Triumph and Tragedy: movements for change around the world
Photographs by Anne Petermann
August 7 – September 16, 2015
This exhibit marks the grand re-opening of the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery in its new ground level storefront space in the same building as the previous gallery at 148 Elmwood Avenue in Allentown in Buffalo, NY
Petermann, a life long activist, is the Executive Director for Global Justice Ecology Project, and the photographs in the exhibit documented struggles Petermann and GJEP were directly involved in or supported. These included community efforts to reclaim land and food sovereignty in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Kenya, and Indonesia. They also included domestic efforts against the World Bank, the Republican National Convention in 2004; and a massive march in support of women’s rights.
The mission of Global Justice Ecology Project is to explore and expose the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction, and economic domination.
Triumph and Tragedy showcases the efforts of social movements, activists and organizations around the globe to stop social and ecological devastation and rebuild a just world.
REDD Protest, UN Climate Conference, Bali, Indonesia, 2007
This protest took place outside of the official World Bank press conference announcing the UN REDD Program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. At that time, Indonesia was the 3rd largest emitter of carbon in the world due to the burning of primeval peat forests for palm oil expansion.
Indigenous Peoples and their allies were protesting REDD due to the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from the negotiations around REDD. Studies have shown that the most biologically intact lands on the planet are those maintained by Indigenous Peoples and other communities that depend on the forests. REDD targets these lands because they are so rich. The communities are forcibly evicted in order to supposedly “protect” the carbon stored in these rich forests, which becomes a valuable commodity to be traded on the carbon market.
Benoit Bosquet, Coordinator of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, at the World Bank Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, September, 2011
Palm oil companies in Indonesia use the UN’s REDD Program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) to enable them to expand palm oil plantations into Indonesia’s primeval peat forests under the guise of “forest conservation.” These forests are home to Indigenous Peoples and unique species like orangutans. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is the World Bank’s contribution to REDD. It enables forested countries like Indonesia to participate in REDD projects.
At the Fall 2011 meetings of the World Bank, Benoit Bosquet, defended the bank’s role in “forest conservation” in Indonesia, which includes funding for the military through financing for REDD-type projects. The communities that live in the forests–some of them Indigenous to the area, some of them relocated there in the 80s–are being invaded by heavily armed forest rangers, paramilitaries and police; and are forced to leave at gunpoint while their homes are burned to the ground.
Terminator Technology: Victory over Monsanto
Protest Against Terminator Technology, Curitiba, Brazil, 2006
Terminator Technology involves genetically engineering plants to produce sterile seeds at harvest. It was developed by both multinational seed/agrochemical companies and the US government to prevent farmers from re-planting harvested seed and force them to buy seed each season. In 2006, Monsanto took over Terminator Technology. Due to global resistance, Terminator seeds, known also as “suicide seeds” have never been field-tested or commercialized.
In 2004 a de facto moratorium against Terminator Technology was passed due to its many unknowns and potential risks. This moratorium was upheld in a major battle led by La Via Campesina at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Curitiba, Brazil in 2006 and has been maintained ever since.
At that time, La Via Campesina called it “a victory for peasant women and men, Indigenous people, youth, NGOs, environmental groups and other civil society organizations that have been campaigning for years against the multinational corporations with patents on suicide seeds (such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, etc).”
Woman at MST Encampment, Espirito Santo, Brazil, 2005
Brazil’s Landless Worker’s Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra or MST) emerged from the struggles for land of rural workers in southern Brazil at the end of the 1970s during the military dictatorship. Land concentration, the expulsion of the poor from rural areas, the modernization of agriculture and a mass exodus to the cities were reaching crisis proportions.
On October 7, 1979, landless farmers from the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso, São Paulo and other southern states carried out land occupations. Brazilian society supported these actions and the landless occupations became part of the push for democracy throughout the country.
Following these struggles, the MST was founded in 1984, during the first Meeting of the Landless Rural Workers in Cascavel, Paraná. The next year, the MST officially organized itself at the national level at the first National Congress of the Landless.
The MST continues to organize, occupying land considered idle and establishing their signature black plastic encampments for landless residents, eventually to become permanent settlements.
