Are the Cops in Our Heads and Hearts? by Paula X. Rojas
Like many other activists on the left, I have been struggling with the contradictions found in organizing work here in the United States. I have worked in community-based organizing, both within and outside. My experiences both in the United States and in Latin America have shaped my analysis of the non-profit system as well as alternatives to this system. In the US I am involved in grassroots organizing work with a multigenerational community of poor and working class women of color in Brooklyn (Sista II Sista and Pachamama).
But what has most pushed my analysis has come from my work and experiences outside of the US, specifically in Latin America. As an adult I have spent a few years in Chile, my country of origin, supporting organizing efforts against the military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet and the neoliberal “democracies” of the Christian Democratic Party that followed. From Chile, I had the opportunity to travel to La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia, in 1994 and meet with local activists. In Mexico, I have worked with women’s groups around political and physical self defense in rural and urban areas. I also had various opportunities to visit the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, first spending 3 weeks in the Autonomous territories in 1999. In 2003 I had a few days visiting an encampment and a settlement of the MST (Landless Rural Unemployed Workers Movement) in Brazil and attended a continental gathering of Autonomous Movements in Argentina held at an occupied factory in 2005.
Through these experiences and many (mostly informal) conversations, over cheap wine and good music, with other compañer@s, organizers, friends and family in both Latin America and the United States, I have gathered these reflections that I want to share.(Click here to read more)