annie’s Speech at Fleet Week

 I am Cuban American. My parents came to the US seeking freedom. Like all the courageous immigrants who cross imaginary lines between countries, my family made the US a better place. But sixty years later, fossil fuels and militarization, all tangled up with racism, are making it more difficult for immigrants to enter the US or many other imperialist countries.

The US military desperately needs fossil fuels because it has 750 military bases around the world and hundreds in the US. Even when there is no war or conflict, the military constantly moves people and stuff like food, medical gear, toilet paper, and of course, bombs and guns.  And, when the military participates in war exercises like RIMPAC, or war propaganda like Blue Angels shows, the fuel consumption skyrockets. One jet in an airshow uses 1600 gallons of fuel. ONE jet. And, during actual wars, the US military not only kills people, and supports genocide around the world, it destroys ecosystems, leaving behind plastic and chemical pollution, as well as dead trees, dead soil, and dead animals. 

There is no doubt militarism is BAD for the environment.

While “protecting democracy,” the US military emits more greenhouse gases than any other institution in the world, thus directly causing climate change.  Climate change leads to droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, soil sal-in-ization (which means salty dirt that isn’t good for growing plants), landslides, fires, and other negative impacts that destroy the urban economies of the global south. Even during so-called peace the military constantly burns fossil fuels and contributes to climate change and because of that, more and more Black, Brown, and Latino farmers are fleeing un-inhabitable land and heading to the US and other countries.

How is our government responding to this crisis? 

Instead of spending money to develop healthy, renewable energy,  green jobs and a livable future, our government keeps spending money on bombs to protect fossil fuel resources, especially in the Mideast.

Instead of investing in helping other countries adapt and develop resilience to the climate change WE caused, we build walls and militarize our borders to keep climate refugees OUT.

Instead of welcoming climate refugees, our government condones nativist, fascist, white-supremacist language that demonizes immigrants while employing a scarcity mindset to justify further militarizing our borders.

Clearly not seeing the irony, the US wants more military technology along the Mexican border to protect “our lands” from Brown people, the original inhabitants of the Americas. There is a clear line between fossil fuels, militarization, climate change and Biden shutting down our borders.  We need to stop othering people based on their skin color or place of origin. 

We need to banish the belief that some lives — or some cultures — are worth more than others. Most importantly, we need to understand that helping others is NOT a zero sum game. Investing money in slowing climate change makes the world a better place for everyone, including people in the US.

As the sister, daughter and friend of refugees and immigrants, I call on our government to reject militarization on all levels, as well as racism and xenophobia, while fighting climate change with everything it’s got. 

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