I’m charmed. Will you be my strange Valentine. QUARK LOVE.
February 14, 2013 • 3:56 PM 0
I’m charmed. Will you be my strange Valentine. QUARK LOVE.
February 11, 2013 • 4:50 PM 0
If I say that I’ve always loved you
Please trust that it is true.
I’ll ring that Tibetan bowl
that calls you home
to the red, thumping place
that’s in your chest.
If someone has to say the code
speak the password
that splits the particles
to cause your personal explosion
then I will find that bright red button
that says “Unauthorized – Do Not Push.”
I’ll burrow that one tunnel
that allows the sunlight to pass deep inside
and beneath the earthen mound
and let the light inside
to warm the bones of your neglected hope.
I promise to come every solstice
with rays of light that are yours only
to fall on your lips and tongue.
My people, if we are not the branches that hold each other
we will fall
if we are not the roots that gently cradle each other,
we will erode to the sea.
February 5, 2013 • 7:03 AM 0
A year ago, police brutally raided Occupy DC and tore down the Tent of Dreams. They punched us in the gut, hit us in the head with batons, trampled our tents, and threw our furniture around. All for sleeping in tents and dreaming of a better world.
They don’t understand that we are flowers who grew from concrete.
They don’t understand that we will endure, and someday they will join us.
They don’t understand that we are learning to use our voices and look within.
They don’t understand that we will all learn to flex our muscles.
They don’t understand that YOU CANNOT STOP AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME.
We, all of us, will be back, and we will be stronger.
September 12, 2012 • 11:34 PM 0
Today I disrupted negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a NAFTA-on-meth trade deal that’s being made in secret, behind closed doors. With two other Occupy DC activists, Marc Smith and Christopher Bartlo, we snuck into this secret meeting in its faraway conference center in Leesburg, Virginia, and performed a “mic check.” We were escorted from the building by security and police, and threatened with arrest. After being detained by police for about 30 minutes, we were given an official stay-away order from the conference center where negotiations were taking place. We were not formally charged with any crime.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will impact 40% of the earth’s population, says the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. As an international treaty, it overrides all of the domestic law that’s currently being negotiated in Congress. It will raise Medicare and Medicaid drug prices, as well as prices on life-saving drugs in all countries who are part of the agreement, give corporations and Wall Street banksters even more unlimited power, and encourage more terrible destruction of the environment.
June 19, 2012 • 10:58 AM 0
From the streets of La Paz, Mexico, two hours away from the Cabo G20 Summit
Today Mexican President Felipe Calderon, speaking in a press conference to conclude the G20 summit in Cabo, Mexico, reinforced why so many people oppose the G20’s neoliberalism, austerity, and corporate elitism. Austerity measures, he said, are like “bullets” that need to be “reloaded” again and again. His metaphor was appropriate. G20 policies promote systems that lead to suffering, destruction of communities, and destruction of the environment. These policies are like bullets, killing the people of the world.
Here in La Paz, Mexico, a two-hour drive north along the coastline from Cabo, Mexico, the people held their own summit, as the G20 leaders and rich corporate elite met inside a militarized security barrier, in posh hotel rooms with shimmering seaside vistas. It was impossible for protesters to get closer to the official summit, though some tried to find a bus driver willing to brave the checkpoints and the security guards with automatic guns slung over their shoulders. Locals were told that no one could enter Cabo unless they were a documented resident.
Activists with the Peoples Summit, Cumbre de los Pueblos, went on a colorful march down the main tourist strip in La Paz on the evening before the official G20 summit was slated to begin. Several hundred strong, the march poured into the main plaza of the town, La Kioska, and held a rally and a rock concert. The Peoples Summit also contained two and a half days of energetic panel discussions and workshops on topics like capital flows, offshore tax havens, and climate change and adaptation. Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2012 • 12:51 AM 0
In a luxurious beach resort on the West Coast of Mexico, presidents and finance minsters from the “Group of 20” countries plan to meet inside a fortified security barrier to strategize over financial decisions that impact us all. The people of the world have to suffer the G20’s actions, but meetings are held in secret. I’m here in Mexico to join the resistance outside the G20 summit.
“We have to fight together globally – to fight the corporations and the government,” said Armando Robles of UE Local 1110 at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, USA. The union’s inspiring shutdown their factory in 2008 has given way to the prospect of a worker-controlled cooperative in place of a mega-corporation. He was speaking at the Alternatives to the G20 conference in Mexico City, June 14-15, organized by the coalition Our World is Not For Sale. “We see it in the US, we see it in Wall Street, we have to fight all over the world. We need solidarity.”
