After eleven (11) years of fascinating visits and dialogues around the world, the Organizers’ Forum, its board, participants, and consistent institutional stakeholders are having a dialogue of their own about the next 10 years of programmatic dialogues around the world. The discussion is tilting towards two emerging themes that have been products of past dialogues becoming alternate offerings of the Organizers’ Forum.
One consistent focus has been to visit countries in transition to better understand both what is happening and the role of mass-based organizations, social movements, labor unions, community organizations, and non-profits in driving or adapting to these transitions. Along this line we were in Brazil on the eve of the seminal election sweeping Lula and the Workers’ Party into power, we visited South Africa 10 years after the end of apartheid, we were in Egypt last year within months of the revolution and overthrow of Mubarak, and most recently Bolivia to understand the role and relationship between social movements and Evo Morales, the country’s first president to have come from the ranks of the majority indigenous population and social movement participation with the Water Wars and the cocaleros. Similar points could be made about our explorations in Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam, India, Thailand, and Turkey, as we tried to understand democratic claims, the role of Islam, the participation of women, and the conflicts between state economies and political experience.
Another consistent theme in many of these same countries as well as in our Australian dialogue has been our attempts to better understand the role of migration and immigration and its impact on the country. A closely connected and related theme of these dialogues has often the treatment, tensions, and cultural conflicts in these countries and how they dealt with minorities, ethnic, and religious groups, whether Roma in Turkey, Karin refugees in Mae Sot on the Thai border, Coptic’s in Cairo, non-Muslims in Indonesia, and others. For example during this last dialogue, while in Cochabamba, one of the participants made a fascinating proposal for a future dialogue in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico, for example, so that organizers working with immigrant communities in various areas of the North America might better understand the economic, cultural, and organizational roots of populations in their home areas. We like the idea but believe it will take significant commitment and organizational assistance from some of our partners to realize fully.
At this point as a placeholder we are looking at the following likely International Dialogue venues to try and combine these themes and interests, while allowing various proposals for the future to surface and season.
2013 International Dialogue: Burma from Sunday, September 29th through October 4th
The “opening” of Burma or Myanmar in the last year or so has been breathtaking and has included signs from the United States of relaxing restraints, the end of house arrest and then election to the Parliament of Nobel Prize winner and pro-democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other signs that the military rule has ended. What created this opening at this time? What were the role of struggles along the border, pressure from the opposition and the Buddhist monks and adherents? How will the economy be improved? How will relationships with the scores of ethnic and linguistic minorities be resolved? What will be the impact on the region? There are a lot of questions worth exploration as well as coming to understand once again how revolutionary change happens in real time and learn from it. Dates for the dialogue are scheduled for Sunday, September 29, through October 4th.
2014 International Dialogue: Nicaragua from Sunday, September 29 through October 3rd
Nicaragua is a country caught in contemporary contradictions. There is no question that there are mass organizations. Certainly in the first stage of the Sandinista Revolution in the 1980’s there were dramatic reports and scholarly works on the importance of community organizations in creating new forms of participation in society and government, particularly in lower income areas. Other social movements impacted women, labor, and ethnic minorities along the Coast. In the last battles of the Cold War, heavily supported by the Regan Administration in the United States, the contras were involved in a controversial shooting war an eventually Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas were pushed out. More recently there has been another chapter to this story. After a series of electoral defeats at the ballot box, the Sandinistas have returned to power and Ortega is now serving a second consecutive term, having been re-elected successfully. What happened here? Is there a democracy? Has there been real reform? Is this a case where a government is still moving progressively or is there now simply a consolidation of power behind the ruling party? What are the role of social movements, women, campesinos, community organizations, and unions now? Are they free and autonomous? Why is Nicaragua reportedly the poorest country in Latin America? We would to answer these and other questions from Sunday, September 28, through Friday, October 3rd.
In line with our other emphasis, the following chart contains a list of the 25 areas within the United States for example which have the highest totals of Nicaraguan immigrants. Many as you can see are in Florida, California, Louisiana, and Texas (source: Wikipedia).
US communities with largest population of people of Nicaraguan ancestry
The top 25 US communities with the highest populations of Nicaraguans (Source: Census 2010)
- Miami, FL – 28,618
- Los Angeles, CA – 15,572
- Hialeah, FL – 10,410
- San Francisco, CA – 7,604
- Fountainbleau, FL – 6,738
- Houston, TX – 4,226
- Kendale Lakes, FL – 3,560
- Tamiami, FL – 3,476
- Sweetwater, FL – 3,102
- San Jose, CA – 2,917
- Kendall, FL – 2,629
- The Hammocks, FL – 2,391
- Kendall West, FL – 2,265
- Miami Gardens, FL – 2,134
- West Little River, FL – 2,112
- Richmond West, FL – 2,039
- Country Club, FL – 1,772
- Hayward, CA – 1,745
- Miramar, FL – 1,691
- South San Francisco, CA – 1,639
- South Miami Heights, FL – 1,585
- Metairie, LA – 1,462
- Pembroke Pines, FL – 1,423
- Homestead, FL – 1,354
- Hialeah Gardens and Hollywood, FL – 1,321