Reflections on the US Election

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The morning after the election, we woke up sad, confused and scared.  


The President-elect of the United States ran a campaign of hatred, bigotry and xenophobia, leaving many of us afraid for ourselves, our loved ones and the planet. Despite its particular American contours, this is not a problem faced solely in the United States. His campaign echoed terrifying forces of fear and hatred on the rise throughout the world.  

Military police await indigenous protestors.

Military police await indigenous protestors.
Ruy Sposati /Agência Raízes

This fear has been fostered by a world facing greater competition for finite resources, a world growing more and more unpredictable – the chaos caused by unstable ecological, economic and political climates. 

There are indeed treacherous waters ahead.  The stakes have never been greater, nor has our resolve been so steadfast and resolute.

At International Rivers, we have long believed in the power of people and movements to bring about change.  Around the world, we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with communities and activists, often in the face of repressive, authoritarian regimes, to demand dignity and justice, and to ensure our precious and sacred resources are not exploited for the benefit of a wealthy few.

Our friends and partners here in the United States and around the world have stood up, fought for their rights, and won. And that gives me hope. I know that we can open a new chapter in this country’s long, difficult journey towards justice because we have indeed fought this struggle before.  

We must know that we are not alone in this fight. We are joined by social movements and powerful activists around the world who are fighting for justice. The world over, people are standing up to greed and hate. And this is what we must remember, in what feels a very dark hour in the United States: Together, we can win.  

In corrupt, autocratic societies, we have seen movements deliver what seemed like unimaginable wins: stopping corporate takeovers of land and water and winning the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights – even in the face of terrible racism. The list goes on, because the strength of our movement is deep and formidable.  

As we build our voice and our power, we must acknowledge that many now rightly fear for their safety. Violence and intimidation are on the rise in the United States, and around the world. We have watched with horror as environmental activists around the world have been bullied, harassed and intimidated.

We unequivocally condemn hateful language, intimidation and violence. Yet condemnation is not enough. We must seek accountability. State-sanctioned violence, either explicitly or tacitly, must end. And there is no violence too small to be met with the fiercest opposition.  

The world’s water, land and people will face great threats in the years to come. Standing alongside our friends and partners in the daily struggle, we have made a long-term commitment to building a movement that reflects the needs of all people. Our commitment to justice is resolute.  

We are many.  We are strong. We will win.  

In solidarity and with hope,