Hello! This is John Robles. I’m speaking with Cheri Honkala – she is the Vice-Presidential Candidate with the Green Party in the United States and the founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.
I’m doing fine. We’ve got a nice night here, in Charlotte. At least it is not raining and so that’s a really good thing. It's always nice to be at an Occupy encampment when it's not pouring.
So, the weather has been cooperating. You were also at the RNC, you're now at the DNC. Can you tell us a little bit about why you're protesting both parties and any differences that you see between the parties?
We really have a one party system in this country and that’s why I’m running on the Green Party ticket for vice-president. It is incredibly important because we need to catch up with the rest of the world where they have several different political parties. In this country we really only have one and that’s the Republicrats which is basically Democrats and Republicans who just basically represents corporate America and, you know, the majority of people in this country are suffering as a result of policies that are coming out of both Democrats and Republicans.
The US calls itself a democracy... for example in Russia there are seven parties. In the US there are supposedly two parties and their policies are... for the majority only bad or worse. Why is it that there are no other parties able to enter the political arena in the US?
Because all the guidelines, rules and laws are setup by the Democrats and Republicans themselves. They control the debate process here, they control who gets on the ballots, they control everything. And so, of course because the main thing that they want to do is to stay in control and represent corporate America, they don’t want anybody else to be a part of this process. And so we have a very serious democracy problem in this country and we really need the help of international media to call attention to the fact that we don’t really have a democracy. People in this country really don’t know that there is another choice. We are not a fringe, small grouping of people, we're now own 45 different ballots in the United States. We had to fight very hard to get on those 45 ballots, to give you an example: in Pennsylvania Democrats required 2,000 signatures, Republicans required 2,000 signatures and we had to get 40,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
40,000 as opposed to 2!
Yes, 40 000. So, that’s just one example. There really isn’t a democracy any more in this country. There are not fair elections, there is not access to the ballot and we are not going to hear about these things on CNN or on any of our major media outlets. We're really going to have to rely on social media and international media to talk about this very serious problem that we have here because it is not just a question of democracy. People are unable to provide the basic necessities of life. We have 8 million people that have lost their homes to foreclosure. One in every two people are in poverty in this country. And we have people that are becoming a part of the ranks to the permanently unemployed.
Would you agree that (some people say in the US) if you have enough money you can become president, you can just buy elections? Is that really the case?
Yes, if you have enough money in this country you can do anything. And it is a really sad state of affairs but it can only last so long because what we do have, is we have the numbers. We have the numbers of people that can’t feed themselves, that can’t feed their children, they lack healthcare. And you can’t have that alongside mansions and gated communities, and you can’t live in a country where there is an abundance, where other people have nothing.
I remeber... I used to live in Los Angeles, and I remember in Hollywood seeing a man, he was literally dying at a bus stop and I drove half a kilometer and there is a house for $40 million. I myself thought that was a serious problem. That is seriously a widespread problem in the US, isn’t it?
Yes, it really is. The question of hunger is very real. I live in a neighbourhood called Kensington in which there's barbed wire that’s around the food bank and where children have to watch, you know, food that’s being thrown away. And this is definitely a country where it is not a question of scarcity or it is not a question of development, but it is clearly a question of greed. But at the same time I’m very hopeful that people are going to begin to get organized, are going to become mobilized and not give in to their fear and demand that this country begins to provide for its people. And that begins with fighting for real power in this country and breaking with the one party system.
I see... Now; has your party made progress in the last 10 to 15 years?
It has been a slow process but it has been an effective party. And it is not so much even because of the party but it is because of the fact that the situation is getting worse in this country. And so in California there are many elect Greens that hold office. In several other parts of the country there are mayors, you know, there's many different folks that hold office and that number is continuing to grow. And we see nothing but a positive future for the Green Party because it is a very necessary party right now in this country.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign that you’ve founded and what your goals are, and how that's going?
Sure! The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is the largest multi-racial, inter-generational movement led by the poor. And I founded it because I’m a formally homeless mother and almost froze to death myself with my son, and we know that change really happens when people that are most impacted by the issues are in the forefronts of those struggles and when they're actively involved in doing something to change the situation.
And so, I’m going to have to sign off in a few minutes. We’ve got a big march here tomorrow at the DNC, it is called the March for Our Lives. And we hope to come back to your program and let the people of Russia know the reality of what we are facing here, in this country.
Can you tell us a little bit about the DNC right now? You said there is a big march planned for tomorrow?
There is a march that’s being planned for tomorrow. It is called the March for Our Lives. Last night we were very saddened to learn that 14 freedom riders that are undocumented immigrants, that are undocumented and unafraid, they were detained by ICE and they might even be deported. And at the same time that that happened President Obama began the convention yesterday with two Latino brothers that spoke and welcomed folks to the convention. Sorry I am going to have to leave now.
Okay. Alright. Thank you very much!
Thank you so much. I look forward to talking to you again.
Okay thank you. Appreciate it.
You were listening to an interview with Cheri Honkala, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Green Party in the US and the founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Thanks for listening.