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Balibrera: 'Strike will remain unbroken'

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By Tris DeRoma

Those who thought hunger striker Aleric Balibrera was going to end his hunger strike on Aug. 9, were sadly mistaken. 

Balibrera started the strike on July 16 in an effort to call attention to his efforts to end the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s involvement in the manufacture of nuclear weaponry and storage of nuclear waste.

In an elaborate ceremony that took place at Ashley Pond Thursday, Balibrera broke his fast with his fellow supporters and then passed the strike onto fellow protesters Maria Jose Ugalde and Thomas Jaggers.

“This way, the strike will remain unbroken into the future,” Balibrera said.

Balibrera wants a meeting with LANL Director Charles McMillan to share his demands, which include abandoning plans to build the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility. Also included in the list of demands is the support of the Radiation Compensation Act and the creation of “thousands” of jobs that would work to clean up damage to the environment allegedly caused by the laboratory’s activities since its founding in the 1940s.  

Backing Balibrera in his hunger strike were NukeFreeNow, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Pax Christi, Occupy Santa Fe, Veterans for Peace and others. For a full list of his demands and concerns, go to nukefreenow.org. 

Balibrera keeps hoping for a meeting with McMillan. 

“We want to meet with him in a good way,” he said. “We hope he or no one else interprets this as if we are going to die on his doorstep. We are only looking for a solution-creating meeting.” Balibrera was also careful to add that no one is looking to shut down the lab, but to modify its mission for peaceful purposes.

When asked if his list of demands were even achievable, Balibrera simply replied, “I and millions of people feel that the creation of even more nuclear weapons makes the world even more insecure, not safer.” Balibrera said.

He also said he has even bigger plans for the strike’s future.

“We would like to make this strike global,” he said. “We are going to see if we can get a critical mass that will result in the transformation in the people’s attitudes towards nuclear warfare and the manufacture of nuclear weapons.”

So far, McMillan has not responded to Balibrera’s demands.

LANL spokesman Fred DeSousa said Balibrera has tried to contact McMillan.

When asked if the two were going to meet, DeSousa said, “It’s not planned,”

DeSousa, however, did say that he talked to Balibrera for about 90 minutes Friday.

DeSousa said the conversation was private, but he did say, “It was a good talk. It’s clear his opinions are well-formed, but it’s just as clear that Los Alamos has a mission for the nation.  It was good to share some of the interesting things that spring from national security science.”

.According to Balibrera, they talked for an hour and half about many issues, including the lab’s involvement in the manufacture of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste disposal.

While Balibrera said it was a good conversation, it was also a little frustrating.

“It was very exhausting talking with someone who thinks thermonuclear weapons and their production actually makes us secure, not less,” Balibrera said.

Balibrera also noted he knows McMillan has little or no control over LANL’s defense budget, but he and others still want to speak to him about it, and perhaps have some sort of official seat at the table  about what goes on at the laboratory.

“He (McMillan) needs to know, that myself, people in the neighborhood, thousands of us are very concerned about how the military industrial complex is changing and impacting the environment in ways that are irremediable,” Balibrera said. “Right now, we have no voice. We have to resort to starving ourselves, stopping meetings and doing other extreme things.”

 Balibrera said he plans to contact New Mexico’s congressional representatives as well as write a book about “What goes on inside,” the lab. Part of his campaign will include urging employees with “stories to tell” to contact him at his alaricalive@gmail.com.     

Why?

Why does the LA Monitor give these people so much attention? Seriously...I, and probably more than 80% of readers, would rather read about the NM Chile Harvest happenings then this pot smoking political blunder...And who in their right mind passes on a "hunger strike"? No one in their right mind that is who! More like a diet or just call it what it really is...a fasting...The Lab supports this community. Without it, LA Monitor would cease to exist..These crazies want to raze this Laboratory and this town! Why give them what they so desperately want and need...attention! Just beyond me why LA Monitor would feed their cause all week and weekend long! Why Why Why??? There are so many POSITIVE and great happenings right here that LA Monitor could focus on....Get it together!!