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Today, we honour the millions of indigenous and afro-descendant communities and their ancestors, who persevere and defend and protect our water and land. We celebrate their resilience against the ongoing colonisation of their lands and bodies and highlight their persistence for life.
525 years after Cristobal Colon aka Christopher Columbus aka Cristoforo Colombo arrived by mistake in the continent now called America, our communities from Patagonia to Turtle Island are still feeling the oppressive impacts of colonisation and still powerfully resisting the entitled – disguised as enlightened – bulldozer of neo-colonialism.
Today, we don’t commemorate the accidental arrival of Western Europeans on our continent, nor do we celebrate any discovery of any type. October 12, 1492 was the day wave after wave of colonial violence was unleashed on our peoples and their territories. Laden with racism, oppression and the logic of rapacious extraction, it led to the decimation of entire indigenous groups, and the colonisation of millions more who faced the stark choice: die or assimilate.
It also led to the foundations of the patriarchal capitalist system as we know today – unequal, marginalising, externalising – through the brutal enslavement of millions of African people, who were deemed a commodity, subhuman. The search for gold, the accumulation of resources, the commodification of everything.
Such was and is the legacy of the colonizer. Male, heterosexual and white.
Today, colonialists may not come to our continent with pointy hats and beards – as they have been mockingly caricatured by Indigenous communities in Cuzco through masks like the ones we are wearing in these pictures – in sailing ships with erroneous coordinates, they don’t just stumble into our rich lands and with blessings from the church, support from the Spanish crown and for the benefit of British pockets and their Industrial Revolution, take away our precious stones and women and kill our men, they don’t plainly abduct compañerxs from Africa to have them work as slaves in plantations, all under the pretence of white supremacy.
No, today neo-colonialists come to our continent with signed off project plans, deliberately ignored or tampered consultations and environmental impact assessments, with PR budgets and subsidies, and licences to write down destruction, displacement, conflict and loss of life as externalities, with bribes, guns, committees, low wages, consumerism, with corrupt and racist law systems, with border controls, walls, patriarchy, racial profiling, pipelines, mines, mega dams, mega farms, GMO seeds, privatisation of the commons, drugs and multinationals; instead of exchanging mirrors for our gold, now they simply give us a promise of ‘progress’, all under the pretence of white supremacy.
But there is another story, the story told from below, from the perspective of the pueblos and the ejidos, from the concejos and the resguardos. A story of a quartered mestizo man, who vowed to return as millions; of a mother and grand-mother looking for their son and daughter, defiant in the knowledge they will find them alive; of an asthmatic doctor, weaving paths of revolution; of a million sisters and mothers and grandmothers who said ni una menos – not one less; of a million seeds who were buried in the soil, by people who didn’t realise they were seeds; of 400,000 afro-descendants who lost so much, they lost fear itself, el pueblo no se rinde carajo; of three women who said it first and millions who then followed in asserting black lives matter; of so many who refused to be divided; of a small community of marginalised traders, refusing to give up their livelihood; of an indigenous peoples, ready to retomar everything that has been taken from them, demanding ‘demarcacao ja!’; of a river that spoke to an indigenous woman, to tell her that the dam would not succeed; of a Pachamama, demanding her rights.
Despite the long night of colonialism, black, brown and indigenous communities have resisted the facets of western patriarchal oppression, developing alternatives based on their relationships of reciprocity and understanding of the land around them.
We have migrated, we have created new territories and relationships with those around us, who were more like us than we had ever imagined, highlighting the fusion of our cultures and traditions through dance and art as a political act. Our dances are full of the movements of our ancestors that make us whole and prepare us to resist the injustices.
Today, we stand together with all our compañerxs asserting their rights to exist, to preserve their culture and identity, to have ownership of their bodies, compañerxs fighting for safety, for justice, for reparation, against borders, gentrification, displacement, extraction, death, we stand with those protecting Mother Earth and our continent’s mothers and their children.
This 12th of October, Day of Indigenous Resistance, we remember the originarias communities that experienced the wave of colonisation led by Cristobal Colon, his statue in London today guarded by British fences and imperial CCTV cameras, and send our warmest wholehearted solidarity to all our compañerxs in América (the continent) still fighting C02onialism today.
“Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.” Eduardo Galeano.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control
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Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
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Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
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The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
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Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
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Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
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Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
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Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
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Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
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New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
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A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
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As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going