprises, sell-offs of natural resources, destruction of labor and environmental laws, police and military repression, and the transformation of viable economies into mono-crop agriculture for export and free-trade zones actually works.
Although I’d graduated from college with a degree in economics, economics never made sense to me until this teach-in. As a result I collaborated with Kevin and Global Exchange for 5 years developing the national and local campaign called Fifty Years Is Enough to educate about and work to reverse these disastrous policies.
Global Exchange has developed their entire organization out of the need to respond to this international crisis and build alternatives. They educate through their Reality tours, newsletters, books, forums and website. Their stores and Fair Trade program build understanding and solidarity, not charity, with people worldwide who desperately need political support and markets for their products, and their Green Festivals showcase sustainable products and new ways of looking at the world. And GX participates in a wide variety of campaigns that get people directly involved to stand up for what we believe in and create a better and more just world, from fighting sweatshops, to war, to fracking.
GX’s dedicated staff works hard and smart. As an estimator at Inkworks Press, where they have supported our local, collectively owned and managed printing union company for many years (A BIG THANK YOU!) I can attest that they spend their money wisely and without any glitz.
All this work is a reflection on the wonderful people I’ve met through GX over the years, from the visionary founders Medea, Kirsten, and Kevin, to others I know as friends and those I’ve met professionally through Inkworks. Many thanks and congratulations to Global Exchange for 25 years of work well done.
Charlie Hinton
San Francisco, CA


Do you have a memorable Global Exchange story? We invite you to share YOUR story with us.

Global Exchange is celebrating 25 years, and we are proud to honor the dedication of people like you who have sweat and sacrificed to forge a working alternative from the ground up.

To share your stories, memories, and moments with us, we have a handy dandy form you can use to Share Your Story right here.

Human-Rights-Online-AuctionThe online portion of Global Exchange’s 2013 Human Rights Awards Online Auction is now open!

The auction runs from April 8, 2013 to April 18, 2013, with the live event taking place on May 9, 2013.

Proceeds go towards promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.

Auction items range from vacation getaways to donated items guaranteed to delight and surprise.

Here’s just a taste of what’s available to bid on:

Take-ActionSo, tell your friends, family, and community and let the bidding begin!

Can you help spread the word?

That’s a terrific way to help support our human rights work without spending a dime! Here are a few easy ways to share our online auction with your friends and family:

1. Click “Like” and “Retweet” buttons on top right of this post;

2. Use the “Share this Page” buttons on the top right of each auction item page to share specific auction items with others

3. Are you on Pinterest? We have a board filled with auction items, so if you’re on Pinterest we encourage you to follow us on Pinterest and “pin” your favorite auction items.



Deborah James and Medea Benjamin pushing Starbucks to go Fair Trade, 1999.

We’re going to raise $25,000 by midnight on Dec. 31st.

Over the past 25 years, you have helped Global Exchange:

• transform the unfair practices of corporate giants like Nike, GAP, and Starbucks;
• build a thriving Fair Trade movement;
• monitor elections in Colombia, Mexico, and the U.S. and;
• build the Green Festival – the nation’s largest sustainability event.

Your support made all this, and much more, possible. Renew your commitment to social justice by making a donation today.

Global-Exchange-25-Year-AnnAs we set our sights on the next 25 years, with your support we will reform U.S. gun laws, force Hershey’s to go Fair Trade, and continue to oppose unjust policies in the U.S. and abroad.

Your continued support will help us build an unstoppable movement for change.

Please donate today and make great things possible:

• One Hundred $25 gifts will cover the cost of a trip to Ethiopia to meet with Fair Trade cooperatives and develop increase relationships with local artisans.

• Fifty $100 gifts will tour a speaker from the frontlines of the drug war in Mexico, educating and inspiring thousands across the U.S. to change the broken policies that are fueling this tragic war.

• Five $250 gifts will sponsor a year-long youth fellowship to inspire and train the leaders of tomorrow.

• Twenty-five $1,000 gifts will support all creative actions we have planned in 2013 to expose the havoc that lobbyists are wreaking on our democracy.

Want to see what we have accomplished in 2012? Watch this video (or re-visit our winter, spring, summer and fall roundups) to find out:

If we can accomplish all that in one year, think of what we have in store for the next 25 years!

Give today and ring in another year full of social justice victories.

As we close out the remaining weeks of 2012, Global Exchange is also beginning to gear up for our 25th anniversary next year. Before we look forward to another 25 years of social justice activism, let us look back at what we have been up to in 2012.

Here’s a very special video with highlights from our year, and we do mean “our” because we cannot do the work we do without YOU!

Please consider this your official invitation to JOIN US in this unstoppable movement for change. Together we are strong.

The following blog is a guest post from Michael T. McPhearson, National Coordinator, United For Peace and Justice:

Americans demand good paying jobs; corporations and the rich pay their fair share; protection of our social safety net; significant cuts to runaway Pentagon spending; and an end to the War in Afghanistan. We must not let up – we must continue to remind our elected officials who they represent.  Together our voices can make a difference.

The next few weeks are critical as Congress and the President negotiate over the budget. Wall Street CEOs and war hawks have descended on Washington, DC and are all over the news telling Americans we must lower our expectations – that we need to understand that the U.S. simply can’t afford to maintain programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. We can’t let the money and power of CEOs and war hawks influence our election mandate.

Please take action today with United for Peace & Justice petition and call your Congressperson to remind them that America needs jobs, not wars! More information is available at our website,

TAKE ACTION on and after December 5th:

Thank you for taking action and speaking up!

