Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 9 — More than 3,000 people have been arrested in the US since the “movement of the indignant” reached that country. The figures would be much higher there if one were to add all the victims of police violence.
The “rule of law” that supposedly prevails in the US has proven itself incapable of preserving the civil rights of its citizens. Authorities there have not hesitated in sacrificing those “principles,” fearing that the movement could extend further, that its aim could become more radical and that it could expose the double standards of the system.
In New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and 70 other US cities, young people have taken to the streets to protest corporate greed and corruption as well as the deep inequalities they experience and that are becoming increasingly rife.
Strikes, protests and demonstration are American civil rights that have been invoked by the people, backed by the laws in force in that country. The nation’s government “champions” freedom of expression, however it’s now launching tear gas canisters and shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators, running over them with their anti-riot vehicles, throwing them behind bars, beating them up in public, confining their movements and preventing them from meeting.
“The activists arrested have been charged with everything from trespassing on private property and disobeying the orders of authority to disorderly conduct,” reported Granma newspaper, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party, which this past November 2 ran an article about the protests on its front page.
As is characteristic of undemocratic regimes, the authorities mask political repression as administrative sanctions. It’s therefore important to show the true sense of what’s happening there, the hollowness of the liberal thesis about their democracy and the magical properties possessed by the market to regulate all of society.
The spirit of indignation sweeps the world
Since May 15 in Madrid, protests have not stopped. In an exemplary experience, the Spanish have channeled their concerns into action, even in many neighborhoods.
In Paris, young people even went to Cannes to protest the G-20 summit, while in Nice they held the Peoples Alternative Forum. There the government also took action by preventing protesters from demonstrating in the centrally located Garibaldi Plaza.
In Greece, the manipulations and lies of Papandreou and the inhuman pressure being exerted by the European Community have compelled citizens to take to the streets once again. Even with the recent resignation of this leader of the “socialist”(?) party, nothing has changed for those in the streets.
Meanwhile, Chile’s students remain on strike after more than six months outside the classrooms, despite having received a direct attack on the headquarters of the Federation of University Students of Santiago this past Friday (Nov. 4). Their radical critique of an exclusionary educational system and of a rigidly stratified society is something that pleases neither the government nor the economic leaders in that Latin American country.
The Arab peoples, who triggered the world movement, are continuing the international wave. Of course the last attempt, in Libya, was exemplarily curtailed. From the inside, the dictator Gaddafi never yielded to the demands of his people; instead, he offered active and violent resistance to change. However, from the outside, paid assassins and opportunistic killers of NATO—supposedly in defense of the Libyan people—massacred thousands of people of that land.
Thus, there are many voices being raised in today’s world.
Who’s at risk?
The aims might seem different, more or less radical, but it’s clear that what incites this “indignation” is a predatory global system of alienation and crass consumerism that is ecologically unsustainable. In the US, for example, the criticism of corporations and racist and discriminatory banking policies seem to have produced a consensus within the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
The existence of conflicts in countries is nothing new of course, but what’s different now is the type (and scale) of organization that has developed. It’s common for these new efforts to be contemptuous of political party or government systems of any stripe; rather, they insist on the pursuit of empowerment through the direct action by the people.
People no longer believe in speeches and empty promises. They have been duped for decades and they now understand that nothing can be expected from a justice system designed to serve the powerful. Now they’ve realized that something can be done.
On a global scale, these principles pose a threat to the current configuration of states, which historically granted themselves the right to decide people’s fates. Such measures are taken in capitalist regimes as well as other “alternative” state-run attempts, with these latter reproducing “democratic” schemes that differ only in degrees.
A deep feeling of anti-authoritarian is now growing among youth themselves, who a decade ago were considered scum, depoliticized, lost and alienated by consumption. The political classes did not count on their force, despite being witness to their growing activism and nonconformity.
Today those who dissent are more visible, and therefore they have more strength. They’ve seized onto new technologies, turning those into weapons against the very ones who designed them for the manipulation and alienation of human beings. The democratic essence of these tools has been exploited and used creatively for anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian organizing.
Thus, the “Occupy Movement” in the United States is deepening the debate over itself and around the situation that it confronts. Twenty percent of US youth remain unemployed, a condition that they are forcefully attacking.
Meanwhile, the right in power is taking measures. The top one percent of Americans, who amass 25 percent of all the national income are momentarily putting aside their “pretty” speeches about human rights until it’s safer for them on their thrones.