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Starting in NM, "Freedom Caravan" Works to Bridge "Democracy Gap"

June 22, 2007

Albuquerque, NM - Dozens of grassroots organizations and activists are hitting the road today on a "People's Freedom Caravan" across the Southern U.S., beginning in Albuquerque and ending at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta. Robby Rodriguez is with the Southwest Organizing Project, one of dozens of grassroots organizations in the caravan, which is expected to include a thousand travelers by the end of the trip. He says communities on the caravan's path feel the brunt of pollution, poverty, and inequality, and the goal is to give those communities a seat at the table on decisions that affect them.

“The South and the Southwest are arguably two of the most disempowered and disenfranchised regions. It's important for us to figure out how we learn from each other's struggles.”

Rodriguez says grassroots groups are working together to bridge a "democracy divide" that exists in this country, and the stops on the Freedom Caravan are meant to illustrate the problem.

“Hurricane Katrina is an example of how democracy works for some and not others, and so there's lessons there that we can learn.”

The caravan begins in Albuquerque today, making stops in San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi before reaching Atlanta next week. The U.S. Social Forum is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of progressive groups in the country. It runs until July 1.

More information on the caravan is available at www.swop.net.

Eric Mack/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NM