In May, the country of Chile created one of the most democratic and environmentally responsible constitutions in world history. It protects the earth, prevents environmental incursion by mining and extractive industries, protects women, and offers restitution and constitutional protection for indigenous peoples. That constitution goes to the voters on Sept. 4. Back in NM, we share stunning info from CD2, including an interview with Gabe Vasquez, the remarkable Democrat opposing Yvette Herrell. Listen to his interview today & you’ll be canvassing for him on Sunday. But let’s start with good news from Santa Fe.
Guaranteed Basic Income Success in Santa Fe
A little over two years ago, Mayor Alan Webber attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he first heard about the Mayors Guaranteed Income initiative (MGI). Santa Feans and New Mexicans should be very grateful that the mayor attended the MGI breakout session. He left inspired and determined. MGI is a national initiative that has spawned 82 MGI pilots in 29 states, distributing $200M to a wide variety of underserved populations. Since MGI is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to conduct rigorous evaluations of the pilots, it has become a veritable learning lab on how Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) programs should be structured and what populations benefit most. To learn more about how GBI and UBI (Universal Basic Income) programs operate, check out our blog on the topic from March 2022: “Universal Basic Income: A Promising Strategy for Addressing Poverty in NM” ,
We’ve been researching and reporting on GBI since then. And today I spoke with Julie Sanchez the coordinator of Santa Fe’s MGI program, Project LEAP. I reported on LEAP earlier this week and encourage you to check out that blog to learn more.
Upon returning to NM, Webber applied for and received funding for Santa Fe to host an MGI pilot. The good news I learned today is that Santa Fe LEAP is serving 100 low-income parent-students to help them finish their education, and the program is working. What’s more, LEAP has trained seven of the participants to serve as “storytellers,” and we will be hosting a Zoominar in October featuring these storytellers, who, along with GBI program managers, will begin the legislative cultivation process for 2023.
I was also told that there are other GBI pilots operating in NM — one is managed by NM Appleseed, a poverty advocacy lab, and funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Yet another GBI pilot is operated by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, serving 300 undocumented or newly documented immigrants. With this much going on in NM, we should be able to develop a compelling argument for the NM State Legislature to pass legislation to develop more pilot GBI programs serving low-income, underserved populations. Stay tuned!
Chile Seeks the Impossible: a Constitution that Respects, Land, Air, and People Far More than Profit & Industry
It is remarkable how this recently drafted Chilean Constitution has engrained Chileans’ rights to clean air and water and the degree to which the rights of nature itself permeate their constitution. The new Chilean constitution also enshrines and prioritizes the rights of indigenous peoples and offers restitution for lands stolen from indigenous peoples.
María Elisa Quinteros, the president of the gender-equal,154-member assembly formally presented the draft in May at a ceremony in the port city of Antofagasta. From The Guardian’s “Chile finalises new draft constitution to replace Pinochet-era document”:
Among the long list of rights and freedoms the draft enshrines, the new constitution makes higher education free, ensures gender parity across government and makes the state responsible for preventing, adapting to and mitigating climate change. The new document will for the first time offer constitutional recognition to Chile’s Indigenous population.”The Guardian’s “Chile finalises new draft constitution to replace Pinochet-era document”
While just crafting this constitution is a remarkable achievement, it must be approved by a vote of the people on Sept 4. and capitalist forces are not amused. If this passes, all corporate activity such as mining and extraction will be constrained in ways unseen anywhere on earth. And capitalist forces don’t want anyone meddling with their model. If Chile can demonstrate the proper role of governance to protect the earth and our future, and that this can be done without destroying an economy, then Global South countries may get similar ideas. The capitalists will stop at nothing to prevent this. While the Global North may be alarmed, indigenous Chileans are delighted.
“Whether this constitution is rejected or approved [by the plebiscite], I believe that Chile’s Indigenous peoples have already won,” said Rosa Catrileo, who represents the Mapuche, the country’s largest Indigenous group. We have made our demands visible on a national level, and so never again will we be excluded from the conversation,” she said.The Guardian’s “Chile finalises new draft constitution to replace Pinochet-era document”
Eighty percent of Chileans voted last October to convene a Constitutional Convention to redraw the Constitution created under the ruthless dictatorship of Pinochet. (Interestingly, in Chile everyone 18 and over is required by law to vote.) Pinochet was installed as a dictator in 1973 via a CIA-backed coup to replace the democratically elected Socialist, Salvador Allende. And the Constitution itself was drawn up to respond to a monumental level of nationwide protests. Despite a clear grassroots effort to create and pass the new constitution, there is no guarantee this will pass on Sept. 4. Polling in May showed only 38% support the draft constitution, likely in part due to early misinformation from industry. And that is before the powers that be from the Global North begin their meddling.
We’ve seen many authentically democratic efforts emerge before in the Caribbean and Central and South America, only to face quarantines, sanctions, coups, and right-wing violence, often triggered, funded, and armed by Global North powers. For an excellent one-page summary of U.S.-backed intervention in Latin America, click here. I suspect all of you know about most of these interventions, but seeing them listed in a single table is both informative and embarrassing. It simply reinforces one’s views that our capitalist economic and political system will stop at nothing to ensure a continued flow of exploitive profit.
So this situation in Chile will be a process to watch over the coming months and hopefully years. Inspiring. This will not likely get much mainstream media play until we start hearing about how a sane climate policy can only strangle a national economy, and boycotts and other capitalist economic pressures will be brought to bear on Chile. But regardless of the outcome, what has transpired in Chile should inspire us as it lifts the veil on what is possible if you integrate social and environmental justice and accept nothing less.
Introducing Gabe Vasquez, Inspiring Dem. candidate for NM CD 2
In the last six years, I have interviewed over 300 guests on Retake on the Radio (6X52). I can honestly say that I’ve never interviewed anyone as inspiring and authentic as Gabe Vasquez. It buoyed my spirits — when I was done with the interview, I knew that Yvette Herrell is toast.
My spirits were further uplifted when I heard from Rochelle Williams, founder of Blue CD 2, that the party breakdown in the newly redrawn CD 2 is now 44% Dem, 30% GOP, and 24% DTS. My optimism was further buoyed when she noted that over 134,000 CD 2 Dems failed to vote in 2020 and that Blue CD2 has been working for months reaching out to those Dems to get them informed, motivated, and registered. Please do listen now to this interview and then go to GabeForCongress.com and learn how you can help. They have a robust canvassing campaign on the west side of ABQ, newly part of CD 2. Let’s do this!
This radio interview won’t be aired until July 23, so this is early bonus coverage for Retake peeps.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Economic justice