Zapatista-Inspired Rally Held in New York City; Aims to Fight Gentrification

March 4, 2010 9:39 am 1 comment

Encuentro

NEW YORK — Over 120 people and 40 organizations participated in the Third Encounter for Dignity and Against Gentrification hosted by the Movement for Justice in el Barrio this past Sunday in East Harlem, New York. The meeting, referred to by the Spanish term encuentro, brought together activists from places as far as California, Puerto Rico, and Maryland.

“The objective of this third encuentro was to connect our struggle. Our struggle doesn’t have boundaries,” said Filiberto Hernandez, a member of the Movement for Justice in el Barrio.

During the five-hour-long encuentro, members of different organizations spoke about the ongoing struggles in their communities. Members of the South African Shack Dwellers or Abahlali Movement were present via video conference and discussed displacement in Africa caused by the South African government’s initiative to clear out the country’s slums by 2014.

Other speakers included Tom Demott who spoke on behalf of the Coalition to Preserve our Community. He discussed successful community efforts to curtail the multibillion dollar expansion plan of Columbia University. Such expansion would result in the displacement of over 5,000 tenants, according to Nellie Hester Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council.

A New York appeals court voted in a three-to-two decision to not allow the state to use eminent domain to help Columbia obtain the land in Upper Manhattan. However Columbia plans to appeal the decision.

Bailey emphasized the importance of showing support for social causes, critical thinking, and offering financial support when possible. A representative from Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors emphasized the need to think about how to prepare residents to use venues available to them to speak out.

“We don’t have money, what we have is people,” he said.

The practice of the encuentro was inspired by the contemporary Zapatista Army of National Liberation movement in Mexico and this grassroots model is based on bringing together social activists dedicated to fighting similar struggles. The Movement described their encuentros as a way to “get to know and recognize one another in our struggles for a world where many worlds fit and against neoliberal exclusion,” according to an article published in the Movement’s newspaper.

The Movement for Justice in el Barrio was formed in 2004 in response to gentrification in East Harlem and, more specifically, the use of illegal tactics commonly employed by landlords to pressure their tenants to vacate housing. “There are city laws that don’t allow tenants to be evicted over night so the landlords use tactics that put the health of the tenants at risk,” said Oscar Dominguez, a member of the Movement for Justice in el Barrio, during an interview with Radio Zapatista.

The Movement for Justice in el Barrio fights against these illegal tactics by mobilizing tenants, organizing protests, filing legal suits, or working with the bank that owns the building’s mortgage, according to Dominguez.

The two dominant themes that arose during the encuentro were collaboration across borders in the battle against gentrification and the question of where the struggle should go next.

“We shared our struggles, our experiences. What people were asking was what are we going to do? How can we support each other? This question wasn’t there before,” said Dominguez.

Photo by Cesar Toscano.

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • Blog Paraguay Southern Cone Today in Latin America German Couple Kidnapped, Shot Dead in Paraguay; Guerrilla Group Suspected

    German Couple Kidnapped, Shot Dead in Paraguay; Guerrilla Group Suspected

    A German couple who had been working as farmers in Paraguay for 30 years were found dead on Thursday, and authorities are blaming members of an elusive guerrilla group that threatened the owner of a neighboring farm just one week prior. Roberto Natto, 60, and Erika Reiser, 53, were abducted on Wednesday, along with four of the couples’ employees, from their ranch 395 kilometers (245 miles) north of Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital. Natto and Reiser were killed around midnight, according to […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico News Briefs North America Two Confirmed Dead as Latest News on Mexican Maternity Ward Explosion Emerges

    Two Confirmed Dead as Latest News on Mexican Maternity Ward Explosion Emerges

    An explosion caused by a gas leak at a Mexico City maternity and children’s hospital killed two people and injured dozens more, according to the Borough Chief of Cuajimalpa, where the hospital is located. Borough Chief Adrián Rubalcava confirmed the two deaths on Twitter, rejecting previous reports that seven had been confirmed dead. “The previously reported figure of seven corresponds to individuals transferred to hospitals who are in critical condition,” Rubalcava wrote in Spanish, “and alive.” Dozens of women and […]

    Read more →
  • Blog Caribbean Cuba North America Today in Latin America United States Cuban President: Return of Guantanamo Bay Needed to Normalize Relations

