Supporting Nonviolence and Social Justice Since 1974.
339 Lafayette Street, New York, New York 10012 (212) 533-4335 Fax: (212) 228-6193 [email protected]

Muste Notes Summer 2008Muste Notes
Vol. 16, No. 3 — Spring 2009

Dear Friends
Defending Indigenous Rights
Nonviolence in Palestine
A Luminous Activist: Karl Bissinger (1914-2008)
New Grants, December 2008
Counter-Recruitment Grants, December 2008
NOVA Fund 2008 Grants
New Travel Grants

For an Acrobat PDF version of the most recent print edition of Muste Notes click here

Leer "Noticias del Instituto Muste" en español (edicion previa) aquí

Past editions of Muste Notes are here

March 23, 2009

Dear Friends,

“Thank you for all the help you have provided to our community. Because we like to practice the principle of indigenous reciprocity, we would like to know how we can contribute to the Muste Institute or to another institution that you recommend.”

This came to us in an email message from Comunidad Charrúa Basquadé Inchalá, a Muste Institute grantee that works to build indigenous rights and culture in Uruguay. After reflecting on this offer, we asked the group to spread the word about the Muste Institute’s unique programs to their contacts. And we’re asking you to do the same.

We can send you extra copies of this newsletter to distribute among your friends and colleagues, and a short message to forward out by email. We now have a page on the social networking website Facebook, where you can become a fan of the Muste Institute and share your enthusiasm for our efforts.

As longtime activist Camilo Viveiros told us: “This is the moment to get the word out to the communities that the Muste Institute has played a key role in supporting, even though many people aren’t aware of it. AJMMI’s historic work in different social justice efforts should be highlighted to those whose present work owes a debt to these efforts.”

The current economic crisis reminds us that our only security for the future is a just and sustainable world. Join us in investing more resources toward that goal.


Jeanne Strole and Jane Guskin

Defending Indigenous Rights

sal si puedes

In April 2008, Comunidad Charrúa Basquadé Inchalá organized a three-day commemorative march from Montevideo to Salsipuedes, the site of an 1831 genocide against the Charrúa people, the original inhabitants of what is now Uruguay. In an homage to their ancestors, the Charrúa marchers staged dance and drama presentations and held workshops at theaters and rural schools along the route. In 2007 and 2008, the group received grants from the Muste Institute’s NOVA Travel Fund for its members to attend gatherings in Central America. Photo by Aurelio Gonzalez

Nonviolence in Palestine

The wounding of nonviolence activist Tristan Anderson by the Israeli military at a March 13 protest in the West Bank village of Nil’in has drawn major U.S. media attention—because Tristan is a U.S. citizen. In Bil’in, another West Bank village resisting the apartheid wall, nonviolent protests have been held weekly for the past four years. Every week, the Israeli military greets Bil’in’s nonviolent demonstrators with a barrage of weapons, including rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition and tear gas—often fired in high velocity projectiles like the one that tore a hole in Tristan Anderson’s skull.

demonstration in Palestine

Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators march towards the apartheidwall during a protest in the West Bank village of Bil'in on February 6, 2009. Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org.

“Most of the people that take part in the demonstrations have been injured,” Zuhdia Khatib, a Bil’in resident and mother of five, told the Palestine Monitor. “My two oldest sons have both been injured. My son Jaber has been injured twice—once with a rubber coated steel bullet and once with a tear gas canister.”

Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the wall and the occupation has swelled over the past four years, organized and supported by Muste Institute grantees like the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements, Holy Land Trust, International Solidarity Movement, Palestine Solidarity Project and Gush Shalom.

“I am very happy to see my people (the Palestinians), with the help of some internationals and Israeli peacemakers, joining the nonviolent resistance against the occupation,” Holy Land Trust activist Elias Deis wrote in January 2008. “The number of participants is increasing, and the idea of resisting the occupier in a nonviolent way is becoming steadily more popular.


Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators run away from tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers during a protest in Bil'in on January 30, 2009. Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org.


