Press Release from NYC


 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 17 2001

US ACTIVISTS AMUSED BY "SMUGGLING" ACCUSATION IN TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

CALL FOR DISMANTLING OF ALL NATIONAL BORDERS

ACCUSE OPPONENTS OF BEING ANTI-GLOBALIZATION

New York City Ya Basta! Collective

New York City Direct Action Network

An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail of Thursday March 15 contained odd, unfounded accusations against US activists coming to Canada to protest the Quebec Summit of the Americas this April, claiming they were intending to "smuggle" activists with "criminal records" across the border through native reserves.

Contrary to the article’s claims, there have never been any plans to "smuggle" anyone secretly across the border. Our intentions have been from the beginning entirely above-board; after our meeting several weeks ago with Traditional Mohawks at Akwesasne a report was promptly released through the NYC Independent Media Center (www.nyc.indymedia.org) and the Internet. It is hardly our fault if reporters and police (who we had assumed were monitoring us fairly carefully!) have not bothered to look up these readily available public documents.

Here are the facts:

  • Representatives of New York City Direct Action Network (NYC-DAN), Ya Basta!, the NYC Independent Media Center, the Philadelphia Direct Action Group and the People's Law Collective met with traditional Tyendinaga Mohawks and other Canadian activists earlier this month.
  • The Mohawks announced that they were prepared to open the border at Cornwall on April 19th. They regularly open this border one day of every year as an assertion of sovereignty, since the bridge crossing this border is on Mohawk land.
  • This information has since been taken back to the groups in question and submitted to their own processes of democratic decision-making. So far, NYC-DAN, NYC-Ya Basta!, and other US groups have endorsed the action, and statements are expected soon by other activist groups and by labor unions in Canada and the United States.

WHY IS THIS NECESSARY?

While we have always been open, the FTAA itself has been from the beginning a secret project, created by government and corporate elites with as little input from the public as possible. For this reason, its sponsors have regularly used international borders to prevent representatives of the public from coming anywhere near their meetings. This despite the fact that these protesters are, in their opposition to the treaty, simply expressing the views of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the countries summit delegates claim to represent. During the OAS meetings in Windsor last summer, which laid the groundwork for the FTAA, approximately two out of every three activists who attempted to cross the border from the US were prevented by physical force. In past months, activists trying to attend meetings in Quebec have been turned back at the border, detained and subjected to illegal searches and seizures. We have every reason to believe authorities are intending to use force to prevent environmentalists, union members, and other political dissidents from airing their opposition to the secret negotiations in Quebec City in April.

AGAINST THE STUPIDITY OF BORDERS

The use of international border controls to quash political dissent is yet more proof that the process referred to as "globalization" is in fact nothing of the kind; as well as of the absurdity of calling the vast international movement that has risen to oppose it in the name of global democracy an "anti-globalization movement". It's time to drop the propaganda and speak honestly about these things. If "globalization" were to mean anything, it would mean the gradual dismantling of national borders to allow the free movement of people, possessions, and ideas. Corporate "globalization" has meant the exact opposite: it has meant trapping the poor behind increasingly fortified borders so as to let the rich take advantage of their desperation. The number of armed guards along the US-Mexican border has more than doubled since the signing of NAFTA; refugees and asylum seekers languish like criminals in twenty-three hour lockdown; immigrant communities live in constant terror. We can only expect more of the same if NAFTA is extended to the entire Western Hemisphere.

Instead, Ya Basta! is calling for the abolition of national borders and recognition of a principle of global citizenship. We believe that every human being born on this planet has the right to live where she chooses, and not have her life chances be determined by some random geographical accident of birth. We hold that every human has an equal right to the basic means of existence: air, water, food, shelter, education and health care. We want to see the authority of nation-states gradually dissolve and power devolve onto free communities on the basis of true economic and political democracy; a process that will lead to an outpouring of new forms of wealth and culture that the impoverished minds of the current rulers of the world could not possibly imagine. The Direct Action Network offers its own success as a rapidly growing continental federation, based on principles of direct democracy and decentralized consensus decision-making, as living proof that rulers - and this includes elected "representatives" - are simply unnecessary. Ordinary people are perfectly capable of governing their own affairs on the basis of equality and simple decency.

National borders were created through violence, and are maintained through violence. They are the remnants of a barbarous age that humanity must, if it is to survive, eventually overcome. We refuse to recognize their legitimacy.

FOR THE SELF-DETERMINATION OF COMMUNITIES AND MOHAWK SOVEREIGNTY

We are choosing to travel via Cornwall in order to express our solidarity with the Mohawk Nation and our recognition of its sovereignty over territories it occupied long before the US and Canadian governments even existed. Nothing illustrates the insanity of national borders more than the fact that the same governments that waged genocidal war against the Mohawks now claim the right to determine who can cross from one part of Mohawk territory to another. Our solidarity with our Traditional Mohawk sisters and brothers is rooted in our support for regional autonomy and communal self determination in the face of the arrogant power of the state; but also, our profound respect and admiration for a Nation whose political contributions to the world - the creation of a federative constitution without centralized state power, the collective management of resources, respect for individual autonomy, the role of peacemaking, the political empowerment of women - provide, for many of us, a vision of how a future just society might work far more compelling than the US constitution which was partially inspired by it.

We wish to thank our Mohawk friends for their generous invitation and express our ongoing commitment to furthering their struggle for sovereignty, communal rights, and social justice, just as they have recognized our right, as world citizens, to make our presence known to the politicians who presume to act in our names in Quebec City on April 20-22nd.