    Cuban President: Return of Guantanamo Bay Needed to Normalize Relations

    Top Story — The United States must return the Guantanamo Bay naval base to Cuba, lift the half-century embargo completely and remunerate Cuba for the embargo’s economic damages before both countries can move forward in restoring diplomatic relations, Cuban President Raúl Castro said on Wednesday. President Castro’s remarks, made during a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in Costa Rica, are the latest in an increasing list of demands made on the United States, which some fear may […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican Attorney General Officially Declares 43 Missing Students Dead

    Mexican Attorney General Officially Declares 43 Missing Students Dead

    Top Story — Evidence in the case of the 43 students missing from Iguala, Mexico, since Sept. 26 conclusively proves that they are dead, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced on Tuesday. Murillo Karam’s statement is unlikely to quash suspicions held by the students’ relatives, many of whom suspect that the federal government is seeking a quick solution to the mystery of the students’ disappearance. “The evidence allows us to determine that the students were kidnapped, killed, burned and thrown […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba Today in Latin America After Long Silence, Fidel Castro Cautiously Backs Negotiations With U.S.

    After Long Silence, Fidel Castro Cautiously Backs Negotiations With U.S.

    Top Story — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro broke over a month of silence on Monday by writing a letter expressing cautious praise of Cuba’s recent negotiations with the U.S seeking to normalize diplomatic relations. “I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” Castro wrote in a letter that was read at the University of Havana and published […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico News Briefs North America Missing Mexican Journalist Found Dead, Mayor Accused of Orchestrating His Death

    Missing Mexican Journalist Found Dead, Mayor Accused of Orchestrating His Death

    The body of Veracruz journalist José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, missing since Jan. 2, has been found on the outskirts of Medellín de Bravo, Mexico, state prosecutor Luís Angel Bravo announced on Sunday. A former police officer confessed to participating in the murder, according to Bravo, at the behest of Medellín de Bravo Mayor Omar Cruz Reyes. Former police officer Clemente Noé Rodríguez Martínez confessed that he and five accomplices killed Sánchez Cerezo. The men allegedly beheaded the journalist and disposed […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Amid Renewed Protests, Venezuela Blocks Politicians’ Visit to Imprisoned Opposition Leader

    Amid Renewed Protests, Venezuela Blocks Politicians’ Visit to Imprisoned Opposition Leader

    Top Story — As the Venezuelan opposition attempts to revive protests of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration, the former presidents of Colombia and Chile were blocked from visiting opposition leader Leopoldo López in Venezuela’s Ramo Verde prison on Sunday. López has been under arrest for almost a year over his role in anti-government protests last spring. Sebastián Piñera, the former president of Chile, and Andrés Pastrana, the former president of Colombia spoke to reporters outside Ramo Verde prison after being denied […]

    Read more →
  • Today in Latin America Great Reads This Week

    Great Reads This Week

    Aiming to Create a Jazz Capital Melena Ryzik. The New York Times. January 18, 2015. Danilo Pérez, a Panamanian jazz pianist and founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, is a towering figure in the world of jazz — a genre of music not quite as popular in the region as in the U.S. or Europe. As a teacher and mentor, he is a tireless promoter of musicianship in his home country. Here, reporter Melena Ryzik explores his highly influential jazz […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba North America Today in Latin America United States Cuba, U.S. Agree on Diplomacy, Clash Over Human Rights During Historic Talks

    Cuba, U.S. Agree on Diplomacy, Clash Over Human Rights During Historic Talks

    Top Story — High-level talks between U.S. and Cuban delegates in Havana ended with both sides agreeing to move forward with plans to restore diplomatic ties and to reconvene ahead of April’s Summit of the Americas, when both countries’ presidents are set to meet. While the two days meetings were largely cordial, representatives of both countries clashed over human rights issues — with Cuba countering remarks about its humanitarian record with references to recent killings of unarmed black men by […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico News Briefs North America Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Has Had A Horrible Year

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Has Had A Horrible Year

    In the year since TIME magazine billed him as the savior of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has watched his public image unravel. This time last year, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was riding a wave of international adulation—one that symbolically peaked when he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine as the man poised to steer the country in the right direction. He had ostensibly reformed the country’s public-education system, raised taxes on the rich (as well as on […]

    Read more →