In 2005 the MST joined the fight against ecologically disastrous non-native eucalyptus tree plantations taking over the countryside and forests of Brazil. In this encampment in the state of Espirito Santo, the MST took over eucalyptus plantations owned by Aracruz Cellulose, cut down the trees and used them to establish an encampment which they named Galdino dos Santos, after an Indigenous Chief murdered two years earlier.
Debarking machine (above) and Pulp mill (below), Bahia, Brazil, 2011
Eucalyptus plantations in Brazil have replaced vast swaths of land and forest in Brazil, and Brazil leads the world in production of paper pulp. The Mata Atlantica rainforest has been severely fragmented by eucalyptus plantations. These non-native plantations are known as “Green Deserts” because native wildlife and rural communities cannot use them and nothing grows in them. The MST, La Via Campesina and other social movements in Brazil formed the “Green Deserts Movement” to fight the further expansion of eucalyptus plantations.
Bahia, Brazil, 2011
Espirito Santo, Brazil, November 2005
Tupinikim and Guaraní peoples cut down a plantation of eucalyptus trees owned by Aracruz Celulose to rebuild this village in its traditional location. The village had been forcibly removed to make room for the plantation under Brazil’s military dictatorship that took power in 1964 until 1985. In January 2006, the Brazilian government used equipment owned by Aracruz Celulose to raze and burn the village and chase the residents out of the area, shooting them with rubber bullets and wooden dowels from a helicopter. The following September, the Indigenous residents returned and rebuilt the village in the same location.
Will Miller Lecture Series, Burlington, Vermont, April 2007
John Ross (1938-2011) was a well-known journalist and author who specialized in covering politics in Mexico. Since its earliest hour, Ross covered the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico breaking the story of the impending uprising weeks before it occurred, later writing four volumes chronicling this unique indigenous movement.
Born in Greenwich Village, Ross grew up surrounded by jazz, abstract expressionist painting, radical politics, and Beat poetry. At 18, Ross became involved in the Beat Generation, reading his poetry in Greenwich Village bars with the great bass player Charles Mingus.
In 1957, Ross hit the road following the Beat trail that Burroughs and Kerouac and Ginsberg had blazed to Mexico City. He moved to the indigenous community Meseta Purepecha in the state of Michoacan, where he built a home, and sat down to write the Great American Novel.
Six years later when Ross returned to the United States, he was nabbed by the FBI and incarcerated at Terminal Island federal penitentiary in San Pedro California for refusal to report for induction in the U.S. Army, the first resister to be jailed for refusing service in Vietnam.
During the 1960s, Ross organized tenants, built anti-racist coalitions, and did civil disobedience against the war – for which he was regularly beaten and jailed in San Francisco. One of these beatings cost him most of his sight.
Following the September 1985 8.2 earthquake in Mexico City, Ross returned, moving into the Centro Historico, the ancient Aztec island of Tenochtitlan, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Ross wrote numerous books including ten chapbooks of poetry.
Dennis Brutus & Commandante Tacho
Protest against the World Bank, Washington, DC, April 2004
Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a South African Anti-Apartheid activist and poet and a lead organizer to desegregate sports in South Africa. His successful work on the international sports boycott of Apartheid South Africa led to the country’s exclusion from the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games.
By 1961 he was banned from teaching, writing, speaking in public or attending meetings. He broke this ban to attend the 1963 Baden-Baden meeting of the Int’l Olympic Committee. He was arrested and when he tried to escape in Johannesburg, a policeman shot him in the back. It was 30 minutes before the segregated ambulance arrived.
He was sentenced to 18 months of hard labor on Robbin Island, where his cell was near that of Nelson Mandela.
He went on to teach African Studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh. He was also a renowned poet, publishing several volumes of poetry. He was an outspoken critic against the World Bank and neoliberalism.
Comandante Tacho, Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Chiapas, Mexico.
The Zapatistas rose up on New Year’s Day, 1994 in protest of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which they condemned as a death sentence to the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.
Memorial for Dave Dellinger, 2004
Bread and Puppet Theater Perform at Memorial in Vermont
Dave Dellinger (1915-2004) became notorious as one of the Chicago Seven. He and seven others including Abbie Hoffman were arrested for inciting a riot and conspiracy following a violent police riot outside of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Dellinger and his co-defendants turned their trial into a circus and used it to put the Vietnam War on trial.
