Kid Protests for Indigenous Rights at World Cup; World Almost Missed It

At the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, played in Sao Paulo on June 12, a 13-year-old Guarani boy raised a banner in support of Indigenous rights, but according to reports his gesture was omitted from the broadcast.

Thank you, internet, for making sure it wasn’t completely lost.

The boy, named Wera Jeguaka Mirim, was one of three youths chosen to release doves just before kickoff of the game between host nation Brazil and Croatia. Wearing a feather headdress, Mirim, from the Krukutu village in the city’s Parelheiros area, was meant to symbolize the Indigenous people of Brazil. After the birds took flight, Mirim reached into his pocket, removed a rolled-up red banner, and held it above his head for the crowd to read its message: “Demarcacao Ja!” or “Demarcation Now!”

The slogan is tied to protests against legislation that would allow the Brazilian congress, and not the Federal government, to determine the borders of Tribal lands, and would likely result in the shrinkage of some reservations.

RELATED: 10 Photos of Amazon Chiefs’ Clash With Brazilian Police at World Cup Protests

Left out of the broadcast, the protest might have gone unnoticed by the global audience if not for the nimbleness of bloggers and the power of social media. Photos were posted to the Facebook page of Comissão Guarani Yvyrupa – CGY, a pro-Guarani group; in turn, both Huffington Post and Buzzfeed picked up on the story.



Chile indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with protests

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP
Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP

13 October, 2013. Source: Al Jazeera

Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Demonstrators in Santiago threw rocks and other objects at police who responded with water cannons. At least 10 protesters were detained by police, local media reported.

More than 15,000 people participated in the march, organized by the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, who have been in a long struggle with the government over ancestral land taken from them during colonization.

While Columbus Day celebrations took place across Latin America, the Mapuche affirmed, “we have nothing to celebrate”, according to the Santiago Times.

A press release by the group complained of mistreatment by the state, particularly against Mapuche political prisoners, and on-going land disputes in the south.

On Wednesday, a major police operation cleared indigenous occupants from disputed land in Ercilla, in southern Chile, and eight Mapuche activists were arrested. Witnesses said the police response was aggressive and unprovoked, the Santiago Times reported.

The Mapuche people have been fighting to accelerate the process of repatriation of traditional lands. The government has said it will return some of the land, but the process has been slow and the perceived inaction has been met with demonstrations and occasional violence.

Mapuche protesters have been treated as ‘terrorists’ by the Chilean government — which uses an anti-terrorism law against them. Thousands of Mapuche and their supporters demanded an end to the application of this law on Mapuche land activists in peaceful marches Saturday.

The U.N. urged Chile to stop applying the anti-terrorism law against the Mapuche in July.

“The anti-terrorism law has been used in a manner that discriminates against the Mapuche,” U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson said in a press release. “It has been applied in a confused and arbitrary fashion that has resulted in real injustice, has undermined the right to a fair trial, and has been perceived as stigmatizing and de-legitimizing the Mapuche land claims and protests.”

Though the Mapuche resisted Spanish conquest for 300 years and wish to be autonomous, in the late 19th century they were defeated militarily and forced into Araucania, south of the Bio-Bio river — about 350 miles south of Santiago. Most live in poverty on the fringes of timber companies or ranches owned by the descendants of those who arrived to the region in the late 1800s from Europe.

Another anti-Columbus Day protest took place Saturday in Mexico City, where people from various indigenous groups marched peacefully to observe “Dia de la Raza,” or Indigenous People’s Day, as Columbus Day is called in Mexico.

“Indigenous people are in resistance because we are survivors after 500 years of the European invasion,” Leonico Macuixle, a demonstrator, told The Associated Press. “They came to take from us our culture, our language, they built Catholic churches in our sacred places.”

Idle No More ‘Shame on Canada’ protest in San Francisco

Photo: Karen Pickett
Photo: Karen Pickett

By Karen Pickett, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

On Monday morning, Sept. 9, organizers from Idle No More Bay Area and supporters converged on the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco, Calif. to say “Shame on Canada.” They called for a stop to the disastrous effects on First Nations people and others in the sacrifice zone in Alberta, Canada due to tar sands mining and steam drilling, citing loss of livelihood, toxic contamination, cancers, and damaged and sick children. People called for a rapid wind down of tar sands mining, a halt to Keystone XL pipeline, sequestration of the wastewater, restoration of the devastated region, and reparations. Pull in the tentacles of the oil companies from around humanity’s neck!

