We as citizens of the United States observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. We may endeavor to follow the news accounts of our nation's politics as they unfold, and of the consequences those political actions yield, but we have little power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. Perhaps we write an occasional letter to our senator or representative, but we almost inevitably receive a vague and impersonal response explaining why they will vote in our opposition.

Over the decades, our representative democracy has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. The system that the founding fathers painstakingly devised in order to best serve the interests and the will of the people has been corrupted and the systems of checks and balances on power that they instituted have been stripped away. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change, without any hope of instituting a new system of governance that would instead take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and would empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the places in the world where people are successfully bringing about that type of change in the face of similar odds, where an alternate form of democracy, which is called participatory or direct democracy, is taking root. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

Our system of representative democracy does not admit the voice of the people into congressional halls, the high courts, or the oval office where our rights and our liberties are being sold out from underneath us. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

In places like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, India, and the Phillipines, new experiments in grass roots community based governance are taking place. There is much to be learned from these and other examples of participatory democracy from around the world when we try to examine how this grass-roots based governance could begin to take root here in our own country in order to alter our political system so that it might better serve the American people.

In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Organizing for Mexican Food and Energy Sovereignty

Cooperation of various unions and workers' organizations is a key way to create a united front against the unjust policies of NAFTA and the elitist Mexican government. Increasing collaboration augments the number of people that can work together in demanding food and energy sovereignty in Mexico and around the world. This is an issue that divides the ruling class and the government from the workers and peasants who are directly effected by the policy decisions made without voter consent. In order to demand a voice in the deliberation over NAFTA's renewal a united front of workers and peasants should demonstrate sentiments where we can - on the street and on campuses.

Seattle University students showed their solidarity for the Mexican struggle by demonstrating against a speaking presentation by Trade Commissioner of Mexico in Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest, Sergio Rios. Protesting that the Trade Commissioner presented only the business interests of NAFTA, students handed out informational pamphlets describing the detrimental effects that NAFTA has on Mexican workers and farmers, distributed corn husks with personal stories of economic downfall caused by NAFTA, and dropped banners with powerful slogans. This direct action and the continual demonstrations within Mexico illustrate the popular demand for a change in trade agreements that have caused injustice and poverty for the working class. The participation of people in fighting this issue is gaining momentum as NAFTA will soon be up for renewal and cannot slow if we are to succeed in altering the agreement in favor of workers and farmers.

See the article below for specifics on the participation of Mexican unions, indigenous groups, and farmers coalitions in demonstrations for food and energy sovereignty. - Editor

Mexican Orgs Defend Sovereignty

Mexico, Feb 26 (Prensa Latina) Over 40 Mexican rural and trade organizations inked a pact to defend national food and energy sovereignty Tuesday prior to a meeting with the government.

The document includes revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), rejecting the privatization of the oil industry and repudiating neo-liberal policy.

Also on the list is opposing reforms to penal justice, and public and labor safety currently in debate at the National Congress.
The National Workers' Union, the Mexican Union Front, the Permanent Agrarian Congress, the National Congress for Rural and Fishing Organizations, and rural entities attending the January 31 rally against the NAFTA signed the pact.

Other statements include the defense of social property and agreements on rights and indigenous culture.

Signers expect to defend political interests, the rights of workers and farmers, class unity and boost a public convergence process in a national pact to favor majorities.

Cruz Lopez Aguilar, leader of the National Rural Confederation, said that the meeting with the government will review again the NAFTA and the national agricultural policy.

Max Correa, from the Cardenista Rural Union, and Rafael Galindo, from the Independent Rural Union, stated that the march and April protests were not cancelled and continue to be prepared.

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