Democracy Now!

Five Indigenous Leaders Massacred in Colombia; New Wave of Violence Feared as 2,500 Troops Deployed

The massacre of five Indigenous leaders in Colombia has shocked the country. The killings took place in the southwestern region of Cauca. Among the victims was Cristina Bautista, the leader of the semi-autonomous Indigenous reservation of Nasa Tacueyó. Four of the community’s unarmed guards were also killed, while six others were wounded. A group of U.N. experts have denounced the massacre and demanded the Colombian government to take urgent measures in cooperation with Indigenous authorities to investigate the murders. Police have made no arrests and no suspects have been named in the massacre. Since the signing of the Peace Accords in 2016, at least 700 social leaders, mostly Afro-Colombian and Indigenous activists, have been murdered in Colombia, according to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies. We speak with Mario Murillo, Vice-Dean of the School of Communications at Hofstra University and award-winning journalist who has extensively reported on Colombia and the region of Cauca.

"It Was Necessary": Gambian Beauty Queen Returns Home to Testify About Rape By Former Dictator

In Gambia, a former beauty queen who says the president raped her when she was 18 years old has testified before a public truth and reconciliation commission that is investigating the atrocities of former president Yahya Jammeh. Fatou “Toufah” Jallow has become a leading voice against the former president, who ruled the West African country of 2 million people for 22 years before his regime ended in 2017. Two other women have also come forward to accuse the former president of rape and sexual assault. Survivors of the regime have also testified during the hearings, which have been live streamed across the country. The investigation is part of an ongoing process to reckon with the horrors committed during Jammeh’s rule, including killing and disappearing hundreds of people, torture, unjustified jailings and sexual violence against women and girls. From Gambia, we speak with Fatou “Toufah” Jallow, along with attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, who is currently leading the prosecution of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh.

Chicago Teachers and UAW Members Show That Labor Movement Is Back After "Decades of Concessions"

The end of the Chicago teachers’ strike comes amid a wave of labor movements, including the longest United Auto Workers strike in almost 50 years. We speak with labor journalist Sarah Jaffe about the historical importance of unions, the rise of worker participation in strike actions and the significance of the Labour Party’s organizing in the United Kingdom. Jaffe says workers “are fighting back in the face of decades and decades of concessions, decades and decades of give-backs,” and “understanding that unionizing is a way that they have power on the job.” She is the author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt.

"This Is a Win for Our City": Chicago Teachers Celebrate End of Historic Strike After 11 Days

Teachers in Chicago are heading back to school Friday, marking the end of a historic 11-day strike that had shut down the country’s third-largest school district. After weeks of tense negotiations, the city agreed to reduce class sizes, increase salaries by 16% over the next five years and bring on hundreds more social workers, nurses and librarians. The union demanded that teachers be able to make up the full eleven days of school before agreeing to return to work and eventually settled with the city on five days. Earlier this week, 7,500 public school workers with the Service Employees International Union, who had been striking also settled with the city earlier. We speak with Stacy Davis Gates, the Executive Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union, and labor journalist Sarah Jaffe.

Headlines for November 1, 2019

Ro Khanna Condemns GOP For Attacking Civil Servants to Shield Trump As House Votes on Impeachment

The House of Representatives is holding a historic vote today to formalize the impeachment process against President Trump. The probe centers on whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. As the House votes today, lawmakers are continuing to question key Trump administration behind closed doors, including the top Russia official on the National Security Council, Tim Morrison. On Wednesday, House Democrats also requested that Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify. We speak with California Congressmember Ro Khanna.

As Rich Hire Private Firefighters, Housekeepers Go to Work in Fire Zone & Prisoners Fight CA Blazes

As climate-fueled fires rage across California, we look at how the blazes are disproportionately affecting some of the state’s most vulnerable communities. As a growing number of wealthy homeowners hire private firefighters to protect their properties for up to $3,000 per day, domestic workers and gardeners who tend to some of the most opulent homes in Los Angeles attended work despite the Getty Fire evacuation order earlier this week. Many of their employers failed to even tell them not to come in. Meanwhile, of the more than 4,000 firefighters currently working across the state, at least 700 are California prisoners. They earn as little as $1 per hour. We speak with Amika Mota, a former prisoner firefighter and the policy director at the Young Women’s Freedom Center in San Francisco, and Los Angeles Times journalist Brittny Mejia. Her piece is titled “Housekeepers and gardeners go to work despite the flames.”