During the several hours that people demonstrated, sang, prayed and drummed at the Consulate, a proclamation and list of demands was signed by everyone present and delivered to Consulate officials by Penny Opal Plant, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

Other co-sponsors of the on-going protests against Tar Sands development and the Keystone pipeline include Rising Tide, Do the Math and

Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe released from police custody; Mi’kmaq war chief also arrested

A photo taken by Miles Howe on June 21st, when 12 arrests were made near the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog.
A photo taken by Miles Howe on June 21st, when 12 arrests were made near the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog.

Ben Sichel, Halifax Media Co-op

Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe has been released from police custody after being detained near Elsipogtog, New Brunswick yesterday afternoon – but Howe says he thinks police are trying to prevent him from reporting news from a controversial shale gas exploration site.

Howe has been in New Brunswick since early June reporting on protests against shale gas exploration near the Mi’kmaq community. He faces charges of uttering threats to a police officer and obstruction of justice.

“I think they’re trying to restrict my access to seismic testing sites,” said Howe.

According to Howe, RCMP chief Rick Bernard approached him this afternoon as he stood next to Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) news reporter Jorge Barrera. The two were waiting for press access to a site where seismic testing, a precursor to hydraulic fracturing or fracking, was said to be taking place.

Bernard then informed Howe that he was under arrest for allegedly uttering threats against a police officer on June 21st.

APTN’s Jorge Barrera tweeted that Bernard arrested Howe “after shaking Miles’ hand.”

The Media Co-op’s Howe “has been doing the bulk of reporting in #Elsipogtog on anti-shale gas protests and has been taken in by the Mi’kmaq community,” Barrera also tweeted.

RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah confirmed to CBC that Howe’s arrest was indeed related to an incident on June 21st. The RCMP has not responded to the Media Co-op’s request for comment as to why his arrest was not made for 13 days.

According to Howe, the timing of the arrest is odd, since he has been in contact with police in New Brunswick twice since the alleged June 21st incident without being notified that police wanted to arrest him.

In particular, Howe says he gave a statement to police regarding a fire he witnessedon June 25th, involving equipment owned by SWN, the Texas-based company currently exploring for shale gas in New Brunswick.

“Police went to my house in Halifax seeking a statement about the fire I had seen, since I was the first respondent [at the scene],” Howe said. “When I heard that I went to the police here and they took a statement from me about what I had seen. They knew exactly who I was, yet there was no indication that I was wanted by them for any incident on June 21st.

“After they took my statement, they also mentioned that they’d be able to offer me financial compensation for information [related to the ongoing protests],” Howe added.

Howe also notes that his charges changed over the several hours he was in custody, from resisting arrest to evading arrest to obstruction of justice. He had no comment on the charges themselves.

War chief John Levi also arrested

Howe expressed concern for Mi’kmaq war chief John Levi, who was also charged today with obstruction in relation to Howe’s own arrest.

“He’s basically been charged with abetting me [over the past several days],” Howe said, despite Levi not knowing until yesterday that Howe was accused of a crime.

Howe described the charges against Levi as “trumped-up.”

“They may be using me to get at him,” Howe said. “This is a dangerous situation for Levi, who’s been an important leader for the people here.”

Anti-Fracking protests continue

There is an open invitation to a “Celebration of Unity with Elsipogtog” gathering this Saturday at 10 a.m. by a Facebook group called Walk for a Ban on Fracking.

“In the end [my arrest today] is just one small incident,” Howe said. “People here continue to show amazing strength.

“I’m not the story here,” Howe said.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline: Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East

Winona LaDuke, Indian Country Today Media Network

Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.

I’m in South Dakota today, sort of a ground zero for the Keystone XL Pipeline, that pipeline, owned by a Canadian Corporation which will export tar sands oil to the rest of the world. This is the heart of the North American continent here. Bwaan Akiing is what we call this land-Land of the Lakota. There are no pipelines across it, and beneath it is the Oglalla Aquifer wherein lies the vast majority of the water for this region. The Lakota understand that water is life, and that there is no new water. It turns out, tar sands carrying pipelines (otherwise called “dilbit”) are 16 times more likely to break than a conventional pipeline, and it seems that some ranchers and Native people, in a new Cowboy and Indian Alliance, are intent upon protecting that water.

This community understands the price of protecting land. And, the use of military force upon a civilian community- carrying an acute memory of the over 133,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the National Guard upon Lakota people forty years ago in the Wounded Knee standoff. That experience is coming home again, this time in Mi’gmaq territory.

Militarization of North American Oil Fields

This past week in New Brunswick, the Canadian military came out to protect oil companies. In this case, seismic testing for potential natural gas reserves by Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), a Texas-based company working in the province. It’s an image of extreme energy, and perhaps the times.

SWN exercised it’s permit to conduct preliminary testing to assess resource potential for shale gas exploitation. Canadian constitutional law requires the consultation with First Nations, and this has not occurred. That’s when Elsipogtog Mi’gmaq warrior chief, John Levi, seized a vehicle containing seismic testing equipment owned by SWN. Their claim is that fracking is illegal without their permission on their traditional territory. About 65 protesters, including women and children, seized the truck at a gas station and surrounded the vehicle so that it couldn’t be removed from the parking lot. Levi says that SWN broke the law when they first started fracking “in our traditional hunting grounds, medicine grounds, contaminating our waters.” according to reporter Jane Mundy in an on-line Lawyers and Settlements publication. This may be just the beginning.

On June 9, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came out en masse, seemingly to protect SWN seismic exploration crews against peaceful protesters – both native and non-Native, blocking route 126 from seismic thumper trucks. Armed with guns, paddy wagons and twist tie restraints, peaceful protestors were arrested. Four days later the protesting continued, and this time drew the attention of local military personnel. As one Mi’gmag said, “Just who is calling the shots in New Brunswick when the value of the land and water take a backseat to the risks associated with shale gas development?”

The militarization of the energy fields is not new. It’s just more apparent when it’s in a first world country, albeit New Brunswick. New Brunswick is sort of the El Salvador of Canadian provinces, if one looks at the economy, run akin to an oligarchy. New Brunswick’s Irving family empire stretches from oil and gas to media, they are the largest employer in New Brunswick and the primary proponents of the Trans Canada West to East pipeline which will bring tar sands oil to the St. Johns refinery owned by the same family. Irving is the fourth wealthiest family in Canada, the largest employer, land holder and amasses that wealth in the relatively poor province. The Saint John refinery would be a beneficiary of any natural gas fracked in the province. In general, press coverage of Aboriginal issues there is sparse at best.

Fracking proposals have come to their territory with a vengeance, and the perfect political storm has emerged- immense material poverty (seven of the ten poorest postal codes in Canada), a set of starve or sell federal agreements pushed by the Harper administration (onto first nations), and extreme energy drives.

Each fracking well will take up to two-million-gallons of pristine water and transform the water into a toxic soup, full of carcinogens. The subsistence economy has been central to the Wabanaki confederacy since time immemorial, and concerns over SWN’s water contamination have come to the province. A recent Arkansas lawsuit against SWN charges the company with widespread toxic contamination of drinking water from their hydro-fracking.

Canada is the home to 75% of the worlds mining corporations, and they have tended to have relative impunity in the Canadian Courts. Canadian corporations and their international subsidiaries are being protected by military forces elsewhere, and this concerns many. According to a U.K. Guardian story, a Québec court of appeal rejected a suit by citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against Montreal-based Anvil Mining Limited for allegedly providing logistical support to the DRC army as it carried out a massacre, killing as many as 100 people in the town of Kilwa near the company’s silver and copper mine. The Supreme Court of Canada later confirmed that Canadian courts had no jurisdiction over the company’s actions in the DRC when it rejected the plaintiffs’ request to appeal. Kairos Canada, a faith-based organization, concluded that the Supreme Court’s ruling would “have broader implications for other victims of human rights abuses committed by Canadian companies and their chances of bringing similar cases to our courts”.

In the meantime, back in New Brunswick, a heavily militarized RCMP came out to protect the exploration crews. Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has many faces, from ranchers in Nebraska and Texas who reject eminent domain takings of their land for a pipeline right of way, to the Lakota nation which walked out of State Department meetings in May in a show of firm opposition to the pipeline. All of them are facing a pipeline owned by TransCanada, a Canadian Corporation.

On a worldwide scale communities are concerned about their water. In El Salvador, more than 60% of the population relies on a single source of water. In 2009, this came down to choosing between drinking water and mining. In 2009, after immense public pressure, the country chose water. It established a moratorium on metal mining permits. Polls show that a strong majority of Salvadorans would now like a permanent ban. A testament to how things can change even in a politically challenged environment.

Up in Canada’s version of El Salvador, twelve people, both native and non were arrested, some detained and interrogated by investigators of the RCMP forces on June l4, and after a day of the federal military “making their presence” felt, the people of the region have concerns about how far Canada will go to protect fossil fuels.

Here in Bwaan Akiing, I am hoping that people who want to protect the water are treated with respect. And, I also have to hope that those 7,000-plus American-owned drones aren’t coming home, omaa akiing, from elsewhere to our territories in the name of Canadian oil interests.

Winona LaDuke is the Executive Director of Honor the Earth in White Earth Reservation, Minnesota. Visit their website at



Uprising in Brazil: An extraordinary moment for change

0-1-0-protest-nc2Nayanda Fernandez, Upside Down World

Emerging as a complete surprise, the wave of massive demonstrations Brazil has been experiencing is undoubtedly the most serious movement of popular protests in the country since the dictatorship years. On June 10th, 2013, the first peaceful demonstration took place in São Paulo, near one of the main business streets, Avenida Paulista.  After mobile phone videos spread across the internet, showing clear evidence of the violent repression of the protest by the military police, masses of people hit the streets of São Paulo in a cry for their right to demonstrate.

For the first time, young Brazilians saw the military police, renowned for violent actions around the poorer or isolated areas, attacking and arresting hundreds of economically privileged citizens. Despite the efforts from the largely conservative national media to play down the violent actions, a number of key videos were recorded in different areas of the city on the 13th of June and virally spread through social media. These videos showed how groups of protesters chanting for “no violence” were indiscriminately attacked by the extensive use of tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray. Victims of the repression included journalists shot at head level and in their eyes.

The acts were mainly organized by ‘Movimento Passe Livre’ (Free Fare Movement), a group campaigning against public transport fare rises since 2005 and struggling for the right to ‘free fares’ for all citizens to travel on public transport in Brazil. A similar measure was first proposed in 1990 by the former São Paulo PT mayor, Luiza Erundina, who had to face the so-called ‘bus mafia’ as well as a chain of reactions from big businessmen from the construction and retail sectors in the city.

The first protests, in São Paulo, marked the beginning of what Marilena Chauí, philosopher and retired lecturer at University of São Paulo (USP) affirms to be a ‘very important political moment’ for the development of Brazilian democracy.  On June 18th, the streets of various cities were taken over by crowds, and that same evening the National Congress building in Brasilia was surrounded by protesters, taking a combination of artistic and political action.

“Oscar Niemeyer [a well-known Brazilian architect and socialist] would have been so proud last night! The unity of art and political action! His beautiful congress building decorated and enhanced by a new generation of radicals on the roof, demanding change, an end to corruption and no more collaboration with the greedy FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Mafia,” wrote Andrew Jennings in A Pública.

The images of the police repression in São Paulo seem to have represented the last straw for the over one million people that have taken to the streets and mobilized around the country. However, at the same time, protesters have been similarly repressed in Brasilia, Fortaleza and Minas Gerais outside the football stadiums where the Confederation Cup matches have taken place.

The protesters’ indignation around the stadiums are based in part on the exorbitant ticket prices – which means that ordinary Brazilians will not be able to attend the events. People are also outraged at the use of the billions of public funds for the cost of stadiums and facilities. According to one calculation, this cost is the equivalent of the R$38 million federal education budget and, to a lesser extent, the countless cases of human rights violations against populations living near the stadiums or other sports facilities, who have been evicted, often violently, to make away for the ‘improvements.’

Natalia Viana, director of A Pública, the main center for investigation and independent journalism in Brazil, declared in a recent interview with the Chilean outlet America Economía that around 170,000 people have been at some point under risk of losing their homes because they are in the way of the World Cup or the Olympic projects, stadiums, and highways. “The city [mainly Rio de Janeiro, but other areas have also been affected] is being changed in a very authoritarian way, without competent and democratic consultation or negotiation with all communities,” Viana explained. In addition, the economic abuses related to those projects have also spread around the country. Rio’s Maracanã stadium alone has gone through three sets of major refurbishment works in the last 15 years, at a total cost of around US$700 million, and the Brasilia stadium is costing about US$ 270 million, one of the most expensive of the six being built ahead of the World Cup warm-up tournament.