  • United for Peace and Justice
  • Veterans For Peace
  • Military Families Speak Out


Exactly 13 years after the #N30 actions to shut down the WTO, Global Exchange returns to Seattle with a similar message: #StopTPP!

We all know free trade agreements are politically, economically, and environmentally harmful.

But this weekend at TPPxBorder, hearing people speak to the real consequences of these deals brought my understanding of the dangers of these Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to a very human scale.

Listening to the voices of people who are affected by these FTAs – a pulp mill worker from Everett, WA, who got laid off two years before pension, HIV positive people who won’t be able to afford life-saving medication because of patent laws that protect profits instead of access, a Philippine woman who was forced to leave her family in search of work – these voices remind me that free trade isn’t just an ‘issue’ to discuss or debate. Free trade is about about profits at the expense of people’s health and safely. About trade over ethics. About politics over people and planet.

Free trade ‘agreements’ are anything but consensual.

In fact, the only partnering happening in the TransPacific ‘Partnership’ is is the stitching together of the 1%- corporations and politicians-  whilst the entirety of civil society is excluded and ignored… for now.

That’s why on Saturday December 1, a crowd of hundreds gathered at the U.S.-Canada border to demonstrate our unity and solidarity against the TransPacific Partnership. Representatives from four of the 13 negotiating countries – along with New Zealand by phone – spoke of the risks that the TPP presents to their communities, and the powerful international unity being built to stand up and protect our dignity, our planet, and our human rights.

Jill Mangaliman, Philippine U.S. Solidarity Organization

We called this one TPPxBorder: The People’s Round. What I loved about this rally wasn’t only the fiery speakers, the diversity, the music, the unity, the hot coffee, and the ultra-legitimacy of our opposition to this heinous version of the TPP…. what I loved was learning about what an alternative deal would look like- one by and for the people. Listening to speakers and experts articulately describe what fair trade looks like, what it offers communities internationally, reminds me why these fights are so important, and the promise of real, practical, and respectful trade solutions. We have answers – now is the time to join hands and fight for them.

After our rally, and piñata action (in which people managed to overcome ‘blindfolds’ of corporate greenwashing and lobbyist money to finally destroy the TPP piñata and release the affordable jellybean ‘medicines’ and GMO-free popcorn trapped inside!) we headed indoors to a warm meal and strategy sessions to plan future action.

Global Exchange & Witness for Peace co-led a “Social Media to #StopTPP” breakout group to discuss “Twitterstorming”  the corporations secretly negotiating TPP.

The breakout group I co-lead was about how we can use social media to #StopTPP. Our strategy is to call out the corporations negotiating the TPP in secret… and put their secrets in public view on social media channels. This week, our coalition members are calling out two corporate interests a day on their ties to the TPP… would you like to join the Twitterstorm? Just follow @GlobalExchange and @ElectDemocracy on Twitter, then retweet our actions every day this week at 11am and 2pmPST to help spread the word about #StopTPP using the very follower lists that these corporations have built. We can use your help and you can participate from anywhere.

The TransPacific Partnership is on a 1%-gilded beltway and it’s moving fast. But there is time (and enough of us) to stop it. The first thing we all can do is help spread the word. None of us can afford another NAFTA. Help us get the last 250,000 signatures needed this year to reach 1 million on the Avaaz petition against the TPP! And ask your organization to sign the Unity Statement.

VIDEO: Unity Statement at TPPxBorder Rally Dec. 1, 2012

For more information about the TransPacific Partnership and what you can do to stop it, see “10 Reasons to Oppose the TPP.” Thank you for supporting Fair Trade this holiday season, and telling corporations negotiating the TPP in secret exactly what you think of them. Together, we can #StopTPP.

That’s right folks, the sign says “Free Trade, my Ass!”


Are you a Global Exchange supporter? Yes? Well then, you are pretty incredible, it’s true.

Throughout our near-25 years we’ve been proud to share the esteemed company of thousands of passionate, bold, and dedicated people, like you.

Your volunteering, your steady contributions, your protesting (at home and on the streets), your consideration for socially responsible travel, your Fair Trade shopping and your faith in justice – all of these actions mean the difference between dreaming a better world for people and the planet and actually making it happen.

To express our gratitude, some Global Exchange staff members gathered together recently to come up with a way to thank the people who make all of our work possible. 

The result is this short n sweet video filled with messages of thanks that come from the bottom of our hearts. We hope you enjoy it! (Oh, and keep an eye out for Abad’s cameo – Global Exchange’s friendly Labrador – who got caught with his tongue out!)

Does the gratitude train stop here?

Not at all!

This week, we’re also sharing stories of a few (five, to be exact) of the amazing individuals, like you, who make our work possible:

  • Matt Ramsden, member and supporter, who keeps buying prize drawing tickets even though he has not won yet, all to support the work he cares about.
  • Jenny White, superstar volunteer, chocolate lover, and scourge to corporate lobbyists.
  • Jennifer Carino, former employee turned Global Exchange Monthly Supporter.
  • Lea Murray, took a Reality Tour to Venezuela and came home inspired to share what she’d seen.
  • and Lyla Seo, puts her values first when she shops Fair Trade at our San Francisco store.

There you have it, two different mediums, one important message, to say:

Thank you.

P.S. If you want to see all of the thank you pictures from the video (plus a few extras!), you can check them out at your leisure on our Facebook page.

8 days, 8 Giving Thanksblog posts led up to this video. The posts and video highlight individuals chosen by Global Exchange staff members who are contributing to our social justice work in some way. So please join us in recognizing those special individuals who are helping to make this world a better place, and hope you enjoy the video.

Happy Thanksgiving!