As California Burns Again, Rep. Ro Khanna Calls for PG&E to Become Publicly Owned Utility

Extreme winds of up to 60 miles per hour caused new fires to erupt across southern California Wednesday, prompting tens of thousands to evacuate. The blazes are just the latest in a spate of climate change-fueled fires threatening the state. In Northern California, firefighters have finally beat back the Sonoma County Kincade Fire that had forced nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes over the weekend. Nearly all evacuees in the region have now been allowed to return to their homes and the utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric said Wednesday it would begin restoring power to the 365,000 customers who were plunged into darkness over the weekend as fires first erupted across the state. PG&E — the corporation that controls most of Northern and Central California’s electricity and the biggest utility in America — has been implicated in many of the fires that have ravaged California in recent years, including the Camp Fire that killed 85 people and completely destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018. In January, PG&E declared bankruptcy amid a number of lawsuits related to the wildfires. We speak with California Congressmember Ro Khanna, who is calling for the California state government to take over control of PG&E. Khanna says, “PG&E is basically a private monopoly that gets a return on investment for their private investors, but has no competition. It is the worst of both worlds.”

New Study: 300 Million Face Severe Risk of Climate-Fueled Coastal Flooding by 2050

As a shocking new report finds that many coastal cities will be flooded by rising sea levels by 2050, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera announced Wednesday that the U.N. Climate Summit in Santiago has been canceled. Anti-inequality protests have entered their third week in the country with protesters calling for the Piñera government to resign. The U.N. said it is now looking for an alternative venue for the annual climate meetings. Meanwhile, a dire new report has warned 300 million people are at risk from rising sea levels, with the most vulnerable populations concentrated in the Global South. According to the study published in Nature Communications, global sea levels are expected to rise between two and seven feet or possibly more, with some coastal cities being wiped off the map. We speak with Harjeet Singh, the global lead on climate change for Action Aid who is based in New Delhi, India; and Benjamin Strauss, co-author of the study in Nature Communications and CEO and chief scientist at Climate Central.

Headlines for October 31, 2019

Who Burned the Bronx? PBS Film "Decade of Fire" Investigates 1970s Fires That Displaced Thousands

The new documentary “Decade of Fire” looks back at the history of a crisis that unfolded in New York City in the 1970s, when the South Bronx faced a near-constant barrage of fires that displaced almost a quarter million people and devastated an entire community. Co-directors and producers Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran tell the story of the government mismanagement, landlord corruption and redlining that lit the Bronx ablaze. They also describe how the community fought back to save their neighborhoods. The film airs next week on PBS.

Chesa Boudin, Son of 1960s Radicals, Runs for San Francisco DA on Criminal Justice Reform Platform

Chesa Boudin is running for San Francisco district attorney as the latest candidate in a wave of decarceral prosecutors running for office across the United States. Bernie Sanders and other leading progressives have endorsed Boudin, who is a public defender and the child of Weather Underground activists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. His parents were imprisoned when Boudin was a toddler. These experiences have given him a first-hand view of “how broken our criminal justice system is,” he says. “My earliest memories are going through steel gates and metal detectors just to see my parents, just to give them a hug.” Boudin is running on a platform of ending cash bail and dismantling the War on Drugs, seeking to end “tough on crime” tactics and restore civil rights. Bay Area voters will cast their ballots Nov. 5.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Hariri Resigns, But Protests and Demands For a New Government Continue

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of his government on Tuesday following nearly two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests. In a televised address, al-Hariri said he had hit a “dead end” in resolving the crisis. Demonstrators “were congratulating each other while at the same time acknowledging that the struggle is very long,” says Lebanese journalist, Lara Bitar, who joins us from Beirut for an update. She says protesters have promised to stay in the streets until all of their demands are met, including the resignation of all top government officials, early parliamentary elections and the creation of a transitional cabinet of people unaffiliated with traditional political parties.

