What Occupy El Paso wants to accomplish

Group lists demands; members tell experiences

Rio Grande Digital

Occupy El Paso, part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, plans to vacate the Downtown San Jacinto Plaza, or Plaza de los Lagartos, on Sunday Nov. 13, because the park — the site of the city’s official Christmas tree — traditionally gets a lot of use during the holidays, members of the group said Friday afternoon at a news conference.

The group has been camped in the plaza since last month.

The El Paso branch of the movement also released a list of things specific to the Paso del Norte region it wants to accomplish.

“Occupy El Paso, which has conducted a safe and well behaved public assembly, demands a new permit in the downtown area from the city beginning on Nov. 13,” the group said.  “We will move from San Jacinto Plaza, respecting its use for the holidays, but we require a reasonable alternative location.”

Along with seeking a new permit to move the occupation camp elsewhere, Occupy El Paso also issued a statement opposing the city’s plan to turn over part of the permit-issuing process to El Paso Downtown Management District, which it says is dominated by corporate influence. Members urged El Pasoans to join them in fighting the change by attending the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Several members of the group related personal stories of the struggles that face in a country where they say government policies work against them in favor of the wealthy.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Occupy El Paso will hold a “Stand in Solidarity event at noon. It will include hundreds of white crosses “to symbolize full solidarity with Ciudad Juarez’ resistance to suppression of social justice movements, and to draw awareness to femicide, drug war violence, human trafficking, environmental degradation, and various borderland issues that all too often result in death.”

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The Occupy movement characterizes itself as a struggle by 99 percent of the US population against the remaining 1 percent — those wealth people and corporations whose power and influence is disproportionate to their numbers.

“Our dream is that we, the 99 percent, can move forward together, with a critical understanding of how greed, corruption, and inequality threatens the lives of all peoples and the Earth,” Occupy El Paso said.

The group urged people to get involved with the movement. More information is available from its website, http://occupyelpaso.org/

Among Occupy El Paso’s major goals:

  • Changing U.S. policies that are partly responsible for violence in Mexico, including drug money transfer through banks and transmittal houses, sale of guns and ammunition, and harmful and ineffective illegalization of drugs.  Ending support for militarization of Mexico via Plan Mérida.  Improving the process and outcomes for asylum for Mexican applicants.
  • Changing U.S. policies of massive border enforcement that cause deaths of hundreds of unauthorized migrants through comprehensive immigration reform that will allow all persons, immigrants and citizens alike, to live openly, with mutual respect, dignity, and rights.
  • Providing full employment in well-paid jobs in the borderlands, and holding businesses, banks, and manufacturers responsible for healthy working conditions and a living wage.  Insisting on fundamental labor rights, including an end to wage theft and the right to unionize.  Applying such laws to all workers, including domestic workers and farmworkers.
  • Supporting local businesses and cooperatives, including credit unions, and ending policies biased toward big outside banks, corporations, and development entities or districts.
  • Providing good quality housing in the borderlands, including changing policies and practices of bank foreclosures, and providing full public services to communities, colonias and others, such as water, sewage, paved streets, public safety, and so forth.  Support programs that allow for self-determination and self-help by the homeless.
  • Providing complete access to health and social services, and well-funded public education systems, pre-school to graduate school.  Treating public workers with respect.
  • Creating a society that respects human diversity and addresses human needs, for all cultures, races, genders, sexual identities, and physical and mental ability levels.  Women should receive equal pay for equal work, receive adequate parental benefits; physical and verbal violence against women and LGBT persons should no longer be overlooked, accepted, and blamed on the victims themselves.
  • Achieving a sustainable relationship with the environment, making the El Paso region a world leader in environmental sustainability.  Achieving a sustainable and healthy local food system.  Controlling big polluters of the air in our region.
  • Reducing inequality by shifting public expenditures toward the 99%, ending corporate welfare, and shifting taxes toward large corporations and top 1% wealthy individuals.  Enact a financial transactions tax to reduce harmful financial speculation.  End wasteful contracts to corporations in the homeland security-industrial and military-industrial complexes. Bring an end to corporate control of government by using publicly financed elections.
  • Creating a local, national, and global society of peace, and ending military adventurism, including the war in Afghanistan; supporting and respecting troops by stopping their sacrifice in unjustified wars; and supporting and respecting veterans.

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