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In spring of 1994 i read a newspaper article my sister wrote in La Voz de Berkeley, it was my introduction to the Zapatista movement. It had a picture of Comandante Ramona, who on January 1st, 1994 led the Zapatistas take over of San Cristobal de las Casas and was one of the top leaders of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee until her death in 2006 due to kidney failure. I used the photo from the newspaper article for this print and incorporated the lyrics "Todos Somos Ramona" from a song by Quetzal.
I was very inspired by her role in the EZLN as a top leader, for me she demonstrated what I had learned as an organizer, that as people we had to share leadership between women and men. This structure for us was something we felt was important to do in fighting issues of patriarchy in the work we did in the Bay, to see how this was put into effect in an indigenous revolution was a breath of fresh air. This was the same for all that the Zapatistas represented as a group of indigenous people who were resisting the onslaught of globalization in their communities and told us we should do the same in our community. As Xican@s I saw how inspired we were by the Zapatista struggle and the effect it had on our communities to educate ourselves about globalization and neoliberalism.
For me the Zapatistas were proof that the idea of revolution was not something relegated to the past, but that people around the world were organizing against the policies of neoliberalization and the governments that were putting them into motion. Their work has been a very big inspiration to me over the years, I have made several posters about the Zapatistas, but this has been my favorite piece.
Design by Karmen Ramírez Boscán
Recently, I was invited to participate in a Transnational Feminist Exchange hosted by the Global Fund for Women and Mills College. There were twenty-five women who participated, the majority of the women were from places all around the world, outside of the U.S. with only a handful of us acting as local reps. It was such a wonderful learning experience. I felt incredibly grateful to be a part of the exchange because as a political artist so much of my work is influenced by the relationships I have with the leaders who are working to make change locally in their communities as well as globally to benefit the world.
We discussed the struggles of balancing the needs of women and communities at the local community level with the major battles against corporate and state power.
Wayúu Women's Power
One of the compañeras that I met during this exchange works with the Cabildo Wayúu Nóüna de Campamento (Wayúu Women's Power) in Colombia. The Wayúu tribe is located in the peninsula of northern Colombia. The Wayúu population is the largest indigenous group in Colombia and comprises more than 500 thousand people.
This compañera Karmen Ramírez, delegate of the Wayuu and general secretary of the Cabildo Wayúu Nouna Camp, has denounced the situation in which indigenous peoples are found in Colombia, representing nearly 4% of the population, and has called for greater care and protection by international political authorities. The Cabildo note that while the Colombian government spends 67 percent of its budget on military operations to promote so-called “security,” it is either incapable or unwilling to stem the cycle of atrocities destroying indigenous communities.
Indigenous lands in Colombia are being shaken by global industries whose corporate greed is only motivated by economic gain. Coal mining, oil and gas are the main target of many mega projects that are taking place in La Guajira "by deception and without consulting them."
El Cerrejón Coal shakes indigenous lands in Wayuu territory
Currently, one of the major corporations terrorizing the Wayuu is the El Cerrejón Coal Company which operates the world's largest open-pit coal mine. It is located in the Guajira department, in the North-East of Colombia. The El Cerrejón company is owned by BHP Billiton (Australia), Anglo American (United Kingdom), and Xstrata (Switzerland).
According to a Human Rights report “Over the past four decades, Colombia has faced a dire social, political and armed conflict. In this context, it has to be noted that the numerous transnational corporations operating inside Colombia are somehow involved in the conflict, collaborating with public and private security forces, including paramilitary groups, who despite their alleged demobilization, continue to kill and threaten human rights defenders. Transnational corporations are not only abetting human rights violations, they also boost corruption. Failing to respect national and international legislation, these corporations, weaken the rule of law.”
“When the El Cerrejón mine began to operate in 1983, constantly expanding ever since, a process of forced displacements of the indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian communities in the region was triggered. The Wayuu have been present in this region for over 3, 000 years, while Afro-Colombian presence goes back some two hundred years.”
