Tag Archives: Calle 13

Canaries in the Mineshaft – Miner Strikes Worldwide, Art, and the Environment

11 Sep

Punk art surrealist Winston Smith, who named him­self after the indelible pro­tag­o­nist of Orwell’s 1984, was once quoted (referring to a popular idiom), “You could say that artists are the canaries in the mineshaft. We see things before others do. We set off alarms and alert those who are distracted by other things. It’s not that we’re more sensitive or more aware…it’s just our job.” This is an allusion to the age-old practice of mining workers carrying caged canaries down into the tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases killed the canary before killing the miners.

Winston Smith Collage

Exemplifying Smith’s assertion of artist-as-indicator-species, this week Yoko Ono launched Artists Against Fracking, with a focus on New York hydraulic fracturing. Yesterday, just days after premiering his new video We Want Peace — Reloaded,” former child soldier, peace activist, and hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal was reportedly beat unconscious by South Sudanese police. Currently on exhibition in London, Art of Change: New Directions from China reveals how the best contemporary art moves beyond the particular to comment on universal experience. The current imprisonment of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot has sparked outrage and protests in solidarity worldwide.

Real miners endure a more wretched fate than the metaphorical ones referenced here, meeting with shattered health, physical brutality, and even murder for corporate profit, which ultimately are also recognized as an assault to the natural world as well.

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Will new anti-protest laws in Puerto Rico benefit the Energy Empire?

13 Aug

compiled by panagioti, Earth First! Journal collective

Last week, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s police chief and justice secretary, saying the island’s new penal code violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

The lawsuit came a week after Governor Luis Fortuno approved the new code that restricts certain types of protests and establishes a three-year prison sentence for violators.

Demonstrators march on May Day 2011 in a protest against the proposed construction of a gas pipeline in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Photograph: Ricardo Alcaraz/AP

“The statute is evidently intended to suppress speech, to stop people from protesting against government policies,” William Ramirez, local ACLU director, said Tuesday.

These policies include the push for a new gas pipline, the so-called Via Verde (Green Way), through environmentally sensitive areas, which has seen mass opposition over the past year. Opponents of the government-owned project, proposed by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) call the project “el tubo de la muerte” (the tube of death).

A provision in the new code restricts protests that block public buildings and interfere with government, presumably including agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers, who was exposed for failing to release a Spanish version of a draft environmental assessment in late 2011 Continue reading