“Since January 2007, Holy Land Trust has organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and the building of the apartheid wall over Palestinian land and farms. Yet I can’t remember even one time that Israel has used a nonviolent way to try to stop us! The armed soldiers, it seems, are always ready to shoot, or use wooden sticks and tear gas.

“Our calls for peace are considered dangerous for Israel. I feel like I am going insane because I don’t understand what we should do to end the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Throwing stones did not work and suicide bombs definitely did not work. Now Palestinians use the nonviolence method, but the Israeli occupiers seem to perceive even that as aggressive. I feel they don't want us to be peaceful, but I believe that if peace is going to prevail, nonviolence is the only way we can solve our problems.”

That so many Palestinians remain committed to nonviolence in the face of daily repression is a testament to their resilience. But in order to succeed, nonviolence needs broad support. Maybe it’s time for the rest of the world to ask: what can we do to ensure the success of nonviolence in Palestine?

A Luminous Activist: Karl Bissinger (1914-2008)

By Susan Kent Cakars

We in the peace movement have had our own “greatest generation” to inspire and lead us. As with the World War II warriors so often written about,many of our heroes are no longer with us. We already mourn Dave Dellinger, Grace Paley, Ralph DiGia, Norma Becker (to name just a few)... and now long-time Muste board member Karl Bissinger.

Karl Bissinger sitting in at Chilean Consulate

Karl Bissinger, second from right, participates in a blockade of the Chilean consulate in New York City on March 21, 1985, protesting increased repression and reimposition of a state of siege by the Pinochet regime. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

Karl was blessed with—besides wit, charm, intelligence, and a mighty conscience—the rare ability to make each person who spent time with him feel like a great favorite. He was also able to transcend age, gender, class, race, whatever divides us, in his friendships. Karl was just a pal, albeit a particularly impressive and delightful pal. He brought light and grace into our world and was a joy to know.

In all his years (almost 50) working first for the Greenwich Village Peace Center and then for the War Resisters League, Karl was always willing to do whatever was needed. Be it counseling draftees during the Vietnam War and sending them off on the underground railroad of the day, working for amnesty for resisters and deserters, arranging benefits by artists he knew and spearheading other fundraising activities, producing WRL calendars and mailing out the finished products, photographing demonstrations, getting arrested at them, and staffing the literature tables, Karl lead the charge or lent
a hand. Although choosing not to be a spokesperson for the movement, Karl did not hide his talents. He contributed them proudly to the cause he so strongly believed in. His incisive opinions and steadfast politics kept us all on track or on our toes.

Karl also had a rich and fascinating life outside the peace movement. He was born in Cincinnati to the Bissinger chocolate manufacturing family. He married young and had a child, then moved to New York City, where he lived for more than 40 years with his partner, fabric designer Richard Hanley, until Dick’s sudden death from a heart attack in 1990.

In the 40s and 50s, Karl worked for Conde Nast photographing the artists and writers of the day—Marlon Brando, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Katherine Hepburn, Colette, and many more—for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Flair, and other magazines. In 2003 these photos were published in The Luminous Years: Portraits at Mid-Century, with an introduction by Gore Vidal.

After Karl’s son, David Fechheimer, married and had children, Karl spent many wonderful vacations with them at their home in California and later with his daughter-in-law, Diane, and two grandsons, Zachary and Sam, in Europe. They, along with all the rest of us, will sorely miss him.

New Grants, December 2008

In 30 years of our general grantmaking program, the A. J. Muste Memorial Institute has provided critical support to hundreds of grassroots groups engaged in nonviolent education and action for social justice. Unfortunately, because of financial concerns we had to reduce grant amounts for our October and December 2008 cycles and temporarily suspend this grantmaking program for 2009. If supporting social justice activism is important to you, please donate now to help us restore this program.

Be The Media
Los Angeles, CA: $1,000
This project was sparked by the creators of Arlington West Film and Speakers Program, which uses the Arlington West documentary film as a tool to get young people talking about alternatives to war. This grant goes to provide inner-city at risk youth with creative tools to examine the media and tell their own stories.

Colombia Support Network
Madison,WI: $800
Colombia Support Network has worked since 1986 to support nonviolent efforts for justice in Colombia. This grant goes for workshops on autonomous community development and active nonviolence with the Emberá Chamí community in the Lower Putumayo region of Colombia. www.colombiasupport.net

Education For Liberation Network
New York, NY: $1,500
Education for Liberation Network was founded in 1999 as a national coalition of teachers, community activists, youth, researchers and parents using education to challenge injustice. This grant goes for "How Did They Do That?", a project encouraging social justice groups to share and replicate innovative social justice education projects. www.edliberation.org

Snake River Alliance
Boise, ID: $700
Snake River Alliance was founded in 1979 to build public pressure to stop the Idaho National Laboratory’s spewing of hazardous and radioactive waste into the Snake River Aquifer. This grant goes to challenge new nuclear projects, advocate for responsible solutions to nuclear waste and contamination, and promote safe and sustainable energy alternatives. www.snakeriveralliance.org

War Resisters League
New York, NY: $2,000
War Resisters League has worked since 1923 to end war and defeat injustice. This grant goes for the GI Rights and Resistance project, providing military service members and veterans with information about their rights and distributing educational resources to help soldiers, veterans, their families and civilian supporters speak out about the realities of war. www.warresisters.org

Counter-Recruitment Grants, December 2008

The Muste Institute's Counter Recruitment Fund makes small grants for grassroots efforts to inform young people about the realities of military service, help them protect their privacy from recruiters and refer them to non-military education and employment options. Our next deadline for proposals is April 20, 2009. Guidelines are on our website at ajmuste.org/counter-recruit.htm.

Arlington West Film and Speakers Project, Los Angeles, CA: $1,500 to continue and expand a program of screenings and discussions, as well as distribution of free DVD copies of the film “Arlington West.” www.arlingtonwestfilm.com

BAY-Peace, Oakland, CA: $1,500 to train and support up to 25 Bay Area youth organizers who will provide peer counseling and information to youth in heavily targeted geographic and demographic populations. www.baypeace.org

Salinas Action League, Salinas, CA: $1,500 to distribute literature in Salinas and Monterey County high schools about the realities of military service and civilian alternatives.

NOVA Fund 2008 Grants

The Muste Institute's NOVA Fund supports nonviolent efforts for justice in Latin America. In 2008, the Fund distributed $96,366.43 among 11 organizations in Mexico, the United States, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

Asociación Ecológica Santo Tomás, Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico: $4,000 for efforts to provide support to rural communities organizing themselves for social development and a sustainable environment.

Center for International Policy, Washington, DC: $7,500 for the educational work of the Americas Policy Program: exploring and promoting citizen-based policy options for development, trade, and international relations in the Americas; and building a North-South dialogue based on the principles of sustainable development and environmental protection, equitable economic development, multilateralism, and respect for human rights. www.ciponline.org

Corporación SER PAZ, Guayaquil, Ecuador: $10,000 for the “Neighborhood of Peace Youth Movement,” training and educating current and former gang members in Guayaquil to encourage and support them in nonviolent efforts for social justice. 

Federación de Organizaciones del Cordón Fronterizo (Forccofes), Quito, Ecuador: $9,000 for the Federation of Border Area Organizations to carry out human rights training and organizational strengthening  among its 100 member groups on Ecuador's northern border with Colombia, in order to help them defend the rights of peasant communities affected by militarization and defoliant spraying in the zone.

FRENAPI (National Indigenous Peoples' Front), San José,Costa Rica: $15,000 for efforts to develop and strengthen capacity and leadership among the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica. This grant was supported by the Appleton Foundation.

Demonstrators from Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) Costa Rica and other groups stage a sit-in outside the president's offices in San José, Costa Rica, in early March 2009 to demand passage of a law recognizing the right to indigenous autonomy. Photo by SERPAJ/ Costa Rica.

Grupo de Objeción de Conciencia del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador: $1,305 toward plane fare to allow GOCE volunteer activist Yeidy Rosa to participate in the War Resisters' International Nonviolence Training Exchange in Bilbao, Basque Country (Spain), from October 26 to 30, 2008.

Servicio Paz y Justicia America Latina (SERPAJ AL), San José,Costa Rica: $14,000 for coordination and support of the network of affiliates of SERPAJ, the Peace and Justice Service, promoting active nonviolence and social justice in Latin America. www.serpajamericalatina.org

SERPAJ Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia: $5,000 for efforts to promote a culture of peace, active nonviolence and human rights in the area of Barranquilla, Atlántico department, Colombia.

SERPAJ Costa Rica, San José,Costa Rica: $7,500 for educational and organizing efforts toward creating a culture of peace and promoting the defense of people’s human, civic, social, economic and cultural rights in Costa Rica. www.serpaj.org.ec

SERPAJ Morelos, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico: $18,000 (including $11,000 from Appleton) for research and education on social conflict and nonviolence in Mexico and efforts to support active nonviolence, peace-building and autonomy. www.pensarenvozalta.org

UCIZONI--Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo, Matías Romero, Oaxaca, Mexico: $5,000 for general support of efforts by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico (primarily in Oaxaca) to defend their rights and their territory and to improve their living conditions.

New Travel Grants
In its December 2008 grant cycle, the NOVA Travel Fund made four grants totaling $5,600 to grassroots groups in Brazil, Canada and Guyana to attend international gatherings in Brazil, Mexico and London:

Associação de Favelas de São Jose dos Campos, São Jose dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil: $1,200 for activists Cosme Vitor and Angela Aparecida da Silva of the Association of Slum Neighborhoods of São Jose dos Campos to participate in the World Social Forum, held January 26 to February 1, 2009 in Belem, Brazil.

Comitê Popular de Mulheres - RJ, Itaguaí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: $1,400 for travel expenses for Grassroots Women's Committee activists Leila de Souza Netto, Iara Maria Alves dos Santos, Tatiane Maria dos Santos da Silva and Nemese da Silva do Nascimento to participate in the World Social Forum in Belem.

Red Thread, Charlestown, Georgetown, Guyana: $1,500 for activist Joycelyn Bacchus to participate in "Struggling Against Sexism and Racism: An International Comparison," a two-week program of public events and consultations among grassroots organizers, starting with women, held from January 31 to February 14 in London, England. Red Thread is a grassroots women’s group formed in 1986 that seeks to bring together Guyanese women across racial divides to organize together to change their conditions.

Secwepemc Native Youth Movement, Chase, BC, Canada: $1,500 (via the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center) for Native youth activists Mandy Manuel and Guarionex Guateberi to participate in the World Festival of Dignified Rage, held December 26-29, 2008 in Mexico City, Mexico and January 2-4, 2009, in San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

In its February 2009 cycle, the NOVA Travel Fund made three grants totaling $1,262.24 to Nicaraguan groups attending the XI Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting (XI  Encuentro Latinoamericano Feminista y del Caribe), held March 16-20, 2009 in Mexico City:

Red de Mujeres Adolescentes y Jóvenes Promotoras de Género (Network of Young and Adolescent Women Gender Promoters), Managua, Nicaragua: $420.62 for airfare and registration Jazmina Ivette Murillo Carvajal to participate in the meeting;

Red de Mujeres de Condega para la Formación y Desarrollo Integral (Network of Women of Condega for Integral Training and Development), Condega, Estelí, Nicaragua: $420.62 for airfare and registration for Irma Ramona Calero Gutierrez to participate in the meeting;

Espacio Feminista de Mujeres Jóvenes (Feminist Space of Young Women), Esquipulas, Matagalpa, Nicaragua: $421 for airfare and registration for Dolilfa Mora Ubago to participate in the meeting.

Also in the February cycle, the NOVA Travel Fund made 15 grants totaling $12,516 for travel to the Continental Gathering of Rural Organizations (Encuentro Continental de las Organizaciones del Campo), organized by the Latin American Coordinating Committee of  Rural Organizations (CLOC, Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo) for April 27-May 1, 2009, in Havana, Cuba:

ANAMURI-Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas de Chile (National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women of Chile), Santiago, Chile: $650 for a representative of ANAMURI to participate in the CLOC gathering;

APENOC-Asociación de Productores del Noroeste de Córdoba (Farmers' Association of Northwestern Córdoba), Córdoba, Argentina: $730 for Juan Camilo Herrero to represent APENOC at the CLOC gathering;

ATC - Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (Association of Rural Workers), Managua, Nicaragua: $876 for ATC representatives Yolanda del Carmen Areas Blass and Sayra Carolina Ticay López to participate in the CLOC gathering;

Confederación Nacional Agraria (CNA, National Agrarian Federation), Lima, Peru: $1,400 for Marcelino Bustamante López and Marlene Cconojhuillca Quispe to represent the CNA at the CLOC gathering;

CONFENACA - Confederación Nacional Campesina (National Campesino Confederation), La Vega, Dominican Republic: $650 for Gladis Martínez de la Rosa to represent CONFENACA at the CLOC gathering;

CONAMUCA - Confederación Nacional de Mujeres del Campo (National Rural Women's Federation), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: $650 for Facunda Alcántara to represent CONAMUCA at the CLOC gathering;

Confederación Nacional Sindical Campesina, del Agro y de Pueblos Originarios Ranquil (Ranquil National Campesino, Agricultural and Indigenous Peoples Union Federation), Santiago, Chile: $650 for federation representative Luis Enrique Cáceres Cortez to participate in the CLOC gathering;

CODIMCA - Consejo para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer Campesina (Council for the Integral Development of the Campesina Woman), Tegucigalpa, Honduras: $400 for CODIMCA representative Leoncia Solorzano to participate in the CLOC gathering;

Juventude Rural – Terra Livre / Pastoral da Juventude Rural do Brasil (Rural Youth - Free Land/Rural Youth Pastoral Group of Brazil), Brasilia, Brazil: $1,200 for Juventude Rural representative Paulo Rogelio Adamatti Mansan to participate in the CLOC gathering and the Via Campesina Youth Meeting that precedes it on April 25 and 26 in Havana;

Movimento dos Atingidos por Barrangens (MAB, Movement of Dam-Affected People), Brasilia, Brazil: $800 for MAB representative Soniamara Maranhao to participate in the CLOC gathering;

Movimiento de Campesinos Trabajadores Las Comunidades Unidas (MCCU, United Communities Movement of Peasant Workers), Monte Plata, Dominican Republic: $650 for Alejandro García to represent the MCCU at the CLOC gathering;

Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA, Movement of Small-Scale Farmers), Cangandolandia (DF), Brazil: $1,032 for Roseli Maria de Sousa to represent the MPA at the CLOC gathering;

Organización de Lucha por la Tierra (OLT, Organization of Struggle for Land), Villa Elisa, Paraguay: $878 for Ester Leiva to represent the OLT at the CLOC gathering;

Unión de Campesinos Poriajhu, Chaco, Argentina: $1,500 for Paulina Acuña and Raúl Omar Galván to represent this union, an affiliate of the Coordinating Committee of Campesinos, Indigenous and Rural Workers (COCITRA), at the CLOC gathering;

Via Campesina Brasil, Brasilia, Brazil: $450 for Natalia Paulino to participate in the CLOC gathering.

The NOVA Travel Fund helps grassroots activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and indigenous territories throughout the hemisphere to participate in regional meetings. The next deadlines are June 1 and August 1, 2009. Guidelines are on our website in English at ajmuste.org/novaintro-eng.html, and in Spanish at ajmuste.org/novaintro.html.