As the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement gains moment in Europe, a surprising uprising against the occupation of Palestine within numerous Latin American countries has further broadened the support of the movement.
BDS recently met with both South African and Brazilian government officials in Brazil and talked about possible trading agreements in Brazil and Palestine.
BDS Spokesperson Kwara Kekana explained that in response to BDS calls for support, the Brazilian state ended its trade agreement with the Israeli water company Mekorot, in Bahia.
Three days after a debate that took place within the Law faculty of the University of Chile, of which BDS formed part, the law faculty passed a resolution in support of BDS.
In Columbia, the food chain company Crepes and Waffles ended its contract with security company G4S, which is involved in security management within the Occupied Territories of Palestine.
Kekana said that within Latin America, community members are encouraged to show solidarity for the Palestinian cause due socioeconomic realities found within the Palestinian communities from which they draw similarities.
“At the heart of it, it is about connecting the different struggles. The concept of oppression is internationalized and, therefore, we need to internationalize our solidarity,” Kekana said.
She explained that the prevalence of military police that are trained by Israel, within the Favelas in Sao Paolo, is directed toward militarizing the black communities and, therefore, creates a connection between the black community and the Palestinian cause.
In Santiago, cameras installed in the main district, which is composed of Israeli technology, has raised issues of privacy.
“Immediately you see similarities of struggles while they are fighting their own privacy issues. We are also dealing with the importing of Israeli technology and ideology. So the struggles are immediately connected.”
She further noted that various civil society movements speak to the socioeconomic issues that individuals currently face, as well as injustices that communities faced in the past and, therefore, provides a space for the discussion of the injustices that are experienced by Palestinians.
“It is about dignity and fighting injustices everywhere,” Kekana said.
When asked about the failure of most Latin American countries to adopt BDS, Kekana explained that government policy within Latin American countries appears to be complicit in allowing human rights violations within occupied and oppressed communities.
“Even in the struggle against south Africa, the Regan administration was either directly or indirectly involved in the violations of black people within South Africa. That is why the BDS movement is about a peoples-led campaign,” she noted.
Kekana asserted that the support by the South American countries for the Palestinian cause shows Palestinians that they are not alone.
“In certain places they have banned BDS and criminalized BDS activists, [but] this has strengthened the activism in the different countries.”
How has International Workers Day tied in with the BDS campaign?
She further stated that as part of commemorating International Workers Day in South Africa, trade unions around the world have sent messages of support to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South Africa.
When the BDS movement began in 2005 it received the support of almost all trade unions and workers organizations in Palestine, whilst COSATU and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) were of the first international trade unions to endorse the campaign.
“There is much gratitude coming from Palestinian workers for the efforts of COSATU and its affiliates for its support of Palestine,” Kekana said.