Since coming to power in 1959, Cuban leader Fidel Castro systematically repressed any voice of dissent under his regime. Tens of thousands of citizens labeled dissidents were arrested and imprisoned in the years following the revolution. By 1960, all newspapers, radio and television stations were strictly censored by the Department of Revolutionary Orientation. The Interior Ministry exercised its authority by closely monitoring citizens for any sign of dissent.
Sahrawis campaign for human rights and independence in the first intifada, Western Sahara, 1999-2004
In 1975, the Kingdom of Morocco invaded the Western Sahara territory, which had previously been a Spanish colony. Morocco, led by King Hassan II, attacked just as the territory was expected to gain independence from Spain for the first time. Morocco’s actions disobeyed a United Nations Security Council resolution stating that the people of Western Sahara had the right to self determination. The nationalist Sahrawi (the ethnic group of the Sahara, mostly from Western Sahara) Polisario Front, which had been fighting the Spanish, then turned its attention towards Morocco and
Mu Sochua fled Cambodia during the genocide under Pol Pot in the 1970’s. When she returned to her homeland in 1989 as a mother of three, Sochua began a tireless effort to further women’s rights in Cambodia. At the start of her political career she served as Advisor of Women’s Affairs to the Prime Minister, and from 1998 to 2004 was elected to Parliament and also served as Minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs. In 2004, Sochua changed directions slightly by joining the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), the leading political opposition in Cambodia.
In 1975 and 1976, New York City instituted deep budget cuts that angered the local people and led to many sit-ins and occupations around the city. In the spring of 1975, fears from the recession and government budgets made the banks refuse to market city bonds. Under the urging of the state and national governments to regain access to the bond market, Mayor Abraham D. Bearne proposed austerity budgets that would cut spending on schools, libraries, firehouses, and would charge tuition for the City University of New York for the first time.
In the 1960s, the Iraqi government began nationalizing the oil industry. In 1966, the government created the Iraq National Oil Company, which was to eventually control all sects of the oil industry except for refining which was already under control of the Oil Refineries Administration. Complete nationalization occurred in 1972. Iraq has a proven 115 billion barrels of oil reserves, the third largest amount in the world.
When the tropical storm Muifa broke along the shore of the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on 8 August 2011 it broke through the protective dike in front of the Jinzhou Industrial Complex. The dike was immediately protecting some 20 metal tanks holding oil-based chemicals at the Fujia Chemical Plant. The Chinese government dispatched emergency workers, the Dalian Border Guard, and the military to provide emergency repairs to the dike. Local residents near the plant were evacuated.
After World War II, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie took pains to ‘modernize’ Ethiopia and bolster higher education. Selassie’s control of Ethiopia was total. As ‘supreme ruler,’ he abolished all political parties and banned groups from forming cohesive organizations. Selassie was surrounded by a small group of social elites that supported him, and although the government had a Parliament, it wielded very little power. Well into the 1950’s, Ethiopia lagged behind other African nations in education and many of the social elites sent their children overseas for higher education.
Colombian women use sex strike to pressure government to repair road (Huelga de piernas cruzadas), 2011
Barbacoas is an agricultural town in Narino, Colombia. It is a small port town in southwest Colombia that linked the southern regions of the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the provincial routes used in those times have not been renovated since. Its economy now relies primarily on fishing, agriculture, and mining.
From its start in 1870, Mexican labor was essential to the Clifton-Morenci mine in Eastern Arizona. Founding prospectors Clifton and Metcalf quickly sold the rights to the Longfellow Copper Mining Company. The copper smelter was highly productive during its early decades, especially after multiple railroad lines intersected with the area, many of which were able to transport copper. The area quickly began acting as a magnet for Mexican and Chinese labor, which created political tension in the Arizona Territory and also some minor disputes among workers.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
Since April 2011 the JinkoSolar plant near the industrial city of Haining failed local Environmental Protection Bureau pollution tests. Throughout late August and early September 2011, local residents found a large quantity of dead fish in streams and rivers near the plant. On Thursday September 15, 2011, approximately 500 local farmers and residents gathered at the JinkoSolar plant to demand an end to the pollution. Due to lack of information, it is unclear which individuals or groups organized and orchestrated this demonstration.
Activism against militarism in the toy industry began in the 1920s with groups such as Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the New York-based Women’s Peace Society. These groups aimed to induce the public and leaders of the toy industry to re-conceptualize their ideas of childhood and toys. They believed that childhood is the most malleable time in a child’s life where their conceptions of violence and peacemaking are formed. War toys normalize violence for children.
On March 3, 2006, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif announced that all public-sector manufacturing workers would be given an increase in their annual bonuses. The workers of Mahalla al-Kubra’s Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, the country’s largest public sector textile company employing 27,000 people, were overjoyed at the decree.
