Great ACORN Reports from around the World and Remittance Campaign Breakthroughs

Jill O'Reilly gives ACORN Ottawa report to attentive organizers

Mexico City   A highlight of the year is always getting the reports of ACORN International affiliates around the world and hearing about the progress and the challenges members, leaders, and organizers are facing.  The obstacles are legion, but so are some of the surprises.

Vinod Shetty from Mumbai started the ball rolling with a clear Skype connection as he delighted everyone with the news that the ACORN India Dharavi Project band composed of some of our recyclers is being featured on MTV in coming weeks.  He topped that off by reporting continued progress with the Blue Frog jazz club partnership and the album they are doing of acts visiting Dharavi with us that will be a fundraiser for ACORN India.  Vinod also reported that we are running a school for our people now with 70 in attendance, which was a development I had not realized had gone so far.  Later reports from Dharmendra Kumar in Delhi focused on the huge struggle around FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail that brought Parliament to a standstill in recent months, but Delhi also reported that they continue to run a homeless shelter for some of our displaced members.   Bangalore reported on a full menu of action and activity!

In Honduras Dilcia Zavala delighted people with the news that the land rights had been returned to the squatters the delegation had visited in the rain in Tegucigalpa and they were going to be able to rebuild their homes.  Luis Martinez from San Pedro Sula gave a report that led all others in details on membership growth down to the fact that they have now knocked 10, 756 doors at some level in the several years of organizing!

Dilcia Zavala gives ACORN Honduras report on Tegucigalpa

For the first time people really understood how groundbreaking the tenant-landlord campaign and model is that we are building in Rome.  There was an education provided from Prague of the huge unrest around the current government that rivals the Velvet Revolution in 1989.  Orfa Camacho had me showing a map of Peru when she announced new cities in Peru where we are now organizing and the ongoing development of our partnership with FENTAP, the water workers union.

You get the picture?  It was fantastic!

Importantly the meeting also focused on developments with the Remittance Justice Campaign.  ACORN Canada reported that a bill to cap the rates will be introduced in Toronto for the Ontario province on May 31st with British Columbia following later in the year.  Honduras ACORN shared the news that they had a commitment for a bill to be introduced before the elections next February 2013 at the latest.  Working with our intern from the Clinton School of Public Service there was optimism that we would lay the groundwork for progress in Mexico.

Good work has been done with more to come!

Honduran organizers work with Dine Butler of Local 100 and Jill O'Reilly of Ottawa ACORN on bank draft procedures

Suresh Kadashan and his wife give report from Bangalore on ACORN India's work there

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Fighting Everywhere over Drinking Water

6 de mayo Organizing CommitteeSan Pedro Sula It has rained three straight days virtually non-stop in San Pedro Sula. Water is standing on many streets in huge ponds in the colonias, as cars, bikes, and pedestrians try to navigate the deep ruts for a path home or to work. Unfortunately the situation is literally “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!”

Meeting with an organizing committee during the rainstorm on Sunday in Colonia 6 de Mayo, the issue they repeated over and over was their frustration at having no potable water in their sector of the barrio. Early settlers had dug a few wells, but these were closed and for 15 years families that now added up to over 1000 people had been vainly pleading with the municipality to provide potable water. The river was not that far away, perhaps 10 kilometers, but unfiltered and therefore undrinkable. Within a few blocks were huge pipes fenced in behind a sign saying Agua San Pedro, but still no water for Col. 6 de Mayo, which meant buying water litre after liter at what residents said were escalating prices as well. If they could drink promises, they would be more than full, but that is all they had been served. After animated discussion around the table with ACORN Honduras – San Pedro Sula head organizer, Luis Martinez, an agreement was finally reached on a strategy and tactics. A grand reunion or meeting was planned for the 6th of March to mobilize all of the residents, circulate petitions of support, and force the officials to attend to finally commit to a plan. If that did not work, then in the next steps, people were committed to “go all Cairo” on the authorities.

In some ways this discussion was not a surprise. In the leadership meeting the day before in San Pedro Sula, delegates from the ACORN Honduras chapters in Cholomo had also talked constantly about water, and it had nothing to do with the pouring rain, but the efforts by the Mayor of Cholomo to privatize the water with an outside company and the rising rates people were already paying. There the details were not transparent yet on the exact name of the company, its scope, and its relationship to the powers that be in Cholomo. The only thing the leaders knew for certain was that the project was being pushed and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, an arm of the United States based in Washington, D.C. Given ACORN Peru’s many years of fights against privatization with our companeros in FENTAP, the water workers’ union of Peru, this was a battle where we knew the field and many of the combatants. Unfortunately we did not know whether or not we were too late, and the endless rain might prevent another meeting to get the details on this trip.

Fortunately, Luis has recruited his own “intern army,” as I call it with four volunteers from the University helping him and another couple of his companeros committed to lending their hands, cars, and anything else to make the organizing work. The core capacity and leadership is coming together in San Pedro Sula for Honduras ACORN, and it will take more than a lot of rain to stop the members from organizing aggressively to win their basic needs. Water is at the top of the list for us in the colonias.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail