With our deepest appreciation to IPS

As many of you are aware, the November Coalition is the domestic recipient of the Letelier-Moffit award. Congratulations to everyone.

To tell you a little about IPS, the Institute for Policy Studies celebrates its 37th year as the only multi-issue progressive think tank in Washington, D.C. Through books, articles, films, conferences, and activist education IPS offers resources for progressive social change locally, nationally, and globally.

IPS has core programs on Peace and Security, the Global Economy, and Paths for the 21st Century, supplemented by several projects that address specific issues. These program areas are linked with each other and with coalitions around the country through the Progressive Challenge networking and outreach program, which unites single issue organizations and programs under a common, multi-issue progressive agenda entitled the Fairness Agenda for America.

The Institute also houses three other networking programs: The Social Action and Leadership School for Activists (SALSA), the Letelier/Moffitt Human Rights Awards program, and the IPS Publications Program. Through its classes, SALSA teaches activists how to manage, organize, communicate, and strategize more effectively. The Letelier/Moffitt Human Rights Awards annually honors outstanding human rights activists in memory of two IPS staff killed by a car bomb in 1976 under orders of the Chilean Secret Police.

More about the Lettelier-Moffit Award

The Institute for Policy Studies has been a leading voice in the struggle to bring former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet to justice since it lost two of its colleagues at the hands of agents of the Pinochet regime. Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt were killed in a car bombing at Sheridan Circle in Washington, DC on September 21, 1976. Letelier had been the ambassador to the United States and the Defense Minister under Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile who died during Pinochet's bloody coup. He and Moffitt, a 25-year-old development assistant, both worked at IPS at the time of their death.

Since that horrible event, IPS has been involved in ensuring that the memory of Letelier and Moffitt and other victims of Pinochet would not be forgotten. Every year IPS holds a memorial service at Sheridan Circle and a human rights awards program in the name of Letelier and Moffitt; IPS has also cooperated closely with the U.S. and Chilean investigations into their death.

You can read more about the "Bring Pinochet to Justice Campaign "that is mobilizing U.S. support for the Spanish trial against Pinochet and a possible U.S. trial for Pinochet's role in the Letelier-Moffitt murders at: www.ips-dc.org/lm-awards/pinochet.htm Be sure to read the LETELIER-MOFFITT CASE TIMELINE that is posted on their website.

A distinguished panel of human rights leaders have chosen Bolivian activist Oscar Olivera and the November Coalition, a U.S. prisoner advocacy organization, to receive this year's awards. The awards program will take place October 16 in Washington, DC.

International Award: Oscar Olivera

Oscar Olivera leads a coalition that has successfully fought off an initiative to privatize the public water system in Cochabamba, Bolivia, initially pushed by the World Bank, and in which the Bank imposed rules that all but ensured that people would get hit with massive price hikes.

In 1999, the Bolivian government transferred the system in a 40-year concession to a private consortium, including a subsidiary of U.S.-based Bechtel, which quickly hiked rates for local water users by as much as 200 percent. Olivera, a long-time labor leader, became the spokesperson of the Coordinator in Defense of Water and Life, a coalition of workers, environmentalists, artisans, peasants, and others who believe that water is a critical public good and should not be privatized.
The Bolivian government responded to the coalition's protests with force, resulting in significant civilian injuries and the death of one protestor. After four days in hiding, Olivera emerged to lead negotiations that resulted in 1) the withdrawal of Bechtel and the military troops surrounding the city, 2) the reform of laws pertaining to water services, and 3) the release of persons detained during the conflict. According to IPS Director John Cavanagh, "The Coordinator, with Olivera at its head, is an inspiring symbol of the growing international resistance to the devastating impacts of World Bank and IMF-promoted policies throughout the world."

Olivera entered the workforce at age 16 as a machine operator and has been a leader in the Bolivian labor movement for over 22 years. He is currently the Executive Secretary of the Federation of Factory Workers of Cochabamba, an umbrella organization comprising over 50 unions and 6,000 workers. Olivera has assumed a prominent role in the creation of education and training opportunities for workers, including the establishment in 1999 of the May 1st Union School.

Domestic Award: November Coalition

The November Coalition, founded in Colville, Washington in 1997, has exploded into a national organization with a membership of thousands of prisoners, their loved ones and other concerned citizens dedicated to ending the racist and failed policies of the U.S. "War on Drugs." Director Nora Callahan founded the Coalition along with her brother (currently serving a 27 1/2-year sentence in a federal penitentiary) and a few other prisoners to raise public awareness about the injustices of the Drug War. The Coalition's "Razor Wire" newspaper and web site publicize shocking personal stories of many of the millions of individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses who are now serving draconian mandatory sentences with no hope for earned release.

In 1999, the November Coalition initiated the National Vigil Project to bring Drug War victims face to face with the public. Regional volunteers have organized public vigils to denounce the impact of current drug policies in their own communities and to present plans of action for distraught family members angered by loss and government indifference. The November Coalition's ultimate goal is to turn that rage and sorrow into dignified, effective civic resistance.

According to Sanho Tree, Director of the IPS Drug Policy Project, "As with political prisoners the world over, the thought that keeps many other prisoners going is the knowledge that they have not been forgotten by the world they were forced to leave behind. The November Coalition reminds us of our war against our fellow citizens and our common obligation to seek their freedom."

2000 Letelier-Moffitt Awards Selection Committee:

Fred Azcarate, Jobs with Justice
Marie Dennis, Maryknoll Justice and Peace Office
Karen Dolan, Institute for Policy Studies
Joe Eldridge, University Chaplain, American University
Jill Gay
Bill Goodfellow, Center for International Policy
Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archives
Isabel Letelier
Jerome Scott, Project South
Barbara Shailor, AFL-CIO
Shirley Sherrod, Federation of Southern Cooperatives
Joel Solomon, Human Rights Watch
George Vickers, Washington Office on Latin America

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