Manchester workers campaign for economic equality and political representation (Peterloo Massacre), 1817-1820
The economic plight of the people of Manchester in the early eighteenth century was rooted in three major historical developments: the Industrial Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Corn Laws of 1804. The first solidified an enormous and conspicuous gap between rich and poor, leaving Manchester’s lower classes—mostly spinners and weavers of cotton—to grapple with unemployment, poverty, hunger, and heavy reliance on social welfare. It also contributed to an unprecedented boom in population (Manchester’s quintupled in four decades).
Mindanao Island, the southern and second-largest island in the Philippines, has been the site of fighting and violence from a separatist movement since the 1970s. It is the only area of the Philippines with a significant Muslim population, and religious differences and widespread poverty has led to the rise of a separatist Islamist group called the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). MILF is a rebel organization formed in the 1960s that uses terrorist attacks and assassinations to fight against the Philippine government.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had controlled Mexico and won almost every presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial election since its founding in 1929. The PRI also dominated politics in most municipalities and on local levels. In the 1983 and 1985 elections however, the National Action Party (PAN) won many municipal seats and posed a significant challenge to state offices held by the PRI.
Georgetown Solidarity Committee (GSC) formed at Georgetown University in 1996
to support workers' rights. In the fall
of 2001, a group of students, headed by the GSC, formed the Living Wage
Coalition (LWC) in order to guarantee University workers an income to meet their
subsistence needs. The students held meetings on how to take action and organized
breakfast events with workers to hear their grievances and concerns. By 2002, the administration agreed to raise
the minimum wage of workers directly employed by the university to $10.25 per
Born into a family of well-to-do Ṣūfī marabouts (clerics), Sheikh Amadu Bàmba Mbàcke – whose Arabic name was Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad
Ibn Ḥabīb al-Lah – lived from roughly 1854 to 1927. Through his emphases on piety, hard work,
singular devotion to God, the corrupting potential of governmental power,
mystical pedagogy, and principled nonviolence, Bàmba effectively (and of
secondary interest if not unwittingly) led the black Sénégalese population to de facto political and economic
After the First World War, Uruguay’s tourism industry boomed, seeing an influx of tourists from Europe into the city of Montevideo. Following the introduction of the electric streetcar in 1906, industry in Montevideo underwent massive changes to adapt to its new international popularity and the changing industrial landscape of the 20th century.
Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had long been respected as an institution with a strong commitment to social justice. While the College had pioneered such practices as co-education and comprehensive financial aid, by 2000 many College staff—including those in the environmental and dining services departments—were paid just above poverty levels for Delaware County, where the College and the majority of its workers reside. In the fall of 2000, a group of students began to talk with staff about the College’s employment practices.
On August 15, 2011, some 1000 indigenous peoples from the Isiboro Secure Park (known by its Spanish Acronym TIPNIS) in Bolivia began their protest march against a highway project through the park and their traditional homes. The 500km march from the Amazonian town of Trinidad to La Paz was organized by many indigenous leaders, including Fernando Vargas, president of TIPNIS Native Communities, and Rosario Barradas of the Conference of Indigenous People.
Egyptian workers strike and occupy textile factory for better pay, representation, and conditions, 2007
Misr Spinning and Weaving Company is the largest public sector Egyptian textile company, employing 27,000 workers in the mid-2000s. The company is located in the Nile Delta town Mahalla al-Kubra and had a history of workers protests, the most significant of which occurred in December 2006 when about 20,000 of the company’s employees struck (see "Egyptian textile workers strike for bonuses and prrotest corruption, 2006").
After India’s independence (for example see, “Indians campaign for independence (Salt Satyagraha), 1930-1931”), tensions between Hindus and Muslims erupted in violent riots in the north of what was an undivided India. At that time, Gandhi had the idea of creating Shanti Sena, or the Gandhian Peace Army, an army of nonviolent soldiers that could keep the peace. Gandhi planned a conference in 1948 at his Sevagram Ashram to discuss the organization of the Shanti Sena, but he was assassinated before talks began.
With a population of 1.3 million people, the Mapuche are currently the largest indigenous group in Chile. Before 1881, the group functioned as an independent nation, but their political and territorial sovereignty was revoked after Chileans declared their independence from Spain. Since then, the government has forced the Mapuche to live on small “reducciones” (reserves) and allowed private lumber firms to expropriate their land.
The Wal-Mart distribution center in Elwood, Illinois, is one of the five largest in the country. Wal-Mart’s goods are imported here, shipped to smaller centers, and then sent to individual stores. However, many people who worked in the distribution centers were hired through employment contractors and were kept at “temporary” employee status, depriving them of benefits and higher pay, even if they had worked the same job for years. Conditions inside the warehouses were often unsafe and many workers experienced wage theft and discrimination by employers.