Ajamu Baraka

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Ajamu Baraka


Ajamu Baraka has been involved in grassroots organizing, activism, and educating for over 30 years. He is the Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Constitutional Rights.[1]

Venezuela delegation

Leaders of the anti-war movement in the United States arrived in Caracas on March 9 and 10 to find out firsthand the truth of how the government and population are responding to the U.S.-led attacks on Venezuela. They will use this truth to build solidarity with the worldwide efforts to stop the covert U.S. war, economic sabotage and propaganda assault on Venezuela.

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As they landed in Caracas, the delegates, like the Venezuelan people, were faced with a power outage caused by sabotage of the electrical grid. This interfered with transportation and communications for them, too, even though their hotel had its own power generator.

Everyone in the group had planned to arrive on March 9, but some airlines insisted that the travelers have visas just to fly to Venezuela. Since the break in U.S.-Venezuelan relations, no visas are being issued in the U.S., but most of the delegation members were able to fly anyway, based on letters from their Venezuelan hosts.

Saturday, March 9, sharing the same flight into Caracas were Bahman Azad, the organizational secretary of the U.S. Peace Council, the organization sponsoring the delegation; Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace; Sara Flounders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center; Ajamu Baraka, national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace; progressive journalist Eva Bartlett; and Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition.

Arriving later that day and Sunday to complete the delegation were Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness; Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance; Darien De Lu, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S.; Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress; and Daniel Shea, board of directors, Veterans For Peace.

The delegation met over the next few days with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who discussed with them the historic struggle between the U.S. and Venezuela over who will control the great oil and gold resources of this South American nation. The fact that Washington is now acting so openly against the Venezuelan government exposes to people all over the world the real face of U.S. imperialism.

Arreaza made it clear that the Bolivarian government attaches great importance to the potential response of the people in the U.S. He said you must be in the front lines, that you are the first victims of imperialism and that the most fundamental change will happen inside the United States.

This underscores the importance of the demonstration that the members of the delegation and their organizations are building for March 30 in Washington, D.C. UNAC originally called this event to protest the upcoming 70th anniversary of NATO, set to be celebrated there by the Western warmakers on April 4. But after the U.S. moves against the government in Caracas, the coalition refocused the March 30 action more urgently on opposing U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Many organizations now support this protest.

Solidarity groups in Venezuela are also paying attention to the U.S. movement. The Committee of International Solidarity (COSI) met the delegates as they arrived at the airport and have helped explain what is happening on the ground in their country.

In addition to our meetings with Arreaza, the North American delegates held discussions with organizers from COSI, including its president, Carolus Wimmer; Carlos Ron, the vice minister of foreign affairs for North America, who had been stationed in New York for some time; and Pasqualina Curcio, an economist at the Central University of Venezuela.

Curcio discussed the U.S. role in creating the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela. These include shortages of basic necessities: toilet paper, corn, milk, coffee and vital medicines. To counter these shortages, the Bolivarian government established a distribution network to serve 6 million families by importing food, medicine and hygiene products.

The current U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, the blocking of its banking services and the edicts that prevent the government from using its gold reserves all restrict the ability of the Venezuelan government to satisfy basic needs.

On top of this, the U.S. has handed $11 billion worth of assets of Venezuela’s national oil company, CITGO, directly to Juan Guaidó, a virtually unknown right-wing politician until U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested on Jan. 23 that Guaidó nominate himself to be “interim president.”

Foreign Minister Arreaza was recently in negotiations with Elliott Abrams, who just this January was appointed Special Representative for Venezuela by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Abrams had organized bloody right-wing coups in Central America in the 1980s for the Reagan administration and was also a key architect of the Iraq War.

Arreaza characterized Abrams as “frank” when he told the Venezuelan that “all options are on the table” — a threat of military intervention aimed at splitting the Venezuelan military.

When Arreaza then reminded Abrams that “The coup has failed,” the U.S. organizer of counterrevolutions shrugged and said, “This is a long-term project.”

Arreaza explained to the anti-war delegation that in countering the shutdown of its electrical power, Venezuela had to deal with an attack on the brain of its electrical system. “The enemy knows the weakness of the system,” he said. “The U.S. knows what Venezuela could not buy or replace. Knows what we have. This is cyber terrorism!”

Abrams also told Arreaza that to get peace, Venezuela must do as Nicaragua did in 1990, that is, hold a new election that the European Union would set up — and that would open the door to the right-wing.

Arreaza explained to the antiwar group that Venezuela has a broad system of social protection that began under Hugo Chavez and was even further expanded after Maduro became president. “That’s why,” he said, “four days without power in several major cities did not lead to chaos,” as it would have in most of the world. The imperialists wanted an image of people looting food markets, but that failed.

Russia, China and Turkey are helping Venezuela, said Arreaza. “We need the solidarity of the whole world, though. Terrorist brigades are being armed against us.”

The demonstration supporting Guaidó on the day the delegation arrived was smaller than its organizers had projected. While Maduro may have the support of half the population, his opposition is divided into many forces. And most of them oppose U.S. military intervention.

Eastern Caracas, an upper- and middle-class area, is a base of the opposition to the Maduro government. Western Caracas is working class and Black, with a lot of support for the government. Lombardo reports that the west side used to be a real shanty town, but the Bolivarian Revolution put resources into this community and now the people live in nice apartment buildings.

Guaidó’s forces, reports Flounders, were described as racist, sort of the KKK of Venezuela. Nine of the people burnt to death by the counterrevolutionary opposition in 2017 were Black Venezuelans.

Even by Sunday, March 10, the delegation already had a lot of media requests for interviews. They plan a press conference at the United Nations in New York City on Monday, March 18 at 11 a.m., as well as a public webinar reportback.[2]

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Baraka is on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.[3]

US Human Rights Network

Baraka currently serves as Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network.[4]

Black Left Unity

On the weekend of May 31-Jun 1,2008, dozens of African American organizers, artists and activists convened the first Black Left Unity Meeting at the Sonia Hayes Center in Chapel Hill, NC.The gathering was a continuation of the Black Left Unity caucus that meet in Atlanta during the US Social Forum.

Those who attended the conference included Saladin Muhammad, Black Workers for Justice and the Black Workers League; ILWU Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas; activist and poet, Amiri Baraka; Million Worker March leader, Brenda Stokely; Ana Edwards, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; Ajamu Baraka, U.S. Human Rights Network; Patrisse Cullors, Labor Strategy Center; Efia Nwangaza; Theresa El-Amin; Kali Akuno from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jaribu Hill, Mississippi Workers for Human Rights; Vickie White, People’s Organization for Progress; labor organizer, Angaza Laughinghouse; Larry Adams, New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW); cultural artist, Luci Murphy; educators Muntu Matsimela, T. Menelik Van Der Meer and Sam Anderson; Yvette Modestin, Afrocaribenas y de la Diaspora; Colia Clark; and activists representing Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) and the Troops Out Now Coalition.[5]

Africa Action involvement

In 2009, Ajamu Baraka was listed on the Board of Directors for Africa Action.[6]

Letter to Obama

In March 2009 dozens of 'human rights groups' and activists in the United States, signed a statement urging President Barack Obama to rethink his decision to boycott the United Nations-sponsored anti-racism conference.

As you know, the Durban Review Conference is one of the most important international platforms for discussing the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances. Given the brutal history of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States, your Administration has much to contribute to this discussion. A boycott would be inconsistent with your policy of engagement with the international community…

Individual signers of the statement included Ajamu Baraka.[7]

African Heritage Delegation to Palestine/Israel

The African Heritage Delegation to Israel/Palestine members, November 2014:

Media Contact: Jacob Pace, Interfaith Peace-Builders staff.[8]

Law4BlackLives

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Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center August 4, 2015 ·

A snapshot from the incredible #Law4BlackLives conference, featuring HRP Director Shani Jamila, Ajamu Baraka, Lisa Crooms, Jaribu Hill and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou.

Coordinating Committee

Coordinating Committee The Black Alliance for Peace, as of May 10 2018.

