May 4, 2001
INDIGENOUS RIGHTS BILL DISAPPOINTS ZAPATISTAS
In Mexico City this week, a watered down version of the Indigenous Rights and Culture Initiative passed both houses of Congress. The so called “light” legislation, passed in response to last month’s Congressional address by Zapatista leaders, was met by protests from the native community. And in Chiapas, the Zapatistas broke off their negotiations with the government. Travis Lea reports from Mexico City.
MAYDAY IN THE MAQUILADORAS
Workers and anti-capitalist activists around the world celebrated May Day this week with rallies, protests, and demands for justice. The earliest protests began in Australia, where demonstrators tried to shut to down stock exchanges in Melbourne and Sydney. In Taiwan, an estimated 10,000 unemployed workers held aloft banners demanding jobs, but were stopped by barbed wire and police from marching on the presidential office building in Taipei. In Berlin, German police said they arrested 616 people during clashes with left-wing demonstrators who pelted them with stones and set cars ablaze. Police had taken hard line against the protests, banning the city’s traditional anti-capitalist May Day demonstration. Russian news agencies quoted police as saying more than 300,000 people had attended some 480 marches for workers rights. In the United States, rallies in Boston and Chicago call for recognition of the important role played by immigrant workers and demanded amnesty for undocumented workers who are denied basic services and access to education even though their families have been in the United States for years. In towns near the U.S.-Mexico border, a network of maquiladora workers used May Day as an opportunity to demand a living wage, the right to form autonomous unions, and an end to sexual harassment In the city of Torreon, more than two thousand workers from a Sara Lee factory where Fruit of the Loom underwear and Wonder Bras are made, spoke out against dangerous working conditions and wages which total about six dollars for a twelve-hour day. Host Matt Martin has more.
WASHINGTON TEACHERS WALK OUT
In Washington state, teachers marked May Day with a one-day strike protesting the state’s failure to follow through on its commitment to focus new education funding on teachers’ salaries. And, as Martha Baskin reports from Seattle, May Day may be just the beginning of teachers’ strikes in the state.
THE FBI, THE FTAA, AND THE IMC
On the second day of protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Quebec City, two FBI agents and a Secret Service agent visited the Seattle’s Independent Media Center, or IMC, serving them with a gag order preventing them from talking about the agents’ intention to seize the server logs of the entire IMC network from the first two days of the FTAA protests. The IMC is an open network of websites used by activists and journalists. During the protest in Quebec City, someone posted what was allegedly a stolen secret police document to IMC Montreal, and the Canadian government wants to find that person. But as Thatcher Collins of the Seattle Independent Media Center reports, the FBI’s story has several unanswered questions:
DIALLO MURAL CONTROVERSY
Amadou Diallo is once again in New York City’s Headlines. Two years ago, the African immigrant, was shot dead in a hail of 41 bullets fired by four police officers as he stood in the vestibule of his apartment building. The unveiling of a mural dedicated to Diallo has sparked controversy, coming on the heels of the police commissioner’s decision not to discipline the four officers. Commissioner Bernard Kerik followed the recommendations of two department investigations, deciding the officers who killed Diallo had acted within police guidelines because they had believed the unarmed African immigrant held a gun and posed an imminent threat to their lives. Kerik announced Officers Sean Carroll and Kenneth Boss would be retrained for an undetermined period of time. And in the mean time, they will keep their desk jobs. Officers Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon are hoping to join the Fire fighting department. The media attention and the pressure by critics of the mural have served to unite a community in its defense. Free Speech Radio’s Nadja Middleton files this report from New York.
MAJOR MARCH AGAINST CENSORSHIP AT WBAI
The conflict within Pacifica, the nation’s largest and oldest progressive radio network, continues to heat up. m This week, attention was focused on New York, where more than fifteen hundred listeners of Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest censorship throughout the network as well as the firing and banning of long-time programmers and staff at WBAI. Critics charge Pacifica leadership with centralizing control in order to mainstream what have historically been among the most radical voices in U.S. radio. Chuck Rosina was there, and files this report.