Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) has been a grantee for many years. We asked Megan Hise of PCASC three questions about their current work.
International solidarity work has changed so much over the last few decades. Can you give me an example of the sort of work you’re doing now?
We in the United States aren’t feeling the effects of climate change in the way that communities are in the global south. But our collective survival and liberation are bound up together.
We convened a community meeting in December during the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun, showing a televised interview with a PCASC delegate who was on the ground and discussing the results of different international climate summits where people’s movements have gained momentum.
Since then we’ve been meeting with groups who are interested in organizing around climate justice in their own organizations and communities. Our current focus is to get youth and environmental groups to join with organized labor at the big march coming up on April 16th in Portland; together they’ll be calling for green jobs. We want to link to the global movement for a solution to climate change.
In PCASC’s early years we mobilized around the US-funded wars in Central America, but, with the passage of damaging trade agreements like NAFTA that favored corporations over workers, much solidarity work now focuses on trade and worker issues. And a lot of trade work winds up overlapping with environmental causes.
Can you give another example of how solidarity work is changing in response to the current political reality?
PCASC: So many of our local struggles are a result of broader systemic issues. We want to connect the dots between issues, and connect struggles across borders.
Case in point: resource extraction is accelerating all over the world. We can learn from successful movements in the global south and take lessons from them, like the movement in El Salvador to eliminate metallic mining.
In Oregon, we see the push for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipelines, in other places we see tar sands–there’s a desperate move. In El Salvador, the people are fighting companies mining for gold.
Gold mining is particularly destructive: they use arsenic to extract it. But thanks to a popular political movement in El Salvador and the resulting national consensus, the government now has to say “no” to corporations who want to do metallic mining, particularly gold mining.
The gold mining struggle is like the LNG pipeline here: the places change, but the work is the same. Putting limits on corporations that are willing to extract value from our earth and our sweat at all costs.
How can people learn more or get involved?
PCASC: There’s information on our website, www.pcasc.net. People can sign up to hear about upcoming events and ways to take action.
By supporting other people’s struggles, we’re helping our own communities in the long term.