Because the only giants are the Wayúu/ Los Indigenas
Currently, El Cerrejón is advancing an ad campaign where a small boy describes his father’s workplace and how he has to shrink down to miniature size with his co-workers so they can work in the land of magical giants that extracts “magical stones full of power” (coal). The Cabildo Wayúu Nóüna de Campamento launched a counter campaign using the same framework of “giants” but flipping the ideology of free market fundamentalism on its head and centering indigenous communities, the women who lead them and mother earth, as the powerful forces in the otherwise twisted narrative. A snapshot of their graphics campaign is included above. It depicts a Wayúu woman who represents mother earth as the real giant in our lives. The center that we should prioritize.You can learn more about their work at their website: http://notiwayuu.blogspot.com/
You can view a video of the work that The Cabildo Wayúu Nóüna de Campamento created that includes the commercial from El Cerrejon-
In September of 2009 we collaborated with Mujeres Activas y Unidas (MUA) to create a poster for the National Domestic Worker Congress, an event organized by National Domestic Workers Alliance. We loved the poster developed for the conference and were honored to be part of such a historic event that drew organizers from throughout the country and the world.
Last year while we attended the US Social Forum we heard news of the passing of a "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights" in Albany New York, which made New York the first state to recognize the rights of Domestic Workers. Inspired by this victory women in California have launched their own campaign for a California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We have been very proud that they continue to use our image for their organizing materials and we hope the the bill will pass in California and make it the second state to recognize the rights of Domestic Workers and inspire others to do the same in their state.
To find out more about the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights click here.
To read about National Domestic Workers’ Day in Los Angeles click here.
Though many of the "show me your papers" bills, emulating Arizona's SB 1070, that have popped up in states all over the country are being killed before they make it to law there are still several states that could pass laws before the legislative sessions are over.
Despite the fact that some states have defeated these proposals there are still states facing climates of hate and racism. This design is one I created with the input of leaders from a grassroots organization that works in Tucson, Arizona where their members are taking a stand and rejecting racist, unjust policies like SB1070 as well as HB2281 which bans ethnic studies being taught in public schools.
There was such a positive response to this graphic that I decided to create a digital print of it and make the art available to more people. My hope is that it reflects a position that rejects all forms of racism and affirms the people who are racially profiled and who are the targets of these policies that are intent on dehumanizing us.
11" x 17" 1-Color, Digital Print , Matte Cover Paper, Printed by Inkworks Press in Berkeley, CA 2011$10 prints available CLICK HERE TO ORDER
April 9th and 10th we will be tabeling, selling artwork, at the annual Anarchist book fair in San Francisco. The book fair is officially open from 10am-5pm on both days. We will be there with Justseeds, the artist co-op we are worker-owners of (there are a total of 25 of us). We encourage folks to come by and check out the artwork.
SF County Fair Building
Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way
Golden Gate Park
Walking: You can reach the fair on foot in 10 – 30 minutes from many locations in the Upper Haight, Cole Valley, Richmond or Inner Sunset districts.
Bicycle: Valet bike parking will be provided (more info later)
Bus/Metro: The N-Judah metro line stops at Irving Street and 9th Avenue, a little over 1 block from the County Fair Building (from the N stop, walk north on 9th Avenue 1 block and into the park). Muni offers convenient connections to the park from transit stops throughout the city. See also the Muni system map
Parking: Music Concourse Garage: Access to the north entrance of the Music Concourse Parking is from Fulton St @ 10th Avenue. Assess to the south entrance is at Concourse Dr. & Martin Luther King Dr, inside the park. (Garage is not 24 hours–check times.) There’s also quite a bit of time-limited parking along MLK Jr. Drive and side streets within the park.
More info: During some weekend daytime hours, JFK Drive is closed to cars from Stanyan to Park Presidio. The main entrance to the Strybing Botanical Gardens & Arboretum is on South Dr. right next door to the County Fair Building. Their webpage provides some detailed driving directions and parking options.
More about Justseeds:
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a decentralized network of 26 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Justseeds operates both as a unified collaboration of similarly minded printmakers and as a loose collection of creative individuals with unique viewpoints and working methods. We believe in the transformative power of personal expression in concert with collective action. To this end, we produce collective portfolios, contribute graphics to grassroots struggles for justice, work collaboratively both in- and outside the co-op, build large sculptural installations in galleries, and wheatpaste on the streets – all while offering each other daily support as allies and friends.
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