Global Exchange

Linked to our presentation of Medea Benjamin.

And linked to our presentation of Leslie Cagan.

Global Exchange is a non-profit research, education, and action center working for global political, economic, environmental, and social justice. Since our founding in 1988, we have worked to increase the US public’s awareness of global issues while building progressive, grassroots international partnerships.

Global Exchange pursues these goals through six program areas:

Political and Civil Rights Campaigns, which complement the traditional human rights organization’s observation and monitoring work with activities aimed at directly empowering grassroots human rights movements within our target countries of Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Middle East;

Economic Rights Campaigns, which struggle for the elimination of sweatshop abuses, monitor corporate behavior, and challenge global rule-makers such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund;

Fair Trade, which helps build economic justice from the bottom up through the sale of handicrafts that generate income for artisans in over 37 countries;

Public Education, which produces books, videos, arti-cles, and editorials and organizes educational workshops and nationwide speaking tours that bring community leaders from around the world to the US to educate citizens on critical global issues;

Exploring California, which engages Californians in solution-oriented dialogue on issues such as immigration, treatment of laborers, and the environment;

and Reality Tours, which educate the public about domestic and international issues through socially responsible travel. (Read more on Orion Grassroots Network).

… Global Exchange is also an outspoken critic of American corporations whose products are manufactured in foreign factories, where workers are often poorly paid and poorly treated. Prominent among these companies is Nike, whose sneakers and sporting equipment are made in such places as Vietnam and Indonesia. A countering view is provided by Michael Hooker, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who defends his school’s multimillion dollar contract with Nike. “The working conditions,” he explains, “relative to what else is available to them, are really very good. So people are clamoring for these jobs.”

The common thread woven through all of Global Exchange’s crusades is the group’s condemnation of the United States – its foreign policy, business practices, and domestic life. “When most Americans hear of human rights abuses,” says Global Exchange, “they likely think of atrocities in some far-off country in a forgotten corner of the globe. And when Americans consider the idea of democracy, it’s probably accurate to say that they think of our government as a model to be emulated. The reality, of course, is more complicated. Abuses against individuals’ basic rights also occur regularly here in the United States, and our money-saturated political system hardly deserves the title ‘democracy.’”

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ms. Benjamin advised Americans to examine “the root causes of resentment against the United States in the Arab world – from our dependence on Middle Eastern oil to our biased policy towards Israel.” She condemned the Bush administration for having “responded to the violent attack of 9/11 with the notion of perpetual war . . . a war in Afghanistan that included dropping over 20,000 bombs, many of which missed their targets and led to the killing and maiming of thousands of civilians.” “We must insist that governments stop taking innocent lives in the name of seeking justice for the loss of other innocent lives,” she said.

Consistent with its belief that the U.S. is a nation infested with racism and injustice – particularly in the criminal-justice system – Global Exchange endorsed an October 22, 2002 National Day of Protest exhorting Americans to rise up and “Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.” The document announcing this event stated: “Since September 11, 2001, the authorities have rapidly imposed a resoundingly repressive atmosphere. Law enforcement on both the local and national level has been given broad new powers. Laws and policies that drastically restrict civil liberties have been put into place. . . . we cannot and must not allow the authorities to get away with using September 11th to let cops who brutalize and kill people go free. . . . All over the U.S. people are being killed by law enforcement officers at an escalating rate. . . . In city after city, cops viciously beat people, confident that they will face no punishment. . . . The authorities have used the post-September 11th atmosphere to exonerate cops convicted of brutalizing people and to continue to allow cops who brutalize and kill to get off either completely free or with a wink and slap on the wrist. . . . Racial profiling, which had been widely exposed and discredited through people’s struggles, has now come back with a vengeance. . . . Since September 11th thousands of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians have been rounded up, detained and disappeared. . . . Hard-won civil liberties and protections have been stripped away as part of the government’s ‘war on terrorism.’ The USA-PATRIOT Act brings in a new set of repressive laws and restrictions on people and grants even greater power to law enforcement agents of all kinds.” Moreover, this document explicitly defended terrorists and murderers such as Lynne Stewart, Jose Padilla, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Leonard Peltier – depicting them as persecuted political prisoners of a repressive American government.

Late in 2002, Global Exchange took a group of Americans, each of whom had lost loved ones on 9/11, to Afghanistan to meet people whose relatives had perished in the U.S. bombing campaign there. Those bombings, says Ms. Benjamin, “made Afghans so upset that some talked about waging a jihad, or holy war, against the United States.” “If the Muslim world sees the United States as willing to bomb but not feed people,” she adds, “it will deepen the suspicion and mistrust already felt by millions . . . that the United States doesn’t care about the lives of the Muslim people.” Global Exchange has pressed the U.S. government to create a fund that would pay $10,000 apiece to Afghan victims who need medical care, help in rebuilding their homes, and compensation for the loss of a caretaker or breadwinner.

During the last week of December 2004, Medea Benjamin announced in Amman, Jordan that Global Exchange, Code Pink, and Families for Peace would be donating a combined $600,000 in medical supplies and cash to the terrorist insurgents who were fighting American troops in Fallujah, Iraq. This news was reported by Agence France Press but was picked up by only two small news outlets.In an article dated January 1, 2005, the leftist online publication Peace and Resistance reported that Rep. Henry Waxman (D – California) had written a letter addressed to the American ambassador in Amman, Jordan to help facilitate the transport of this aid through Customs. Fernando Suarez Del Solar – an antiwar activist whose son, a 20-year-old Marine, was killed in Iraq on March 27, 2003 – carried Waxman’s letter. He was accompanied on the trip by other family members of soldiers who had been killed in Iraq, as well as relatives of victims who had been killed in the 9/11 attacks. Said Benjamin, “I don’t know of any other case in history in which the parents of fallen soldiers collected medicine . . . for the families of the ‘other side.’ It is a reflection of a growing movement in the United States . . . opposed to the unjust nature of this war. This is the positive face of the American people which we would like to show . . . so that we are not looked at with animosity but with love. Our hearts go out to the people of Fallujah and to all the Iraqi people.” (Read more on this Discoveery Network page).

Global Exchange, or GX, as it is often affectionately called, has emerged as one of the pre-eminent NGOs against corporate globalization. They have worked closely with many groups around the world in order to promote “fair trade” goods to the public, such as shade grown coffee from the Chiapas region of Mexico, grown by members of the EZLN. GX was also forefront at the Seattle WTO protests, and in the interest of solidarity, brought members of the EZLN to the protest.

Today they work strongly together with United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), which is a coalition of more than 1,300 international and U.S.-based organizations.

Together they are opposed to what they describe as “our government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.” The organization was founded by Global Exchange and others in October 2002, during the build-up to the U.S.’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. The direct precursor to UFPJ was “United We March!”. Read more about UFPJ on (wikipedia).

One of the next major goals: End the war in Iraq, Bring all our troops home now!, SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 2006, NEW YORK CITY.

Another goal: Protect Voting Rights of Katrina Survivors.

Global Exchange, the Green Party of the United States, and others, organized the April 20th demonstration against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

links:


Events Calendar
for each country, and for each state for US/UK/Canada;

Discovery Network;

OneWorld.net.

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