Reasons to hope are everywhere in Mexico City. The Alternatives to the G20 conference brought together people from a variety of NGOs and movements from Colombia, Peru, Russia, the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, India, Spain, the UK, the United States and others. Mexico City events also put people from the Indignados movement in Spain and the Occupy movement in the United States and the UK in touch with the inspiring local student movement, “Yo Soy 132.”
The conference included panels on the illegitimacy of the G20, the financialization of nature, global agriculture challenges, capital flows, and more.
An overall longing for justice is coursing strong in Mexico, as is an opposition to the neoliberal economic model – the type of economic model that tells Mexico it must lower trade barriers, promote foreign investment, and all the things that greedy corporations want countries to do so they can continue to exploit them. Many Mexicans boldly state that “Mexico is anti-neoliberal.” This has given me hope. Read the rest of this entry »
June 13, 2012 • 8:36 PM 0
The Forum on the Universal Right to Energy was held loud and strong today in advance of the G20 summit. The meeting was held at the incredibly large and posh electrical workers union building in Mexico City. I was one of the “international delegates” speaking at the conference, the only speaker from the United States. Inside the giant auditorium inside the hall, there were about 500 workers and activists, being spoken to from the stage. Many listening were not hardened activists, but electrical workers paying a visit to their union hall.
I arrived at 9:30 AM sharp with a Russian energy advocate, Vladamir Slivyak. Indian union leader Ashim Roy, Javier Echaide of Argentina, and others, chaperoned by the fearless organizer with Our World is Not For Sale, Pierre Yves-Saint. As we arrived at the event, Pierre walked us through the giant auditorium, now almost empty except for a few camera men just setting up, and marched us right up on the stage, which was graced with giant fresh flower arrangements and bottles of water. We shook hands with an official of the electrical workers union, who said, “Voyen a esparar,” We are going to wait.
We were walked up to a top floor waiting room and offered coffee and internet. We made small talk and discussed the scenery, then popped open our laptops and went to work. We waited for about two hours. I guess this is what they say about Mexico. You can’t come to Mexico unless you are ready to wait.
Finally we were brought back to the auditorium. I had prepared remarks on the “jobs vs. environment” false choice that is often spun to us by the media. The right wing uses a variety of strategies to make people believe that you support unemployment if you oppose coal, oil, natural gas, oil pipelines, or even filters on smokestacks to keep pollutants out of our air. I believe this choice is ridiculous. We need to be investing in wind energy, solar energy, and other renewables – some studies show that government investment in wind energy creates three times more jobs than the same number invested in dirty energy. I believe we need bold, visionary campaigns to get people to want, to demand, renewable energy jobs. After all, who doesn’t want a clean, honest job that makes the world a better place for our children and grandchildren? Read the rest of this entry »
May 22, 2012 • 12:24 PM 0
On Sunday, I was hit with police batons on the head and side while shielding this woman, Fran, from police brutality during NATO summit protests in Chicago. News contains photos of “clashes” with police, but beating random antiwar protesters is an assault, not a “clash.” I was pushed away from Fran by police and she fell over as I was holding her up. (Her walker had been knocked away from her.) She fell and went to the hospital, but was out in the streets to protest Boeing with a new walker on Monday! We will not be silenced.
April 27, 2012 • 2:04 PM 0
Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was tasered to death in May 2010 by authorities at an immigration checkpoint between two countries that people like to call Mexico and the United States. According to Counterpunch, Mr. Hernandez Rojas came to the US when he was a teenager and had lived here for 27 years. He was married with five children. In the heat of the economic crisis, he lost his construction job. He was caught shoplifting in May 2010, and was deported. When he tried to re-enter the US to be with his family and community, he was brutally beaten and tasered. He died soon after.
This injustice is beyond words. The murderers go home to wives and children, while the family of Mr. Hernandez Rojas mourns, weeps, goes deeper into despair — the poverty of having no control over your own destiny, the oppression of being swept up in unseen forces of authority — and the sadness seeps into the next generation. This has happened to so many people swept up at the border, souls whose names we will never learn.
Borders are an inhumane design. Before borders, the earth was free and open to the migration of all. That is how humans came to live everywhere. Now, borders claim territory and create laws and systems of oppression so that the rich, corporate elite pulling the strings can siphon work and wealth from the rest of us. The wealthy manipulators build walls to increase the hate. They develop systems that broker and limit our interaction, to keep other human beings an arm’s length away, on the other side of a wall or, better yet, a locked door. Then they develop systems to control our hate, and pit human against human for their benefit.
This is not how real human beings are supposed to live.
January 6, 2012 • 6:48 PM 0
This is a forgotten poem I scrawled on a page for a lover as I was packing up and moving from one city to another. That lover recently got back in touch with me, typed up the poem, and sent it. Here it is.
Why are you here?
So that, in a moment,
as you expressed a simple idea about cleaning
and empty rooms
I could look at your radiant eyes
the color of an aged mahogany tree
who has seen generations of people walk beneath it
but remains standing alone
in that moment I understood fully
exactly what I was letting go.
All the richness of your person
and the solidity of your comportment
the tapestry woven by your experience
and the will to survive
that is stored in the creases your eyes trace
as your smile spreads out across long-ago happy skies
the smoothness of cinnamon-colored rolling skin
and long graceful fingers that plucked the strings of my future
singing songs into the flesh-colored cavities of my hopes
accompanied by a wholly unwarranted humility.
And there are no clean lines in this world.
Did I love you?
I knew in that moment that I did.
But if you look closely at any line
the edges blur into ugly grayness
that transform into vagabond pigeons and escape
muttering things both true and insane
turning the ordered pragmatic life
into a circus of madness.
I try to catch them, calm them
smooth the lines back
but this is a riparian zone, a flood plain
A green-yellow edge of slash-and-burn
where machines scratch and tear at the earth
where wild creatures are exposed
and they get lost and die
in a world not their own.
And there is love between us still, despite him.
Despite my imminent migration.
Love to soften your rough voice
laid over delicate silken guitar
Love to forgive many missteps
Please don’t believe for one moment
that you are not unique, indeed cherished
regarded more highly than him in so many ways.
But I am not in a position now to receive you.
This is the edge of a wave
a changing zone of calculated destruction
as the mother ocean draws the sand into her depths
I will find waves to ride to solid ground.
This is cleaning
and this is my empty room
November 20, 2011 • 2:44 PM 0
Churches and places of faith used to offer programs that fed the poor, took care of needy children and the elderly, and healed the sick. But as people have become less religious, these programs have closed their doors one by one, leaving the needy with government programs to rely on.
There is a myth that America became great solely through rugged individualists who never had help from anyone. But I don’t think this is true. Pilgrims like the ones we remember on Thanksgiving cared for each other and shared their common wealth. Religious programs were there for our forefathers and all generations of Americans to pull them through hardships. They provided a way for everyone to share the common bounty, including a way for wealthy Americans to donate their bucks to help those in need.
Now that churchgoers have disappeared one by one, and now that places of faith have stepped out of the center of public life, we especially need to protect the government programs that provide services to people in need. These programs are now in Republican lawmakers’ crosshairs as they seek to cut social programs — while they continue to allow wealthy Americans to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.
This Thanksgiving, as Americans everywhere sit down to share a common bounty of turkey, stuffing, and good cheer, I am going to be thankful for social programs offered by places of faith and by our government. These programs were there for us when we needed them, and helped America become the country that it is.
November 16, 2011 • 4:54 PM 1
I got a letter today from a young unemployed activist, a recent college graduate from New Jersey. He wrote to my office address, looking for a job at the nonprofit organization I work for, the Institute for Policy Studies. We’ll call him Brian.
I don’t know if I have stood out in any petitions or other forms of advocacy you have promoted, but I am an avid supporter of all of the work you perform. I haven’t found a welcoming place within our grandiose job market to grant me a livable wage or compensation package since my time, effort, and student loans spent receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in 2009. Because of this, I was inquiring about any possible employment opportunities and/or assistance needed with anything you guys have in the works.
Brian has spent a little while canvassing for a local environmental organization. Disenchanted by the idea of going to work for a “major banker,” he’s looking for a job with a livable wage somewhere in the progressive movement.
I wrote Brian back:
The job market is very tight right now. Many young progressives are looking for jobs, even those who are qualified like yourself. I’m sorry, I am not aware of job openings.
My advice to you: Keep up the job search. But in the meantime, find Occupy Boston, Occupy Wall Street, or Occupy DC. Take a bus. Ride a bike. Ride a pickle. Whatever you need to do. Occupy.
