Podcast: London Occupiers

Since October 2011, the Occupy Movement has been campaigning for increased equality, democracy, transparency and accountability in our governments and global financial systems. The movement has served as an inspiring example of direct action, with its trademark technique of occupying public spaces in front of the world's financial and political centres, where occupiers could not be ignored.

In this podcast, five longstanding members of Occupy London - Jamie, Dan, Nafeesa, George and Matthew - talk to Nyan Storey about the controversies and the future of the Occupy movement.

Has the Occupy movement fizzled out without really changing anything?

Are people wanting to drastically change our political and economic systems just naïve idealists?

How can normal people without economic expertise hope to propose realistic economic solutions?

What will Occupy look like after the camps are evicted?

See also New Internationalist co-editor Vanessa Baird's take on Occupy 2.0.

Podcast: Haiti today

Haiti issueOur current issue takes a look at Haiti two years after the 2010 earthquake. This month, our Radio NI podcast features a special round table discussion in partnership with the Haiti Support Group, a leading international advocacy group for Haiti based in London, who have been fighting for the rights of the Haitian People for many years, and will continue to do so. Part one of this discussion centred around Haiti's troubled history, as discussed by Phillip Wearne in the magazine. This concluding episode turns to the problems facing today, and the solutions available.

Participating in the discussion are Mario Joseph, Haiti’s leading civil and human rights lawyer, and Anne McConnell, coordinator of the Haiti Support Group, and Phillip Waerne, also of the Haiti Support Group. They talked with our podcast editor Nyan Storey.

Podcast: Haiti's colonial past still burdens

Haiti issueOur current issue takes a look at Haiti two years after the 2010 earthquake. Phillip Wearne, author of its leading article, argues that Haiti’s disastrous humanitarian situation– and any solutions that we find to its problems– can only be understood in the context of its fascinating history. He argues that since Haiti’s revolution made it the first free country in the Americas, it has been the victim of a calculated and concerted effort by colonial powers to undermine the economy and impose foreign domination and that this effort continues today and needs to be stopped before any true progress can be made.

In part one of this special edition of the Radio NI podcast, Phillip joins Mario Joseph, Haiti’s leading civil and human rights lawyer, and Anne McConnell, coordinator of the Haiti Support Group. They will be talking to Nyan Storey about the historical context and root causes of the deprivation we see in Haiti today, and how they should be taken into account in the search for solutions. (In part two, they discuss the problems facing Haiti today, and the solutions available.)

Mario Joseph is the head of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Haiti’s leading organisation of Civil and Human Rights Lawyers. He was the chief prosecutor in the Raboteau Massacre trial in 2000, which led to the conviction of fifty-seven defendants, including the top military and paramilitary leadership of Haiti’s 1991-1994 de facto dictatorship. Mario and the BAI are now involved in litigation involving hundreds of cases of human rights abuses by powerful vested interests against poor and vulnerable people in Haiti.

This podcast will also be an opportunity for listeners to hear the rich and beautiful Haitian language, which is an oft-forgotten achievement of Haiti’s people, and just one part of the identity they forged as they became independent from colonising nations. This will give ordinary Haitians the opportunity to understand the podcast.

This Podcast was made possible by the Haiti Support Group, a leading international advocacy group for Haiti based in London, who have been fighting for the rights of the Haitian People for many years, and will continue to do so. To learn more about the HSG, go to http://www.haitisupportgroup.org/.

On the road from Guyana to Brazil

While visiting my cousin in Guyana, I had the honour of joining him for his first ever trip abroad, at the age of 20. Our aim: Get from Georgetown, Guyana’s coastal capital, to Brazil’s northern border...for free! After checking prices of planes and buses and finding out that none were free, we heard that a charity called Eiripan, (a word meaning ‘sharing’ in Makushi, one of the Guyanese Amerindian languages), was running an expedition through the rainforest to the Brazilian border to give Christmas presents to Amerindian children. After explaining to them how passionate we were about their charity, and how we were graciously willing to help despite the long travelling involved, they took us on.

The next morning, getting as comfortable as we could expect to get while sitting on a pair of hard metal oil barrels on the back of a truck, we set off from Georgetown with the rising sun visible through the palm trees across the Demerara river (whose cane fields are the original source of Demerara sugar, Guyana’s best known export). However, our sense of excited anticipation was quickly diminished by the painful jolts we received every time the truck went over a slight bump. We knew that if we were having this much difficulty on the capital’s tarmac roads, then we would be turned to mincemeat on the winding dirt roads that lead through the rainforest. Furthermore, there is a tradition of navigating these roads at breakneck pace, perhaps in a collective effort to compensate for Guyana’s marked lack of theme parks and roller coasters. Over the next few hours we tried out more and more inventive ways of finding comfortable seating positions, and eventually found ourselves lying on the tarpaulin stretched across the top of the truck, looking serenely upwards at the clear blue sky, and hastily reaching for one of the metal bars behind us whenever the truck turned sharply.

Before we knew it, we had entered the rainforest, which was like entering a different universe. Brightly coloured parrots, toucans and tens of other species of birds flew between the trees above our heads, and monkeys could be seen playing in the branches. Rodents and monkeys on the forest floor would be startled out of the bushes by the sound of our truck thundering past, sprinting across the road like cats. On one occasion a lightning-fast snake appeared to the side of our truck, seeming to match our speed for a few seconds before disappearing back into the undergrowth. My cousin informed me that the Guyanese name for this snake was the ‘bush motorbike’, and I could see why.

As the bus mounted hills, we could occasionally see the forest below us - infinite shades of green extending to the horizon in every direction. As the journey continued through the day, the beauty of lush greenery and nature remained unbroken all around us, except for occasional burnt out shells of crashed trucks. After crossing the Essequibo (Guyana’s biggest river, which contains islands the size of Barbados) with the sun starting to set behind the massive trees, we entered Iwokrama, a large Amerindian-run section of the rainforest very important for Guyanese ecotourism, an example of economic and environmental interests being successfully served by respecting the rights of first nation communities.

Night fell as we left the rainforest and entered the Guyanese savannah, under a spectacular sea of hypnotising bright stars. Here, the road became even bumpier, and we realized that we had to sit up to avoid getting jolted off the truck. We were too exhausted to maintain ourselves upright, and sat with our backs against each other. That moment, sitting back-to-back under the stars, brother-cousins travelling towards the unknown, I would come to see as one of the defining moments of my life.

Soon, a better quality tarmac road is going to be built between Guyana and Brazil, bringing industry and development. But if this development does not respect the interests and voices of Guyana’s first nation communities, it could spell disaster for their way of life, and for Guyana’s incredible biodiversity, which is its most valuable resource.