An Ex-Pat Occupy Manifesto

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I know there are a lot of us out there. Recent statistics show at least four million US-born folks live outside their native country – the so-called “ex-pats.” I’m one of them (though I’m not sure I’d call myself a patriot, let alone an ex one). I left the States in October 2001, just after my hometown was attacked.

This November I was back in New York and marched with 35,000 others of the 99% across the Brooklyn Bridge, occupied Liberty Plaza (AKA Zuccotti Park), and helped broadcast a bilingual people’s mic for the Women’s March. I got dangerously addicted to the live stream and followed news from Occupy cities across the globe.

But now I’m back in my adopted country and far from what’s happening back in the States. Just like millions of other expats, many of whom I’d guess, like me, were driven to move away (at least in some shape or form), precisely by the same forces against which Occupy stands and shouts and fights and films (keep filming! Keep filming it all!)

So my question is what can we do? What can the 99% living outside the States contribute to the movement?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

1. Spread the word. Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – the information is out there. Inform yourself. Share the knowledge. Go to the live feeds and blogs of cities you love and tweet, like, and recommend whatever strikes a chord. Keep the wheel turning.

2. Translate. When I was in New York, the Occupied Wall Street Journal en Español lagged behind the English version for lack of translators. You live abroad – perhaps you speak the language of an immigrant community in your home city back in the States. Consider offering to translate some web pages or content, posters, or flyers.

3. Donate. Many Occupy cities have specific needs lists – in New York it was everything from books (after the People’s Library was trashed by authorities) to plastic bins for storage; in Denver it was winter gear. Visit the web pages, poke around, pony up.

4. Tell your 99% story. I’m 42 and still carrying over $40,000 in student loan debt. In the States, I couldn’t afford healthcare, to pay off my loans, and keep a roof over my head. So I moved to somewhere I could. Maybe you have a similar story. Tell it here.

5. Share your ideas. Maybe you’ve seen effective slogans, campaigns, or direct actions in your adopted country (Bolivia anyone?). Throw your ideas into the ring – go to chat rooms on the live feed or write a manifesto of your own!

6. Vote in local elections, for progressive, social justice candidates (where they exist). This applies only to those still maintaining residency in the States (I know many of you do and this goes for your spouses, too). A corollary to this is that electoral authorities must be compelled to count all ballots in a fair, transparent way.

7. Banking. This is one area, I’m afraid, where expats feed the 1% Hydra daily, incessantly. So much has to be done electronically when you live abroad, it’s hard (impossible?) to wrestle free of the corporate financial chokehold. For this, I have no suggestions, so leave it for future musings.

For now, I urge those of you reading this on screens far from your former home, to not remain mute and immobile. Support the demand for a more just, equitable, and harmonious society. Add your voice to the chorus.

For those of you in Occupy cities around the United States and the world: we are watching, we are with you. Let’s make that more just, equitable, and harmonious global society happen.

¡Venceremos!

Conner Gorry

Havana, Cuba

December 2011

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11 Comments

Filed under Expat life, Living Abroad

11 responses to “An Ex-Pat Occupy Manifesto

  1. Dan

    Thanks as usual Conner for so eloquently describing the frustration that many of us feel, whether we live in the U.S. (some dinkus from Down Under {probably correctly, now more than ever} refers to it as the land of the un-free) or abroad. Time to say it how we see it, what I do in my own community or you do in the cloud. I was just re-reading some stuff about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers, their thinking also gives inspiration when energy lags behind…..

    • kalena

      My son works for DD’s Catholic Worker refuge in NYC…and feeds the folks at Occupy Wall Street too. This movement has legs…thank gawd!

  2. Ole

    hey Conner-
    i sympathize with you about your student loan situation. I know it is difficult (hell-impossible!) to get books in Cuba, but you should read “Free Lunch” by David Johnston.
    It details how “Sallie Mae”, the Government student loan program was turned into a for profit entity called SLM Corp, which benefited mainly one man named Albert Lord. He sold out to Bank of America for $25 billion.
    Now interest rates for Student loans are averaging between 13-18%!

    It is a sad and sordid tale of Greed. I am sorry that you find yourself caught up in it, and sorry that America sees fit to treat it’s next generation in this callous manner.

    Did you see the Fireworks last night? Up here we hear that the Police were
    out in force on the Malecon to discourage viewers- any truth to that?
    It was a rainy night we heard, as well, so that may have limited interest.

    Happy Human Rights Day! May Cuba have Freedom for all Cubans to speak their Minds someday Soon.

    Ole

  3. Perfectly stated. The only think I would add to Number 6 is that if there isn’t a viable progressive talk to your friends in the states and urge them to find one to put on the ballot, or perhaps to run themselves.

  4. johnabbotsford

    Dan – who are you calling a “dinkus”? Whatever thay means LOL! It is amazing the nerve that seems to be touched by the use of that term “land of the unfree”.

    Ole – only 6 boats was the “flotilla” (sic) that all of the might of Miami could muster!
    What a bastardisation that these same people talk about “human rights” and yet are the most vocal to oppose ‘normal’ Americans from travelling to Cuba.

    Conner – well done for both your physical and writings support on behalf of the 99%

  5. Dan

    So you know, johna, you are I think the originator of the derogatory “.. land of the unfree” phrase and I don’t actually know whether you are from England or from Australia, I being of Scots stock and being from the US say that ye bastards of the Dominion have been floggin us fer too long! You are just the most recent example and I am striking out with newfound vigor! No matter that you are basically correct, us US’ers never place much stock in the actual facts….

  6. johnabbotsford

    “..us US’ers never place much stock in the actual facts….”
    Finally someone from there admits it!!

    ps thanks Dan for the further insult – confusing me with a Pom!

  7. laurenquinn

    Got to this post a little late, but such a good one. Occupy started popping off just as I left the States (was in NYC just after the 1st bridge march, must have just missed each other). When all the crap started going down in Oakland, I was glued to my computer. My 1st experience with something huge and pivotal like that going on when I was away—definitely grateful for the social media that keeps me connected!

    And love the point you made: “In the States, I couldn’t afford healthcare, to pay off my loans, and keep a roof over my head. So I moved to somewhere I could.” Word.

    Thanks for this!

  8. Pingback: For: My 20-Something Friends, Love: Your 40-Something Tía | Here is Havana

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