Urgent appeal for all of us. (please forward)

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMhotmail.com
Thu Aug 26 16:50:30 MDT 1999





La Quena Collective: From MIR to APEC.

        The collective coffeehouse known as La Quena was spawned in 1982.
The originators of the project were Canadian resident refugees from
Pinochet. They were "Miristas" who wanted to provide a space that would be
valuable to the resistance to US Imperialism throughout Latin America, with
a particular focus on the Chilean resistance. Thus began one of the
brightest spots on the left in North America in general, particularly
Vancouver, Canada.
        The well known (now released) political prisoners in Brazil,
Christine Lamont and David Spencer, were a part of our collective
experience. We sent money to attempt help for these courageous two, and
held many public forums about the Brazilian truth.
         The collective has had financial booms in the past, most notably in
the eighties, where we actually raised more than just rent money. At this
point, we got into some legal hotspots by sending our excess funds directly
to the FMLN. After a couple of years, we started to branch out into every
conceivable aspect of the left that we could. We provide La Quena, free of
charge, to any progressive group that has wanted to use our space as a
public venue. We regularly host concerts in benefit of issues ranging from
Free Mumia to access to abortion. The main organizing venue for Hands off
Iraq in town has always been our collective. The same can be said of the
people who undertook the attempted arresting of Suharto at the APEC
conference, to those who are currently working on saving the oldest Douglas
Firs in North America in what is known as "The Stoltmann Wilderness". We
exist in Canada, not the United States, and have been able to give direct
space to the local comrades involved with the FARC EP (Any such individuals
run risks due to "terrorist designation" in the U.S.).
          We have been planning to open up computer terminals in the
restaurant itself, which would provide free access to the internet (etc)
for all progressives who need such. We regularly host "Cuba friendshipment"
events, being a place where money is raised to help Cuban schools. There
have been countless events in solidarity with the Zapatistas, Nigeria,
Kurdistan.
           What do the collective members do? Basically, we operate a
restaurant. We do not pay our staff, and there is no hierarchy. There is
only the collective, we operate on the principles of worker's democracy.
All decisions are made by all. We provide only vegetarian and vegan foods.
The collective went to complete worker authority in 1995, after a short
power/labour vacuum.
           There is only one other place that exists like LQ in all of North
America. On a personal note, I cannot think of any activism I have ever
been involved in that had no connection to the coffee house. Revolutions
start because people are able to get together on such issues, and discuss
them. LQ is where many radicalize. It is where we can sit down with a
coffee, become animated and excited (remember that feeling when these ideas
first made sense to you? I see it happen to someone here every day!) about
the prospect of actually changing the world.
            La Quena is in trouble. We are financially in the hole, for we
have never saved our extra money in the past, rather we sent it to
revolutionaries abroad. Those of us in the collective do the "shit work" of
providing a space. It is not always fun. It can be downright frustrating.
But we always go on with the show. Last night we pumped coffee and served
food while an Anti-WTO group planned out resistance to the upcoming
conference down the road in Seattle. We served the community, and through
it the world, in what best ways we can. We are non-sectarian, are members
are anarchist, communist, environmentalist, etc. and now it is your turn.
If you live near Vancouver, come by and do what little you can. Maybe you'd
like to paint something creative. Maybe you want to volunteer directly, we
need people who have as little as four hours a week. But, of course, we
mostly need money. Now. Lots of it. Again, I say, we have helped you,
please help us now. La Quena is a shining light in the Belly Of The Beast.
What activism exists in Vancouver will dissappear with our restaurant, save
for students and small parties. We can't allow this.

La Quena Collective Coffee House (Canadian Latin American Cultural Society)
1111 Commercial Drive, Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada
V5L 3X3

Ph: (604) 251-6626

En Lucha,
  Macdonald for the La Quena Collective.



*Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.*
Margaret Mead (speaking about La Quena!).


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