Blog by Mari Rose Taruc, Asian Pacific Environmental Network & Grassroots Global Justice Delegation to Cancun (12/4/10)
Day 1, Cancun by Air
Spanning the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic & swooping from the black Gulf of Mexico, I land in Cancun Mexico at night. Exiting the plane, the first sign I get of the UN climate conference is a life-sized China-bashing poster: “80% of China’s electricity is generated by dirty coal… The world’s leaders need to free us from dirty coal and its poisons.” So why don’t we see posters of top global carbon emitters per capita—US & European nations? Racism, clearly. Needing more perspective, I struck up a conversation with the Mexican customs agent. What do you think of the climate conference? It’s bullshit, he says, lots of politics will fly but no action. I told him I’m here with a delegation of poor people, indigenous & people of color in the US fighting pollution and that we need to see solutions come out of the talks. We gave each other a high five. I walk out into the tropical sky, get picked up by the Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) Alliance and pass hundreds of federal police holding machine guns on the way to the hotel.
Today, I wake up to a roommate who spent the last week on a bus caravan organized by La Via Campesina (international peasant & small farmers movement. By land is actually how many social movements are getting to Cancun. 3 buses from Jalisco turned to 30 buses, multiplying along the way from the desert to Mexico City up the Mountain and to the ocean. I attended the opening ceremony of the La Via Campesina space (one of 4 main convergence spaces here in Cancun) called the “Global Forum for Life, Environmental & Social Justice”. I sat behind the Haiti delegation, listening to stories from international allies who participated in the caravans coming from all over Latin America, impacted communities in the US, India, Japan & Europe. It sounded sadly familiar—a week full of toxic tours: agribusiness destroying watersheds, uncontrolled oil refinery pollution by PEMEX, savage urbanization, mountaintop removal to extract gold, the death of a river. I’ve already seen so many communities in the US suffer environmental racism that it wrenches my heart to hear of the corporate destruction globalized. “Welcome to the nightmare, welcome to hope,” those communities said. So hope is what we’re working for in Cancun. And by the looks of tonight’s first meeting of the 60+ delegation of the US grassroots climate justice delegation composed of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and Youth for Climate Justice, we have a fighting chance…