Lend your skills to the progressive movement full-time for the winter. The connections you’ll make at the occupation, the friends you’ll meet, the things you’ll learn, and the experience you will build, will be invaluable to finding a job in the progressive sphere once the economy looks up a bit. Come join the movement where it is now: In parks, plazas, and squares all over the country and all over the world.
Good luck to you, and hope to see you down the road!
October 17, 2011 • 7:18 PM 1
In squares, parks, and plazas all over the country, we’re taking the time for true democracy to work.
I was standing on a street one evening near my home in Washington, DC — it seems like ages ago now — with a chatty friend who travels often to New York. He mentioned that a few New Yorkers were planning an “occupation” of Wall Street.
Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I said, “I’m there.” A few weeks later, I boarded a bus, backpack and sleeping bag in tow. I was there when Occupy Wall Street began.
After some chilly nights in Liberty Plaza, I returned to Washington to help plan an occupation in my city. Others in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, and so many more cities have begun their own occupations. Occupy DC started October 1, and is still going strong.
(Sarabeephoto / Flickr)
Many people are asking why. While the occupation of city squares all over the nation is inspiring many people, others are (understandably) a bit perplexed.
But I think people understand more than they know. Something is very wrong with our country and our world. The rich got richer from our economic crisis and the poor barely got the crumbs from their banquet table.
Now big corporations are asking for a new tax break, a tax holiday that they say will create jobs – while the last time Congress granted that tax break the main result was layoffs and downsizing. Corporations are sitting on over $2 trillion in cash but aren’t hiring. Our environment is under assault. Natural disasters are laying waste to towns like Joplin, Missouri, and some lawmakers even held up relief efforts by threatening to trim education, health care, and other vital services to free up money for emergency aid.
We keep paying for wars and people keep dying in them. About 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and too many of them go bankrupt paying for health care. Agribusiness is destroying family farms. Poverty is rampant. Congress can’t stop squabbling. Corporations have too much control. About 25 million of us are unemployed and underemployed and can’t find jobs. Too many college graduates can’t find jobs. Our children’s future is uncertain.
So, many of us are fed up. We’ve brought our anger and hopes to our city squares. We’re not leaving until we see real movement toward change. More people are arriving every day and joining us. In liberated squares, parks, and plazas all over the country, we’re discussing challenges and talking about solutions. Every voice is equal, and all of us are expected to raise our voices, our ideas, our concerns. We’re reaching consensus. We’re figuring it out as we go.
All I can say is that true democracy takes time. At Occupy DC, we meet daily to discuss why we’re there. The unemployed, the foreclosed, and the sick-of-it-all are coming together to discuss the world that we want to see and how to get there. We have big problems. We need big solutions. And those big solutions take time.
While on Wall Street and on McPherson Square on K Street in Washington, I’ve learned how to change my clothes in my sleeping bag. I’ve learned how to run a generator, which keeps us in electronic touch with the outside world. I’ve learned the best methods for hauling plastic bags of donated bread, pastries, and bagels nine city blocks. I’ve learned to appreciate tarps.
I’ve also learned that when we all raise our voices together and work in the spirit of true democracy, we can work toward real solutions and real changes to our world. We the people tend to agree on a lot more than we realize. It just takes coming together, talking things through, and not leaving until things change.
And that’s what the occupations are doing: We’re staying put, and taking the time for true democracy to work.
July 5, 2011 • 10:29 AM 2
They have always optimistically said that a rising tide may lift all boats, as if the invisible hand of capitalism were anything but a closed fist. But now the tide is receding as the United States and much of the rest of the world drops down into a recession that may never end. It is time that the rich jump ship and join the rest of us, or we may pull them off their boats and repurpose their luxury accommodations to serve all of us. We are tired of the rich getting tax breaks, offshore cheating schemes, and bailouts while the rest of us are left to tread water, however we can.
The tea party has been created to save the rich. Most of them don’t know it, but they are working to bail out water by the buckets while the yachts of the corporate elite sink under the tides of public opinion. The orchestrators of the tea party have them calling for corporate freedom, for deregulation and privatization, under the guise of supporting personal freedom. They have them calling for lower taxes for corporations under the auspices of reducing the federal budget.
We are chucking the tea party as well, like overpriced tea being chucked into the Boston Harbor. Like taxed tea from Britain, the tea party is nothing more than a tool to keep us under an imperialist, colonizing system.
April 29, 2011 • 2:02 PM 0
So, two of my family members are certifiably anglophiles. They love all things British. Seriously.
Last night I was having drinks with said family members, which somehow spiraled into a plan to have a slumber party at one of their homes, and wake up at 6:00 AM in order to watch the British Royal Wedding in its entirety on network television. Just a little preface to explain why I am posting about this absurd public event.
ABC News, CBS News, and USA Today all headlined today with the royal wedding. It was hard to think about anything else this afternoon when viewing their news websites, as each site housed dozens of articles, features, videos, and photo slideshows were popping out from all directions. MSNBC at least shared their “above the fold” space with a feature about the storm damage in the southern US. “Faux News” (or Fox, which doesn’t really count since it’s not news,) had the wedding sharing headline space with some favorite right-wing topics: Donald Trump and stem-cell research. The New York Times was among the few news outlets this afternoon in headlining with the storm damage and President Obama’s visit to the US South, forcing the reader to pan down the page to find coverage of British royals.
The absurdity was overwhelming. I think it’s great that two people who like each other a whole lot want to strengthen their commitment. Love is beautiful. However, it’s not news. There is nothing about this wedding to merit so much time and resources of every major news network, yet it was somehow fluffed up into a major television event that had the play-by-play analysis of an event that none of us have any business caring about anyway. It made me think a lot about our news media’s culture of spectacle. Things that aren’t really news become news because the television networks tell us that we should care about them. It is news for news’ sake.
Which is tragic, especially when there are actually very important things happening all around us that actually do matter, and that we should be hearing about. There are hundreds of people dead due to the storms in the southern US, and thousands upon thousands of people displaced. There are people struggling for their independence in Bah’rain and Libya, not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq. Japan’s under-reported nuclear disaster still threatens to disseminate some of the deadliest toxins known to science.
News networks should cover real news. Not puffed up spectacles like the royal wedding.
March 7, 2011 • 1:36 PM 1
A song by Lacy MacAuley, for a dear friend
(Working on a little recording with music. To be continued!)
There I stood, as the sun and stars forgot to shine
There I stood, in a cloud of lust and red, red wine
Feral hearts can house a thousand things.
You can’t hold the ground if you want to fly.
A winged creature, I cannot be caged.
Still you stand in front of me.
Can you shake the cold
February 8, 2011 • 4:08 PM 1
Speaking to the worst of the worst capitalist business tycoons yesterday, President Obama tried to appeal to a sense of patriotism among business leaders, telling the Chamber of Commerce to promote American jobs.
But if the presidential administration is serious about increasing US exports, why would they be trying to ram through free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia? In December Obama urged Congress to promote the Korea agreement, saying it was a “landmark trade deal.” Hearings on these agreements were pushed up on the Congressional calendar and took place in January.
These free trade agreements kill US jobs. They only give US corporations easy access to exploited workers (which they call “cheap labor”) in other countries, allowing corporations to close their US factories faster than you can say “sweat shop.”
Obama told the Chamber of Commerce yesterday that:
How do we make sure that everybody’s got a stake in trade, everybody’s got a stake in increasing exports, everybody’s got a stake in rising productivity? Because ordinary folks end up seeing their standards of living rise as well. That’s always been the American promise.
Later in his speech he alluded to growing the manufacturing sector, telling success stories of US-based corporations like GM and Whirlpool opening new factories in the US.
If the presidential administration is taking a stance in support of increasing our manufacturing sector and therefore our exports, why would they be pushing for US job loss through free trade agreements (FTAs) – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia?
A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that, if we were to implement the Korea FTA, we would actually lose 159,000 jobs in the US within the first seven years. Not exactly very patriotic, then, to promote trade with Korea.
As testified by Global Trade Watch in a hearing on Capitol Hill this past January, Ambassador Kharan Bhatia stated in October 2006 that it was a “myth” that “the US will get the bulk of the benefits of the FTA.” He further stated that:
If history is any judge, it may well not turn out to be true that the US will get the bulk of the benefits, if measured by increased exports… the history of our FTAs is that bilateral trade surpluses of our trading partners go up.”
Even the official US government numbers don’t add up to increased jobs through these free trade agreements. In a report released September 2007, the US International Trade Commission projected that we will run a trade deficit for all goods from textiles to iron ore, from cars to computers. It showed a deficit of between $308 million and $416 million. That’s bad news for workers in the US.