A long time peace advocate, Dellinger drove an ambulance during the Spanish Civil War, and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector and anti-war agitator during World War II.
In 1996, during the first Democratic Convention held in Chicago since 1968, Dellinger, his grandson, Abbie Hoffman‘s son Andrew and seven others were arrested during a sit-in at Chicago’s Federal Building.
In 2001, Dellinger led young activists from Montpelier, Vermont, to Quebec City, to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a free trade zone meant to expand the socially and ecologically destructive impacts of NAFTA all the way from Canada to Chile. Dellinger died in 2004.
The Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. It addressed issues including rents, rats, police, and other problems. During the Vietnam War, Bread and puppet staged block-long processions and pageants involving hundreds of people.
In 1974 Bread and Puppet moved to a farm in Glover in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
“We give you a piece of bread with the puppet show because our bread and theater belong together. For a long time the theater arts have been separated from the stomach. Theater was entertainment. Entertainment was meant for the skin.
We have two types of puppet shows: good ones and bad ones, but all of them are for good and against evil. ” -Peter Schumann
NO GE Trees
Genetically Engineered Trees Boat Action, Charleston (SC) Harbor, October, 2006
Global Justice Ecology Project and Katuah Earth First! organized this protest of an industry conference promoting tree plantations and GE trees in the Southern US. The conference took place in Charleston, SC. The action happened when the conference participants took a ferry to tour Fort Sumter.
South Carolina-headquartered GE tree company ArborGen would like to bring the disaster of eucalyptus plantations to the US. Because eucalyptus trees cannot survive freezing temperatures, ArborGen has genetically engineered them to be cold tolerant.
If given government permission, ArborGen plans to grow GE eucalyptus across seven southern US states, from South Carolina to Texas. ArborGen and other GE tree advocates argue that because GE trees grow faster, they would store more carbon and help mitigate climate change. Studies, however, have proven that forests store up to four times the carbon of tree plantations. Contamination of native forests with GE tree pollen and seeds would threaten the health of existing forests, which would in turn contribute to climate change. For more on the dangers of GE trees visit nogetrees.org
UN Climate Conference, Durban, South Africa, 2011
In the midst of the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping the US, youth delegates at the UN Climate Conference in Durban took over and occupied the hallway outside of the plenary room where the world’s governments were negotiating the fate of the planet and once again refusing to take meaningful action to stop climate change.
The youth occupied the hallway for hours until UN security finally moved in and removed everyone, taking their badges and evicting them from the UN grounds.
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, speaks at a workshop against REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) at the UN+20 Conference, Rio de Janeiro, June 2012.
Indigenous Peoples have been opposing REDD since its official launch at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. REDD involves states and corporations taking control of forested lands–usually lands occupied by Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities–and “protecting” the carbon they store, as a climate mitigation strategy.
REDD often results in communities being evicted from the lands they have protected, while the rights to the carbon on that land is sold to multinational corporations, who then use that stored carbon to “offset” their CO2 emissions, so they do not have to make genuine emissions cuts. REDD is widely denounced as a social and ecological disaster.
Indigenous Environmental Network has been at the leading edge of efforts to stop REDD from the very beginning.
Reclaim Power Protest, UN Climate Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009
Nicknamed “Hopenhagen,” the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen was hailed by corporations and the media as the place where the governments of the world would take the next critical steps to save the world from climate change. They were allegedly to develop the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement that was set to expire in 2012.
In response, organizations, activists and Indigenous Peoples from around the world mobilized for almost two years before the climate conference to create a unified action there–the Reclaim Power march out. Indigenous Peoples led the march out, which also included many NGO observers and some UN delegates. Hundreds marched out of the talks in protest of the lack of useful action happening inside. They were to meet protesters marching toward the talks for a Peoples’ Assembly in the middle that would discuss real effective actions to stop climate change
The Danish Police collaborated with UN security to pre-emptively arrest organizers of the protest, and attacked UN observers and protesters both on the UN grounds and on the outside. Some organizers were charged with terrorism.
It has been six years since “Hopenhagen” and there is still no meaningful global action to address climate change.
