The FTAA is a continuation of the imperialism that began thousands of years ago in Europeâ€¦. Advocates of the FTAA would not dare refer to their policies as forms of colonization or feudalismâ€¦. Instead they will justify their actions in the name of “development” for the “poor” countries of Central and South America. Development? What the first peoples of the Americas need is “recovery” not development. Recovery from the very same colonization, domination, and genocide that multi-national corporations want to perpetuate for their own gains today.
STATEMENT OF LEONARD PELTIER ON THE FTAA
Dear Brothers, Sisters, Friends and Supporters,
I know many of you are already familiar with the FTAA, NAFTA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. I know many of you are working hard to expose what these organizations and agreements are all about and how they are taking over the world and violating human rights, labor rights, Indigenous rights, environmental protections, and sovereignty rights, in each and every place they set foot. Therefore, what I would like to address is the bigger picture – the real roots of the FTAA and ways which we can obstruct it.
Where did the FTAA get its start? Not in a conference room and not in an office. The FTAA is a continuation of the imperialism that began thousands of years ago in Europe with the domination of Indigenous Peoples whose self-subsisting land and way of life were taken away so that greedy feudalists could reign. Ever since, Indigenous Peoples have been forced into submission, if not obliteration, in the name of civilization and progress all over the globe. Here we are in the 21st century, and the world has far from benefited. I do not need to explain the Earth’s devastation, the overwhelming poverty, and the wars that have resulted from practices that put profit before the very survival of Mother Earth and the human race.
Advocates of the FTAA would not dare refer to their policies as forms of colonization or feudalism because these practices are now widely scorned. Instead they will justify their actions in the name of “development” for the “poor” countries of Central and South America. Development? What the first peoples of the Americas need is “recovery” not development. Recovery from the very same colonization, domination, and genocide that multi-national corporations want to perpetuate for their own gains today.
Now we must continue, not only to condemn the practices of these trade organizations and policies, but also to implement and support means of self-sufficiency both in our communities and abroad. We must support Indigenous movements like that of the Zapatistas and the Uwa who are fighting to maintain their land base and self-sufficient way of life. We must support the small farmers and farm workers who provide their communities with healthy foods to eat. We must create and support innovative projects on Indian reservations, in inner cities and in third world countries that promote self-sufficiency and better living conditions.
But in doing this, we must unite beyond the boundaries of race, class, belief systems, and age that all too often divide us. If we do not unite, we will be defeated one by one, just as they destroyed the American Indian Movement who fought so hard for Native sovereignty, the Black Panthers, who developed much needed community based programs and struggled for self-determination, the movements in Central America that sought to implement schools, social programs, and land reform, and the unions who fought for humane working conditions. Most important, we must break down the barriers that divide us in our own backyards.
We need to develop a global culture that teaches us, as my ancestors did, to think carefully about the impact our actions and policies will have on Mother Earth, on each other, and on future generations before we act upon them. If we can do this, then surely we can win.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
– A Brief Bio –
Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota political prisoner, has spent the last 24 years of his life in prison despite the fact that the government has admitted on numerous occasions that they do not know who is responsible for the crime he was convicted of. Because of the glaring Human and Constitutional violations that have been made in the overall targeting, prosecution, and continued imprisonment of Peltier, millions have come to know of his case and support his freedom. Some of whom are the late Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Amnesty International, the European Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Belgium Parliament, the Green Party, 50 members of U.S. Congress, Robert Redford, the National Congress of American Indians, and Jesse Jackson among others.
From prison, Leonard Peltier has continued to advocate for the human rights of Indigenous peoples and in doing so has won numerous human rights awards. He was recently declared an official Human Rights Defender at the Human Rights Defenders Summit in Paris which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He has also established himself as a talented artist, using oils to paint portraits of his people which portray their cultures and histories. Leonard has been an integral part of the movement to establish access to the practice of Native religions in prison. He says that it is the sweat lodge, the love and support of so many people, and his relationship with his grandchildren that allows him to keep hope from what has been a long, dangerous and trying twenty-three years.
Leonard Peltier could be you, me, anyone who stands up for his family, friends, community, and beliefs. Leonard is a Native American serving two consecutive life sentences in a federal penitentiary, even though there is NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE that he is guilty of anything.
Author: Leonard Peltier
News Service: Leonard Peltier Defense Committee