It is obvious that international perception of the US is changing. Yet, how that perception is going to to shape the actions of international movements has still been rather unclear. For the better part of the past 40 years, US based movements have treated solidarity with Latin America as if it were a one way street. This has been part of a disconnect in thinking that divides struggles into two categories, domestic and foreign.
As America’s moral authority continues to weaken, a new form of international solidarity is evolving. In a statement that many people from the U.S. may regard as unusual and even unprecedented, The People Humans Rights Observatory (PHRO) based in Oaxaca, Mexico has released an international declaration supporting activists in the US and condemning both official and para-state repression of our popular movements. This statement reflects how people in Latin America see us and articulates an evolution in solidarity that is mutual, Latin America lead, and that recognizes a connection between repression and human rights abuses both inside and beyond our borders.
As people from the US, we tend to think to think of our country as an exception to the type of political repression that we see in the rest of the world. This statement repudiates that exceptionalism. That veil has continued to obscure the struggles of immigrants and Native Americans fighting for basic rights and justice within our own borders. We often ignore the legacy of slavery and the failures of reconstruction that continue to fuel racism within our communities everyday.
People in Latin America know state abuse of authority when they see it. In the statement they condemn of the way that our judicial system and police has stepped aside as people of color have been repeatedly murdered at the hands of police and armed vigilantes in the case of Trayvon Martin. The impunity within our courts and the validation from our President has given the White alt-right in America a new confidence that has reared its head in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The Statement reads, “These are grave expressions of hatred and intolerance that the radical White right of the US has charged itself – with impunity – to promote and strengthen.”
Yet, there are thousands of hate crimes that occur at the local level, that rarely get addressed. Soon after Trump's election, the Attorney General of Massachusetts opened up a hate crime hotline. Within its first four days of operation it received over 300 calls.
To move beyond the hatred that has been expressed in our communities we must challenge ourselves to practice a broader sense of compassion. This type of solidarity that is being demonstrated by organizations across Latin America right now and is exemplified by PHRO. The Statement, which was signed by over 60 groups throughout Latin America, recognizes the threats that the left in the US are facing today and shows they have our back.
Through this statement they implicitly condemn the U.S.’s self-appointed power to intervene in Latin America while formulating a new vision for solidarity that forces Americans to reevaluate our relationship with our partners to the south. They understand that in this political climate, where many problems are not contained within national boundaries, we must fight the reaches of white supremacy and colonialism everywhere.
No longer can we perpetuate the protectionist narrative that has dominated international solidarity work. It is time to learn from our partners in the south and create a more sustainable form of solidarity with a mutually dependant foundation. If done correctly, acts of true solidarity can return a humanity to political engagement, a humanity that is integral to creating the political changes we desperately need.