And furthermore, US job loss is just common sense. South Koreans can make everything on the cheap thanks to their low currency. If we care about US jobs, why promote free trade agreements?
January 28, 2011 • 9:14 PM 1
In Egypt, there are tanks on fire, thousands of people in the streets of Cairo and Suez, and a dictator whose days are numbered. I’m glad to say that I have been telling people of the coming uprising for about a year! Brave Egyptians have been violating Mubarak’s protest ban, starting as early as 2004. Their numbers increased dramatically throughout last year, culminating in the inspiring revolution that’s happening in Egypt right now.
Last year I had the opportunity to work with Kamal Abbas and Kamal Abu ‘Eita, the heads of a labor groups that have been calling protests since 2004. These two leaders were receiving a prestigious award from the AFL-CIO on behalf of all Egyptian workers, and receiving training and resources that would help them in their struggle for fair pay, good jobs, and basic human rights. Over tea and baklava, I chatted with these two inspiring men (and reporters) about the coming Egyptian uprising!
They had been invited to DC by the Solidarity Center, the international affiliate of the AFL-CIO. The center had just released The Struggle for Worker’s Rights in Egypt, a report that showed that protests were on the rise. I worked to make reporters aware of the study, which documented the growth of an Egyptian movement of resistance. The New York Times took notice (as did AP, the BBC, and the Wall Street Journal), featuring the article on the front page of its “WORLD” section with a full-color photo, stating:
“Nearly every day since February, protesters have chanted demands outside Parliament during daylight and laid out bedrolls along the pavement at night. The government and its allies have been unable to silence the workers, who are angry about a range of issues, including low salaries.”
“From 2004 to 2008 alone, about 1.7 million workers have engaged in 1,900 strikes and other forms of protest, demanding everything from wage increases to job security in state-owned industries that were privatized.”
It’s incredibly exciting to see the news from Egypt, knowing that we were right this past year that the Egyptian people were due for an uprising! I know that Kamal and Kamal, some of the most vocal opponents of Mubarak’s regime, are out there now in the streets, calling for revolution!
January 24, 2011 • 8:49 PM 0
A poem by Lacy MacAuley
Eliminating laws, opening trade, deregulating the market
has put us in a prison.
Cold austerity, chilling strictures
have ignited us and caused the streets to burn.
The largest sums of money paid by the hugest banks
have only caused more poverty.
The neoliberal world
is one in which the most basic sense is backwards, upside down.
It is as false as a mirror,
turning backwards all that is trusted, reversing that which is true.
A glass world of pomp and doublespeak.
And who is to say that a single strategic brick – red and sure as the hand on the drum, as the red human blood pumping through my raised fist, as red as the veins of the earth scratched raw by their bulldozers – who is to say that a single strategic brick could not bring down this house of mirrors? Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2011 • 5:16 PM 0
“Free trade” at work. Uruguay passes legislation to discourage smoking. So multinational corporation Philip Morris presses charges against them under a free trade agreement, saying Uruguay’s health-oriented laws are hurting their business. Ugh.
Uruguay’s anti-tobacco legislation requires cigarette companies to cover 80 percent of their packaging with pictures of the effects of smoking. This results in cigarette boxes with unsightly images of yellow teeth, underweight babies on life support, throat cancer victims with open tracheas, and more. The legislation also prohibits smoking in public places.
“For many the pictures we’re showing are aggressive. The truth is is what is aggressive is what’s inside” the cigarette package, said Walter Abascal, program head for Uruguay’s anti-tobacco program, speaking to Al-Jazeera reporter Teresa Bo.
Philip Morris is pressing charges against the tiny Latin American nation on the grounds that the legislation is hurting its profits in Uruguay. The multinational tobacco corporation intends to press charges under a clause of the free trade agreement between Uruguay and Switzerland, where the corporation’s operational headquarters are located. On these grounds, the corporation might actually win in international courts, forcing Uruguay to reverse legislation.
Free trade agreements violate a country’s right to self-governance. Governments don’t often express the will of the people, but it’s still better to have a government making decisions than a freaking corporation. A tiny country like Uruguay shouldn’t have to defend its legitimate legislation enacted by its democratic government on the grounds that some corporation’s profit margin is threatened.
Every free trade agreement is nothing but a weapon of domination, enabling the wealthy corporate aristocracy to tighten the grip that they have on our necks. Free people, not trade.