Dawn Paley

Pre-Order Drug War Capitalism Today!

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 29/10/2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.12.40 AMDrug War Capitalism, my first book, has finally gone to the printers. You can pre-order a copy today from AK Press for 25% off the regular price.

I’m in the process of confirming dates for a west coast tour in November and an east coast tour in December. As soon as things firm up a bit, I will post dates here.

I wrote an update a little while back about events in Guerrero regarding the 43 students who remain disappeared in a state crime that has shaken (and continues to shake) Mexico. There is a need for funds to support families of the 43 young men as well as students of the Ayotzinapa school, if you are able to donate, you can do so here.

Thanks for your support and expect a new update very soon.

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Cops and Paramilitaries Tortured, Burned, Massacred Mexico Students

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 07/10/2014

It appears that a mass grave found near Iguala, Guerrero, over the weekend which is said to contain up to 34 bodies, contains the remains of at least some of the 43 students who were kidnapped by police on Friday.

The students were rural youth studying to become teachers. Their student association is known to be one of the most organized and combative in the country. They were brothers, sons, and friends, and some of them were fathers. They were tortured, dismembered and burned before being buried.

This isn’t the first grave of it’s kind to be dug in Mexico, far from it.

There have been hundreds of clandestine mass graves dug and filled with corpses since Felipe Calderón declared the war on drugs in December, 2006. The discovery of some of these graves garnered international attention, while others went under the radar almost completely. There’s no solid, reliable count of bodies, or of graves. Then there are those which have yet to be discovered. Migrant activists go so far as to call Mexico a giant cemetary, claiming that as many as 120,000 migrants could be secretly buried across the country.

The US media is struggling to tell the story of the bad Guerrero police who passed detained students off to crime gangs. The first thing we can do to break the silence about what is happening in Mexico is call things by their name.

The killers in Iguala were not drug gangs. They were cops and paramilitaries. Paramilitaries are non-state armed groups who work with state forces. There can be no clearer example of the horrors of state and paramilitary violence than what has happened to these students.

Parts of Mexico are deeply paramilitarized, a process which was accelerated and fortified by the Merida Initiative as well as internationally sponsored police professionalization programs.

I’m a grad student in Mexico, and in talking with my peers over the past couple days, the fear and the rage is tangible. On Wednesday students around the country will bravely march against this barbarity, this terror at the hands of the state. The worst thing we can do is to be silent about this.

Originally posted to The Media Co-op.

43 Students Still Disappeared in Mexico as Marches Commemorate 1968 Massacre

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 02/10/2014

The disappearance of 57 students on Friday last week by municipal police in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, is in my view easily one of the most scandalous events that has taken place in Mexico over the past seven years. It’s so awful it’s hard to think about.

What started out as a student protest on Friday turned ugly when cops opened fire multiple times, killing six people and wounding 25. They then detained 57, and when I say “detained” I mean kidnapped. Anarchists denounce police kidnappings all the time at protests, well, this case is a worst case scenario as far as these things go. Fourteen of students have since been returned to safety. That means there are still 43 missing students, all young folks from a rural area in Guerrero state who were in a teacher training program. They are no longer officially in police custody, if they’re still alive they are likely to be in the hands of drug cartels (which are inseparable from the police).

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Every hour that goes by and we don’t find them, the possibilities that we will find them alive get smaller,” said Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer for a local human rights group. Mr. Rosales said hopes had faded that the missing students have been hiding at the homes of friends following the protests.  “The most common hypothesis is that they are in the power of organized crime groups that work with Iguala’s municipal police, which is very penetrated by organized crime,” he said.

Twenty two cops have since been arrested in connection with killings. But that’s a weak, media friendly band-aid solution, and does nothing to bring back the 43 missing students.

The President of Mexico cancelled a visit to the state that had been planned for the weekend, blaming weather. Yeah, right. In terms of the situation with the students, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported “Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the state government had to take responsibility for the violence in the region as it was not the job of the federal authorities.

