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Blue October: The month that was, the future that will be
Eight stories of change to bring hope to a tense and troubled time
By Tracy L. Barnett Posted in Activism, Bolivia, Social Change on October 31, 2020
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As I write, a very red Mars is approaching a Blue Moon – the second full moon of the season, and the first blue moon on a Halloween in a long, long time. Astrologers are having a field day with the particular lineup of planets that are traversing our heavens this election season, and while I am nobody to say what it all means, I have no doubt that there are forces far beyond our ken that are ramping up the energies toward epic change. Whether we want it or not.

October has been a month marked by intensity – some of it good, much of it not so good, as we march toward the turning point that is next Tuesday. That is when we will know if the record-breaking early election results in the United States are a people’s cry for change – and if that cry is loud enough and strong enough to overcome the dark shadow of fascism that is upon us.

We here at The Esperanza Project are dedicated to finding the good, and so we take a pause from our own coverage to celebrate two very positive developments in Latin America. First, Bolivia soundly rejected the right-wing neoliberal interim government that has held power in that country since taking over in what many describe as a US-supported coup last year, and what the best analysts now acknowledge was a manipulated power grab from Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous and first socialist president. In an election that the New York Times lauded as a “teachable moment” for the world, Bolivians overcame polarization, racial division, violent protests and one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks to achieve a clear and peaceful transfer of power.

Bolivia’s presidential candidate Luis Arce, of the Movement for Socialism party, center, celebrates with running mate David Choquehuanca, right, on Oct. 19, 2020 in La Paz. Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP – Getty Images

While it must be acknowledged that Morales’ 13-year government, especially in its last years, was marked with problems, and that it was way past time for Morales to go, it is also true that this experiment in indigenous-led governance pioneered a path towards decolonization; his MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) government made substantial and undeniable steps forward for the masses of its population who had never seen anything substantially good from their government. What will come from the administration of Luis Arce, Morales’ former finance director and the representative of MAS, remains to be seen; the outgoing government leaves chaos, bitterness and huge debts in its wake, but spirits are high and hope is strong as his election points the way to the restoration of socially-oriented democracy in Latin America.

At the same time, Latin America is cheering a major achievement for democracy in Chile, which overwhelmingly voted to overturn its Pinochet-era constitution and implement a new one, marking the beginning of a new, more democratic era for the country. After a year of continuous social and violent protests, the country erupted in parties and street celebrations that brought to mind those of 1989, when a plebiscite put an end to Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship. Starting in April, a 155-member constitutional assembly — which must feature an equal number of men and women elected by the public — will draft it by early 2022. When they’re finished, the entire population of the South American country must vote to approve or reject the new document.

Meanwhile, in our own pages in The Esperanza Project, our collaborators have focused on social movements throughout the Americas that have provided inspiration and guidance as they bring injustices to light and hold up models for the better world we know is possible. While some of these stories might seem to the casual observer to be bad news, we challenge you to read at a deeper level. These are all people of outstanding courage and vision who believe in the potential of our humanity to turn things around, and who will not stand down until that potential is achieved. This month we gave you:

Gendered Medical Gaslighting and the Copper IUD: A conversation with political scientist Flor Kot Hansen and author Caren Beilin, victims of the IUD. Flor, an Argentine political scientist and mother of two, and Caren, a US-based author, had their lives upended by the side effects of the copper IUD, a birth control device whose impact around the world has been enormous and has received little media attention. And they are each, in their own way, trying to do something about it.

Celebrating Survival in the Shadow of Columbus Day: 7 Stories About Native Empowerment for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We’ve heard it said so many times it’s become a sad if inevitably true cliché: “There’s nothing to celebrate.” The anniversary of October 12 comes and goes and it seems as if things have only gotten progressively worse for Indigenous peoples since the day Christopher Columbus first stepped foot on Native American land. Yet our collaborators do what the mainstream media all too often fails to do: We report from the frontlines of the Indigenous movements that are gaining steam all over the Americas, holding the promise to transform our societies into ones that will work for all life on this living planet — if we will only listen.

Standing Rock Water Protectors Sue Police, Security Forces: Class action suit claims law enforcement ‘discriminatory’ in Standing Rock-DAPL conflict.  Far from giving up and going away after the Trump administration stripped the legendary Water Protectors of their hard-fought victory, the people who brought us Standing Rock continue to fight that battle in court — and many times, they are winning. In this case, they are bringing to light the highly discriminatory practices of North Dakota law enforcement and private security forces in the violence perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators on tribal lands that fateful winter in 2016.

Great Plains historians share hope for future: Conference promotes ‘wolakota’ – balance and harmony –with good hearts, good minds, good bodies. Sometimes looking back can bring a vision for the future, and this was the case in a recent gathering of history professionals representing both the Indigenous and colonial settler past of Lakota territory. Indeed, ““Hope is the only thing that ties us all together,” as Jace DeCory, former Black Hills State University American Indian Studies Professor and Cheyenne River Sioux elder shared in “Words of Wisdom from Lakota Elders,” just one of many jewels shared in this meeting of the minds.

Treaty advocates set up tipi shelters for homeless: Police bust camp in Lakota Territory dispute. In the third of an inspirational trifecta from our Lakota Country correspondent Talli Nauman, Indigenous homeless advocates defied police repression to establish a tipi camp to meet the needs of the long-neglected homeless population of Rapid City, South Dakota. Arguing that the public lands where they established the camp are theirs by right anyway under the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty, they refused to back down and continue to provide care to the unhoused as the bitter Great Plains winter begins.

Time to turn the page on Trump’s Seven Deadly Immigration Sins: Reflections from upcoming book from the frontlines of a manufactured crisis. While this webinar transcript from collaborator Sarah Towle might seem more bad news than good – Sarah does not shy away from reporting the many horrendous impacts of the Trump administration’s immigration policies — we admire her courage and persistence in reporting from the front lines of Trump’s border wars and hammering away at the injustice month after month.

We fervently hope that by this time next week, we will be celebrating the good news that people have indeed turned the page on these and other repressive policies toward a brave new chapter in US American history. One that validates the Founder’s creed that, interpreted for modern times, would have insisted that all humans are created equal — not just landed white men born inside our borders.

Now as the full moon approaches, the veil between the mundane world and the forces beyond is thinning. Possibilities for a different kind of world are within our reach. Let’s not be afraid to reach for that world, for those of us among the willing to join hearts and hands and finally make it happen – because the alternative is unthinkable.

Let us pray that this Blue Moon represents the color in the best of ways: blue as the color of peace. I see a blue wave washing over the US, cooling the fires that rage within and without, washing us clean of the hatred and rage that has permeated the homes and hearts of so many disenfranchised people. I see a team stepping forward that values unity and inclusion over division, ready to begin a new era of healing, to roll up their (our) sleeves and get to work in rolling back the intensifying crises that rage around us.

Let us pray … Let us work…. And most of all, Let us VOTE.

Tracy L. Barnett is an independent writer based in Mexico and the founder of The Esperanza Project.

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