Headlines for October 30, 2019

Protests in Chile Were Sparked By a Subway Fare Hike, But Come After "30 Years of a Social Crisis"

In Chile, a new set of mass protests took place Monday as President Sebastián Piñera fulfilled the promise to appoint new members to his cabinet. As Piñera addressed the nation Monday, hundreds of protesters had already gathered outside the presidential palace in Santiago, waving flags, honking horns and demanding for Piñera’s resignation. The reshuffling of his cabinet came after more than a million people flooded the streets last Friday in massive peaceful demonstrations over inequality, high cost of living and privatization. The protest drew more than 5% of Chile’s population and followed days of widespread civil unrest and a violent police and military crackdown across Chile. At least 18 people have died, with more than 1,000 more protesters shot and wounded since the mobilizations erupted Oct. 19. We speak with Pablo Abufom, a member of the Solidarity Movement, an anti-capitalist and feminist organization in Chile. His recent article published in Jacobin magazine is titled “It’s Not About 30 Pesos. It’s About 30 Years.”

As Death Toll Tops 220, Iraqi Protesters Stay in Streets Calling For End to Corrupt Government

In Iraq, masked gunmen shot dead 18 protesters overnight and injured more than 800 people in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Monday. Nearly 225 Iraqis have been killed since a wave of anti-government protests swept the country last month. The protesters in Karbala were attacked while they camped out in the city’s Education Square to protest corruption, lack of jobs and poor public services. Meanwhile in Baghdad, hospital officials said four people died during protests on Monday, while another 109 were injured. On Monday, the Iraqi Parliament met for the first time since the protests began. Lawmakers voted to dissolve provincial councils and cut the salaries of some high-ranking officials. But the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr dismissed the measures as a “sham” and called on the Iraqi government to announce early parliamentary elections. We speak with Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.

Fueled by Climate Change, California's Raging Wildfires Are Threatening Vulnerable Communities First

California is bracing for a day of strong winds as climate change-fueled wildfires continue to burn from Los Angeles to north of the Bay Area. After a chaotic weekend of mass evacuations and blackouts that left millions in the dark, firefighters in Sonoma, California, made headway Monday, containing 15% of the massive Kincade fire that has burned nearly 75,000 acres. But as high winds pick up again today, firefighters still face an uphill battle in combating the at least 10 blazes raging across the state, including the growing Getty fire, which erupted in one of Los Angeles’s most opulent communities Monday. Fires in California are typical this time of year, but the length and severity of the state’s fire season has grown due to climate change. We speak with Leah Stokes, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and researcher on climate and energy politics. We also speak with Ariel Kelley, the CEO of Corazón Healdsburg, a bilingual family resource center based in Northern Sonoma County.

Headlines for October 29, 2019

One Million Take to Streets of Chile in the "Largest Mobilization Since the End of Dictatorship"

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has announced a major cabinet shuffle after more than one million people flooded the streets Friday in massive peaceful demonstrations over inequality, high cost of living and privatization. The protest drew more than 5% of Chile’s population and followed days of widespread civil unrest that sparked a violent police and military crackdown across the country. At least 18 people have been killed and hundreds more have been shot and wounded since protests erupted Oct. 19. The protests in Chile began in response to a subway fare hike and have grown into a mass uprising against the government. We speak with Professor Macarena Gómez-Barris, founder and director of the Global South Center and chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute, and Alondra Carrillo Vidal, a spokesperson for Chile’s largest feminist advocacy group, Coordinadora Feminista 8M.

"People Have Reached the Limit": Lebanon Joins Wave of Anti-Government Protests Across Middle East

Tens of thousands of people in Lebanon joined hands on Sunday to form a human chain spanning north to south across the entire country. It was a symbolic display of unity across regional and sectarian divisions amid mass protests that have rocked the country in recent days. The protests sweeping Lebanon come amid a wave of similar anti-government protests in Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. We speak with Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow and journalist-in-residence at the American University of Beirut, and a columnist at The New Arab.

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