Friday, February 18, 2011

The Weekly News Update Turns 21

The Weekly News Update started 21 years ago this month as a few photocopied pages with news about the impending elections in Nicaragua.

People sometimes forget how much has changed since then. The internet was new and slow, and there were few alternative sources for news from Latin America and the Caribbean. Solidarity activists were confused and demoralized by events like the collapse of the East Bloc and then the Sandinistas’ electoral defeat. Many activists were unaware of the growing grassroots resistance to neoliberal policies—or even of the existence of neoliberal policies.

The many developments since 1990 have meant that the Update can provide a lot of things now that we couldn’t have imagined then.

-- Better and more timely information from the region. The dramatic growth of the region’s grassroots movements and left and left-center political forces has coincided with wider access to the internet. Now we often learn about a labor struggle, a land occupation or an act of repression as soon as they happen—both from local media and from the participants themselves.

-- A weekly digest of alternative sources. A number of online alternative media have grown up here in the US that carry news on Latin America and the Caribbean. Good information is now available from sources like NACLA’s website, Upside Down World, World War 4 Report and many others. Instead of trying to cover everything ourselves, now we can provide links to important articles at progressive sites and concentrate on the stories we feel the others may have missed.

-- Quick access to primary sources. Most of our source material is now available on the web, so we can provide links from the blog version of the Update, enabling you to follow up on our sources. We also try to link to the websites of the groups that we’re writing about.

-- News at no cost. As our readers increasingly switched to the online Update, we were able to drop the printed version and save the costs of duplication and mailing. We’re an all-volunteer operation, so this means we’ve been able to make the Update free.

Through all the changes, we’ve kept our focus on the dangers of neoliberal polices and US intervention and on the resistance from below: on the struggles of the Mapuche in Chile for their land, the connection between Honduran sweatshop owners and the 2009 coup, the hunger strikes by laid-off Mexican electrical workers and Costa Rican environmentalists, the protests against cutbacks by Puerto Rican students, the evidence that UN “peacekeepers” caused Haiti’s cholera epidemic.

But we feel these stories aren’t reaching enough people. If you think the information is important, you can help by circulating the Update yourselves.

-- You can forward the Update to your lists (please include the link to the blog so people can access the extra information there).
-- If you have a website or blog, you can add a link there, or repost items from the Update.
-- You can also click on the buttons at the bottom of each Update to forward the issue by email, add it to your own blog, or share it by Twitter or a social network.
-- Write comments. Do you have a correction or additional information? Do you want to express your own opinion? Just remember that we moderate the comments to keep out spam, so your comment won’t appear until an editor gets a chance to approve it.

As always, we appreciate your support over the years.

David L. Wilson, Weekly News Update

PS. You may have noticed that we didn’t ask for money, but if you want to contribute, make checks or money orders payable to “Nicaragua Solidarity Network,” PO Box 20587, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009.

Also, if you’re in the New York metropolitan area, we’re planning to have a book sale/giveaway in the near future, with proceeds going to help close the office. We’ll keep you posted on that.

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