Camel’s Hump, Vermont
(above and below)
By 1860, deforestation in Vermont peaked as the state lost 80% of its forest cover. Many species disappeared during this time. By 1860 the state had lost its beaver, otter, moose, deer, bear and catamount (eastern mountain lion). Other species, such as elk, caribou and wolverines would be lost forever.
By the mid-1950s most of Vermont’s forests had been left alone to rejenerate and today the state is 80% forested. Moose, deer and beaver have made a tremendous resurgence, and the population of black bears is rapidly growing as well. Catamounts are occasionally sighted and otters are not uncommon to find in Vermont lakes and rivers.
Camel’s Hump, Vermont
Abandoned US Navy Tank
Flamingo Beach, Culebra, April 2012
This US Navy tank was abandoned on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra after protests beginning in 1971 forced the navy to cease practice bombing and gunnery operations on the island in 1975.
The tank stands at the end of Flamingo Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean as a symbol of the peoples’ victory.
The navy continued its military operations on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and in 1999, protests re-ignited there when the navy accidentally bombed and killed a civilian named David Sanes Rodriguez. The protests ultimately led to the U.S. military ending the use of the island in 2003.
The people continue their campaign to force the navy to clean up the toxic waste and left over ordinance that remains on the islands.
New York Public Library, Republican National Convention, September 2004
New York City police responded aggressively to the constant protests during the Republican National Convention there. In response to an anti-war banner hung on the fence of the New York Public Library, police arrested anyone sitting on the library’s patio, including this young woman who was using her computer (below).
New York Public Library, Republican National Convention, September 2004
Anti-War Protest, Republican National Convention, Manhattan, September 2004
Anti-war protesters swarmed New York during the Republican National Convention, which took place in Manhattan during the anniversary of 9/11. Outraged New Yorkers joined many of the demonstrations in protest of this opportunistic use of the 9/11 tragedy for political gain.
March for Women’s Lives, Washington, DC, April 2004.
In response to the Bush regime’s incessant attacks on women’s health, during the 2004 election year, an estimated 750,000 to one million women marched in Washington DC in support of women’s rights and the right to choose.
World Bank Annual Meeting Protest, Washington, DC, April 2004
The World Bank has long been protested at its spring and fall meetings in Washington, DC due to its socially and ecologically disastrous policies. It is best known for making development loans to poor countries and forcing them to implement austerity programs to pay back the loans and their skyrocketing interest. These austerity programs can include privatizing the country’s water and electricity, eliminating public health care programs, and selling off natural resources like forests to the lowest corporate bidder.
Water Privatization Protest, World Bank Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, April 2004
Virginia Setshedi, a South African feminist activist has long been a leader there in the fight against privatization of electricity. Electricity privatization threatened to greatly escalate the cost of power, putting it out of many people’s reach. The privatization of electricity in South Africa was connected to the huge World Bank debt load inherited by Nelson Mandela’s ANC (African National Congress) government.
“In every struggle, women are affected. Every struggle is a woman’s struggle”
Daughters of Mũmbi Educational Event outside Nairobi, 2006
The Daughters of Mũmbi Global Resource Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-ethnic network inspired by values drawn from four meanings of Mũmbi in the Gĩkũyũ language and culture:
Creator – connecting to the environment which must ‘include human beings as a species worth saving’;
Clan – pledging to build united, just, & caring communities and relationships at all levels;
First Mother – honoring women’s roles in anchoring family & community and linking to our respective diverse cultural roots; and
Potter – recognizing dignity in the work of our hands, especially women’s work and creativity.
Most of the women who are part of the Daughters of Mumbi network are the main providers for their families and toil to provide food, shelter, education, health care, as well as water, fuel wood, and lighting. A majority of members are low-income and/or low-wage workers who do subsistence farming or own small village-level businesses and struggle on a daily basis to meet these basic rights. Most of them live in rural or peri-urban areas and have limited access to land, and we teach the use of garden bags as an effort to alleviate the dependency on the cash economy for every meal.
Sappi Pulp Mill, South Africa
These boys were on their way home from school past the largest and most polluting pulp mill in South Africa, owned by the Sappi Corporation. As boys will do, they saw my camera and posed.
Opening night photos can be found here
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