Even though both the Governor of São Paulo state, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), and the Mayor of São Paulo city, Fernando Haddad (PT), announced on June 19th the reduction of the public transport fares, the next day activists in 322 cities and 22 capitals were mobilized around the country.

On June 21st, the president Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was tortured under Brazil’s long military dictatorship, made a televised 10-minute appearance backing the right to peaceful protest but sharply condemning violence, vandalism and looting from the protesters.  In contrast, Rousseff notably ignored the police’s violent action during the first days of protests in São Paulo, or around the stadium in Brasilia and other capitals. She even ignored previous and, unfortunately, common-place conflicts such as the constant clashes in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas or with Indigenous people around the Amazon region, conflicts related to soy production and cattle farms in Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul states. The giant may have woken with these recent protests, as some have claimed, but those on the margins of Brazilian society have never gone to sleep…

A recent opinion poll indicates that Brazil’s Federal government has considerably lost popularity over the last two weeks. According to Gilberto Maringoni, journalist and PhD in history from the University of São Paulo, those numbers do not attest to anything exceptional. However, he alerts, Brazil is currently on the edge of a crisis; even though the levels of consumption and employment are not falling, he affirms, in macro-economical terms, the Brazilian GDP promises to be ‘mediocre’ by the end of the year.

During the years of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), the previous president, many Brazilians experienced the consumer power for the first time in their family history. Those previously on the edge of the market economy could now buy a TV, a car, a refrigerator, and other basic consumer goods.  However, outside their homes people still find a decaying public service system, high cost and bad quality transport, lack of books, equipment, and motivated teachers at public schools, a very poor health system, and growing levels of violence around the cities.

“Brazil has improved significantly over the last 10 years. However, the environment is still being destroyed, chaos is taking over the cities, there is no sign of agrarian reform, the mainstream media is associated with the Federal government, the financial sector carries on demanding a radical shift towards [neoliberal] economic orthodoxy and Dilma [Rousseff] is wholeheartedly following her creed of privatization,” Gilberto Maringoni wrote recently in Carta Capital.

Many analysts have expressed their hope that this current uprising is a sign of the general public awareness that political change is desperately needed in Brazilian politics. At the same time, people are concerned that 2013 doesn’t end the same way 1968 did in Brazil, when student protests were brutally crushed by the military government. Furthermore,Werneck Vianna, a renowned Brazilian social scientist, said: “If nothing is done in time, this movement could end in a very bad way. […] young people disenchanted with politics, radicalized and who will look for the wrong ways to solve their problems.”

The extraordinary demonstrations in Brazil, which have practically taken over all big cities, and are active in many in rural areas, have been showing to the Brazilians, and to those interested to learn about this Latin American giant, the complexity of its political condition. After numerous days of protesting, many people still did not know exactly why they were protesting.  This lack of focus and political maturity is just a symptom of the distance between the population and Brazilian politics.

In a letter signed by over 30 Brazilian social movements to president Dilma Roussef, these groups analyze the recent mobilizations as a very positive step in a process of political education of the mostly young demonstrators. It is, they affirm, a cry of anger from people who have been historically alienated from the political life of Brazil, and who tend to think of politics as something damaging to society. The letter explains that this movement will likely lead youth to realize the desperate need to confront the powerful in Brazil, demanding economic equality and reforms, and greater access to healthcare, education, land, culture, media and political spaces.  In the letter, the social movement groups also affirm that the conservative sectors of the society are trying to co-opt the demonstrations and spin their meaning to the media.

Connected through the internet and different social media platforms, people around Brazil and abroad have also been protesting in solidarity with Brazil, and tying the protests there to other mobilizations around the world. Both Turkish and Brazilian activists, (who have been attacked by the same brand of tear gas), have been sharing much of their experiences online, such as how to make D.I.Y. masks against tear gas, and sharing images of protests signs in support of their counterparts across the world. Solidarity demonstrations have also been organized in different cities around Europe and the US, where we could see both Turkish and Brazilian flags raised.

Eliane Brum, a Brazilian journalist, writer and documentary maker, has recently recalled the words of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, recorded on video around two years ago during the widespread protests in Spanish against economic austerity measures. Galeano’s message to the young people who went to the streets of Barcelona, Madrid and other cities in the country was translated into many languages and shared extensively online: “This shitty world is pregnant with another one.” Just like Brum, many people are hoping Galeano is correct, and that we can all exist in another kind of world, where there is space for life.