Palabras de Dan Leahy

[Palabras de Dan Leahy, Coordinador de la Trinacional, en la 8a. Conferencia Trinacional en Defensa de la Educación Pública, Los Ángeles, California. 18 de abril de 2008]

April 18, 2008

FRIDAY EVENING TALK

DAN LEAHY

WE ORGANIZED THE TRINATIONAL IN 1993 IN ANTICIPATION OF NAFTA’S PASSAGE FOR TWO MAIN REASONS:

WE KNEW FROM FOLLOWING THE NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS THAT TURNING PUBLIC EDUCATION INTO A COMMODITY FOR SALE IN THE CAPITALIST MARKETPLACE WAS A CENTRAL COMPONENT OF THIS SERVICE ORIENTED TRADE AGREEMENT.

SECOND, WE BELIEVED THAT IN ORDER TO LOOK FOR STRATEGIES TO COMBAT THIS ATTACK ON THE VERY IDEA OF A “PUBLIC”, LET ALONE ON PUBLIC EDUCATION ITSELF, WE WOULD HAVE TO BUILD A PARALLEL STRUCTURE – A TRINATIONAL STRUCTURE. WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DO THAT EVER SINCE.

NOW, HOWEVER, AS THE PUBLIC RESISTANCE TO THIS AGREEMENT AND THE NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES IT EMBODIES CONTINUES TO  BUILD, ITS AUTHORS ARE RAISING THE ANTE.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN U.S. HISTORY, WE NOW HAVE A MILITARY COMMAND WITH JURISDICTION OVER THE UNITED STATES ITSELF, AS WELL AS OVER CANADA AND MEXICO. IT’S CALLED NORTHCOM.

THE HIGHLY EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT-LED ATTACK ON THE ENTIRE PUBLIC SECTOR OF NEW ORLEANS INCLUDING PUBLIC EDUCATION WAS ACCOMPANIED BY THE GREATEST MILITARY MOBILIZATION ON US SOIL SINCE THE U.S. CIVIL WAR.

AND NOW, NAFTA ENFORCERS ARE PREPARING THE MILITARIZATION OF NAFTA ITSELF WITH PLAN MEXICO AND THE SECURITY AND PROPERITY PARTNERSHIP WHILE THE US GIVES BOEING $2 B TO BUILD A SECURITY WALL ON THE US/MEXICO BORDER AND SENDS OUT THE ICE POLICE TO TERRORIZE IMMIGRANTS.

ALL OF THIS, OF COURSE, WAS A SIGNAL TO MEXICO’S NEW PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON TO USE MILITARY FORCE AGAINST SECTION 22 AND APPO, AS HE, BUSH AND HARPER ATTEMPT TO REPLACE THE TEACHER WITH THE SOLDIER.

I, FOR ONE, STILL BELIEVE THAT THE SOCIAL FORCE THAT CAN HALT ALL OF THIS IS A MOBILIZED PUBLIC SECTOR LED BY ITS TEACHER UNIONS. THESE UNIONS ARE STILL STRONG. THEY STILL HAVE A LEGITIMACY IN THE PUBLIC EYE AND THEY ARE IN A STRATEGIC POSITION VIS A VIS THE MILITARISTS.

THE QUESTION BEFORE US IS ONE OF POLITICAL WILL.

THE TRINATIONAL CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN FORGING THIS POLITICAL WILL, BUT IT WILL REQUIRE A HIGHER LEVEL OF COMMITMENT ON THE PART OF THOSE UNION FORCES THAT CURRENTLY PARTICIPATE IN THE TRINATIONAL.

I THINK THE CANADIAN SECTION NEEDS TO RE-EVALUATE ITS “COALITION” APPROACH AND MOVE TOWARD SOME PERMANENT COMMITMENT SO THAT WE C AN TAKE ACTION ON A CONTINUOUS  BASIS.

THE U.S. SECTION WITH OUR BASES IN NEW YORK, SEATTLE AND LOS ANGELES NEEDS TO DESIGN A CAMPAIGN TO RECRUIT MORE LOCALS TO THIS WORK AND STEP UP THE US FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION SO THE CANADIANS ARE NOT THE SOLE FUNDER OF OUR OPERATIONS.

THE MEXICAN SECTION, WHICH FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS HAS BEEN DEALING WITH AN INTERNAL GOVERNANCE DEBATE, NEEDS TO RE-ESTABLISH ITSELF AS A LEADING PARTICIPANT IN OUR WORK.

FINALLY, THERE IS A QUESTION OF TRINATIONAL COORDINATION.

SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1993, THE COALITION HAS RELIED ON THE RESOURCES OF THE EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE IN OLYMPIA WASHINGTON TO PROVIDE TRINATIONAL COORDINATION.

THE COLLEGE HAS DONE THIS BY PROVIDING OFFICE SPACE, TRAVEL FUNDS, LEAVES AND SABBATICALS FOR ITS FACULTY TO WORK ON THE TRINATIONAL EVENTS. THIS RESOURCE WILL COME TO AN END THIS JUNE DUE TO FACULTY RETIREMENT.

I HOPE THAT THIS CONFERENCE WILL ADDRESS THESE STRATEGIC CONCERNS AS WELL AS THE ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES I’VE IDENTIFIED.

THANKS VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE. IT’S NICE TO HAVE THE TRINATIONAL BACK IN THE U.S. I WANT TO THANK THE UTLA FOR HOSTING US AND I WANT TO WISH ALL OF YOU BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR DELIBERATIONS.

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