Mr. President, 43 disappeared students, grabbed by cops and handed off to drug gangs/cartels/paramilitary groups is everybody’s business.

This is a national fucking emergency, and a tragic disgrace. It is taking place 46 years after Mexican pigs massacred at least 36 students at Tlatelolco in the lead up to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

There’s thousands of students throughout the country protesting in the streets today, acts which in this context we must understand as being incredibly brazen and brave. All power to the people in the streets.

#BringBackLosNormalistas #El2deoctubrenoseolvide #FTP

Originally posted on the Media Co-op.

In Venezuela, Street Protests Harper Can Get Behind

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 28/03/2014

Hello friends. For the record, my thoughts on events in Venezuela. Published by The Tyee.

In Venezuela, Street Protests Harper Can Get Behind

As the political situation continues to simmer in Venezuela, Canada has been making quiet gestures of support towards the country’s opposition movement.

Since February, the Venezuelan right has taken to the streets, attempting to undermine the democratically elected socialist government.

The street demonstrations came while an initiative of economic sabotage against the government was underway, including the hoarding and smuggling of basic foodstuffs and a smear campaign in local media.

Voices of reason warn that the media is failing to report the truth about the recent eruption of protests in Venezuela. But Ottawa has actively pointed a finger at the government of Nicolás Maduro, expressing alarm at state violence and defending the right to legitimate protest.

Such declarations are eyebrow-raising, considering how Canada treats left-wing opposition movements that employ similar (though far tamer) street tactics than the Venezuelan right. Think back to the mass arrests at the Toronto G-20, or ongoing sweeps of demonstrators under the P-6 law in Montréal.

The swell of support for protests in Ottawa would not be taking place if the Harper government wasn’t interested in regime change in Venezuela. (more…)

Canada Arms Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 22/03/2014

A short piece for The Dominion on Canada’s uptick in arms sales to Mexico.

"Weapons Dump." Illustration by freexero.com

MEXICO CITY—The beginning of 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, but instead of focusing on the ongoing revolutionary work of Indigenous people and their allies in the south of the country, the eyes of Canadians and people around the world were on the state of Michoacán.

In mid-January, thousands of federal troops and police entered the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán and stormed smaller villages, in an attempt to disarm self-defence groups. Local and global media carried striking images of federal forces confronting local people who displayed a variety of weapons, dressed in mismatched shirts, their faces covered with kerchiefs or swatches of fabric.

“These are citizens who have had people from their communities murdered, who have been extorted and who have come out to defend themselves,” said Javier Sicilia, one of Mexico’s leading peace activists, in an interview with The Dominion. “This is a case of civilian defence facing a state that cannot give it that which a state must give its citizens: peace and security.”

The self-defence groups have sprung up across the state of Michoacán in an uprising of organizations composed mostly of farmers and ranchers fed up with unfettered kidnappings, extortions and murders carried out by crime groups in collusion with the state. (more…)

In Memory of Ali Mustafa

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 14/03/2014

Dear friends,

On Sunday, March 9, I learned of the death of Ali Mustafa, a friend and colleague. He was killed in Syria by a bomb dropped by the Assad regime, along with at least seven others.

I met Ali at the G-20 in Toronto in 2010, and we kept in touch now and then as he tried to make his way in the difficult world of freelance journalism. Before he was killed he sold photos to some major outlets, taking huge risks in order to make some coin and get a foothold. But he was also in Syria because the suffering there was something he felt he needed to expose. Please take the time to have a look at Ali’s work at his blog, From Beyond the Margins.

There aren’t that many Canadian freelancers out there in the world who consistently file for independent media. I consider myself one of them, and Ali was another. His death has rocked our small, under resourced, and sometimes fragmented community. I hope that it will lead us to further organize so that we can continue to produce critical journalism from places where being a writer or a photographer is a risky affair. We really do need to take better care of each other.

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RIP Ali. You will be remembered always, and you will be deeply missed.

Book Review: Undoing Border Imperialism

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 02/01/2014

Here’s a review I did for Upside Down World to kick off the new year.

Undoing Border Imperialism, by Harsha Walia, introduction by Andrea Smith. AK Press, 2013.

Anyone who has been involved in activism in any of Canada’s largest cities has probably worked with Harsha undoing_border_imperialismWalia at some point along the way. An organizing powerhouse who is active across issues and with a lengthy list of groups, Walia is also a writer and regular public speaker. Somehow, amidst a flurry of events and other work, she found the time to grace us with her first book, Undoing Border Imperialism, which came out with Oakland’s AK Press in the fall. In more ways than one, the book is a true manifestation of theory meeting practice, taking strength from Walia’s varied and extensive readings, from her personal life experiences, and from over a decade of movement organizing in Canada.

“Undoing border imperialism would mean a freer society for everyone since borders are the nexus of most systems of oppression,” writes Walia. “Rather than conceiving of immigration as a domestic policy issue to be managed by the state, the lens of border imperialism focuses the conversation on the systemic structuring of global displacement and migration through and in collusion with capitalism, colonial empire, state building, and hierarchies of oppression.”Walia carefully outlines her theory of border imperialism, but she doesn’t stop there the way an academic or journalist might. Instead, she dedicates the bulk of the text to reflection and to proposals around what makes for meaningful activism in this context. Undoing Border Imperialism lays out a compelling definition of the concept of border imperialism, and then takes readers through concrete experiences of how it can be challenged and dismantled.

“Border imperialism is a useful analytic framework for organizing migrant justice movements in North America. It takes us away from an analysis that blames and punishes migrants, or one that forces migrants to assimilate and establish their individual worth,” she writes. Vancouver-based Walia plays an ambitious role as both author and curator of Undoing Border Imperialism. She contributes the tight and sometimes dense analysis that builds the concept of border imperialism and grassroots organizing theory. These sections are interspersed by poetry and short stories from primarily women of color writers and activists based in Canada and the United States. Undoing Border Imperialism concludes with a written round table discussion that Walia calls the heart of the book.

Walia describes border imperialism as emerging from a confluence of four central practices spearheaded by nation states and accompanied by ongoing processes of capitalist accumulation. The first is capitalism and empire, which underpin the entire system, followed by the criminalization of migrants, the production of racialized, sexist and imperialist national identities, and the denial of legal permanent residency and citizenship to migrants. (more…)

Mexicans Against Zionism

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 05/12/2013

Here’s a piece I just did on Palestine solidarity activism in Mexico, published by the wonderful folks at Upside Down Israel at the FILWorld.

Mexicans Against Zionism

December 4, 2013

The Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), which according to organizers is the largest Spanish language literary event in the world, opened amid controversy this year. It isn’t books that are the source of the conflict, but rather who the organizers chose as the country of honor: Israel.

The decision to invite Israel as the guest of honor was immediately contested among students and activists in Mexico. Following the announcement, twenty writers, filmmakers and artists of Mexican and Jewish origin signed a letter indicating their wish to “highlight the necessity to keep the history of the state of Israel present, and the fact that its creation provoked a tragedy: the tragedy of the Palestinian people, condemned to exile.”

As the book fair kicked off, Mexico’s guest of honor was the target of global protests against a proposed law called the Prawer Plan. If it becomes law, the Prawer Plan would result in the demolition of 35 Bedouin Arab villages and the forced displacement of as many as 70,000 people into state planned settlements.

Israel’s participation in the Guadalajara book fair stems from a country to country agreement with Mexico. Activists say the decision to invite Israel was an effort by the fair’s administrator, as well as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, to cozy up with the Zionist movement and Israeli President Shimon Peres, who visited Mexico last week and inaugurated the Israeli pavilion at the book fair. (more…)

Are green groups ready for tarsands deal?

