Salvador City Hall Occupation

On Monday July 22nd the Movimento Passe Livre, who is fighting for an improved transportation system in the city of Salvador in Bahia, Brazil, occupied the city hall of Salvador and have been occupying since.  The people occupying have been releasing documents to communicate updates with the outside.  The first publication states that the occupation is a measure to push the government into negotiating with the movement and to actually listen to the people.  There has been much dialogue in the city hall about the transportation system, but the movement’s demands have not been taken into consideration.  The objective is to have Salvador’s government take action and lower the transportation fares to zero. Read more

Emo Cultura en México

We live in a world where trends, fashion, music and popular culture are constantly changing. When you’re living in the U.S. it’s often easy to forget how the rest of the world might react to these nuances. I’m thinking of, specifically, emo culture among youth and the problematic issues that arise when it’s adopted and observed outside of the U.S.

Emos, from what I’ve gathered, are made up of young guys and girls who listen to screamo music, wear dark clothing and makeup, and may even commit self-harm. While there are certainly large amounts of youth who still identify as emo, it begs the question: how does race fit into a culture such as this one? In particular, how do Mexicans fit into this nontraditional sphere?

In 2008, there was a violent backlash against the emo youth in México. In Querétaro, México at Plaza de Armas, there was a gathering of those opposed to the emo culture and who felt they needed to eliminate the Mexican emos by hurting and mocking them in this public demonstration. Read more

Support for hunger strikers at Corcoran prison

Saturday July 13th I was at Corcoran State Prison, participating in a California statewide mobilization to support the ongoing prisoner hunger strike, which began July 8th with about 30,000 prisoners statewide refusing meals. This strike is to ultimately influence Governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to improve California prison conditions. A petition has circulated and much action has been made to make this reform possible.

It was a 3-hour drive to the city of Corcoran from Chuco’s Justice Center in Inglewood, where I met up with a group of about 30 people made up of different races and ages and coming from organizations and cities all over Southern California. We took a bus to meet with what would turn out to be about 300 people rallying at the gates of Corcoran State Prison.

Speaking to people about the U.S. prison system, I find that many impose a stigma on prisoners. But this particular assemblage of demonstrators realize that the prison system is what’s incorrect, not the prisoners. Read more

“We are all Trayvon”

It’s my senior year of high school and I remember how cold it was this one day at soccer practice. Playing in 30 degrees I bundled up, putting on my Knight Hawks soccer hoodie. Saturday practice ends, I get into my car and drive home, where my mom was doing laundry in the garage. I say hi and she tells me to never drive with my hood on. I tell her that I am cold and what was the big deal. She says I could pass for a boy with my long curly hair hidden by my hood. I wondered why my mom cared about me looking like a boy. She said I could appear menacing to other drivers on the road. In my ignorance of having grown up in a racially diverse community I didn’t understand the profoundness of her statement. The lessons she gave and the explanations of what she said she’d seen didn’t have examples until Trayvon Martin. Read more

General strike in Brazil

Rui Oliveira, president of the labor union for teachers in public education in Bahia.

On Thursday July 11th Brazil was scheduled for a general strike.  This means that all public services were to be cancelled or reduced, including public transportation, banks, hospitals, and schools.

In Salvador, Bahia at 11am protestors met at a historical place of resistance named Campo Grande.  There were many people representing various struggles with flags, banners, t-shirts, huge balloons, and even buses with speakers.

Rui Oliveira is the president of the labor union for teachers in public education in Bahia named Associação dos Professores Licenciados do Brasil – Secção da Bahia (APLB-BA) and the first secretary for the national confederation.  Oliveira informed that 100,000 public school teachers of Bahia participated in the strike along with the rest of the nation.  He outlined some of the objectives of the teachers’ struggle such as a better retirement plan and a decrease in the number of working hours from 44 to 40 without a decrease in salary.

Oliveira also highlighted other demands such as the democratization of the media and a better transportation system.  He emphasized the importance of solidarity with the other “categories” of struggle to continue fighting for the “povo” or “the people” that will not stand still because the fight is not over.

After about two hours at Campo Grande, the manifestation began to make it’s way onto the streets toward Praça da Sé in the Centro Historico of the city.  Specific streets were previously closed off for the manifestation, and military police marched in front to direct the protesters.  Local police officers were also stationed at multiple points of the route.

Almost halfway through the route, many young people started marching their way to the front of the manifestation.  They wore regular clothes without logos and mostly black, some wore masks and some wore bandanas only showing their eyes.  The flags and banner that they held up were also black and carried the message:  “Tarifa Zero,” translated to “Zero Tariff”, written in white ink.  This crowd was made up of mostly young people and they carried with them a lot of energy. They chanted very creative phrases along the way, commenting on the transportation system and the government.  This was “Movimento Passe Livre.”

Lukas Volca, 18 years old, explains Passe Livre’s objectives: “We are fighting for the fare reduction for seniors, students and unemployed. Of course we are in favor because if it is public transportation then why do we have to to pay?”  Volca then  differentiated this movement from the people marching behind them that were carrying all types of flags, banners, and t-shirts: “we are ‘different’ from these people with political party flags. No doubt that some are being paid/sponsored to also deflect the main movement: Passe Livre.”

However, a friend of Volca and member of Movimento Passe Livre, explained that this does not mean that they are completely against all people carrying flags. Some are fighting for causes that they support, such as education.

The movement in Brazil is as complex as the nation itself.  Thus, it is important to shed light on the many faces and issues that are coming to the surface during this historical movement.

Through Deaf Ears

Samantha Dudley’s Bone Conduction hearing aid circa 1993.

 Imagine waking up solely from the sun beating through your window rather than from the beeping of an alarm clock.  The sunlight indicating for you to get up because, well the suns up and you may have overslept. Imagine going into your kitchen to get yourself a cup of coffee and only seeing yourself get the glass and pour the hot drink. Now imagine yourself sipping your coffee, as the rest of your family comes into the kitchen to start cooking breakfast. It looks like a dance really, figures of people shuffling about with mere skipped feet movements here and there; A body folds to the left with a twirl of their hand pointing where someone should sit, arms graciously taking food to the table and lips moving. Imagine now, not hearing the words coming out of those lips, only the faint sounds of a cabinet door slam or a foot stomping or the vibrations of a chair sliding across the kitchen floor. This ladies and gentlemen is what mornings look like through deaf ears. Read more

Todos Los Ojos Puestos en Brasil


From Brazil, Gentista Michelle Salinas reports on the unrest.

       July 2nd was Independence Day for the state of Bahia in Brazil.  While I did see the traditional parades and festivities, they were accompanied with signs of protests. Brazil has been in great unrest recently and most people think it is just about  the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.  However, this unrest has been growing for some time now with a movement called “Movimento Passe Livre.” This is a movement that began with students who were fed up with the rising fees in public transportation.  They reacted to rising prices by demanding free transportation instead.  This movement gave rise to many other issues in various sectors including health, education, and the political system. Read more