"Movement work"

Eric Mar July 23, 2017 ·

With Caitlin Dunklee, Genoveva Islas, Shelley Means and Vicki Alexander at Hilton Oakland Airport Hotel.[9]

With Aishah Abdala, Sylvia Castillo, Ajamu Baraka and Tere Almaguer at Hilton Oakland Airport Hotel.[10]


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I esp liked Vickie Alexander & Cathi Tactaquin 's reflections on their movement work. Cathy, reflecting on her 45+ years, incl from '73-87 with KDP (Union of Democratic Filipinos) to her urgent life/death work with global migrants and refugees through the NNIRR, urged us to strive to: 1) serve the people; 2) practice a 'mass line' (from the masses, to the masses); and 3) support mass-based grassroots organizing groups because of the inherent political limitations of 501c3 non-profit groups. — with Catherine Tactaquin, Le Tim Ly and Vicki Alexander at Hilton Oakland Airport Hotel.

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Dara Cooper with Cazembe Jackson, Jaribu Hill and Ajamu Baraka.

Left Forum 2018

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Left Forum May 18:

Don't miss Cathy Dang speaking with Ajamu Baraka, Bhairavi Desai, Mark-Winston Griffith and Kali Akuno at the closing plenary of #LeftForum2018! register at leftforum.org

Anti-NATO meeting

On January 16 2019, about 40 Minneapolis people heard from local organizers who travelled to Ireland for the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Foreign Military Bases, which took place November 16-18, 2018. Nearly 300 participants from over 35 countries attended the conference, calling for the closure of the nearly 1000 U.S./NATO military bases throughout the world.

The official communiqué adopted by participants at the conference stated: “NATO states’ military bases are the military expression of imperialist intervention in the lives of sovereign countries on behalf of the dominant, financial, political, and military interests, for the control of energy resources, transport roads, markets and spheres of influence, in clear violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.”

The all-woman Minnesota delegation to the conference included Sarah Martin, Carol Walker, and Sue Ann Martinson, all of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), as well as Rhea Smykalski of the Anti-War Committee.

Special attention was called to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. base in Cuba; U.S. bases in Okinawa, Japan and in South Korea; the U.S. base at Ramstein, Germany; bases in Serbia; old and new U.S./NATO bases in Greece and Cyprus; the establishment of the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) with its military bases in Africa; the numerous NATO bases in Italy and Scandinavia; the Shannon airport in Ireland, which is used as a military base by U.S. and NATO; and the newly established bases by the United States, France and their allies on and around Syrian soil.

“The selection of Dublin and Liberty Hall for the conference was historically important and inspiring,” reported Sarah Martin of WAMM. “In their heroic liberation struggle against the English, the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin was pivotal. At that time, from Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the resistance, James Connolly issued a proclamation calling for the overthrow of the British occupation and an Ireland based on democracy, equality and neutrality.”

“However, the Irish government has betrayed this principle of neutrality,” Martin continued. “Beginning in 2003, Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland became a forward base for the war on Iraq as a transit point for soldiers and weapons. To this day, hundreds of U.S. soldiers pass through the airport every day - 6000 in 2017. Thanks to Wikileaks, the full extent of this shameful betrayal is known, including the use of the airport in renditions.”

Carol Walker of WAMM characterized the spread of U.S./NATO bases across the world as a continuation of U.S. policies since its westward expansion in the 19th century. “Ninety military bases, or forts, were used by the U.S. government to pursue domination and conquest of indigenous people,” she said. “So, we are on stolen land, as is all of the United States. And all these forts were very much ‘abroad’ at the time.”

Other attendees of the Dublin conference included Dr. Aleide Guevara, member of the Cuban National Assembly and daughter of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara; Aengus O Snodaigh, member of the Irish legislature and Sinn Fein defense spokesperson; Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize recipient; and Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace and 2016 Green Party candidate for vice president of the United States. The conference declared its support for the global mass mobilizations against NATO’s 70th anniversary summit set to take place on April 4 in Washington, D.C.[11]

References