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…


Friday, January 25, 2008

Guatemala's New President Has a Plan

Though president Alvaro Colom is the first left-leaning Guatemalan president to be elected in some 50 years, he has not as of yet signed on to the movement towards the institutionalization of participatory democracy in Latin America like his leftist counterparts in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The recently elected Colum has a huge job ahead of him. It will take more than the 100 days of his initial plan to eradicate poverty and insecurity, but this is a good start. While the article below mentions the distribution of funds to cooperatives, he will have to do more than symbolically listen to the people by travelling to the poorest regions in promise of sending money. Allowing the people to participate directly in the process rather that through their municipal officials, and to manage the funds collectively will reduce the risk of corruption within the bureaucratic ranks of the government and thereby instill more confidence in the government, and lend it more credibility. As far as "security" is concerned, he will have to learn from the plights of Salvadorans who currently suffer under the excesses of a brutal police force. Responding to the people without violence will lead to more stability and better governance in the long run. - Editor

New Guatemalan President begins 100-Day Plan

(Source: Global Research, January 19, 2008, Prensa Latina - 2008-01-18)

With the launching of a rural development project and special operations, the new Guatemalan government started a 100-day plan against poverty and insecurity gripping the country.

The program will cost 1.2 billion quetzals (about $158 million) and is a response to the people's most urgent needs and to improve quality of life, President Alvaro Colom stated.

Three days after assuming power, Colom traveled to Ixcan, one of the poorest and most affected zones by the 36-year internal armed conflict, where he announced the delivery of funds to cooperatives for several projects.

The government also predicts the creation of a rural development council, the extension of services like education and health to distant zones, and the concession of resources so poor mothers can send their sons to school.

As for security, over 500 police agents started operations in high crime areas of this capital to eliminate drug and weapon shipments and people trade.

National Police Civil spokesman Faustino Sanchez said that vigilance and detentions are consequences of accusations against citizens dedicated to extortions and assaults to urban buses.

In his inauguration speech Monday, President Colom announced a raging war against the Mafias and organized crime, and promised starting a process of change to a social-democratic government that fights poverty, oriented to those with less opportunities.

No comments: