The No Border Encuentro took place on August 27-28th at the Sherman Heights Community Center in San Diego/Aztlan. Two days of events including a maquiladora tour, a benefit concert and a day of forums, panels and encounters took place with over 100 people from San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Orange County, Eugene, Portland, Tijuana, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia participating. On the walls hung photos of recent actions to stop the Minutemen, a poster of the PGA Hallmarks, and maps of Calexico, where the No Border Camp will be in September.
This is only part of a large movement against the MinuteMen, La Migra and the Border itself. Thursday night before the conference, La Raza Rights Coalition held a community forum to present their demands around these issues to legislators. Next weekend, Sept 2-4, BorderHack 2005 will be taking place in Tijuana. Also that weekend, on the 3rd, is a forum against the Minutemen in Chula Vista.
The Encuentro was planned as a space to strategize about how to create a world without borders, how to effectively challenge racism and how to put an end to the Minuteman Project. These strategies will be put into action from September 16-18th in a series of actions and a No Border Camp in Calexico.
Throughout the day, the Sherman Heights Community Center was filled with people, as people arrived for the events they wanted to see and some people had to leave early. The space itself is large and beautiful, with lots of sunlight and tile mosaics on the walls. During the panels, such as the indigenous panel, the hall was filled. At other times, the group was split for simultaneous workshops. In the indigenous panel, the presenters said that they have been fighting European Imperialism since the 1400’s and that, in a very real way “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.”
This was more than a series of workshops. The indigenous panel began with a blessing ceremony complete with dancing, music and sage. The border disturbance art space included films, slideshows and a masked performance piece involving poetry and hand painted props. The panel on the Zapatistas and the 6th declaration allowed for a space for people to ask the Frente Zapatista any questions they had about the declaration.
Ashanti Alston’s talk was definitely one of the high points. He spoke movingly about the ties between the work of the Black Panthers and the Zapatistas, about his experience in the Black Panther party and the need to have a creative, non-hierarchical movement, as the Zapatistas say “walking, we ask”. He spoke of his belief in anarchism and the need for us to run our own lives and develop our own techniques of struggle. He said that if anyone comes to you telling you they have the way to revolution planned out, you should be suspicious. He ended by saying that our work gives hope to previous generations and to many political prisoners still in prison for 20 or 30 years, and that we must press ahead and continue to walk and ask because “we have to win this thing…The Empire gotta come down because our dreams have to come up”.
* This feature article was taken from San Diego Indymedia.
August 27 was the first day of the No Border Encuentro which took place in Tijuana and San Diego. The encuentro provided a time and space to become informed and fightback against the border, racism, capitalism and empire. We struggle for dignity, autonomy and freedom of movement for all peoples.
After gathering on the Amerikan side of the border, a group of about 25 people from many parts of the recognized United States walked across the border into Tijuana, Mexico.
Our first stop was CITTAC – Centro de Información para Trabajadoras y Trabajadores (the Workers Information Center), for a presentation about the terrible working conditions inside maquiladoras in Tijuana.
From there, we went to visit the remains of a well known maquiladora formerly used to process metals. We were inside the “free trade zone” known as Otay Mesa where there are both functioning and abandoned maquiladoras. Otay Mesa, home to maquiladoras for numerous multinational corporations, such as Panasonic, has helped Tijuana earn the distinction as the television production capital of the world.
Otay Mesa looms over an extremely polluted community where many workers (approx. 10,000 families) from the maquiladoras live. According to CITTAC, most maquiladora workers are paid about $50 (amerikan) a week while risking their life, limbs and health. This is a very exploitive form of slavery. In other words, NAFTA is working as it was designed.
For more information on NAFTA, without reading anything or visiting Tijuana, I highly suggest listening to this song by Ryan Harvey ‐ The Ballad of NAFTA
beats against borders
On the night of August 27, a benefit concert known as “Beats Against Borders” was held at Voz Alta in San Diego. The concert featured Dias Tristes, a Tijuana punk band, Southern California hip hop and break-beat dj’s Boomerang Politick as well as the Bay Area’s Entartete Kunst. We also heard from Roy San Filipo of the former Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation.
On August 28, a No Border Encuentro conference was held at the Sherman Heights Community Center in San Diego.