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 22/11/2013

Here’s a piece I worked on while I was up in Vancouver this summer, out in this week’s Georgia Straight. It builds on some previous work I have done on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

Are green groups ready for tarsands deal?

by Dawn Paley on Nov 20, 2013

Gone are the days when the tarsands were an obscure experiment in making oil from tar. Today, the bitumen deposits in central and northern Alberta have become a political hot potato, an issue forced onto the world stage by coordinated protests and direct actions.

But a look at the history of the environmental groups that have signed on to the tarsands protests raises the question of whether or not an agreement between green groups and tarsands operators is on the horizon.

In Canada, Native-led opposition to the Enbridge pipeline through central B.C. has become one of the most visible faces of anti-oil protests. An ongoing 14-month blockade near Smithers, B.C., stands in the way of proposed gas and tarsands pipelines. Campaigns to stop oil tankers from travelling the B.C. coast have raised the spectre of an oil spill in the province’s coastal waters. Protests in Ontario have picked up against the Enbridge-proposed reversal of the 38-year-old Line 9 pipeline, which would pump tarsands crude to the East Coast.

Actions against the tarsands, though, are not limited to Canada.

Since 2011, thousands of people in the U.S. have been arrested protesting tarsands infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to carry tarsands crude from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. In June, protesters dogged Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his visit to London, England, where, among other actions, they interrupted his speech to Parliament.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, according to Edward R. Royce, the chairman of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs. “Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of petroleum and natural gas to the United States. After Saudi Arabia and Mexico, it is the United States’ third-largest supplier of petroleum,” Royce told the committee last March 14. Today in the U.S., securing access to oil is synonymous with national security.

Tarsands, shale gas, and related infrastructure are increasingly important environmental themes in B.C. But there’s a deal-making trend among some of the key players on the West Coast enviro scene that some consider greenwashing and others portray as pragmatism. As resistance to the tarsands mounts, will a conciliatory brand of anti-tarsands activism also take root? (more…)

Overview of Mega-Mining in Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized by dawn on 20/11/2013

Here’s a piece I did for Watershed Sentinel that provides an overview of Canadian mining in Mexico and how Toronto and Vancouver mining companies (among others) come into conflict with communal landholders.

Exploitative Mining in Mexico

November/December 2013

In rural towns throughout Mexico, life carries on as it has for generations. Sons help their fathers haul wood, women tend to the fire and select seeds, and whole families take part in sowing, caring for and harvesting crops.

Farming is often primary activity for those who live in rural communities. Families grow corn, beans, and other vegetables for personal consumption and sometimes for sale. Eighty per cent of Mexico’s small farmers own land communally. These landholder groups are officially called comunidades indigenas (Indigenous communities) or ejidos, of which there are over 27,000 throughout the country. Some ejidos are in Indigenous communities, while others are in mixed (mestizo) areas.

Decisions about how to use ejido and other forms of communally-held land are made collectively, and adopted via general assembly.

Law of the Land

This is where things get messy. Not because communally-held land is failing the men and women that work it, but because of what’s underneath their feet. Beneath the ground, owned by the people who it sustains, are metals that are in great demand, primarily gold, silver, and copper. A convergence of rising metal prices, favourable government policy, and technology has contributed to the rapid expansion of the mining sector in Mexico over the past decades.

From Chiapas to Chihuahua, farmers in nearly every state in the union have experienced conflict linked to Canadian mining companies. Part of the confusion is made in Mexico: constitutional changes adopted before the North America Free Trade Agreement was passed opened up the possibility for ejido and Indigenous lands to be privately owned, and thus sold. But not all ejidos have gone that route.

Transparent, open negotiation with communal landholders, and accepting communities’ legal right to decide what happens in their lands, would stave off much of the conflict. Unfortunately, it seems, that rarely happens. (more…)