The Best Moments for Revolutionaries in '06 According to Claire Tran: Times of Smash-Downs, Love-making, Tears and Little Dances
I'm sure many could come up with a long list of what went wrong in 2006. I certainly have my list. It is important that we understand the good, the bad and the ugly. There was plenty ugly. I can certainly sing that song too. I write the songs that make the young girls cry, okay!
But there are moments that call for celebration, and I don't want the gloom and doom of the empire to overshadow that. So here are the moments close to my heart — what has kept me going, and what I think we can build off of in 2007. I won't capture all the great revolutionary things in the whole world, just things I was particularly inspired by and I hope might stay in your memory too.
At the beginning of the year, January 22, 2006, Evo Morales the first indigenous president to Bolivia, and only the second indigenous president ever in all of Latin America, was sworn in (Benito Juarez, of Mexico was the first). At the ceremony, Morales declared, “I wish to tell you, my Indian brothers, that the 500-year indigenous and popular campaign of resistance has not been in vain.” Indeed it was not.
I was in Mexico City at the time with my new partner. We would watch Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez embracing and traveling around together every night on the news, and boy was that hot! If you want to get a revolutionary in bed, watch some of those speeches together.
As my relationship heated up, so did the relations and leftist electoral victories around Latin America — the first female president, Michelle Bachelet, in Chile (January 2006), Alan Garcia in Peru (June 2006), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “Lula” in Brazil (October 2006), Rafael Correa in Ecuador (November 2006) and most recently Hugo Chavez’s re-election in Venezuela (December 2006).
(Check out the red on the BBC Latin America’s year of elections map.)
I have to note that while the stolen election from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the liberal (more left-leaning but not taking a strong stance on neo-liberalism) Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), at least a real fight was put up, unlike what happened in the US in 2000! Continued protests, shut down of Mexico City, camp-outs, and marches have been sustained since July.
Felipe Calderon, who supposedly won by half a percentage point, barely made it through his own inauguration last month! They had to speed through the presidential oath, and the national anthem was interrupted with insults. Obrador had his own “inauguration” supported by over 100,000 people in Mexico City.
Hugo Chavez’s winning the presidency by a landslide had me doing a little dance in my bedroom and cheering, “Eat that, George W!” With the promise to deepen the revolution in Venezuela, we are certain to see Chavez playing a leadership role in the region. The talk of the town right now is the formation of a unified socialist party in Venezuela. Something I had asked about a couple of years ago when I visited there. The young woman I spoke to was from the Fifth Republic Movement (Chavez’s party) and said that they hoped to eventually create a unified party. Guess my Spanish ain’t that bad; I did hear her correctly. Unified revolutionary organization and strategy of course is exciting to me and something Freedom Road / El Camino para la Libertad is going to be talking about a lot in the next period. Check out our new strategy just passed in November.
And there’s even more unity going on! Most recently, leaders in the region gathered for the South American Community of Nations, a weekend summit December 9-11 where the main topic was the building of unity and integration throughout South America. Leaders agreed to form a study group to look at the possibility of creating a continent-wide union and even a South American parliament.
The Cochabamba Declaration was signed, proving that this is no European Union type of integration folks are talking about. They say their working toward “a new model of integration for the 21st century.” According to the declaration, this new integration is based on six principles: solidarity and cooperation; sovereignty and respect for territory and self-determination of the people; peace; democracy and pluralism, “in order to consolidate an integration without dictators”; “universal, interdependent and indivisible” human rights; and “harmony with nature” for sustainable development. Hey, leftist united against neo-liberalism? I’m down.
And going across the globe to Nepal, a victory for the people has been won. An agreement was reached between the seven-party alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (“CPN(M)”) on November 8, 2006. The reactionary monarchy is on its way out and a republic with the CPN(M) looks like it’s on the way in. The Nepalese royal armed forces are to be merged with the People’s Liberation Army under the authority of this newly formed government.
We also have a little power to leverage in our own yards, here in the US. Sounds kinda weak, but when you live under an authoritarian government in the belly of the beast, you’ll take what power you can get.
First off, I have to give props to the immigrant uprising. May 1st, 2006 was the first time I was overjoyed to wake-up with no place to get coffee in the morning. Practically everything in my neighborhood was shut down. I turned on the news early that morning, and the traffic reporter had nothing to report. He specifically said that it was due to the boycott. The news anchor said, “Well it’s a nice day, maybe people are just taking the day off.” The traffic reporter called him out on the statement: “So just because it’s a nice day EVERYONE decides to take the day off?”
May 1st was a day to be in the street with your sweetie. Beyond the sweethearts — were families with strollers, crews of high school students, unions, worker center folks, churches, drummers. Over 10 million people across the nation demonstrated. For the first time in my life it felt like a real May Day celebration/demonstration. These marches did not require a “people of color contingent,” unlike the anti-war marches because most folks out there were folks of color. My favorite chant of the time was, “We are people, we are not illegal, nooo!” People got a taste of their power on that day, and that is something we can continue to build on.
We are now going on the fourth year of struggle to stop the war, which has consistently been the subject of my saddest songs. Fortunately we are no longer in the post-9/11, flag-waving hole of mainstream backwards political consciousness we were once in! At this point only 31% of people still support the war, and 50% want the US out by the end of the year. Yeah George W’s gonna call for more troops, but we’re in a stronger place in terms of the political debate, given that only 11% of people believe that the troops should increase.
Okay, I did NOT do a little dance in my room when the Dems took Congress, but there was a slight smile. Before the election, the only way we had any possibility of concrete initiatives to stop the war was if this hell we’re in froze over. Now I’m not saying that the Dems are really gonna do anything unless they’re dragged kicking and screaming, but hey, I’m down to push, and Nancy Pelosi and I are about the same size… anybody want to join the push committee?
My mother sent me this comic strip they have in the local paper in Nebraska. Don’t understand why we don’t get it in San Francisco. It’s a little girl sitting on Santa’s lap asking for “TROOPS. HOME. NOW. And Dora’s Magic Castle.” Well, not everyone got what they wanted for Christmas.
After 2007, I hope that I’ll have more good news programs to make out to, bigger dance parties in my bedroom, and hopefully this article will be at least ten pages long next year. Make it happen, revolutionaries!