I got to talking with my houseguest Jim, the permaculture student (and also student of Latin America) this morning about a woman who squatted in her own home after it was foreclosed (see article below). He told me about www.takebacktheland.org (operating operating in the U.S. since the ’70s!), and said “it’s related to the MST.” and I said what’s that?, and he sent me to www.mstbrazil.org. The difference between the movement in the U.S. and in Latin America, he says, is that here we are focused on housing, not yet on farmland.
When I lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from 1984-2003, my friends and I would ponder the gigantic homes off in the trees as we drove from Jackson to Wilson, Wilson to the trailheads of the Tetons and back again, dreaming of the day when these dwellings would be liberated to shelter whole communities of people who could not afford homes of their own. You might say we saw it coming.
And of course, this movement to re-occupy our humanity is long overdue. We need to return to the Declaration of Independence, its focus on human rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” rather than the Constitution’s shift in emphasis one hundred years later, to “life, liberty and property.”
Here’s excerpts from the article. Thanks to msnbc.
California woman’s case may show how movement can use its muscle against banks
Jim Seida / msnbc.com
“(The bank) kept saying we can’t do anything. Your case is closed,” said Gudiel. “Our stand was, ‘No, we’re not leaving. This is our home. We worked hard for it and we’re just not going to leave.’”
But instead of the anticipated confrontation, there was a dramatic reversal of fortune. Fanny Mae canceled the eviction notice and offered the Gudiels a loan modification that could enable them keep their home.
Why? Fannie Mae and loan servicer OneWest won’t discuss the case. But nonprofit advocates say a series of bold protests — with reinforcements from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement — and a spate of media interest put Rose in the limelight and forced the banks to back down.
It was a small victory — and Gudiel still has to finalize her deal with the bank — but one that Southern California housing activists hope to repeat. It also provides an example of how the sprawling “Occupy” movement — often criticized for its lack of focus — can lend muscle to specific goals pursued by organizations and individuals.
On Oct. 1, just days after the eviction deadline, thousands of protesters started gathering outside Los Angeles City Hall to launch the “Occupy LA” protest — the local version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City. Gudiel thought her story would play well with the protesters and made an appeal at one of the gatherings’ first daily “general assembly” meetings.
Gudiel’s story resonated with the crowd, which generally holds the belief that corporate greed and influence have driven the country off the rails.
Hers is a familiar tale here. California is the state hardest hit by foreclosure, with 1.2 million — or one in five nationwide — since 2008, according to Realty Trac.
“At Occupy LA, foreclosure is not the main thing, but… it really is the one thing that has truly pushed people to the limit,” said Sergio Ballesteros, an “Occupy LA” organizer who works on its education and workshops committee. “It is the one thing that is so tangible … kicking people out of their homes that some feel they were swindled into … coupled with the fact that these banks that are foreclosing actually are making a lot of money. This is at the heart of the idea that we have to do something.”
After her talk, some protesters went to Gudiel’s home in the suburbs to join the vigil, and some stayed to camp.
On Oct. 4, “Occupy LA” protesters joined in a 200-strong protest with Gudiel in front of the $26 million Bel Air mansion of OneWest CEO Steve Mnuchin.